March 17, 2011
POLPETTE ALLA SICILIANA – SICILIAN STYLE MEATBALLS
Recipe n. 28
When I first started this blog, I wanted to make recipes available to you from my knowledge of Sicilian cuisine. I admit I have gotten lost on the way lately, as I started to experiment in the kitchen with different types of cuisine and other ways of cooking (or not cooking at all with the raw diet), but deep inside me there is something about my way of cooking which is rooted and will never leave me- my Sicilian influence. So here I am again with a typical sicilian recipe which has two basic ingredients very common in sicilian recipes, with an ancient influence from arabic cuisine: ‘passolina e pinoli ‘, pine nuts and raisins. When combined together they often represent the key ingrendients of the most famous sicilian recipes. Today I want to show you how we make meatballs in Sicily.
- 1lb ground lean beef (grass fed and no antibiotics)
- 1/4 cup of ‘passolina e pinoli’/ raisins and pine nuts (better if you can use currants soaked in water for a few minutes )
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs soaked in milk for a few minutes (I like to use rice milk)
- 1/2 onion finely chopped or grated
- chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they are well combined (but do not overdo the mixing). Using both hands start rolling the meatballs between the palms of your hands. I like to make my meatballs small like single bites, but you can make them any size you like. After you have obtained several meatballs you have different options about how to cook them. You could heat a few spoons of olive oil in a large pot and then place the meatballs gently inside and let them brown on both sides and then add your favorite home made tomato sauce and cook everything together for about 20 to 30 minutes over medium/low heat. Or if you prefer a ligher version, instead of frying them in the olive oil, you could bake them for 20 min in the oven and then put them in the pot with the sauce to finish cooking them, or place the meatballs directly the way they are while the sauce is still cooking. Whatever your preference is you’re going to love them. It’s one of the few ways to get my ‘meat reluctant child’ to eat meat, and he really really likes them!
January 19, 2011
NEW YEAR…NEW DIET?
I know I didn’t post a new recipe in a very long time. There are several reasons for this, but the main one right now is that I’m going through a real ‘cooking crisis’. It all started when my husband decided that he wanted to switch to this ‘PALEO DIET ‘ which is driving me absolutely crazy! (For those who are not familiar with this diet, it’s based on lean protein and non-starchy vegetables and fruits). First he bought me a ‘paleo book’ (The Paleo Solution) and then he asked me if we could quit all cereals and grains together and focus our diet on proteins like meat, vegetables and fruit!
I’m Italian! How can you ask someone who grew up mostly on pasta to give it up just like that? While I might agree on some of the bad effects of eating grains and dairy products in general, on the other hand even if I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t want to turn into a ‘cannibal’ either! So as answer to this, I have been studying and experimenting a lot in the kitchen with the ‘RAW FOOD DIET ‘, so that I can at least integrate it into my husband’s choice. (My last experiment in the kitchen took me exactly 24 hours to make it between the soaking and dehydrating of the food!) It’s a work in progress so please be patient, keep checking my blog and let’s see what happens…
November 27, 2010
Gnocchi di patate con burro e salvia – Gnocchi with butter and sage
Recipe n. 27
After all this cooking and eating on Thanksgiving, probably the last thing you want to do is cook some more. This is a super easy and quick dish, suitable for those days when you are in a hurry, but still want to have a home made (or at least a semi-home made) dish. Of course, it would be ideal if you would have the time to make your own fresh gnocchi in advance, but since we are talking about being quick and easy, I’m sure that you can get pretty good quality fresh made gnocchi from your favorite food store. There are a couple of places here in the city where I go to buy gnocchi and I’m quite happy with the quality and freshness. I like this dish because even if it’s very easy to make, it still tastes and looks like a fancy course which you could order at any good Italian restaurant. It’s a classic italian recipe.
- 3/4 to 1 lb of fresh gnocchi
- A few leaves of fresh sage (about 10) shredded
- 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of milk ( I like to use rice milk because it’s sweeter and lighter than regular milk)
- Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Salt and Pepper
In a medium sized pot bring the water with some salt to a boil. Add the gnocchi gently and as soon they start to float to the surface, turn the heat to low and drain the water out. Put them back in the same pot and now add the butter, sage, milk and some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix it all together gently until you have obtained a creamy sauce coating the gnocchi. Transfer to a dish and finish with some shaved Parmesan cheese on top.
October 30, 2010
SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE VERACI E POMODORINI – SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS AND CHERRY TOMATOES
Recipe n. 26
Growing up on an island in the mediterannean I ate quite a lot of fish as you can probably imagine. It’s a totally different experience to buy some fish in Sicily compared to New York City. In the little town where I come from, which is by the sea, una piccola borgata di mare, there are lots of local ‘pescivendoli’. You can smell the fresh fish from a distance and while I know quite a lot of people are bothered by this smell but it gives me a strong sense of connectedness with the sea. In Sicily they would never sell you a ‘fillet’. You have to buy the whole fish, from head to tail, maybe they will clean it a bit for you but that’s about it. I have also noticed that there is a big difference in terms of flavor. The fish from the Atlantic has a milder flavor while the fish from the mediterranean has a much stronger sea flavor and it’s saltier. Despite these differences, here in New York I feel very lucky to live close by one of the best fish places in town (even if it’s not by the sea) which happens to be in Chelsea Market. This recipe will be ideal if you want to cook a tasty and easy meal for dinner for your guests, it makes a perfect ‘spaghettata’.
- 450g (1 pound) spaghetti or linguine
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Good pinch of dried hot chilli flakes
- Small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1kg ( a bit over 2 pounds) of small clams, scrubbed and degritted
- 10 cherry tomatoes ( pomodorini pachino)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil and gently sauté the garlic, chilli and half the parsley for a couple of minutes. Add the clams and wine, turn up the heat, then cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the clams have opened.
Remove the clams and the juice and set aside. In the same pan add about 4 spoons of olive oil, the chopped garlic and hot chilli pepper flakes. After the garlic turns gold, add the cherry tomatoes. Let them cook for a few minutes and then crush them with a fork. Add the clams, the rest of the parsley and slowly add the juice which you previously cooked with the clams. Let the juice evaporate for a few minutes and then add a sprinkle of wine and keep the heat high. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in all the spaghetti with the clams and the juices and the remaining parsley.
September 26, 2010
FUNGHI RIPIENI – STUFFED MUSHROOMS
I find that most of the time when cooking you don’t have to work very hard to make a delicious dish. Sometimes we go to too much trouble to find the most exotic ingredients in order to obtain a unique dish. In the end it doesn’t taste anything like it should, and my palate is not satisfied as it could have been if I had eaten a tasty and simple dish from my mom’s kitchen. I truly believe that the secret to Italian cooking is based on the fact that we use very simple ingredients in wonderful combinations.
I have become more fond of mushrooms in the past few years and I like to use them in many different ways for lots of recipes. This is one of my favorite ways to eat them. My mom taught me this recipe. They really make a perfect appetizer.
- 15 medium-large white mushrooms, stemmed
- 1/2 onion minced
- 1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup black currants ( Zante currants)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup small chunks of pecorino romano or caciocavallo chesse
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Clean the mushrooms, carefully break off stems and dry them with a paper towel. Stir the bread crumbs, cheese, onion, black currants, pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper, and olive oil in a medium bowl to blend. Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange the mushroom caps on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes or broil under preheated broiler, with the broiler rack 3 inches below the flame. Allow to brown lightly before serving.
Immagini di Sicilia – Images of Sicily
I finally found some time to download my pictures from this Summer in Sicily and create a page where I have posted some of the most significant pictures (to me). That’s how I saw Sicily this year… Just click on the link called ‘Images of Sicily ‘ from the menu on the right, under ‘Pages’ and enjoy the show.
August 30, 2010
MINESTRA ESTIVA DI ZUCCHINA LUNGA SICILIANA – SUMMER SOUP WITH LONG SICILIAN SQUASH
Recipe n. 24
A funny coincidence happened last week: I received two ‘super long funny looking squash’ from two different friends. They are typically grown in Sicily around this time of year. It must have something to do with the meaning of my last name in sicilian dialect: ‘cucuzza which means zucchina’! We use the zucchina and its leaves when they are available (which are called tenerumi), to make a simple yet deliciuos minestra which can be eaten hot or cold. I was sure that I would have never found them here in New York, but I was wrong. Apparently every wednesday at Carmine st. and Bleecker st. there is a local farmer who is selling them, along with delicious fruit and vegetables. I dedicate this recipe to my dear friend Amy, who cycled all the way to our place on her bicycle, together with her young son and the zucchina lunga siciliana. She was also very excited with the new discovery…not to mention that she had dressed the zucchina in a beautiful red silk ribbon! What more could one ask for?
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
- 1 zucchina lunga siciliana
- 1 white medium size onion,
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 2 small potatoes,
- 1 cup of vegetable broth (optional) or regular water
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- pinch of salt and pepper
- pinch of hot chilly pepper (optional)
- Olive oil
1 cup of spaghetti (broken in small pieces) to cook separetly and then add to the minestra (optional)
Cut the 2 extremities of the zucchina, peel it and cube it. Try to get rid of most of the seeds, if you can. Rinse all the pieces and let them dry in a colander.In the meantime wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Peel the potatoes and cut in small pieces (same size of the zucchina). Place about 3 tbsps of olive oil in a large pot and let the onion, previously chopped, cook for a few minutes together with the hot chilly pepper and the cherry tomatoes. As soon as they soften, crush them slightly with a wooden spoon and then add the zucchina lunga siciliana. After cooking for a few minutes at medium/high heat, take the hot chilly pepper out and lower the heat. Now add 1 cup of water (or broth). While it’s cooking, the zucchina will also release its own water contained in the vegetable. Let it cook at medium heat until the broth will be slightly evaporated and the zucchina will look tender and soft. Adjust with salt and pepper and add some chopped basil leaves. Just before serving add some grated cheese to the minestra and a few spoons of cooked spaghetti , if you wish.
August 15, 2010
GELO DI MELONE – WATERMELON JELLY DESSERT
Recipe n. 23
Here we are again. We are back from our vacation in Italy and I have brought back, along with the nostalgic feelings, a lot of good stories, new recipe ideas and beautiful pictures of Sicily, which I will soon be posting on this blog with their own link. Today I want to tell you about ‘Sicilian gelo di melone’. If you go anywhere else in Italy, you are unlikely to find this delicious dessert in a pastry shop, while in Sicily during summertime it’s almost impossible to walk into a pastry shop and not find ‘gelo di melone’. I love the taste, the color and the consistency of this unique dessert. I made it the other day and I wish I had made more, as it was gone in no time…
This is the recipe with a little twist, my own personal variation.
Angurie al Mercato del Capo a Palermo
- 1 big watermelon (about 5 Kg.)
- 100 gr sugar for every liter of juice obtained ( I use instead orange blossom honey)
- 80 gr cornstarch for every liter of juice obtained
- 100 gr pistachios (pistacchi di Bronte di Sicilia)
- 50 gr bitter chocolate drops
* I apologize to those unfamiliar with grams. You can use the converter under cooking tools on the right side of the page.
Skin and seed the watermelon, process it through a sieve to obtain 1 liter (or more) of juice. Put it in a bowl with the sugar (or honey) and cornstarch. Bring to the boil at low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and cool it down to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should still be a bit fluid. Add the chocolate drops. Mix it and pour into a round pudding mold, moistened with water or any mold you like. ( I often use espresso coffee cups as they are a perfect small individual size). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or even better, overnight. Remove the Gelo from the mold (or in the case of individual small cups you can enjoy it straight from the original mold), sprinkle with grounded pistachios, garnish with chocolate drops and 1 or 2 whole pistachios before serving.
July 3, 2010
INSALATA DI PASTA CON PESTO, POMODORINI E OLIVE – PASTA SALAD WITH PESTO, SWEET CHERRY TOMATOES AND OLIVES
Recipe n. 22
I love Summer time and with it the fruits and vegetables available during this season. Soon we are going to spend some time in Italy to visit my family and I can’t wait to eat all the simple and tasty dishes made with some of my favorites ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, capers and olives. I’m also looking forward to picking lemons from our trees and fresh herbs and sitting outside in the evening, when finally after a hot day spent at the beach, sometimes there is a light and pleasant breeze in the air which brings up the wonderful scents of the plants and flowers in our garden. I really miss all of that. Meanwhile, while we are still here in the city I try to anticipate this memory of summertime in Sicily during my childhood, cooking the same kinds of dishes. Yesterday I cooked ‘insalata di pasta’ and had dinner with my family on the sun terrace of the building where we live.
- 1 fresh bunch of basil (about 2 cups)
- 1 clove of garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- Sweet Cherry tomatoes chopped (you can use any kind of tomatoes)
- Pitted black and green olives sliced in roundels.
- Short Pasta (I like to use whole wheat fusilli)
- Salt and Pepper
In a food processor place 1 garlic clove and pulse until chopped. Add the basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times. Add the olive oil slowly until you obtain a creamy pesto. Transfer to a large salad bowl and mix with Parmesan cheese. Add the chopped olives and tomatoes.
In a medium stockpot with salted boiling water add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well before serving. Keep it refrigerated if you’re not eating it right away.
Recipe n. 21
Here I am again. I know I disappeared for quite a few days now. The truth is that I had been very busy planning my son‘s birthday party. (I have to admit that even when I planned my wedding it didn’t take as long as it took me now to think about all the little details). I just couldn’t stop myself adding one little thing after the other. Of course very few people probably paid attention to all these little details, but preparing my son’s birthday party is still very gratifying. Anyway, I still had to feed my family in between so that’s something that hasn’t changed in the past days. Here is another simple and healthy recipe from Iose’s kitchen. Among all the grains I regularly use, farro (Emmer wheat) is by far one of my favorites. It goes well with soup or to make a perfect Summer salad or it can be used with some dishes instead of rice. Today I cooked farro and mixed it with sautéed vegetables.
- 8 ounces farro perlato
- vegetable broth
- 8 mushrooms, chopped
- 6 or 8 broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 yellow summer squash
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 garlic clove or garlic scapes chopped (you can find them now in any green market)
- ½ tbsp dried or fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
In a medium stockpot place the farro and cover with water or vegetable broth and cook until the farro is cooked completely. This takes about 20 minutes. In a large sauté pan place the olive oil and heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add all of the vegetables starting with the harder ones and cook until starting to wilt for about 4 minutes. Add the oregano, soy sauce and vegetable stock. Stir well and cook until vegetables are wilted. Add farro and mix everything together. Remove from the heat and serve.