Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Scacce ragusane, delicious food from the deep south of Sicily

Have you ever heard of the famous "scacce ragusane" or the "schiacciata modicana"? I am talking about the beautiful Ragusashire, where Ragusa and Modica are situated, two beautiful jewels in the deepest south of the triangular island. To clarify even more is the area where famous Inspector Montalbano lives and where curious tourists can check out his home.

My nonna Nuccia (my nana) grew up in the town of Modica and she loved this typical "schiacciata", which in Sicilian is called scaccia, made with basic local ingredients, but still incredibly tasty and delicious!

You can find different fillings and shapes, but the most ancient and traditional one is filled with tomato sauce and local onion (the perfect one would be the type from Giarratana), while the other one is tomato sauce and the typical local cheese: caciocavallo ragusano.

The dough is very simple and it is rolled out so thinly that you do different layers of the pastry before baking it in the oven.  

Bear in mind that this is a traditional recipe of the Ragusa province (where Modica is also part of), so you won't be able to find it in any other parts of the island.

Ingredients and preparation for 4 scacce:
  • Flour gr 500

  • Water ml 250
  • Brewer's yeast gr 30 (2 blocks)
  • Extra virgin olive oil 75-80 ml
  • Fine salt: 2 teaspoons

    1. Warm up half of the water in a glass or in a small bowl (125 ml) and put the brewer's yeast inside. With a teaspoon gently stir until it is all melted.

    Place the flour on the kitchen counter (or in a large bowl) and make a hole in the middle, then mix the salt and the oil, then start pouring the water with the yeast little by little.

    3. Knead the dough until is smooth and homogenous, then separate it in blocks of about 350 gr and let them rise in a warm place for 40-45 minutes.

    4. Once the dough is soft and bigger, it needs to be rolled out very thinly.
    Photo source: blog.giallozafferano.it/mastercheffa
    5. At this point you can stuff the schiacciata with the filling of your choice, that you had prepared before. Careful on how you fold the pastry because has to be done exactly like this pic on the right
  • The two parts has to be folded like a book (pic 2) and the final width of the folded scaccia has to be roughly 8 cm. (pic 3)
6. Brush the top part with olive oil or with a beaten egg. Place the schiacchiata on an oiled oven tray (or with some baking paper) and bake at 200°. They will be ready as soon as they turn into a golden brown color.

For the fillings:

As I said, the most traditional ones are with tomato sauce and matured caciocavallo cheese or tomato sauce and onion, also called by the locals "cipuddata" (ital. Cipollata), but in our family we have always made a combination of those three ingredients.  

This is the perfect match as the onion has a sweet gentle taste while the caciocavallo is salty and sharp, so they balance each other out perfectly. 

Roughly chop the onion and let it fry in a pan with a drizzle of oil for 10 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and season it as usual with salt, pepper, nutmet, sugar and fresh basil.

Once the sauce is ready let it cool and cut the caciocavallo in cubes (pic on the right), then add it to the passata.
Once is ready place the condiment of your choice on the dough and fold it as shown in the pic up above.

Other fillings are tomato sauce and fried aubergine, ricotta and spinach or, ricotta and local sausages. Scacce are ideal for picnics, for friends get-together at home, or for your kids to take to school. It's the simple flavors that makes it exquisite and no matter which one you choose the result will be absolutely delicious!!! 


Friday, November 3, 2017

Most sought-after Sicilian delicacy? The pistachios pesto!


Have you ever heard of the pistachios pesto from Bronte? The pistachios pesto is a Sicilian delicacy that can go with pasta as sauce combined with other ingredients, as well as on bruschettas, pizzas, and even second dishes. 

As Eastern Sicily is the land of pistachios there are many recipes that have this amazing colorful nut especially in the provinces of Catania and Siracusa. The quality of the Bronte's nut, also called the green gold, is renowned worldwide and considered unique, if you woud like to read more about this amazing Sicilian product click HERE.

Few weeks ago my mum gave me some grounded pistachios because she knows how much I love it. She thought it to be used in a cake, as I love to bake especially in this period of the year when the cold starts kicking in.

It's the November feeling, as I call it, that feeling that makes you wanna stay inside, all warm and cosy, that makes you wanna cook something special despite the laziness, while you watch a funny movie on tv.

And that is exactly what I did, but I didn't bake a cake this time, I decided to go for the pesto instead, as I had never tried the homemade version before. And I have to say I made the right decision, as I was extremely happy with the result.

The recipe is incredibly easy to make and tastes fabulous!

Ingredients & Preparation for 4 people:

200 gr grounded pistachios from Bronte, Ct (or any others you have)

3 tbs grated Grana or Parmisan cheese
5 large leaves of fresh basil
30 gr pine nuts
1 clove of garlic (*Optional but I recommend it)
A pinch of salt & pepper
8 tbs e.v.o (extra virgin olive oil)

The preparation could not be simpler: put all the ingredients in the blender (or a mixer bowl) and start to drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth, creamy and oily.

Try to adjust with salt and pepper and if you think that the pesto is still too thick you can add some more olive oil and/or add a spoon of creamy cheese of your choice, like philadelphia or ricotta cheese to give it a more smoother creamier texture. Not too much though, as you don't really want to ovepower the delicate pistachios taste. Everything needs to be balanced! 


Please keep in mind that if you are going to use the pesto for your pasta sauce, you will also add some hot pasta water so definitely better to keep it a little more thicker than too watery. Here on the left you can see the right consistency.

Keep it in the fridge for not more than 3 days.

Sooo let's go ladies and gents... what are you waiting for? Are you nut about the pistachio nut like me? If the answer is yes, you have to try this gorgeous recipe and let me know how it goes... in the meantime I am gonna toast some bread for my bruschetta ;)

To read some other recipes with this lovely Sicilian product click HERE.