March 10, 2017

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Minestra con il Romanesco e spaghetti spezzettati 

Recipe n. 41

I made this delicious soup the other day.

I was looking in my fridge for some inspiration for a simple, light and nourishing dinner and voilà, there it was: this amazing pointy green broccolo, which looks like a sculpture from nature.

In Sicily during winter the green broccolo is probably the most popular vegetable that you see at the market. It’s a pretty picture to look at: lots and lots of bright green broccoli. The romanesco is not as common as the plain green one, but they are very similar in taste.

I followed my mom’s old fashioned technique to prepare the spaghetti for this soup. Nowadays you can purchase a bag of broken spaghetti everywhere, but there is something ‘therapeutic and mindful’ in breaking your own spaghetti, especially if done in the way my mom taught me when I was a child.

You don’t need much, just half bag of long regular spaghetti (I like to use wholewheat pasta) and a kitchen towel, where you first would place the spaghetti broken into large pieces and then after wrapping them inside the towel,  you start crushing them on the counter with the strenght of one of your arms, using the palm of your hand in a motion movement until they become about 1 inch long or less.

In my moms version of this soup there is no garlic or tomato paste, but I thought adding these simple ingredients would give a little kick to the soup and oh boy they did the job, especially  when you add some hot chili pepper flakes.

I could have eaten the enire pot, no kidding!

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Ingredients:

  • 250 grams of whole wheat spaghetti (broken)

  • 1 romanesco

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 to 2 tbsp of tomato paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes

  • olive oil

  • salt

  • pepper

Wash the romanesco and cut in small pieces. In a large pan sautee the garlic, hot chili pepper flakes in olive oil. Add the tomato paste and the romanesco. Let it mix well for a few minutes with all the ingredients and slowly add enough water. Add some salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.

As soon as the romanesco is well cooked, you can add the broken spaghetti. If the water evaporated too much you can add some more.

Once the pasta is cooked serve immediately and enjoy.

Go for seconds with zero guilt: it’s all good!

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Busiate Siciliane

April 7, 2016

Homemade Sicilian Busiate

 Recipe n. 35

While I stopped eating refined flour a long time ago (simply because the grain has been stripped of any nutrients turning it into empty calories) I will always make an exception when it comes to fresh homemade pasta. It’s more than that. It’s a way of gathering with family and friends to share an experience of making homemade food.

Busiate fresh pasta (or busiati ) is a Sicilian specialty from the area of Trapani. Traditionaly it is homemade and dressed with local fresh tomato sauce.

Ironic as it is, I learned how to make Sicilian busiate fresh pasta here in New York, from my dear friend Simona who is originally  from a town in the very North of  Italy: Torino. She loves spending her Summer vacations in Sicily and  like me she is passionate about food and cooking.

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of durum wheat semolina flour

  • 1/2 cup of room temperature water

 

In a bowl mix by hand the flour with water until you obtain a ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead it for 8 to 10 minutes.  Let it rest on a tray  previously sprinkled with flour and  cover it with a damp cloth.
Begin making busiate by rolling a small piece of dough with the palm of your hands until you obtain a 1/4 inch long roll, cut  the roll in several long pieces and start  twisting the little strands of dough around a  wooden skewer. Pull the pasta shape out gently and lay all the fresh homemade busiate on a floured baking sheet, while sprinkling some more flour on top. Be careful that the busiate do not touch each other.

Allow them to dry for a while, even hours, then cook them in salted water , for at least 3 minutes. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and place them directly in the sauce of your choice. If you are making your own fresh tomato sauce I suggest to finish up with some  fresh grated pecorino cheese or ricotta salata.

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

February 2, 2016

PASTA AL SALMONE AFFUMICATO – PASTA WITH SMOKED SALMON

Recipe n.33

I’m very happy  to share this recipe with you, as it is the result of pure improvisation from an evening a few years ago. I was trying to decide what to make for dinner for my family. I started to put together several ingredients to try to please everybody’s palate and it turned out to be a hit!  Since then I have been making this dish quite often and I always get the same positive feedback.

 

© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights ReservedIMG_6791

 

 

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Ingredients for 4 people

  • 500g pasta (any short type of your choice – I prefer to use wholewheat pasta)

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 1 fennel bulb+stalk thinly sliced

  • 4 to 5 ounces of smoked salmon

  • 12 mushrooms ( I like to use either crimini or shiitake mushrooms)

  • Lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • Fresh dill

  • Olive oil

  • 1/4 cup of white wine

  • Salt and Pepper

 

Bring a medium size pot with water to boil for the pasta.  In a large pan sautee the onions and  fennel in olive oil for  a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms, lemon zest,  and some dill.  Season with salt and pepper. Add the smoked salmon and the white wine keeping  on a medium-hight heat until the wine has evaporated. Add some lemon juice and the reamining dill. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Adjust with salt and pepper and enjoy!

January 6, 2016

PASTA PALERMO

Recipe n.32

This is a typical sicilian dish (specifically from Palermo) called ‘pasta con i broccoli arriminati  –  stirred broccoli’, but my younger son decided to rename it as ‘Pasta Palermo’, since we always eat it when we travel to Sicily. I learned how to make this dish from my darling mom and while she likes to use the local sicilian green cauliflower, which you will literally find on every corner in Sicily,  where local street vendors are selling them all day long, I prefer to use the regular white cauliflower.

I also added another variation to this dish. The original recipe usually calls for ‘bucatini pasta'( a type of long pasta). I like to use rigatoni pasta (a short pasta) and then bake this dish for about 20 minutes before serving.

 

 

© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights ReservedIMG_7573

 

Ingredients for 4 people

500g  bucatini or any short pasta of your choice
1  medium cauliflower
1  yellow onion
1/2 cup  dry black currants
2 Tbsp pine nuts
4  canned anchiovies fillets
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 pinch saffron

2 to 3 tbsp bread crumbs

2 to 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

 

Start by making a tea with the saffron threads and set aside. Soften the dry currants in a bowl with warm water.
Wash and cut the cauliflower in medium size florets. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the cauliflower until slightly tender.
Take the florets out with a strainer and keep the water from the pot to cook the pasta after. In a pan sautee the onion with olive oil until  they become soft and translucent, add the anchovies,  the pine nuts, the currants (drained), the cauliflower and cook for about 10/15 minutes until everything is mixed well. Add some ‘saffron tea’ to keep it moist while all the ingredients are cooking. In the meantime check the pasta and be sure to cook it until it is about two minutes before ‘al dente’. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large baking dish.  Mix the pasta with some grated parmesan cheese. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Add some more saffron tea and then sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and the reamining grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

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Buon appetito!

After holiday dish…

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

‘UNA SPAGHETTATA…’

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’.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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.

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.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

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