Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The period of Carnival: costumes and sweets galore!

Do you know what the Italian Carnival is? The Carnival in Italy is the period of festivity dedicated to the children and it always comes before the Lent, the forty days of Penitence that lead to Easter. In Sicily the most famous Carnival festivities are in Acireale (near Catania, the pic above), in Sciacca (near Agrigento), and in Termini Imerese (near Palermo). Normally people, above all kids, wear particular costumes, so it's quite common in these days to see walking little Supermen, cowboys, Robin Hoods or princesses along the street with their parents. So cute! 
At the table the Carnival is the period in which you really can get fat and enjoy food, infact traditional sweets are usually fried and we call it with a general word: "frittelle".  Frittelle means something sweet and fried.

To be more specific though, we have lots of stuff that we prepare: the most renowned in the whole of Italy are definetely the 'CHIACCHIERE', that means 'chats'. This crunchy sweets are called so because you eat one after the other while chatting.

By the way, I have to warn you that even if they are made all over the country in every region of Italy have a different name (cenci, galani) and shapes (rectangular, little knots), which is interesting but sometimes a bit confusing. In Sicily we call it chiacchiere and especially if homemade, they are delicious, because we add some parfumed liquoer, Marsala is usually the best and make them really special!

Here comes the recipe:
200 gr flour - 2 eggs - 20 gr caster sugar - 20 gr soft butter - 2 spoons of Marsala - a pinch of salt - oil of olive for frying.

Photo Source: gingerandtomato.com
In a bowl mix the flour with all the other ingredients: salt and sugar, butter and Marsala, then the 2 eggs previously beaten. Make the dough little by little, until it becomes elastic and homogeneous. Give it the shape of a ball, wrap it up with a kitchen cloth and leave it aside for about 30 minutes. Then, using the rolling pin, roll it out, but not too thick, about 1/2 cm. Now, you can cut it and make all the shapes that you want.
In a frying pan put some olive oil, when is hot enough fry the chiacchiere until they become gold-ish. Finally sprinkle icing sugar on top and serve still warm. You will chat a lot! Ahah... just exquisite!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The stuffed rustic bread in Sicily is called "pane cunzato"

Do you know what "pane cunzato" is? And how can we make it? Pane cunzato in Sicilian dialect means literally stuffed bread. When we talk about this preparation which is easy and delicious, we have to find out which are the secrets to make a great pane cunzato.

The first is obviously the bread: we use the long-shaped rustic one that in Sicily is called "filone". It is perfect because is soft inside but crispy outside. The second secret is obviously the oil. It must be rigourously extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with some salt and black pepper. If you have fresh rustic bread and a really good olive oil your pane cunzatu will be absolutely amazing. But it's not just that!

We also add, traditionally, three more ingredients: anchovies that give a strong taste, some slices of tomato that give softness and freshness in the mouth and an abundant sprinkle of oregano, which makes the different! So, if you are hungry and fancy some genuine Mediterranean taste, don't have to wonder what to prepare anymore. You know the answer!  :-) 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reviews: "Four Seasons", the brand new restaurant in Lascari

Yesterday I spent a lovely day in Lascari, a small village near the more famous Cefalù, where there is a new born restaurant called "Four Seasons" that opened last december. Nice colors on the walls, attention to details and a warm and pleasant atmosphere make the customers at ease, but obviously what people will appreciate the most, are the superb and innovative dishes prepared by the young and talented Chef Giuseppe Di Cristina.

"Tortino di cavolfiore e patate" (mini-pie with cauliflower and potatoes), "Ravioli alla crema di formaggio" (ravioli with cheese sauce) and an amazing fillet with fresh porcini served on a slice of rustic bread, just to name a few, but I would like to spend two more words on a delicious first dish created by the Chef himself some years ago: "Risotto with green apple and scamorza", which is a local smoked tasty cheese. Just perfect! 

The desserts were fresh made as well and really enjoyable. (Here on the left the fabulous semifreddo with pistaches and dark melted chocolate on top!)

Another thing that I liked was the menù. Infact being called 'Four Seasons' the place has not only a menù with things that may be found all year around but also a second menù according to the current season, created to use the fresh products of the four seasons. And prices are reasonable too!

What else can I say then? It's new, it's good, if you pass by, just go there, you will have a great time!

Four Seasons - Ristorante Pizzeria
Via Alcide De Gasperi 15/b,
Lascari (PA)