Parmigiano Sformato with Piquillo Peppers and Almonds

Serves: 8

Wow these are good!

This recipe by Anne Burrell is awesome and was one of the dishes we had when our parents – Deb and Rob/Ellen and Bill – met for the first time. A dish, awesome in not just in how elegant and sophisticated it all looks but in the nutty yet beautifully creamy textured taste.

(The meeting of the parents was a complete success for what it’s worth!)

People will know you’re a cooking star and you’ll put the leg-of-lamb-rosemary-garlic crowd to shame when you show them some real preparation, cooking and style.

Move over braised meat. This is preparation and sophistication and it shows.

Do it as a starter and start it right!

(Tip: the cayenne is the zinger here: don’t overdo it though it is the zinger…)

Oh… fast forward two years: we cooked this for our long lunch/wedding and it was THE standout dish. Well. Done. Ellen.


Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups heavy cream
4 eggs
1 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 pinch cayenne
1 jar piquillo peppers, julienned
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
2 c arugula or mesclun
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped chives


  1. Heat the oven to 180c. Spray your ramekins with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the heavy cream, eggs and Parmigiano and whisk to combine. Season with salt and cayenne. Divide the egg, cream, cheese mixture between the ramekins.
  3. Place the filled ramekins in a baking dish and fill halfway with hot tap water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on racks.
  4. Place the cooled sformato in a warm oven for 10 minutes to reheat.
  5. While the sformato is reheating toss the peppers and almonds with the greens and a sprinkle of oil, vinegar and salt.
  6. Arrange some of the pepper mixture on individual serving plates. Unmold the sformato on the serving plate and arrange the peppers against the sformato. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Sit back and observe your slightly stunned guests.

Neil Perry’s Pan-fried Polenta

Serves 4

If you cook this and serve it with a roast or a braise, it will replace mash as your go-to side. Hands down, money on it.

It is a Neil Perry dish (tick) and it continues (as far as I know) to be served in Qantas First and Business Class (tick). It can be prepared beforehand (tick) and people’s eyes light up when they taste it (tick).

It’s creamy, it tastes great, it sops up all the juices on the plate and it can be reheated the next day.

Tick tick tick.

None of us cook enough polenta. This dish will resolve that for you.


2/3 cup (100g) polenta
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (50g) finely grated Parmesan
50g unsalted butter, chopped well
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin oil


  1. Lightly grease a rectangular baking tin (or small baking dish as I did). Line the tin with baking paper.
  2. Bring the milk, stock and sea salt to scalding point (just below boiling point) in a large saucepan.
  3. Gradually shower the polenta into the milk mixture, stirring continuously with a whisk.
  4. Simmer, still stirring for about 40 minutes, or until the polenta is very thick and pulls cleanly away from the side of the pan.
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesean, butter, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread the polenta immediately into the tin and allow to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours, or until firm.
  7. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the tin and gently turn out the polenta. Cut into eight slices thick.
  8. Quickly pan-fry the polenta slices in a little olive oil on both sides until lightly browned.