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!

 

 

Advertisements

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!

5 Minute Vegan Mayonnaise

vegan_mayonnaiseMost of the time, while I am looking for vegan recipe on-line, I give up trying. Whether for bizarre ingredient (some time very expensive one) or very long and complicated procedure ( do this, then one hour resting in the fridge, then blabla) I choose to simply don’t eat these things. But this, this is so easy and quick, and honestly taste much better than regular mayo, I couldn’t believe it! Furthermore, it won’t become unstable, it is dumb proofed.

Note: you’ll need an hand-blender

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 100 ml soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ lemon juice
  • pepper (optional)

1. In large and high glass, put 200 ml sunflower oil + 100 ml soy milk + ½ teaspoon mustard powder. Blend until the two liquid are uniform.

2. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and mix again for max 2 minute. And you have it. If it is still liquid, try to add just a tiny amount of extra oil.This can happen because not all lemons have the same amount of juice. I like to add some black pepper, but it is up to you :)

Buon Appetito!

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!

Handmade Gnocchi ~ Recipe

gnocchiOnly two ingredients for this gnocchi. They are very filling and delicious. You can boil potatoes the day before and smash them, keep them in the fridge and then make gnocchi shape the next day, as I do when I have people coming over. It is much easier though if you just smash the potatoes when they are still hot and mix them with flour right after, they stick together easier and quicker. Anyway, I tried both ways, and they come out as good! Freezing them it is not possible, unfortunately they loose their texture.

How to serve them:

This is a typical north-Italy dish and it can be served in many ways. What I personally love the most, is with just knob of butter, melted with some black pepper,sage and Parmesan cheese on top. I prefer it because it emphases the taste of potatoes and it is not over-powering. You can also have them served with ragù (click here for recipe).

Time: 1 hour and ½ preparation + 10 minutes cooking

Ingredients:   [8 big portions]

  •  1kg potatoes
  • 400 gr white flour
  • salt

1, Boil the potatoes in salted water. There is no need to remove the skin, it will remain trapped inside the potatoes masher.

2. When they are tender (check with fork, around 40 minutes after), smash them with an old-style potatoes masher. Taste them, if it is needed, add more salt, which usually happens.

4. Put some extra flour on your clean table surface and start working your potatoes with 400 gr of white flour until you’ll have  a compact texture, enough to create a mass. See the picture below.

gnocchi025. In the meanwhile spread a clean tea-towel on your table and cover it with some flour, as in the picture, in order to prevent your gnocchi to get sticked on each other.

6. With a knife, cut a small quantity from your mass. Now go back to your childhood and model it to obtain the shape of quite long worm. With a knife, cut it in smaller pieces, almost 3 cm long. Be sure to add extra flour on your table if they get sticky. While you’re making them put them on the tea-towel to rest.

7. Cooking process: Use an extra-large pot to bring salted water to boil. Add small quantities of them, not all together, otherwise they will stick on the bottom of your pot or even worse, they lose their shape and become one huge gnocco. They are cooked, as soon as they float on water surface again. Use a small colander to pull them out and keep cooking in the same pot all the other gnocchi left.

Buon appetito!

PS: I want to add a funny and unrelated information: in very informal Italian language we use the word ‘gnocca/o’ to point a sexy/attractive woman or man out: ‘Che gnocca!’ XD

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!

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

Lentil Soup ~ Recipe

lentils_soupI cook lentils every week; they are a good resource for many nutrition components and it’s a good way to reduce the quantity of meat in our diet. When I don’t have enough time, I just put 1 carrots  and one onion inside the pot without chopping them, they release anyway all the flavor.

In Italy, it is tradition to eat them for New Year’s Eve, right before the midnight. We say that lentils bring good luck and money. We also wear red underwear for good luck, but that’s another story!

Time: prep: 8 hour soaking in cold water (better the night before for the next morning) + 1 hour cooking

Ingredients:  for  6 portions

  • 500 gr lentil (good quality one: I prefer red lentils or small ones)
  • 2 big carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tbs concentrate tomatoes sauce
  • 2 laurel oak leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 stick fresh celery
  • olive oil, pepper, salt
  • rosemary

1.Peel and wash onions and carrots and mix them in the electric chopper or cut finely with a knife.

2. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a big pot and, when it starts frizzling, add carrots and onions. Let them fry, until they are golden.

3. Add your lentils, laurel oak leaves, rosemary, 1 tbs concentrated tomatoes, 1 stick fresh celery ( so it is easier to remove) and two big glasses of water, until the water cover all lentils. I cook them with low heat, with a lid on, for 45 minutes. Then I check them to see if they are ready. I add pepper and salt, when they are near to the end of being fully cooked.

and… Buon appetito!