Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stuffed baked tomatoes in Mediterranean style

Have you ever tried some delicious stuffed tomatoes made in Mediterreanean style? They are not only exquisite but also very easy to prepare. You only need some fresh tomatoes, breadcrumb, some cheese of your choice (we always use Sicilian caciocavallo or primosale), e.v. oil of olive plus oregano, salt & pepper.

If you know someone who loves tomatoes and you want to do something nice and a bit unusual, this is the perfect way to do it.

Preparation for 4 people:
Wash your tomatoes under running water, then remove the top part. Depending on how big they are, you can either cut them in half and serve 1 tomato per person, or 2 each if they are small like the ones in the picture on the right.

In a bowl, collect the inside of the tomatoes (the watery part), add breadcrumb (about 1 tablespoon for each tomato), 2-3 tablespoons of oil of olive, oregano and the cheese you want (about 100 gr.) cut in little cubes. The strongest the cheese taste, the better, that's why we usually use the caciocavallo, which is particularly tasty and make a good contrast with the rest of the ingredients that are definitely sweeter. Adjust with salt and pepper in the end as you like.
Switch the oven on, place the tomatoes in a baking try with a drizzle of oil at the bottom and cook them at 180° for about 20-25 minutes. Grill them for an extra 7-8 minutes so that they become a bit crusty on top and serve them still hot. They are a wonderful side-dish and so simple that they perfectly match with any main dish such as meat, fish or omelette. I definitely recommend them as one of the side-dish of this coming Easter lunch. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sicilian Cuisine: a passion is always recognised sooner or later

Can you imagine what an amazing week I've just had... blog-wise? I received an invitation to a television programme, a business offer and a reward email saying that my blog has been included in the personal selection of the most influential and interesting Internet resources published on the website Ville in Italia. What a honour!

Plus, my followers on Facebook are nearly 1000!!! Isn't that amazing?

At the following link, you can find the full selection of the article and the motivation:
“This is another great food blog featuring real traditional Sicilian food and cookery. The author Georgia C. defines herself as a “Sicilian from Sicily, with an international soul” and she is quite passionate about Italian cuisine – her blog demonstrate that!”

So my wise pearl of the day is that if you do something with passion, whatever hobby or activity is, people will eventually recognise and acknowledge it, and when it happens it's going to be such a great feeling. So... many thanks to you all! ;-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In memory of Mamma Carmela!


Dear Readers,

yesterday I received the unexpected and sad news of the wonderful Mamma Carmela's passing away. She was an icon in Palermo, as she had run a Trattoria for more than 50 years, cooking exquisite dishes in the most genuine and familiar style. I want to remember her and her lovely place where many times I went to eat, and if you want to check one of her most famous recipe clic HERE.

Cari Lettori,

ieri ho ricevuto una notizia triste e inaspettata. La meravigliosa Mamma Carmela, che ha cucinato nella sua Trattoria al Borgo vecchio per più di 50 anni si è spenta. Voglio qui ricordarla, e con  lei i suoi deliziosi piatti cucinati in modo genuino e familiare.

Per chi fosse interessato a conoscere una delle ricette più famose di Mamma Carmela, può fare clic

Un pensiero e un abbraccio a tutta la sua splendida famiglia.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fiasconaro & the Easter photo contest

Fiasconaro store in Castelbuono, Sicily
On the occasion of the coming Easter (April the 20th) the very renowned Fiasconaro brand has launched "Pasqua con Fiasconaro" (transl. Easter with Fiasconaro); a digital photo contest on their Official Facebook page with the aim to catch the most captivating moments of people eating a Fiasconaro product. So you only need something of their brand, plus a camera and an account.

The author will publish his/her own photo on the page and the first three winners (most liked pics) will receive a Fiasconaro gift. If anyone is interested you have time until April the 30th to capture and publish your photo. Good luck!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sicilian primosale & pecorino cheese: something to be proud of!

Primosale from Sicilformaggi, Santa Ninfa

Do you know what is 'tuma or primosale'? With these words we indicate the first two aging phases of one of the most traditional and sublime Sicilian sheep cheese, widely known with the generic term of PECORINO, which is actually the last phase of ageing. 

You can have it plain with some bread or you can put it in your cooked dishes (baked pasta, stuffed bell peppers, parmigiana, potato gateaux... just to name a few.) There are also many versions of primosale, the most common ones are with black pepper, chilli pepper, olives and pistaches (as you can see in the picture below.)

So let's explore a bit more this fascinating world of Sicilian local cheese and how it is actually produced: first we have the tuma, the fresher and unsalted cheese, second comes the primosale or fresh pecorino, which literally means "first salt" because it's the very first salting, third there is the secondosale or semi-aged pecorino (second salting) and last but not least the aged

Times for each phase are obviously different, tuma can lasts around one week, if we put the salt it will become primosale after a month. With the second salting we will have the secondosale in 4 months and finally the pecorino after a much longer period. 

Sicilians usually love cheese, but they are particularly crazy about this one, as it is a delicate and unique mix of flavour and perfect texture. I personally adore it whether it is fresh or melted with a sprinkle of oregano on top. I could eat it every single day of my life! So... I hope you will get the chance to try it and judje by yourself.

These beautiful pictures come from the website, a Sicilian cheese factory located in Santa Ninfa, in the province of Trapani. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sicilian oranges and almonds combined in a super-light cake

Do you know how to make an exquisite light and orange flavored cake? Do you ever wonder what to prepare to your kids as afternoon snack that is healthy and tasty? Well... first of all let me tell you that it's definetely better if you have Sicilian organic oranges and Sicilian almond flour. Yes!

Last week I was actually browsing the Internet for a cake containing almond flour, as I wanted to use the one I had bought few months before, and I bumped into this recipe that I tried with an amazing result! (The original Italian site is called gnamgnam, but I've slightly changed it.)

Ingredients and preparation:
100 gr. almond flour
50 gr. flour
100 gr. brown sugar
4 eggs (to be separated)
2 organic oranges
16 gr. yeast in powder
icing sugar for topping 

In a bowl beat the yolks with the sugar until soft and fluffy. In another bowl, pour the almond flour and add the orange juice and the orange zest. Add this mix to the egg and sugar one and mix well. Then add the plain flour and the powder yeast. Last, whip the egg whites with a tiny pinch of salt until stiff and gently incorporate them on the cake mix, being very careful because you don't want to deflate them, so use a spatula to help you and gently fold them in a sort of circular movement (from the top to the bottom) until they are completely combined with the rest of the mixture.

Now the cake is ready to go in the oven. To bake it I usually use a silicone cake pan which doesn't need paper or butter. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes at 180° C. After half an hour (never before!) check it with a wooden stick; if it's cooked and dry inside take it out of the oven and let it cool down for a while, before tranferring it on a serving plate. Sprinkle with icing sugar if you like and enjoy it with a cinnamon tea or a strong coffee!!!

NOTE: People keep asking me: why do you say is it super-light? Well... because it is!!! There are eggs and almond flour of course, but no butter, oils nor milk added. Obviously it's always a cake, I am not saying is totally calories-free, but almonds are very good for our health and I think this is the proof that you can prepare an healthy and delicious cake without exceeding with the fats. And it's incredibly soft as well! Isn't it just superb?

Thanks to Gnamgnam for this lovely recipe :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sicilian recipe with "broccolo arriminato": what is that?

Have you ever heard about pasta with "broccolo arriminato"? Any clue on the meaning of the word "arriminato"?
It means "stirred" and this traditional Sicilian dish combines pasta (usually bucatini, spaghetti n.4 or penne) with an amazing condiment made with cauliflower.

Ingredients and Preparation for 4 people:

1 onion
1 medium cauliflower
e.v. olive oil
3-4 anchovies or anchovy cream
a glass of red wine
2-3 table spoons tomato purè
400 gr. pasta of your choice
pine nuts and raisins
5-6 tablespoon of breadcrumb

In a pot boil the cauliflower with salty water, after having washed it and cut it in pieces. While the cauli is cooking, peel and chop the onion, pour some extra virgin olive oil in a sauce pan (about 3 tablespoons) on a medium heat and sauteè the onion, adding the anchovies until they became very soft and easy to melt with the help of a wooden spoon.
At this point add the red wine, the tomato pureè and a couple of spoonful of water (the one in which the cauliflower has cooked). Finally when the whole thing has become a creamy sauce add some pine nuts, raisins and the boiled cauliflower. Keep using the wooden spoon to mash all the ingredients together just like in the picture above

Let the condiment cook like this for 10-15 minutes. The result must be very creamy, soft and a tiny bit watery. (It's important that the cauliflower condiment is kind of juicy, otherwise will end up too dry with the breadcrumb.)

This dish has a poor origin and that's why we put breadcrumb on top instead of grated cheese. To prepare it you just need a frying pan on a high heat. Mix the spoons of breadcrumb with a drizzle of olive oil and stir continuously until it becomes golden brown, then we usually serve it in what you call the gravy boat, as shown here on the left.

For the pasta, just cook it in the same pot and water of the cauliflower which will give it a stronger flavor. Once pasta is ready, drain it and put it on dishes straight away with abundant condiment and finish with the lovely breadcrumb on top.  

I am sure you have eaten all these ingredients before, but have you ever had them in this combination? It will be a brand new experience for you. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Santa Lucia's Sicilian tradition in London? Yes we can!!!

The traditional cuccìa, Palermo typical dessert on December 13th.

I am very happy to share with you the success of my first Sicilian dinner in London on the occasion of the festivity of St. Lucy or Santa Lucia as we call her, last friday December the 13th. Do you know why the festivity of Santa Lucia is such a big deal in Palermo city?

Mediterranean starter

   Our tradition imposes to avoid everything made of wheat like pasta, bread or biscuits, except the "cuccìa", a typical dessert made of boiled wheat in grains and mixed with ricotta cream, the classic filling for cannoli and cassata. For this reason real queens of the day are rice (particularly arancine), potatoe pies and panelle.

   With some lovely guests from Uk, Australia and, of course Italy, we had shared our tradition and remembered the story of this incredible Sicilian Saint especially how she saved the people from Palermo from the famine, back in 1646.

Thanks to everybody for the fantastic night spent together and of course... W Santa Lucia! :-p