It was a real pleasure to attend the godfather of Italian cooking Antonio Carluccio’s 80th birthday party on the 21st of April, with my good friend and Personal Trainer, Caroline Asquith (who I’ve known since I was 16).
A double celebration, the party coincided with the restaurant opening for the new York city centre’s Carluccio’s restaurant.
Staggeringly beautiful, the latest branch to open is close to where we live so we’ll be frequent visitors!
The private party took place at Carluccio’s St Helen’s Square, previously the historic Terry’s Chocolate Shop and Tea Room, which opened last month and in homage to its history, we were greeted at the door with an amazing Chocolate Orange Negroni cocktail specially created for the new restaurant.
Joined by journos, writers, fellow bloggers and vloggers, along with special guests, Jonathan Tyler, The Sheriff of York and Dave Taylor, The Lord Mayor of York, we nibbled on exquisite Italian antipasta and canapes whilst listening to moving live music from Impromptu Opera.
Towards the end of the evening, in honour of his birthday, the Carluccio’s team presented Antonio with a stunning chocolate cake, crafted by award winning bakery, The Bread Factory as we sang Happy Birthday.
My highlight was of course catching up with Antonio again after we met at an intimate press dinner he hosted two years ago.
I brought along a bottle of award winning Holy Grass Vodka by Dunnet Bay for him for his birthday!
Bursting with character, I adore not only Antonio’s culinary know-how but also his passion. You can watch our FB Live below.
To celebrate his birthday, Antonio is kindly sharing his recipe for Torta Di Carote (carrot cake) from his new book Vegetables.
TORTA DI CAROTE
Photo Laura Edwards
In Europe, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when sweeteners were expensive, carrots and parsnips were used in sweet puddings and cakes, and carrot cake has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. You could also serve this as a dessert with some whipped cream: add sugar to taste and perhaps a tablespoon or so of a liqueur.
Makes 1 sponge, to serve 10
- Unsalted butter, for greasing
- 5 medium carrots, about 1 kg (2lb 4oz), trimmed and peeled
- 500ml (18fl oz/ 2 cups) orange juice
- 120ml (4fl oz/ ½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium eggs, separated
- 360g (12oz/ 1 ½ cups) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 350g (12oz/ 2 1⁄3 cups) Italian ‘00’ flour, sifted
- 15g (½ oz) baking powder
To Serve and Finish:
- a jam of choice (Antonio uses his own recipe for Marmellata di Barba Bietole)
- icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
Preheat the oven to 150 °C (300°F/ gas 2). Use a little butter to grease a round cake tin 30cm (12 inches) in diameter.
Cut the carrots into slices and put them into a medium saucepan, then cover with the orange juice. Bring to the boil, then simmer until tender. Drain, discarding the orange juice.
When cooled a little, whizz the carrots in a blender with the olive oil and egg yolks. Spoon the purée into a bowl, and fold in the sugar, sifted flour and baking powder. Separately, in a clean bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff. Using a metal spoon carefully fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture – you don’t want to lose the air in the whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out of the tin on to a wire cooling rack. Leave until completely cold.
To fill, if you like, cut the cake in half horizontally, using a long sharp knife. Spread the jam over the bottom half and top with the top half. Chill for 30 minutes or so before serving, dusted with a little icing sugar.