Today a nice Italian theme for a delicious February dinner. There are three varieties of tomatoes. Have them at room temperature as it brings out that lovely natural sweetness.

The beetroot works very well giving a nice freshness. Then the beautiful mozzarella cheese.

A great Irish producer of Buffalo Mozzarella is Macroom, where you can also take an interesting tour of the farm.

The dressing can be made ahead and I always like balsamic vinegar in a salad. The harissa gives a kick but if you are nervous about that use very little

There is a little bit of work in this beef canneloni. You can make the ragout ahead and fill the tubes and then you just have the sauce to make.

This is a classic white sauce plus a few extra tastes. Always a delicious main course any time of the year. You can also use giant pasta shells from a supermarket if you wish.

And so to dessert. One of my sisters used to live in London and I still remember the first time I tasted tiramisu. It was with her in an Italian coffee shop in Covent Garden.

I didn’t know what it was. It was so good I ate two! And it is still a favourite. The key is nice rich creamy mascarpone cheese.

I am using Tia Maria but you could use Kaluha either. This is a lovely light dessert that you could make up to two days in advance.

Happy cooking,



Three tomato and beetroot salad with harissa and mozzarella

Serves four

Three tomato and beetroot salad with harissa and mozzarella. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

400g (14oz) cooked baby beetroot,

100g (4oz) red cherry tomatoes, halved

100g (4oz) yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

100g (4oz) vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges

1 packet of mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 tbsp toasted flaked almonds

For the dressing:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus extra sprigs to garnish

5 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp harissa paste

Finely grated rind of ½ lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, then whisk until emulsified.
  • 2 For the salad, add the beetroot and various tomatoes and gently fold together to combine. Divide between four plates or put on one large platter and arrange the mozzarella on top.
  • 3 Scatter over the toasted almonds and garnish with the basil sprigs to serve.
  • Beef cannelloni

    Serves four

    Beef cannelloni. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

    1kg lean minced beef

    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 large onion, finely chopped

    4 garlic cloves, crushed

    2 x 660g jars passata with basil

    large pinch caster sugar

    1 tbsp chopped basil

    400g dried cannelloni tubes

    For the topping:

    50g butter

    50g plain flour

    600ml whole milk

    140g mascarpone

    140g Parmesan, grated

  • 1 For the filling, dry-fry the beef in a non-stick pan on a medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned – about 10 mins. Remove and set aside.
  • 2 Add the oil and cook the onion for 5 mins, until soft. Add the garlic for 1 min more, then tip in the beef and 1½ jars of the passata sauce and the sugar and chopped basil. Simmer for 20 mins while you make the white sauce.
  • 3 Heat the butter in a small pan. When foaming, stir in the flour for 1 min. Add the milk gradually, stirring all the time to achieve a lump-free sauce, then bubble for 2 mins while stirring.
  • 4 Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese seasoning until dissolved. Set aside, covered with cling film to stop a skin forming.
  • 5 To assemble, pour the remaining tomato sauce into the base of 2-3 large baking dishes or 12 individual ovenproof dishes or foil containers. Spoon the beef into the cannelloni tubes using a teaspoon and lay on top of the sauce.
  • 6 Pour on the white sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan. If freezing, allow to cool, then freeze wrapped in cling film. To eat straight away, heat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 and cook for 40-45 mins until the pasta is tender and topping golden. This is delicious served with salad
  • Classic Tiramisiu

    Serves eight to 10

    Classic Tiramisiu. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

    4 large eggs

    100g (4oz) caster sugar

    250g mascarpone cheese

    250m (9fl oz) cream

    250ml (9fl oz) freshly brewed strong espresso coffee (left to cool)

    150ml (1/4 pint) Tia Maria liqueur

    30-40 sponge fingers

    Cocoa powder, to dust

  • 1 Separate the eggs and put the yolks in one bowl with the sugar and the egg whites in another.
  • 2 Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, then mix in the mascarpone cheese until well combined. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then fold into the egg and mascarpone mixture.
  • 3 Using clean beaters, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold this into the mascarpone cream. Spoon a third of this mixture into a 32.5cm × 23cm (13in × 9in) dish that is at least 6cm (2½in) deep.
  • 4 Pour the coffee into a shallow dish and stir in the Tia Maria. Dip in enough of the sponge fingers to make an even layer on top of the mascarpone mixture. It’s important to only dip the sponge fingers in as you go along so they don’t soak for long and become difficult to handle.
  • 5 Cover the layer of soaked sponge fingers with another third of the mascarpone cream, then add the rest of the soaked sponge fingers in an even layer on top. Spoon over the remaining mascarpone cream to completely cover the layer of sponge fingers, then cover with clingfilm and chill overnight to allow the flavours to develop and the dessert to settle.
  • 6 To serve, give the tiramisu an even dusting of cocoa powder and place in the middle of the table so that everyone can help themselves.