Saturday, March 25, 2017

Crazy about Sicilian granita? Go to the "Nivarata" in Acireale

Have you ever tried a Sicilian granita? A granita is a flavored slush but on a completely different level. It's typical of Eastern Sicily (especially Catania and Siracusa) and is tasty,  refreshing and you can choose among dozens of different flavors.

People have it for breakfast or for afternoon snack, or whenever the heat becomes unbearable in Sicily. The most ancient ones are definitely the lemon and the almond one, but you can have coffee, pistachio, mandarine, fig & basil, chocolate and so on... depending on the creativity of the Maestro in charge.

In any case, any flavor you will choose, it has to go with the famous "brioche col tuppo", which is a soft bun with a small cap on.

For those who are visiting Catania and Acireale at the beginning of June there is an appointment you cannot miss.

It is called the NIVARATA and it's a Festival of the most exquisite granitas in the world.

If you estimate this amazing product or you just want to try it for the 1st time, this is the event for you!

For all the details and dates you can visit the Official site HERE

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Crespelle, zeppole or Benedettine: 3 names but only 1 recipe!

Have you ever heard of the "crespelle di riso catanesi"? Or as we call it in Sicilian "i crispeddi"? This is a recipe which is traditionally prepared in Catania and Siracusa for the festivity of Saint Joseph, on the 19th of March. It is also popular during the Italian Carnival, which obviously changes every year, according to the day of Easter.

The word "crespelle" literally means crinkly, because it's something that is crunchy outside, but remains soft inside. The story tells that the first to cook this exquisite recipe were the Benedictine nuns in Catania back in the XVI° century, infact another name to call them is also "Benedettine" or even "zeppole di riso".

Ingredients & preparation for about 25 crespelle

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- 250 gr Rice (the one for risotto like Arborio)
- 300 milk
- 250 water
- 150 flour 00
- 60 gr. Caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (powder)
- 5 gr. Brewer's yeast

 You will also need:

- groundnut oil for frying (or alternatively you can use coconut butter)
- some icing sugar for decoration

For the syrup or dipping sauce:
- 250 gr. orange blossom honey
- the zest and the juice of 1 orange (biological)

Step 1: cook the rice in the milk

1. Pour the milk in a pot on a medium heat. When it starts boiling "cala" (drop) the rice in and add a pinch of salt and the sugar. Lower the heat and let the rice absorb the milk. If once absorbed the rice is still not cooked completely, add some hot water little by little (like you would do with a normal risotto). 

Step 2: mix all the ingredients

2. As soon as the rice is cooked, remove it from heat and place it in a large bowl where you will add the flour, the cinnamon,  the yeast melt in a bit of lukewarm water and some of the grated orange zest (if you like it you can also mix orange and lemon zest). 

The result has to be a thick dough, if too thick you can still add few more drops of milk, but it is important that has quite a solid texture.

Step 4: flatten the rice mix

3. Once the mix is ready, let it set for about 1 hour in a cool dry place.

4. After this time place the mixture on a large baking paper and flatten it with a spoon or a spatula like shown in the pic here on your left.

Step 5: frying time!

5. Pour the oil in a large frying pan and when it arrives at temperature with a knife and a spoon (or again a spatula) cut little cylinders of the rice mix and fry them on both sides until they get golden brown. 

Once you have finished all the dough and have fried all your crespelle, place them on a nice serving plate (better is it has high rims) or a bowl and start preparing your syrup.

For the honey syrup or dip sauce: 

6. In a medium pan, heat the orange juice adding the honey and some orange zest and gently stir with a wooden spoon until they are perfectly melted together. 

Finally, pour the syrup over the fried crespelle and add some more orange zest on top and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve hot. 

Every one will go crazy about them and will ask you for more. You have my word! :-))