Monday, December 24, 2012

Food is all about sharing... especially at Christmas!

Merry Christmas dear readers! My best wishes to you on this special occasion of the year.


I believe sharing begins at home and I believe the more you share the happier you are. 
I think food is all about sharing, isn't it?

Otherwise why would we be spending the whole day or the entire previous afternoon to think of a special Menù, prepare amazing dishes, set the table in the most beautiful way, buy lovely presents for everyone? 
Because we want to share our lives with others and that starts with food.
So... here it is my suggestion: have a great Christmas lunch because is one of the most beautiful and touching festivities of the year, but if something goes wrong... like the roast is a bit burnt or the pudding decoration isn't perfect... that's fine, keep smiling and just let it go. Have fun, don't fight with others or with yourself. Everyone will be happy anyway and will appreciate the efforts and the love with which you did all these things.

This should be, I believe, the spirit of Christmas, a family that stays together and that shares food, time, laughs and in the end, only in the end, some presents. Don't forget it!

Have a Wonderful Christmas Time from... THE SICILIAN CUISINE BLOG!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pears cooked in 'Nero d'Avola' served with whipped cream

Do you know how to cook pears in Sicilian red wine and serve them with soft delicious whipped cream? Ok... I will tell you! As Christmas is very close by now, here there is a lovely idea to make a dish with juicy fruits that can also count as a great dessert for one of our upcoming festivities: Christamas Eve, Christamas day, St. Stephen's day (which is boxing day), New Years Eve, Capodanno (New Year day) or Epiphany. See how many occasions we have? 

Infact to be honest... we often forget about fruits when we prepare big meals. We are usually (here in Italy at least) concentrated on the first dish (fresh pasta? baked pasta? lasagne?), the second one (pork? turkey? beef roll?) and the dessert (cake? pie? pudding?), so we tent to miss out the 'fruit course'.

But, if you like the idea, this recipe is elegant and easy at the same time, as you can cook the pears in wine the day before and whip the cream on the big day!!!

Ingredients & Preparation for 4 people: 4 pears cut in halves - 1/2 lt Nero d'Avola (Sicilian red wine) - 200 gr double cream - 200 gr caster sugar - 2 big pieces of lemon zest - cinnamon

1. Wash the pears under running water, cut them in halves and remove skin and inside.
2. Place them in a sauce pan on a medium heat with the red wine to cover them all, plus 100 gr caster sugar, the lemon zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
3. Let them cook like this for about 25 minutes, time is also related to the quality of the pears, if they are pretty ripe and soft (but not too much!) probably 15-20 minutes would do, but if they are hard better 30 minutes. You need to check them anyway from time to time!
4. In the meantime whip the cream with the remaining sugar until smooth and soft.
5. As soon as the pears are ready (try them with a fork to test how tender they are) take them out of the sauce pan and place them on a dish to cool down, while keep the sauce going on the heat to restrain a bit more. We are looking at a red wine syrup of some sort that will be poured onto the pears when served so it has to be more juicy than watery.
6. Once the sauce is ready place the pears on a serving tray and the whipped cream in a bowl so that you can serve them separetely. Pour the Nero d'Avola syrup onto the pears and serve straight away.

If you want to try this recipe on a normal Sunday lunch and want to keep it low fat just serve them with plain white yogurth instead of the cream. It will be as delicious as the first one!

Enjoy :-)))

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pizza 'a taglio' and rounded one: what's the difference?

Have you ever heard the expression "pizza a taglio"? Do you know what it means? 
Italy is the homeland of pizza, but there is a big difference between the one we call "a taglio" and the most famous one, which is rounded and can be single-sized (for one person) or family-sized (often 8 slices for 3-4 people).

The first type is usually sold in bakeries and supermarkets (not in pizzerias) and "a taglio" literally means that you have to cut it because it is made in large oven trays, so when you go to a bakery and ask for a portion of a specific pizza (pic above), they will cut it for you, so it's always in squares or rectangles. The other different is in the dough, first one is thick, while the rounded ones are very thin.

To sum it up then: the famous Margherita from Naples is a rounded pizza (pic below on the right), while our traditional Sfincione for example is pizza a taglio. (pic below on the left)

On the 8th of December in Italy is the Catholic Festivity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, which means that no matter what day of the week it will be on the calendar..... is gonna be a big Sunday lunch!!!

Traditionally on the Immaculate's Eve, friends gather to have dinner together, play cards, chat and have fun and we usually buy our local pizza, the sfincione, or some rotisserie, or some other kind of pizza a taglio, that's because the meal of the following day is often very demanding.

Now, if you want to prepare the sfincione you find the recipe here, but if you are in Palermo and would like to taste the best pizza a taglio in town, well... there is only one place where you can go and is called: GRAZIANO!!! 

It's a "panificio", a bakery located in via del Granatiere 11, a small street not far from upper Via Libertà.

Graziano is famous all over Palermo in particular for his PIZZA RUSTICA (here on the right), a delicious squared pizza with sliced salami, fresh tomatoes and primosale cheese (one of our best local cheeses). It is also sprinkled with parsley on top and once you have tried it you just won't forget it! 

You will love it and miss it and dream about it. Believe me... I do it all the time :-)

Graziano's website can be found here