Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fresh peaches in white wine, our summery fruit salads


Have you ever tried this delicate peach salads during the hottest days of the  summer?

When I was a teen-ager we used to spend summer in our country house in northern Sicily and my dad used to go for grocery and buy a whole basket of yellow peaches (about 5 kilos) as the price was a lot more convenient.  

So... to use them all and avoid any waste with 38° degrees or so, we used to peel them, cut them into pieces and dress them with half glass white wine.



Perfect if you do it at least half an hour before dinner, so the peaches and the wine has the time to macerate and create a lovely sweet juice together. If you want you can add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in your bowl, or, a cookie on the side, but we used to have them just plain as the conclusion of our dinner and for me this is absolutely the best way, otherwise you will cover the delicate taste of the peaches and the scent given by the wine. Sometimes less is more!

Don't waste any time then: get a basket of juicy peaches and in case you have got some left that are a bit too ripe, remember you can always make a lovely peach jam.





A great white wine for this peach salads could be the Mandrarossa DOC Laguna Secca, a chardonnay with a pale yellow and golden-green color.

On the nose this wine evokes hints of orange peel and prickly pear ripe, well integrated with hints of oleander flowers. 


The taste is powerful, enveloping, with good and pleasant minerality that makes it persistent in the mouth. 

It is also great paired with roasted prawns or medium consistency cheese. Serve it at 10° degrees. 

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sicilian tapas, delicious finger food for our guests


My beautiful foodies,
today I am gonna show you some creative ideas of food we can offer to friends when they come to visit us. Starters, finger food, in this occasion I actually came up with the specific name "Sicilian tapas" just because for those who love football and are watching the Euro2016 in France tomorrow we (Italian National Team) are going to play against our Spanish cousins. 


 
So what better occasion to mingle and offering some tapas that are made of Sicilian products

When you are gathering with friends to watch a game, which I am sure you do tomorrow as tradition wants, people do not really want to sit down for a proper meal, so the best thing to do is preparing different dishes of finger food that you actually get to taste in front of the telly in a very informal way.


From the olives seasoned with e.v. oil of olive, oregano carrots and celery (here on the left) to our typical dried tomatoes (on the right), or mixed pieces of our delicious local cheeses like primosale, caciocavallo, vastedda del Belice, ecc... (big pic above).



Also we can offer the
mini pane e panelle (second pic above), our small pizzete, or
what we called "focaccine" (here on the left).

Focaccine are
basically small pieces of pizza bread stuffed with whatever you like, in the picture there is some parma ham, but it can be more traditional with anchovies and fresh ricotta, or with a modern twist with rocket salads, breasola, parmisan flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice on top.


So here you are, few delicious ideas that you can offer to your Italian and Spanish friends when they come over to your place to see a football match or any other thing really, a movie, the olimpic games, ecc.  


Pair everything with a lovely structured and scented Sicilian white wine, like the Mandrarossa Fiano, Ciaca Bianca.

The Fiano white wine has a pale yellow color with green hues. The aroma of jasmine flowers and grapefruit is quite intense and it also brings lemon juice to mind.

It is also charaterised by mild sensations of basil and bay leaves, that's why pairs perfectly with aromatic herbs, like oregano or mint or basil, fresh cheese, salads but also light fish starters.

So besides wishing good luck to my team for tomorrow, there is only one thing left to say for me: Enjoy!!!
 


Friday, June 3, 2016

My first reci-view is "Swordfish Palermo style" with director Egidio Termine


Dear Friends and Foodies,
the Sicilian Cuisine Blog is very excited to introduce our first video recipe/interview. For those of you who love Sicilian food, movies, but also miss the sound of some proper Italian language, well... this is the video for you!

My guest is superb actor and director: Egidio Termine. Together with him, I am preparing a very traditional recipe called: "Pescespada alla palermitana", which means "Swordfish in Palermo style."

In this interview Egidio talks about his childhood memories, which amazing celebrities he worked with and last but not least his brand new movie: "Il figlio sospeso" (The unsure child), who will compete at the Taormina Film Festival, this coming summer.

I defintely want to thank Egidio Termine for being such a lovely guest for us and I wish him all the best and success with the new movie and the Festival. Also a huge THANK YOU to Patrizia Laria for shooting and editing the video.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and have a good laugh in watching it, as I did in making it!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fancy a barbecue? Choose the "involtini alla messinese"


Do you know how to make very easy beef skewers in Messina style? Well... let's go back for one second...
If you have ever lived in Sicily at some point in your life you know that from the end of April/beginning of May until October, sometimes even November, the weather is gonna be sunny and warm, days are longer and there is nothing you love more than spending time in your house by the sea or in the countryside, preparing a lovely barbecue.

Who doesn't love that smell of food cooked on the big grill in open air?


When I was a child we used to go to our country house in the hills surrounding a village called Carini and I used to go on my swing and observing my father starting the fire for the barbecue with "engineer" precision. I used to look for little wooden sticks to burn, so that I could say I had actually helped him making the barbie. Then, when my soft and juicy breadcrumbed beef steak was ready I would eat it with such happiness and pleasure, tasting every bit of it. No meat has ever tasted as good as that.

Another amazing recipe you can have in a barbecue is the "involtini alla messinese", which literally means beef skewers in "Messina style". They are so easy to make and so tasty, and especially if cooked on a grill they emanate that incredible smokey smell, making you want more and more!
My mum does her personal version of them, but is not too far from the original.



Ingredients for 4 people:

500 gr veal cutlets (very thin and tiny)
200 gr very tasty local matured cheese (normally provola piccante or caciocavallo)
100 gr grated local caciocavallo
300 gr breadcrumb
salt & pepper
e.v. olive oil

Parsley thinly chopped and a clove of garlic (in the original recipe but not in my mum's)

My mum also adds some green olives and pine nuts in the breadcrumb mix, as you can see in the pic here on the left

Best way to explain how to make those tiny rolls a quick video is better than a thousand words. Have a look here

Serve them with whatever side dish you like, I personally made a mix of normal and sweet potatoes baked in the oven. Delicious!!!

 

Cooking time: On the barbecue is around 3 minutes per side so between 5 for both. 

If you are indoor and still want to prepare them, there is no reason why you shouldn't do it.

 
Place them on a baking tray in the oven for 10 minutes at a temperature of 180° degrees. Check after 7-8 minutes, if almost cooked then add some red wine on the meat and leave it in the oven for the remaining 2 minutes. That would give an extra delicate flavor to the dish!

The taste will be incredible and the result is simply divine!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fusion food: how to make healthy and creative snacks!

My fusion bruschetta with mozzarella tomato and guacamole
Have you ever felt creative while preparing a healthy snack? Last week I bought some Sicilian buffalo mozzarella which I am crazy about and I prepared some colorful healthy snacks. With few simple ingredients you can use your creativity and have fun at the same time. If you have kids they will love it as well!

The first one I made it was actually a little homage to a very popular Irish young man whose name is Niall Horan, from One Direction. I believe some of you "might" know him. AH AH! I picked one of my favorite salads: rocket and carrots! 


My edible Irish flag salads inspired by Niall Horan
I was recently watching Niall interviewed on a tv program and he was telling how much he loves Ireland and misses it, as he lives in London now. He is a lovely, funny and very grounded lad!
 

I could totally relate to those words as I also miss my country too and when you are far away you realise how much you miss those little things that were so obvious and so normal when you were living there, so... I decided to create an edible Irish flag for him.
 
Isn't it nice? Ah Ah :-D

The second snack is a bruschetta of my creation (see pic on top): it's a fusion of Italian and Mexican food both in the ingredients and in the colours of our flags.
I cut the mozzarella in cubes, as well as a fresh tomato and an avocado, mixed together the tomato and avocado with a drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt and oregano, but I left  the cheese aside. Then, slightly toast few slices of rustic bread, add the mozzarella on top and place in the oven for 10 minutes to let it melt. Finish adding your salad mix on top of the bruschetta and serve with a spoon of guacamole aside!!!

I had it for dinner and it was so good and scrumptious, I didn't even felt guilty as it was extremely healthy and light. Definitely worth trying different combinations of products!
That was my creative process for this week. I had lots of fun in doing it and I hope you enjoyed it too!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The homemade Sicilian beef stew: we call it "Spezzatino!"




Have you ever heard the word "spezzatino"? It's a word used in Sicily that refers to a very traditional dish and even though you won't find it in the dictionary the word as it sounds suggests something that is in little pieces: it's the Sicilian beef stew!
The best time to prepare this recipe if you have time is the day before you are going to eat it, because it will be a lot tastier!

Funny as it sounds few years ago I visited Ireland and one night I went to a typical pub outside Dublin called Johnny Fox where I ordered the classic Irish stew. Well... guess what? It was great because I said: it tastes like the spezzatino mum makes!!!
The
ingredients are similar, so in a word it tasted like home.
I found it hilarious.

These are the ingredients for the Sicilian stew for 4 people:

2 tbsp e.v.olive oil
500 gr diced beef (with no bones)
1 onion thinly chopped
2 big potatoes 
2 big carrotts
1 cougette
400 ml vegetable stocksalt & pepper

Peel the potatoes and carrotts and cut them in pieces. Cut the onion and the cougette as well. In a pot heat the oil of olive. 
Add the chopped onion and the beef pieces and brown all over by turning in the hot oil. After roughly 10 minutes reduce the heat add the carrotts, the potatoes, the cougette in chunks and the vegetable stock. 

 
Season with salt and pepper and let cook on a low heat for at least one hour with a lid, checking and stirring from time to time that the broth is not reducing too much before the vegetables are actually cooked.

If it is too thick then add some more boiling water. By contrast if the sauce is too watery let it cook a bit more without lid.
 

In the end you should get a quite thick kind of gravy made of the vegetable stock mixed with the meat juice and the vegs.

Serve hot with some warm rustic/crusty bread, perfect to polish all the sauce in the plate. Enjoy!




The perfect wine pairing for this recipe in my opinion is the Sicilian Mandrarossa Cava di Serpe. 

Quite an intense and structured red it is made of 60% Alicante Bouschet and 40% Merlot, both cultivar coming from the territory of Menfi, south/west of Sicily, precisely  located in the province of Agrigento. 

It has a ruby colour and is characterised by scents of plums, tyme and liquorice. It is also very good with lamb dishes.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sicilian homemade bread fritters: for Carnival, but not only!


Do you know how to prepare some bread fritters for Carnival? In my family the Sunday before the famous pancake tuesday (that precedes Ash wednesday) we used to prepare different kind of scrumptious food, majority of them fried. Little puffs, apple fritters, chiacchiere, and among all those things there were also the bread fritters. But... as they are so good, we made them also in other time of the year.

Since I was a kid I remember how much my oldest sister Barbara loved preparing these yummy fritters when she was bored on a rainy afternoon. A simple and poor recipe had the power to turn a boring moment of your day in something incredibly exciting. 
Plus, I love this recipe because not only is very easy but also allows you to re-use the old bread that is left and probably abandoned in a corner of your kitchen, too stale to be eaten.
Another alternative when you really want to make these lovely fritters would be to buy the proper bread on purpose (as I did in this case), so I went for the typical French baguette. I bought it a couple of days in advance and cut it in slices, so that it had the time to dry.
 

Enough with the introduction now we have our lovely stale slices of bread. What are we gonna do with them? 

Let's start by saying that we don't really have measures for this recipe. It really depends on how much bread you have left or how long is your baguette.
In addition to that you will only need some milk, flour 00, caster sugar, cinnamon powder and olive oil to fry. Then we usually improvise!
Normally we prepare three soup plates or three medium bowls: one with some milk, one with some flour and one with some sugar mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
On a high flame warm up some oil of olive in a frying pan. Soak
every single slice of bread in milk on both sides, until is quite soft (but not soggy please otherwise will be a disaster!), then dust it with flour, again on both sides, and fry it straight away. Make sure the oil is already hot.
As soon as the slices are golden brown on both sides, place them few seconds on kitchen paper then turn them into the mix of sugar and cinnamon...and voilà! Done!
Photo source: crescebene.it
Your fritters are ready! Serve them on a colorful plate while still hot, along with some cinnamon or vanilla tea. 

Trust me, they won't last more than 10 minutes and there is no better, easy and yummy afternoon snack than this for Carnival or... simply for a tedious, gloomy day! 
Indeed food can make us happier!

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pasta with borages, healthy and comfort food at the same time



Have you ever heard of borage vegetables? This veg, whose original name is borago officinalis, grows spontaneously here in some spots of Sicily in the winter season, and although is "green stuff" (as my mom used to call all the healthy green vegs), is so sweet in taste that everyone loves it, even children! For me it's so exquisite you can actually consider it some kind of comfort food! And what really makes it so special is the fact that is simple and so tasty in itself. You just need to add a couple of things and is done!

How do we eat it? On top of 'pasta asciutta' of course!!! :-))


Ingredients & Preparation for 4 people:
- 400 gr. spaghetti
- 2-3 bunches of borages
- 1 clove of garlic
- e.v. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- chilli pepper (either fresh or powder)
- grated pecorino cheese or caciocavallo


Let's start with removing the bad leaves from the bunches and with cutting the end of their stems. While doing this, be careful and use gloves, because the borages have little thorns on their stems. After, rinse the vegs and cut it in pieces. 

Put a pot for the spaghetti on a medium heat, as soon as the water is boiling add salt as you would do for the pasta, then put the borages in and let them cook for at least 20-25 minutes. When they are cooked use a slotted rounded spoon to drain the excess of water and place them directly in a frying or sauce pan.
 
Never ever get rid of the water you boiled borages in, as you will use it for the pasta as well. That's because the vegs have released all the properties in the water, so the pasta cooked there will absorb them and it will get a darker colour too!


At this point you have two things: the pot with the water where you are going to drop the pasta and the sauce pan with the drained borages.
While pasta is cooking
in the pot (and remember not to add any more salt as you already salted it before), add a drizzle of e.v. olive oil, a clove of garlic and two pieces of chilli red pepper in the pan with the borages and leave it cooking for 10 minutes on a low heat. (pic here on the right)


Also some chilli powder is good if you don't have the fresh one. Now the season for your pasta is ready. Cover it up with a lid while you drain your spaghetti. Prepare your plate and add the borage on top.

Best served hot with some grated pecorino cheese or local caciocavallo cheese to give it that stronger twist. That is so tasty and so healthy, and is a dish that everyone can eat! 

You will love it so much that you won't be able to wait for another whole year to have it again. Enjoy!