Sicilian “Caponata”

This recipe takes quite long time, as all very good stuff do. But, you can keep it in your refrigerator for quite long. I remember when was a kid in my grandma kitchen, I used to hide under the table scared of her splattering oil. She had this tiny and old kitchen, and yet, she was sitting always there. She had other rooms of course, but as far as I can remember, she was always in that tiny steamy kitchen, always up to something, with some soap opera on her tiny old tv, always on. As a matter of fact, my grandma won’t know, but I too spend most of my day in my less small kitchen with music or youtube video or rai.replica on.

caponata

Time: 35 min – 2 hours preparation

Ingredients: for 4 portions

  • 3 aubergine
  • 2 onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 80 gr green olives (without pit)
  • 40 gr capers (much better the one with dry brining)
  • 30 gr pin nut
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 3 tomatoes (or a can chopped salsa tomatoes)
  • 100 ml white Italian vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 l frying oil (sunflower is better)
  • salt and pepper

1. First wash and dry with a kitchen towel your eggplants, cut them in cubes and put them on a strainer. Spread some salt on them and let them rest for at least 1 hour. You can also put an heavy pot upon them, in order to get rid of more bitter liquid. This method is always used to get rid of excess water during frying process. Otherwise they get mushy and not crispy.

2.While the eggplants take a nap, I usually get forward with the preparation of the other ingredient. a) I cut finely the onion b) wash capers and olive, cut them in small circles and leave some whole. c) wash and cut the red pepper and celery.

3. In an old pan bring the sunflower oil to right temperature( it takes usually 10-15 minutes or so medium heat).You know the right temperature, if you toss one cube of eggplant and immediately some small bubbles appear all around it. When they get some golden color, you get them out of oil and lay on some kitchen paper to absorb the excesses oil.

4. In another big pan put 3 tbs spoon olive oil and cook onions for 2 minutes.

5, Add a pressed clove garlic, red peppers, 80 gr green olives and celery. Add some salt and cook for 5 minutes. Then add 40 gr capers, 30 gr pine nuts and tomatoes without seeds or the one from a can without the preserving water, cook for other 4 minutes high temperature.

6. Add the fried eggplants, together with 100 ml white vinegar and one big tablespoon sugar. Cook for other 5-6 minutes medium temperature.

7. Now check, and eventually add, salt and pepper and let the whole thing cool down. It is usually served room temperature, better on some wholegrain bread.

and now I am so hungry… Buon appettito!

 

 

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Potatoes “alla pizzaiola”

 

potatoes_alla_pizzaiola

These kind of potatoes are usually available in special places in Sicily called “pollerie”, they are gastronomical stores specialized in cooking chickens in long spits,that slowly rotates about their axes and make the skin crispy but remains juicy inside. For around 8-10 € you can get a whole chicken  as well as some sides, either french-fries or these potatoes; and usually, for half price, half chicken. My other Grandmother was an absolutely fan of them, and often ordered half for both me and her on our Saturday-nights together.

Time: 1 hour – 20 minutes preparation

Ingredients: for 4 portions

  • 6 potatoes (medium size)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 can chunks tomatoes
  • 3 tbs e.v. olive oil
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper

1. Peal and clean your potatoes. Cut them very fine. Do the same with the two onions

2. Grease a large casserole with olive oil. Put a first layer of potatoes and remember to salt them. On top of potatoes add: onions, pepper, sprinkle some oregano.

3. Filter the liquid part from the tomatoes chunks in your can, add only those. Drizzle some drops of olive oil on top. You can always use fresh tomatoes instead, but not the seeds-central part, which would be too watery.

4.Go on and complete with 1 or 2 others layers, until you’ve used all your potatoes slices up.

5. Cook for 1 hour at 160°c .

Buon appetito to everyone!

Artichokes by my Grandma <3

artichokes

My grandma used to have a huge pot, perfect to cook a lot of artichokes, I don’t own one, so I can unfortunately only make 4 at time! In Sicily we usually have artichokes around Easter time, we grill them in our bbq parties or we stuff them. Still, another option is to simply boil them, and make some “intingolo”: a mix of olive oil, garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and take each single leaf, sink them in your mixture, and eat it.

Time: 30 minuts cooking + 30 min preparation

Ingredients:

  • 4 artichokes
  • olive oil
  • anchovies paste (if you want to make it vegan, skip it)
  • fine bread crumbs (~150 gr.)
  • fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pepper, salt
  • 3 lemons

1. First we need to clean our artichokes:

a) Remove the external leaves, I usually take two layers off. Doing so you are going to eat only the soft leaves, which are easier to digest.

b) Cut the bottom part off, in order to let our artichoke able to sit on his butt and stay vertically in our pot later.

c) Rub half a lemon all around, so the leaves won’t start oxidation process and won’t change their color.

d) There are different kind of artichokes, but most of them have pointy spike ends: use some scissors to remove the external ones. If you’re lucky you can find the variety without them, but this passage doesn’t really take long!

e) with your thumbs try to open the leaves gently.

f) put them inside a bowl with water,parsley and 3-4 half lemons.

2. For the stuffing part we need to warm  a generous amount of olive oil in a pan. Add two tablespoons anchovies paste and press a clove of garlic; with the help of a wood tablespoon, mix them together.

3. Add the fine bread crumbs and pepper. Let them get some color – around 5 minutes. Turn off, add a generous amount of chopped fresh parsley and half glass of water. The crumb mixture should have a moister texture.

4. Go back to your artichokes, gently squeeze them and place them on a plate with head facing down, so the remaining water will fall down. One by one, with a teaspoon, put your stuffing bread between the leaves. Don’t panic, it has to be messy and not perfect!

5. Get a large pot, place the artichokes on their bottom. The pot needs to be the right size to help them stay steady vertically, but not too squeezed.  Add carefully one glass water + 3 teaspoons olive oil to the bottom of your pot, pay attention do not to get your artichoke-heads wet.

6. Cook for 30 minutes, always with the lid on, at slow-medium heat.

Buon appetito to everyone!!!

Sicilian fennel Salad

fennel_saladLong time since my last post. First of all I want to thank Seema (here her blog http://www.coffeemakerslist.com) for all the love and support she showed me, pushing me to come back. Since we moved in Germany (around November), I had so much colon-pain every afternoon till nights, which often turned out into an emergency bathroom call. Since 7th April I kind of changed my everyday nutrition into a more “veganish” way of eating, I still eat fish though. The reason was mainly my pain, which now is reduced significantly. I would say that 90% of time I am fine. Anyway long story short: I got kind of depressed and had a lack of creativity since now milk, eggs, cheese and other stuff don’t belong our fridge anymore. But now I am slowly rearrange my everyday meals…

This recipe is a traditional recipe, very very refreshing, you can make it completely vegan skipping anchovies. Some family serves it at the very end of the meal, to “wash” your mouth thanks to the citrus and help digestibility through fennel nutrition properties or could be served between two important and heavy courses to lighten them up.

Time: 15 minutes + 10 resting

Ingredients: 

  • 4 orange ( better quality without seed)
  • 3 fennel
  • 2 spring onions
  • 10 black olives
  • oregano, salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • fresh parsley
  • Optional: 3-4 anchovies cut in small pieces

1. Cut oranges skin out.: you need to completely remove the white skin part and cut in small chunks.

2. Put orange in a big bowl with spring onions finely cut, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.

3. Wash and  remove the external shell of fennels. I like to cut them fine but not too much: I do love the crunchy side of fennel. Add to the bowl with 3 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and some parsley.

4. Add olive( I like to cut them in smaller circle) and *anchovies, which will add some salty background taste.

Let it rest for 10 minute and then taste it:  the orange sweetness should be in contrast with the raw spicy hint of spring onions. Now you can adjust with more pepper and salt if needed.

Buon Appetito!!!

My Sicilian Pesto ~ Recipe

sicilian_pestoAs you’ll read below I wrote a general name as “salty cheese”, because now that I live abroad, I know how hard is to find all Italian cheese, such us ‘ricotta salata‘ or ‘primosale” etc, so I simply adapted this recipe with any kind of salty cheese I am able to find. I tried with Feta, and it taste amazing!This recipe is inspired by the famous ‘pesto alla trapanese‘, but I changed it a little bit to my own taste. Trapani is a beautiful sea city in the west Sicily.

Easy and quick, with few ingredients.This is my favorite dressing of a quick pasta recipe ever! Yumm… In this picture I was using ‘spinach pasta’, but with a regular kind of pasta it is as tasty.

Note: You will need an electric chopper/blender.

Time:  7 minutes

Ingredients:  [ for 2 person]

  • 1 big tomato or
  • 50 gr any salty cheese ( better of course is with ‘ricotta salata‘..but also Feta is good)
  • 15 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper ( good amount)
  • pine nuts (20 gr ca.)
  • almonds (6 -7) ( you can skip them)

1. Just toss everything in the blender and push the bottom!

2.Keep always one glass of boiling water from your pasta and add it in the sauce in order to make it creamier.

Buon appetito!!!

 

‘Maccu’ ~ Broad Beans Recipe

macco‘Maccu’ is an old and poor dish, cooked in the entire Sicily island with many variations. In some village it is cooked with short pasta, some other with beans and different aromatic herbs. The tradition wants this dish as main dish the day of Saint Joseph, 19th March in Italy. This is also Father’s day for Italians.

Note: some broad beans package suggests to let them soak for 6 hours. Just check what is written on the back of your package and follow its directions.

Time:  2 hours

Ingredients:  4 portions

  • 500 gr dehydrated broad beans ( or double amount fresh without skin)
  • 1 onion
  • 250 gr peas in a can
  • 4 tbs e.v. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • wild fennel **( or you can use one jar of already prepared…) This last ingredient is very rare outside of Sicily, maybe some fresh dill could be used as substitution or just skip it.

1. Peel, wash and cut finely the onion. Put 2 tbs in a pot, when it start frizzling, add your onion. After 3 minutes, add also the broad beans.

2. Add 800 ml water, put lid on, and cook for around 1 hour and half, low temperature  – add some wild fennel if you have it. Every once in a while, stir it and use the spoon to smash apart the broad beans  to obtain a cream consistency.  When they are perfectly melted and almost fully cooked, add 250 peas, salt, and pepper. Cook for other 10 minutes.

Let it cool down a little bit and add 2 tbs e.v.oil. It is served lukewarm.

and.. Buon appetito!