Archive | July, 2013

Alici Marinate con Cipolla e Peperoncino (Marinated Anchovies with Onion and Hot Chili Pepper)

29 Jul

Marinated anchovies is a tasty, cold antipasto that can be served with homemade bread (pane casereccio) or enjoyed as a main dish with a fresh salad. The simple dressing prepared with olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar enhances the flavor of the anchovies, so reminiscent of the sea, while the onion and chili pepper make this dish even more flavorful. This is a typical Mediterranean dish, and fish is the star ingredient. Anchovies are native not only to the Mediterranean sea but are also found in the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. They are tasty, rich in protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, (very important for regulating lipid metabolism and blood fluidity). You can enjoy anchovies either fresh or preserved in salt or olive oil. They are excellent for preparing sauces and, of course, on pizza – do not forget the tasty Neapolitan pizza! Marinated anchovies are something you can prepare in advance, because they keep well in the refrigerator for several days.

Preparation time: 20 min.           Marinating time: 6 hours            Servings: 4

Alici Marin
600 g (21 oz) fresh anchovies
2 cloves of garlic
1 white onion, sliced
1 hot pepper, sliced
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. First, prepare the marinade. In a bowl mix well oil, vinegar, lemon juice and add garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and pepper
2. Clean the anchovies. Flake with a knife, remove the head, cut the anchovies open lengthwise along the belly, remove the entrails and the spine and other bones. Wash thoroughly under running water and pat dry with paper towels
3. In a large glass or ceramic bowl (see note) first pour in a layer of marinade, then a single layer of anchovies, and then sprinkle with some of the onions and peppers. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients have been used, so that the anchovies are completely covered by the marinade. Marinade for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator until the flesh of the anchovies is white and firm.

Note: When you purchase anchovies you can verify the freshness from its color; it should be bright and intense, the body should be firm. The marinade is a process during which the meat is cooked by the acids contained in the liquids used. It is important not to use aluminum or copper containers, because in contact with the acids can release toxic compounds. – Paola


Granita al Caffé (Iced Coffee)

22 Jul

The granita al caffè is a typical summer Sicilian breakfast, particularly in the Messina area. It is cool and sweet, made with water, sugar and coffee. It can be enjoyed with fresh, crusty bread or with the classic tuppu brioche, an Italian breakfast bread with a spherical ball of dough on top. Coffee granita is commonly served with whipped cream – what a delight! Its origins are ancient and go back to the time of the Arab domination. In the past granita was prepared in Sicily using winter snow gathered from the mountains and then stored throughout the year in special caves. The resulting ice was scraped and served with fruit syrup! In fact, even today the most traditional granita recipes are made by repeatedly scraping the surface of the ice. Over time this type of preparation based on snow changed to the modern granita made with an ice cream maker. The classic flavors are lemon, strawberry, almond and, naturally, coffee! The industrial recipes include gelling agents to increase the creaminess and to keep it from melting, but this is really a true homemaker’s recipe, just as my mother and my grandmother made it without using an ice cream maker and, of course, including the typical “scratch”!

Preparation time: 18 min.       Cooling time: 4 hours        Servings: 2

Granita al Caff

70 g (⅓ cup) sugar
180 ml (¾ cup) water
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) espresso
180 ml (¾ cup) fresh cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Prepare the espresso coffee and let cool completely
2. In a saucepan over low heat melt the sugar with water, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until you obtain a syrup. Turn off the heat and allow to cool
3. Combine coffee with syrup and mix well. If you have an ice cream maker, pour in the mixture and follow the instructions. Otherwise pour it into a metal container (steel) or glass (Pyrex), because they are good conductors, and store in the freezer for two hours. Remove from the freezer and mix with a spoon to prevent solidification into ice. Repeat this procedure every 40 minutes for about 2 more hours
4. Whip the cream with powdered sugar
5. Scrape the granita with a spoon into a small glass and top with whipped cream.

Note: The amount of sugar used can be varied to reach your desired level of sweetness; taste is very personal.

Albicocche Ripiene con Caprino e Noci (Apricots Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Pecans)

16 Jul

Fruit is the real star of this recipe which, although very simple, is exquisite and perfect for a tasty summer aperitif. This should hardly be called a “recipe”; you just assemble three ingredients: apricots, fresh goat cheese and nuts. The result is extraordinary!: colorful and tasty. The slightly acidic taste of goat cheese goes well with the apricot’s sweet taste and the crunch of the walnuts. You can enjoy this dish at room temperature, this enhances the apricots’ delicate aroma. Apricots are one of the summer’s symbols, rich in vitamin A, C, PP, minerals and dietary fiber, and for those who enjoy being in the sun, offers some additional natural protection. In fact, the high content of pro-vitamin A stimulates the production of melanin, the substance responsible for tanning and skin protection from the sun.

Preparation time: 10 minutes                            Servings: 4

Albicocche con Caprino
6 apricots
160 g (6 oz) fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
18 pecan halves or walnuts

1. Wash the apricots under running water, dry them, cut them in half and remove the core
2. In a bowl, work the goat cheese until it is creamy.  Chop 6 walnut halves and add to the cheese. Stir
3. Fill the center of each apricot generously with cheese mixture and nuts. Decorate by putting a walnut half in the center of each.

Note: When buying apricots make sure they are firm but ripe. In winter you can substitute fresh apricots with dried ones.-Paola


Gelato alla Fragola (Strawberry Ice Cream)

12 Jul

Some say that strawberry ice cream is the most popular of fruit-flavored ice creams: fresh, flavorful and a perfect food to make desserts delicious and colorful. The main ingredient can be fresh cream only,  or a blend of cream and yogurt, which is certainly lighter. The use of fresh strawberries makes your gelato tastier and more fragrant, but if fresh strawberries are not available, you can use frozen ones. Strawberry ice cream usually attracts children’s attention because of its intense color and aroma. Homemade strawberry ice cream is a nutritious snack, rich in vitamins, to serve to your children.

Preparation time: 18 min.      Cooling time: 4 hours     Servings: 4

Gelato alle Fragole
60 g (scant ⅓ cup) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
280 g (10 oz) strawberries
300 ml (1 ¼ cups) fresh cream
70 g (scant 1 cup) powdered sugar

1. In a saucepan over low heat dissolve granulated sugar in water.  Cook for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and syrup prepared. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely
2. In a food processor, blend the strawberries and pass through a sieve to remove seeds
3. Mix the strawberry puree to obtain a syrup. Set aside
4. If you have an ice cream maker, pour in the strawberry puree, cream and powdered sugar, and follow the instructions. Otherwise, whip the cream with powdered sugar.
Fold together strawberry puree with the whipped cream, stirring gently with a spatula
6. Place in a suitable container and freeze for at least four hours.

Note:  You can substitute half of the amount of cream with whole milk yogurt. This  recipe makes your ice cream lighter and of course with fewer calories. – Paola

Gelato alla Crema (Vanillia Ice Cream)

8 Jul

Craving ice cream, the freezing and formless – but tasty and delicious nectar? Here is the homemade Italian gelato recipe!  Summer has finally arrived and it is time to fully enjoy gelato, Italian ice cream, the king of the summer season, sweet and refreshing!  Everybody knows ice cream, but few probably know that long ago, ancient civilizations served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. The Arabs were the first to use milk as a major ingredient in the IX century. Ice cream, derived from iced-cream, is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products and sugar, and often with fruits or other flavorful  ingredients.  So why not prepare this tasty treat at home? Homemade ice cream is easier than you think; it is genuine and healthy, because it is chemical-free,  as well as nutritious – both adults and children love it.  Recent studies show that ice cream can affect  your mood, helping you relax and sleeping better (but I think we all already knew that it just makes us happy!).  Vanilla ice cream is perhaps the most versatile and easy one to make. Its preparation requires a few common ingredients such as milk, cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. It can accompany fruit or cake, be used in a delicious affogato al caffé (meaning ice cream “drowned in coffee”), eaten with berries or plain delicious just by itself!

Preparation time: 15 min.     Chilling time: 6 hours       Servings: 4

Gelato alla crema_2
200 ml (scant cup) whole milk
200 ml (scant cup) fresh cream
80 g (scant ½ cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1. In a saucepan over low heat melt the sugar with the milk and cream. Add the vanilla bean. Measure the temperature with a cooking  thermometer. It should not exceed 85 °C (185 °F) otherwise when you add the egg yolks, they  will coagulate
2. When the mixture reaches the right temperature, add the egg yolks and mix well with a whisk. Cook in a bain marie for 5 minutes. Remove from heat
3. Pour the cream mixture into a bowl. To lower the temperature more quickly, put the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and stir continuously
4. If you have an ice cream maker pour the mixture into ice cream maker and follow the instructions
5. If you do not have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture in a suitable container and store in the freezer for at least three hours. Remove from the freezer, stir and put back in the freezer for another three hours. At this point, the ice cream is ready. To give it a creamier texture blend for a few seconds and then put in the freezer for about 10 minutes. -Paola

Linguine con Seppie e Pomodoro (Linguine with Ink Squid and Tomato)

2 Jul

Linguine with ink squid and tomato is a delightful pasta dish with the intense flavor and aroma of the sea, perfect for an elegant summer dinner. This recipe is prepared with ink squid, fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic and a shallot, all flavored with wine and squid ink, which gives just a very particular taste. Needless to say if you want to prepare a good sauce, the trick lies in the freshness of the squid: the fresher it is, the tastier the sauce! The ink contained inside the sack is expelled by the squid when it is threatened. In the past this dark liquid was used as writing ink, but nowadays its use is only culinary.  It is rich in melanin, mucus and amino acids. It is commonly used as a condiment for pasta (very common in Sicilian cuisine) and risotto. The preparation of this recipe is simple and fast but does require some skill to clean the fish. To facilitate this step, you can ask your fishmonger  to clean it, without doubt the most complicated part of the whole recipe.

Preparation time: 40 minutes    Cooking time: 20 minutes    Servings: 4

Linguine con seppie e pomodoro

340 g (12 0z) linguine, artisanal pasta (Faella, Martelli)
400 g (15 oz) small ink squids (each about 4-5 in. long)
450 g (1 pound) tomatoes, San Marzano or Roma (peeled and diced) or 300 g (10 oz) canned San Marzano tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
2  garlic gloves
1 shallot, finely sliced
120 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Clean the squid as follows: pull out the bone, cut off the head from the rest of the body and remove the skin. Remove the interior organs and the tooth. Set aside the ink sack (be careful not to break it) . Cut away the eyes with scissors. Wash well under running cold water. Dice the body into strips or squares
2. In a saucepan, bring 3 liters of salt water to a boil
3. In a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat sauté the garlic and shallot in the olive oil. Add the squid and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently, add the white wine and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add the tomatoes and squid ink from one or two sacks. Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 min. The meat should be tender and soft. Season with salt and pepper, and add the parsley
6. In the meantime, while the sauce is cooking, toss the pasta and cook for approx. 10 min. (according to the instructions on the package). Drain the linguine and pour into the pan with the sauce, mix well and sauté for a few seconds, then serve.

Note: You can replace the plain olive oil with chili pepper-flavored oil, which makes this dish – very elegant and impressive in any case – a touch spicier … and aphrodisiac ;-)! Paola


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