Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pan d'arancio: the perfect marriage between Sicilian almonds & oranges

Have you ever heard of a Sicilian cake called "pan d'arancio"? The pan d'arancio (literally orange bread) is a typical cake prepared in the province of Palermo that eminently combines two typical products that Sicily offers during the winter and the spring season: oranges and almonds.

It is a soft orange-flavored sponge, perfect for any occasion: a birthday, a rich breakfast or a Sunday afternoon tea with family and friends. 

It has an extremely delicate taste and it can be served either with a sprinkle of icing sugar or with a bit of more character, the proper orange icing on top.

It's absolutely delicious!

Ingredients and preparation:

200 gr. 00 raising flour
100 gr. ground almonds
150 gr. caster sugar
150 gr. butter
1 large orange (zest and juice)
3 eggs

For the icing:

100 gr. icing sugar
the juice from 1 orange

1.In a large bowl mix the eggs with the sugar, whisk well until properly and smoothly beaten. 2. Add the grounded almonds plus the raising flour, finally the melted butter. 3. In a blender put the whole orange (previously rinsed) in pieces (better if a biological one). 4. Once it has become a pure' add it to the rest of the mixture until is smooth. 5. Pour the mix in a baking tin previously buttered and floured and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Temperature should be 180°degrees.

To check the cake open the oven after 30 minutes (never before) and try it with a wooden stick to see if it's still uncooked or humid in the middle. Try again, if required, a second time after 10 minutes.

Prepare the icing in a plate by melting the orange juice with the icing sugar until you get a semithick icing that you can pour on top of the cake and on the side using a spatula. You can also decorate it with small orange candies on top. 

You will find that this typical cake not only is exquisite but is also extremely genuine. Enjoy!

To see a lighter version of the Pan d'arancio click HERE

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Simple and genuine, the perfect minestra for the Holy Week

Have you ever tried this genuine and super healthy minestra dish that we called pasta with lettuce? This recipe has very poor origins as it was prepared with only 2 ingredients in ancient times: romaine lettuce and pasta, while nowadays we can add some more flavors but still it doesn't loose its simplicity and genuiness.

It is a great choice if you want a low-calories meal or you need to fix issues: from an upset stomach to lower the blood level of colesterol and sugar, and it is also a source of minerals for our system, in particular magnesium, calcium and potassium.

t is also a perfect dish to have in days such as Good Friday to feed your soul as well as your stomach. Reason being that Good Friday is a day of moaning and fasting for Catholics (fasting usually intended as not to eat any food between meals and have a light lunch/dinner) but also abstinence from any meat in respect of the Crucifixion of Jesus.

So... I have given you many reasons why you should try this soup pasta. What are you waiting for? :))

Ingredients and Preparation for 2 people

1 romaine lettuce
120 gr pasta, either small pasta for example what we called ditalini (small thimbles) or broken spaghetti
chilli pepper (fresh or powder)
40 gr. seasoned Sicilian caciocavallo in small dice
grated caciocavallo or pecorino
30 gr. salt

Switch the heat on and put a pot with 3/4 of water for your soup pasta. In the meantine, wash the lettuce under running water, cut it in pieces and when the water boils, put the salt and drop the lettuce. Let it cook 10 minutes on a low heat.
While lettuce is cooking, cut your caciocavallo cheese in dice, weighs your pasta, then mix it with the lettuce (not the cheese though) and the chilli pepper. If you like you can also add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Let it cook together according to what type of pasta you have got. Check the packet in any case, if it's small thimbles, for example, will take few minutes longer compared to the broken spaghetti.

After 7-8 minutes check the pasta by tasting it. If it's still too hard, give it another 1 or 2 minutes, then switch the heat off and add the cheese in dice at the very end.
Serve hot in soup plates or small bowls and add some grated cheese on top of your choice. I usually put some grated caciocavallo as well or pecorino. Enjoy!