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!
INSALATA DI POLLO AL PESTO E VERDURE ARROSTITE – CHICKEN PESTO SALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES
Recipe n. 17
In one of our recent trips to Ireland we went to visit some friends of ours who live in a lovely little village in the middle of the countryside. They have two great kids and their mum Lynn besides being a beautiful mom, is also a great cook. She cooked lunch for us and I totally fell in love with this dish. It was so tasty, fresh and different from the Irish cuisine, that I am prepared for when in Ireland. I almost felt at home, in Sicily. The way all these ingredients and colors complement each other is absolutely great! As soon as I came back to the States I started to make this dish over and over again. Unfortunately I never wrote down the recipe and the ingredients, so it might not be exactly the same. This version is what is left in my mind from the memory of the flavors, which inspired me so much.
As I said in my last post, I made pesto and cooked extra roasted vegetables to be added to this dish, which looks elaborate but if you roast your vegetables as well as making pesto a day in advance, at the end it’s all about ‘assembling’ and it’s all well worth while!
- 1 fresh bunch of basil (about 2 cups)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb chicken breast cubed
- 10 shallots roasted
- 1 yellow or red roasted bell pepper
- Mesclun salad
- Edible flowers for garnish or thyme flowers (optional)
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Roast the pepper and shallots according to my previous post ‘ROASTED VEGETABLES – Recipe n.16 ‘. 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 bowl and mix with Parmesan cheese. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the chicken through until crispy brown on the outside. Transfer the chicken to a dish with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. In a large salad bowl place the mesclun salad, chopped roasted shallots and bell peeper and dress with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix the chicken with a ¼ cup of pesto sauce and transfer to the salad bowl. Add the flowers for garnish and you can enjoy your salad!
May 11, 2010
COUSCOUS DI PESCE – COUSCOUS AND FISH
Recipe n. 13
There is a small town in Sicily called San Vito Lo Capo where every year they have a Couscous festival, ‘la sagra del couscous’. Chefs come from countries around the Mediterranean to participate and show original ways of cooking couscous with fish, according to their own traditions. I personally love couscous and I could eat it every day for lunch and dinner without ever getting bored. It’s so versatile and it can go well with meat, fish or vegetables. In San Vito Lo Capo fish is mandatory and if you want to follow the typical Sanvitese way of making this dish it would require a very long time and an elaborate preparation. This involves making couscous with durum wheat, semola, using an ancient technique, called ‘incocciata’ in Sicilian dialect. Couscous is then steamed in a pot made of terracotta, a couscoussière. This is my own semplified version of couscous with fish which probably wouldn’t go very far in the cooking contest in San Vito as I‘m breaking the rules using precooked couscous and using other types of fish, but if you don’t want to spend half your day preparing this dish then this is the way to go and it tastes good too!
The next time I make this dish I promise we’ll go through all the different stages in the traditional way of making it.
- 1 lb couscous
- 1 lb of fresh fish mixture *( I use cod or lemon sole, red snapper and salmon)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 carrot (optional)
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ onion
- 1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Lemon (zest and juice)
- Fresh Italian flat parsley
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Let’s start with the broth: in a medium stock pot, add the water, carrots, celery, parsley, tomatoes, onion and bay leaf. Bring to boil and add a small piece of each fish just to let the broth infuse with the flavor of the fish. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. In the meantime in a large skillet add the olive oil and garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic. After a minute or so gently place the fish and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, almonds, capers, lemon zest and juice and a few segments if you like too. Add 1 ½ cup of broth, cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Place the couscous n a large dish or bowl and add a 1 /2 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and place first the fish on top followed by the juice where the fish was cooking and add another cup of broth. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and cover tight letting the couscous rest for at least 5 minutes. Using a fork be sure to separate the couscous grains from each other to avoid clumps. Add more broth if necessary or if it looks to dry.
*NOTE: You are supposed to use fish suitable for making broth, but I like to use any sort of fish. I like to buy wild fish in general. I don’t trust farmed or even organic farmed fish. To me fish always tastes better if it’s caught wild.
May 4, 2010
INSALATA DI CALAMARI – SQUID SALAD
Here is another fresh and simple recipe that brings me back to Sicily. It’s a dish that my mother used to make for us quite often, especially in the summer time. If I close my eyes I can still smell the fresh fish from the local vendor where my mum still buys her fish every day with the breeze coming up the hill from the sea. It’s a perfect salad to serve as an appetizer during a party or to eat on its own for lunch or dinner. I love how it tastes and how beautifully the colors of the ingredients complement each other.
- 15 wild squid ( tubes and tentacles)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped small
- 4 stalks of celery chopped small
- 2 green onions sliced small
- ¼ cup fresh Italian flat parsley chopped
- 2 juicy lemons
- olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Rinse the squid and place them in a pot with water, bay leaf and a few slices of lemon with its juice. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the water and set aside to cool down. In a large salad bowl add the carrots, celery and onions. Cut the squid in rings and put in the bowl with the tentacles and the rest of the ingredients. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the salad marinate. You can serve it cold or at room temperature.
April 28, 2010
PASTICCIO di PATATE e SALMONE – FISH POT PIE
If you’re having guests for dinner and you want to impress them, this dish is what you want to make. You cannot go wrong (unless your guest hates fish!). I love to cook with herbs and fresh dill has a unique flavor, which goes very well with this recipe. This pasticcio di patate e salmone is absolutely delicious and yes, it does require a bit more work, but you will be pleased when each single bite will literally melt in your mouth and will satisfy your appetite leaving you with a smile on your face. I’m pretty sure that there won’t be any left over. I’ve been cooking this dish for years on special occasions. Today I made it just for my family and we all enjoyed it!
- 1 lb potatoes peeled
- 1 lb salmon fillet cut in cubes
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1½ cups of rice milk (or regular milk)
- 4 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp for the sauce
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 lemon for juice and zest
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup cheese grated Parmesan or Emmental (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Boil or steam the potatoes until they are cooked through. Drain the water and mash with milk, butter, salt and pepper. Put to the side and keep warm. In the meantime place the salmon on a skillet and cover with milk. Bring to boil and cook for 3 to 4 min. Drain the milk and reserve it for later. In another pot melt the butter with the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir at the same time. Add the milk from the salmon, bring to boil while you’re stirring it to avoid clumping and reduce to simmer until you obtain a creamy consistency. Add the zest and the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Transfer the fish to a baking dish and pour the sauce over and mix gently. Make a layer on top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with some grated cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes until you obtain a nice golden brown crust on top.
April 22, 2010
PESCE PANATO con PATATE DOLCI AL FORNO - BREADED FISH with ROASTED YAMS
I’m not a vegetarian yet, but I’m pretty sure that I will be one day. I believe there is a right time for everything. Your body knows what it needs and doesn’t need. I feel somewhere in between right now as in the past couple of years I unconsciously started to eat less and less meat, preferring to eat fish and more vegetables instead. I know so many people who can’t stand the smell and taste of fish. I grew up on fish so I started to feed Sasha fish since he was very young and found a couple of tricks to make the fish taste ’yummy’. I have been using this recipe over and over, at least once a week, if not more.
- 1 pound of wild Lemon Sole (but you can use any fish you like)
- 2 big yams
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the yams.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Starting with the yams, wash them thoroughly without peeling them. Cut lengthwise into ½ inch thick fries, or a little less. Arrange them in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss them well to be sure that all the pieces are coated in olive oil and put in the oven for about 40 min until they are cooked through and crispy.
Pour the olive oil in a bowl while in another bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, ground flax seeds, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Dip the fish first into the olive oil and then roll into the breadcrumb mix. Place the fish in a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 min. Serve when it’s still hot with a quarter lemon on the side.
Serves 3 to 4 people