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Discover the cooking of Southern Italy in five delicious dishes

There is something quite amazing about Italian cooking. It is full of delicious, filling foods that will bring your dinner table to life. Southern Italian dishes include foods from antipastis to slow cooked meals such as ragu. Italian recipes allow you to be creative in the kitchen as well as encouraging family cooking, so you can all enjoy the end result. Not only that but with a range of fabulous southern Italian desserts such as a panna cotta or tiramisu, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into. Tuck in!  

Pizza Florentina 
1)  Divide pizza dough into four equal balls and roll out into disc on a dusted surface
2)  Evenly spread tomato sauce over each pizza base
3)  Scatter sliced garlic, spinach and mozzarella over each pizza base
4)  Grate some nutmeg and parmesan cheese over the pizza
5)  Cook in the middle of the oven at gas mark 7 for 6 minutes
6)  Remove the pizza from the oven and crack an egg into the centre of the pizza, then return to the oven for a few minutes
7)  Serve sliced and with a grind of pepper  

Spaghetti Carbonara
1)  Boil spaghetti
2)  Fry pancetta in a little olive oil with crushed garlic clove, until coloured
3)  In a bowl, mix cheese, whole egg and yolks together, adding in chopped parsley, salt and pepper
4)  Drain the spaghetti and add it to the pancetta and garlic, stirring well. Stir the egg sauce into the spaghetti and add some chopped basil
5)  The heat of the panchetta and spaghetti will cook the egg mixture as you stir
6)  Serve in large bowls and grate some parmesan cheese over the top

Risotto with peas
1)  Heat vegetable stock and simmer
2)  Fry onion, garlic and celery in some olive oil and cook for 5-8 until soft and clear
3)  Scatter in risotto rice and stir, coating every grain with the mixture
4)  Pour in a glass of white wine, stir and cook for 4 minutes until all the liquid has absorbed
5)  Add the stock to the risotto one ladle at a time. Stir constantly, adding the stock bit by bit
6)  Five minutes before serving, add peas, lemon zest, mint, celery, parmesan cheese, butter and salt and pepper
7)  Stir well and serve in bowls

Tiramisu
1)  Make some strong coffee and allow to cool. Add amaretto and set to one side
2)  Separate 6 eggs. Add sugar to the egg yolks and whisk for 5 minutes, until creamy
3)  Add mascarpone cheese to the egg yolk mixture and combine. Stir and whisk for 1 minute to remove any lumps
4)  Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed
5)  Gently fold in the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture, half the mixture at a time
6)  Start layering up your ingredients into a trifle bowl or individual glasses
7)  Dip each biscuit into the coffee mixture and place in your dish
8)  Complete one biscuit layer, then spoon on a layer of the cream mixture and level. Sprinkle over some crushed amaretto biscuits. Then repeat dipping and layering biscuits, adding cream etc.
9)  Continue until you have three sets of layers, finishing with cream on top
10)  Chill in the fridge for 6 hours and serve with grated dark chocolate on top  

Meatballs  
1)  Mix together mince, egg, breadcrumbs, pepper, parsley, garlic, oregano and chilli
2)  When the ingredients are well combined, take a little at a time and roll into small balls
3)  Fry in olive oil until golden brown all over, then remove from the pan and absorb any excess oil

For lots of other delicious Italian recipes, read Southern Italian Family Cooking: Simple, healthy and affordable food from Italy’s cucina povera (£8.99, Robinson) by Carmela Sophia Sereno