Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gelo all'arancia! Does it sound good?

You bet!
It sounds good, it taste delicious!

The arancia rossa (red orange) also named tarocco is one of the most delicious autochthonous cultivar in Sicily. It a typical winter orange, widely used for fresh juice.

It's also a perfect ingredient for a typical Sicilian gelo (sort of fruit jelly).

Preparing the gelo
serves 6/8 people

half a lt of orange juice
180 grams of sugar
half a squeezed lemon
17 grams of gelatine
pistach powder

1. Squeeze the organges to get half a liter of juice. Pour it into a bowl and add the lemon juice.
2. Prepare a syrup, boiling half a lt of water and adding the sugar, stirring well so to dissolve it.
3. Pour some water into a bowl, dip the gelatine sheets and let it soften for about 5 minutes. Then, wring it and add into the syrup. Stir until it is completeply dissolved.
4. Pour everything into the juice bowl, strir well. Pour the mixture into a pudding mould (better if made of alluminium or glass). Put it into the fridge for at least 2/3 hours.
5. When it gets a jelly consistency, put it in a double boiler (bain-marie) with lukewarm water for a few seconds. Then, turn it upside down using a plate or a tray.
6. Decorate with pistach powder, slice ad serve it.
You can also use whipped cream, fresh fruit, almonds or chocolate flakes to decorate it.

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Green long onions, a winter type

I mentioned the green long onions last Monday for Orange salad: healthy, fresh and fanciful. I said I was not sure you could find them out of Italy. It's better I post a picture, just to be sure you know exactly what we are talking about. It's a typical winter type of onion, our markets are full of it. Hope you can buy it at home as it is light and tasty. This picture was taken this morning at the main market in Catania. You cut the grey filaments, skin it from the external green part and use only the white one.
picture © Doriana Briguglio

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lemon juice: enhance taste and prevent from oxidation

Use the lemon juice to rub peeled and sliced pears and apples
to be used for cakes, preserves or jams.

It will enhance their flavour and prevent them from oxidation.
Text and picture copyright by Doriana Briguglio

Orange salad: healthy, fresh and fanciful

Typically Sicilian, it's healthy, fresh and fanciful! It's a winter salad!
My main regret is we can't have it during those Sicilian sunny and hot summer days when you need anything helpful to cool down and the temperature outside is about 40/42°C!

Preparing the salad
serves 2 people

2 medium/big oranges
4/6 black olives
half a medium fennel
half a red onion
(we call them "onions from Tropea" a small town in Calabria along the Tyrrenian coast or "cipolla Calabria")
OR 2 long green onions (I'm not sure if you can find it out of Italy)
extra virgin olive oil

1. Skin the red onion, cut it upright into 2 pieces and slice it finely. Take a bowl, fill it with cold water, put one tsp of salt and then the onion. Let it rest for a couple of hours so to help the onion to get rid of its bitter taste.
You do not need to do it if you use the long green ones.
2. Peel the organges: cut the head and foot first, place the orange upright and peel it vertically so to remove the peel and the white part under it (the orange must be with no filaments. Then cut the orange in segments and then each segment into 2 or 3 parts.
3. Stone the olives and cut them in pieces.
4. Remove the external leaf of the fennel,put it upright and cut vertically and finely. Wash it carefully with a bit of sodium bicarbonate (1 tsp in fine, it helps to clean from any impurity).
5. Wipe the onion.
6. Mix all ingredients, dress with salt and extra virgin olive oil. Let it rest 30 minutes before serving it. Use the salad as side-dish with roast meat or fish.
Buon appetito!
Text and pictures copyright by Doriana Briguglio

Friday, January 16, 2009

Palermo & Panelle

I love panelle!

It happens quite often for me to go to Palermo, both for business or go and visit friends.
I was in Palermo a couple of days ago. I like this city a lot and I shoudn't say that! You have to know that the two cities, Catania and Palermo, are ancient rivals. And I'm from Catania!

Palermo is an amazing capital, so full of culture and history and monuments and food!

Between a kind of Sicilian street food and a Sicilian fast food, when you say panelle you immediately figure Palermo. Panelle are one of those Palermitani specialties you can easily everywhere around the city. Traditionally food for poor people, nowadays panelle are widely meant as a type of starter or appetizer. They can become a quick and tasty snack for lunch when used to fill a sandwich.

I can't resist and everytime I'm in Palermo I buy some raw to bring, fry and eat at home.
I went and see a very good Palermitano friend of mine and asked his mum to give me her panelle recipe. It is not a very easy recipe but it s worth to try!

serves 4 people

1 lt of water
350 grams of chickpeas flour
some fresh parsley
seed oil

1. Salt the water and put it into a pan. Add little by little the chickpeas flour, stiring slowingso to avoid becoming lumpy.

2. Put the pan on the ring and add the parsley, previously cut finely. Continue stiring until all water is soaked and the flour moves away from the pan.

3. Turn off the ring and slowly pour the flour on a moistened top (marble is better). With a wet spatula strecht it out so to get a uniform surface of about 3 mm.

4. Let it cool.

5. Cut the mixture into small squared pieces of about 9/10 cm per side (you can give them any shape you like but just remember to have small pieces), put them into a fryng pan plenty of hot oil.

6. When fine browned (both sides), put them out and lay them down on a plate covered with blotting paper. Salt and serve warm alone or in a sandwich. You can add some lemon drops: delicious!

Buon appetito!

Picture: "Palermitani Panelle" © Doriana Briguglio

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Slow Food Presidia: 29 good, clean and fair reasons for travelling to and around Sicily

I was surprised and incredulous the first time I I run up against a Chinese garlic at a famous local chain of supermarkets. "What the hell I have to do with a Chinese garlic?". Made in China, when I expected to find a Made in Italy or better a Made in Sicily, since we produce top quality varieties. I was really very disappointed. Nevertheless, it was late, I needed it and I bought it as I had no alternative. Let me tell you that I got really pissed off when cooking I realized that, apart from its pefect shape, it stinks. I threw it away.

It's like buying Chinese pasta or Chinese lemons! In Sicily! No way, at least for me.

During Christmas time, I went to Aldo at Enoteca Sicilia to buy some wine and I left with a with a typical treccia d'aglio, a plait of original Sicilian garlic from Nubia, a Trapani town district. It's named the red garlic, it is tasty and smells properly. I was happy and satisfied!

This aglio roso di Nubia (red garlic from Nubia) is part of the Slow Food Presidia in Sicily whose goal is to protect products at real risk of extincion, connected to a group memory and cultural identity, produced in limited quantities using traditional methods, of high quality and respecting environmental and social values.

Food tells a lot of a territory and its people's culture, it tells about its roots, its present time and its future.
Sicily has a heritage of specialty agrifood products rivaling with any in the world.
Slow Food (for those who still do not know about Slow Food it is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world) has focused 29 Presidia in Sicily (based basicly on bread, oil, cheese, vegetables, seafood) achieving an impressive result by promoting and coordinating dialog between small producers, helping to create a sense of social solidarity and contributing to local economic and social development.

Food might be a good excuse to travel or might be a chance for a proper travelling style.

If you are a foody kinda traveller you have 29 good reasons for travelling to and around Sicily. The map of the Sicilian Presidia reveals how diffused these produtcs are in the region and therefore how close still is the relationship between pastoral agriculture, biodiversity, tradition and economic development.

While visiting the top tourist Sicilian sites such as Taormina, Mt Etna, Catania, Aeolian Islands, Noto an Syracuse, the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Palermo and Monreale, Trapani and Erice, take a map of the Presidia with you and add a visit to local producers or restaurants using the Presidia products, just to mention some of them:

Red Garlic fron Nubia (Trapani), caper from Salina (Aeolian Islands), onion from Giarratana, cuddriredda (sort of bread) from Delia (Agrigento area), lentils from Ustica island, Interdonato lemon type, Maiorchino cheese from Novara di Sicilia (Messina area), almonds from Noto, black bread from Castelvetrano, peaches from Leonforte (Enna area), pistach from Bronte (Etna area), provola cheese from Nebrodi Mountains, sea salt from Trapani, black pork from Nedrodi Mountains.

Your travel will be enriched with tasty memories and unforgetable images of our island.

Buon viaggio e buon appetito!

Picture: "Red garlic from Nubia" © Doriana Briguglio

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zucchini, potatos & tuma cheese sformato

Mine is preatty a big family. I have 17 first cousins from my father's side that makes more or less 45 if we consider wives, husbands and children. We are very close and now and then organize family reunions to spend time together.

Last Saturday I had about 16 out of 45 for dinner.

But this was not a planned one, we just decided on Saturday morning after a few quick phone calls to wish each other Happy New 2009!

My menu choice always starts opening the fridge: I had just bought some fresh green zucchini and I decided to use them somehow.

I imagined zucchini with potatoes, so I just had to figure out the best recipe and shape.
This is a brand-new recipe I want to share with you and just one of the 5 courses served that night.

Zucchini, potatoes & tuma cheese sformato
serves 8 persons (regular course)

3 zucchini, medium/big size
8 potatoes, medium size
tuma cheese OR emmental cheese (or any other kid of tasty stringy one)
1 egg
2 spoons of parmesan cheese
dried mint
extra virgin olive oil

1. Use a deep pan to boil 4 whole potatoes. When you manage to easily slip the fork in, potatoes are ready. Strain them and let them cool.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut them in pieces and put them into a bowl. Mash them, then add the egg, parmesan cheese, parsley, a bit of salt and mix all together.

3. Wash and slice the zucchini (about 5 mm each), wash and slice the potatoes (about 5 mm each).

4. Use a pie-dish and make a first layer of about 1 cm with the potato mixture, so to have a close and regualr bottom. Add alternatively a layer of zucchini with a layer of sliced potatoes. Between the layers, remember to pour drops of extra virgin olive oil, dust salt and dried mint.

5. On top, add the sliced cheese. Bake into the oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Serve it warm.

Buon appetito!
Picture: © Doriana Briguglio

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cauliflower sformato: when your husband hates cauliflower and you don't!

My husband Enzo hates cauliflowers.
To tell the truth he hates eating whatever is green colored, that means most of the vegetables, which is a problem for me since I really love them!

These are real problems for a couple! The only way to solve this kitchen issue is to find the right way to cook them and let him think he's eating something else.
What to do with cauliflowers? What Enzo really hates is their consistency. So, the easiest solution was to make a change to my mom's sformato di cavolfiore (cauliflower flan).
Preparing the flan (serves 2/3 persons)
1 big cauliflower
1 egg
5 spoons of Parmisan OR Grana Padano cheese
150 grams of fusing cheese (at your choice)
4/5 slices of ham
2 spoons of salt
extra virgin olive oil
2 spoons of breadcrumb

1. Wash carefully your cauliflower and cut it into several pieces, be sure to cut not only the flower but also a bit of stalk.

2. Use a deep pan, fill with water (water must cover every piece of cauliflower) and put the salt(taste the water now and then and adjust with more salt if neede). When it begins to boil, dip the cauliflower and let it cook until you easily manage to penetrate the stalk with a fork. Strain the cauliflower until it completely loses the water.

3. Put the cauliflower into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the egg and the parmisan and mix all ingredients. If the cauliflower has been correctly strained, you will get a thick consistency.

4. Use a small/medium pie-dish (the size actually depends on how big the cauliflower is) and with a serviette soaked in olive oil moist the the whole internal surface of the pie-dish. Then, do the same with the breadcrumb so to cover all sides.

5. Ideally divide the cauliflower mixture into two parts. Create a first layer of mashed cauliflower (about 2 cm), a second layer with the slices of ham, a third one with the cheese and a fourth one with the rest of the cauliflower.
6. With a fork creates your own decoration. Add some parmesan cheese on the top and bake it into the oven at 180°C for about 25 minutes.

Let it rest for a couple of minutes, don't tell your husband what dish it is and serve it preatty warm.

"Not bad, taste very good, I think I can eat it once again", Enzo said.
Yes, what a success!
Picture: © Doriana Briguglio

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New 2009!

Happy New 2009!

May this year bring serenity and prosperity to you, your families and friends!