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!

Croutons Salad

bread_saladThe are two things right now that can give me some happiness: cooking and sleeping. Cheering myself up with some colorful salad. Buon appetito!

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:   [8 portions]

  • 4 slices toast bread
  • 500 gr cherry tomatoes
  • 2 red onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 cucumber
  • 15 olives (without pit)
  • fresh parsley
  • olive oil (generous amount)
  • salt & pepper
  • some lettuce leaves as base

1. First focus on pepper: pre-heat a nonstick pan, wash and cut your peppers and let them roast without oil until they get some tender but they are still crunchy.

2. While your peppers are on the pan, wash and cut the other veggies: cucumber ( I leave the skin on for this recipe), cherry tomatoes, red onions and olives. Toss everything in a bowl and season with pepper,fresh parsley, olive oil and salt.

3. Cut the slices of toast bread in small cubes and fry them in another pan with a generous amount of olive oil. Wait until he oil is frizzling before tossing the bread in. After 1-2 minutes flip them to the other side.Be careful, those small cubes burn easily! Lay them on a plate with kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.. Note: don’t add the croûtons on your salad till few minutes before serving, otherwise they will loose texture by absorbing the tomatoes juice!

4. Let the peppers cool down completely before adding them to the bowl. I usually move everything on a big serving plate, covered with some roman lettuce and croûtons on the very top, as in the picture. It is very scenic!

Grandma grilled Eggplants

grilled_eggplantGrandma used to make them in Summer, when eggplants are in season and they have no seeds. She used to put them in jars also, preserved with oil for the winter. However, she was famous for her tomatoes passata, every year she spent 4 days doing it and she had so many jars in her pantry. I miss her and I miss these old traditions.

All that you need is some music or movie,or as she used to, watch some soap opera like “Beautiful”, because grilling eggplants take time. They can last up to one week in your fridge, or 6 months if you decided to preserved them in oil.

I got my grill pan “GRILLA” from ikea 3 years ago ( around 10 €),  it is still in perfect condition. I use vinegar to clean it :)

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 4 aubergines
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper (with/out seeds, up to your spicy taste)
  • fresh basil, fresh mint
  • 2 tea spoons oregano,salt
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar ( for the preservers use regular white one, from grapefruit)
  • 4 tbs olive oil

1. Pre-heat your grill pan with medium-high heat and spread some salt on it.Doing so, the eggplants slices won’t get sticked.

2. While the grill is warming up,wash and cut the eggplants in 1 cm thick slices. Thicker they are, longer they have to grill both sides, certain I don’t want that !

3. While your eggplants are grilling, let’s make the dressing: in a bowl mix 4 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, 4 garlic cloves and red chili-pepper very fine cut, 2 teaspoons oregano, mint and basil fresh leaves, as much as you like.

4. Each time a slice will be ready, put it in the bowl so it can soak the dressing up. Each time another round of eggplants will be cooked and added to the bowl, do not forget to stir them. It could seem that the dressing won’t be enough, but, as long as you see them changing color and turning more brown ( because of the black balsamic vinegar), trust me, it is good enough :)

and Buon appetito!

Peperonata ~ Recipe

peperonataPotatoes, peppers and onion are cooked in a wok, with a sweet and sour sauce, made of balsamic vinegar. This recipe recalls Summer time, when peppers are in seasons and are sold for super cheap prices in Sicily. The tradition wants it served cool,but I prefer it lukewarm. Another family recipe: love my daddy.

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 750 gr potatoes
  • 4-5 red peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 45 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoon white sugar
  • mint, salt, oregano and fresh basil
  • 3 tbs olive oil

1. The boring part: peel and wash potatoes, onions and peppers. In the meanwhile, pre-heat a wok with 3 tbs olive oil.

2. When the oil is hot, add onions and let them cook for a couple of minutes.

3.Next, add potatoes only. Smaller they are cut, quicker they will cook.

4. When the potatoes are a bit softer, add peppers and a generous amount of salt. Cook for other 15 minutes.

5. In a glass mix 45 ml balsamic vinegar and 4 teaspoon of white sugar, stir until it dissolves.When the vegetables are almost cooked, add the liquid, wait until it will bed reduced and become creamy.

6. Finish the recipe with herbs: mint (not too much, otherwise it will taste like a toothpaste, true story here)and oregano. Fresh basil, only when the heat is turned off.

Buon appetito!

Potatoes Purèe ~ Family Recipe

purèeWho doesn’t love smashed potatoes?They are not the lightest side dish, but they taste amazing. This recipe is my father’s, it’s light and delicate. It is perfect to be served not only with meat, but also with fish. Be prepared to the fact, that once you get used to fresh purèe, you won’t be able to eat the pre-cooked one sold in the supermarket.

One trick: you can always boil potatoes with the skin: when you smash them, the skin get trapped in potatoes masher and doesn’t pass through.

Time:  1 hour preparation + 15 min cooking

Ingredients:  [ 4 portions]

  • 700 gr boiled potatoes
  • 50 gr grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 glasses milk
  • 2 spoons butter
  • pepper, salt, fresh parsley,nutmeg

1. Boil the potatoes until they are soft. You can use normal pots or, if you own it, a pressure cooker.

2. Smash the potatoes directly inside a pot. Add 2 spoons of butter, with a medium heat, starts add one by one the milk glasses. Use a whisk to stir.

3. Add slowly Parmesan cheese, pepper, small amount of salt. When you see the first bubble, it’s ready. Add some fresh parsley.

Once it cools down a little, it will be denser, don’t worry!

Buon appetito!

Snow peas with tomatoes sauce

snow_peaThis kind of peas are rare to find in my island, but in other Italian region, for example Lazio, are quite common. My uncle lives in Rome and used to cook them for me.This is the easiest way to make them, you can serve like this as side-dish or cook some pasta together. I looked around to see what kind of nutritional properties they have; apparently, they come from the family of peas, but even better, here you can eat the entire pod skin, which contains a lot of goodies in!

You can boil them first, and after you drained them, finish some minutes cooking in the pan. Or, you can be just lazy as I am, using one pan and not boiling them.

Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:  4 portions

  • 500 gr fresh snow peas
  • 1 big onion
  • 4 fresh tomatoes or 250 gr peeled tomatoes in a can
  • pepper, salt
  • basil
  • olive oil

1. Peel the onion and wash it together with snow peas under cold water.

2. Cut finely the onion. Heat some olive oil in a pan with high hedges. When it’s hot enough, let the onion becomes gold.

3. Add the snow peas cut in half (in this way they get quicker cooked and also easier eaten) and peeled tomatoes can. Otherwise, boil some water and sink the tomatoes in for 5 minutes. The skin will crack and you can easily remove it and add them in the pan.

4. Cook until snow peas are tender, around 30 minutes with a lid on. Add salt and pepper, garnish with fresh basil.

Buon appetito

Stuffed Peppers with Rice

stuffed_pepperI cook often stuffed pepper because it is a good solution to have a main dish and side dish all together. For this reason, I tried out many different ways to make them special every time. This is the easiest and quickest version recipe. Serve them room temperature or a littler warmer. This is one of those dish which is tastier the next day, if you know what I mean.

Time: 20 min + 45 min cooking in the oven

Ingredients:  for 6 portions

  • 5 red and yellow peppers
  • 100 gr Parmesan
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • 150 gr white rice ( short grain)
  • 250 gr peas (frozen or in a can)
  • dry parsley
  • pepper,olive oil, salt

Option 2:

When I want to make this dish super complete, 3 in 1 effects (as my dishwasher tabs are supposed to be…) I prepare what in Italy is called ” ragù in bianco“, or white ragù. Basically just follow my ragù recipe (click here) skipping step 3 and 4 . Simply mix it with the rice and follow the rest of the recipe I am posting below.

1.Bring water to boil in a pot and cook your rice, but not completely. Drain it 3-4 minutes before the total amount of minutes suggested in the package. It will continue to cook in the oven.

2.While your rice is cooking, cut the top of peppers, get rid of seeds, cut them in half when they are small, or more for bigger peppers.Wash them, salt them inside and let them drain a little water out.

3. Mix in a bowl rice, Parmesan, pepper, parsley,peas or ragù in bianco. Put peppers with the concave part facing up in a baking tray. Fill all shells with a spoon. Spread breadcrumbs on them and olive oil to make the top part crispy and gold.

Cook for 45 minutes at 180°c

Let them cool down and.. Buon appetito!