SEPPIOLINE IN UMIDO –

November 17, 2016

Baby Squid Stew

Recipe n. 40

Back to Sicilian repertoire!

I inherited this delicious recipe from my mom’s cooking. To give her full credit, I should use the same ‘vocabulary’ she uses to describe the way this food needs to be cooked: ‘A tutto dentro’. There is not an easy way to translate this expression into english and it really doesn’t make much sense in italian either. Every time she uses it,  my sister and I can’t help smiling and tease my mom. What do you mean with a tutto dentro???  Literally it means ‘everything inside’. I believe it is a cooking expression used mostly in the Southern area of Italy. Basically all the ingredients go in one pot and cook slowly!

With this system the nourishing proprieties of what is cooking  inside the pot won’t be lost.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh seppioline (or calamaretti)

  • 1 onion (thinly sliced or chopped)

  • 1 bottle tomato sauce ( 750 ml)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3 tbsp fish broth (or water) or white wine

  • pinch hot chilly pepper

  • salt and pepper

  • Olive oil

  • fresh chopped basil at the end to garnish on top

  •  slices of tasted country bread to accompany the dish

 

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Rinse the seppioline under cold water and let them rest in the fridge in a colander. In a large pot add some olive oil and gently sauté the onions until translucent. Add the seppioline, tomato paste, bay leaf, hot chilli pepper. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes and then add the liquid of your choice (broth, water or wine). Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato  sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil leaves and serve with toasted country bread on the side.

Buon appetito!

 

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BAY LAUREL LIQUEUR 

Recipe n. 38

After spending 2 months in Sicily for the Summer I certainly came back to New York with a satisfied belly,  more inspired about life in general and with tons of new recipes to make. Here is a fun recipe to make your own liqueur with bay leaves. It’s the same simple procedure used to make limoncello. Both liqueurs are always served chilled at the end of a meal as a digestive, or to accompany your dessert.

Why did I chose Bay laurel?

Earlier this year, after taking an herbalism course and after feeling overwhelmed about the amount of herbs that nature provides and their medicinal and cooking  properties, I decided to follow my teacher’s advice and focus on one plant at a time, maybe stick with the same plant even for a year, until I have learned everything I can about it.

I have chosen bay leaves, Laurus Nobilis, because I have known this plant since I was little. There was always a bay tree growing in our garden back in Italy and my mother used the leaves mostly dried, as a healing herbal tea to help her digestion.

Bay laurel is an unmistakable plant which is part of the Mediterranean vegetation.

© 2016 Field of Flavors - All Rights Reserved

© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

Ingredients

  • 20 fresh bay leaves

  • 1/2 liter of pure alcohol (in Italy it is very easy to purchase pure alcohol. If you cannot find pure alcohol you can use vodka instead)

  • 800 ml of filtered water

  • 400 grams of brown cane sugar

  • 1 liter size Mason jar type (or 4 Stagioni) as long as it has a large opening.

 

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Wash the bay leaves throughly and let them dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Break them into pieces and place them inside the jar. Now cover them with the alcohol and close the jar with the lid. Keep the jar in a fresh and dry place (never in the fridge), away from direct light, for at least 3 weeks.

Every few days remember to shake the jar.

After this time the alcohol should have turned into a nice bright green color, which has been extracted from the bay leaves. You can let the leaves stay in the alcohol for longer or strain the liquid into a bowl using a cheese cloth. Discard the leaves. In a pot heat the water slightly and dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool down and add the liquid extracted. Mix it and pour into a bottle. Store it in the fridge and always serve it chilled.

 

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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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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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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.

 

 

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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!

Back to the origins…

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 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!

‘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.

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

Ingredients*

  • 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.

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