Archive | April, 2014

Pasta con i “Broccoli” (Pasta with “Broccoli”) – Vrocculi Arriminata

27 Apr

This tasty primo piatto (first course) is typical of Sicily, but it’s not uncommon to find variations in the ingredients if you eat it in another province. Perhaps it is better known by its name in Sicilian dialect pasta with vrocculi arriminata, which translated into Italian means pasta with broccoli in the pan. I should specify that in Palermo they call broccoli what, in other parts of Italy, we call cauliflower. This appetizing pasta recipe is prepared with cauliflower sweetened with onion, raisins and pine nuts, and colored with the king of spices, saffron (see pasta with saffron ). The type of pasta which I commonly use is bucatini, because it goes well with this type of sauce.Bucatini is a thick, hollow, spaghettilike pasta. Anyway, spaghetti is a good substitute for this recipe, in case you cannot find bucatini. The taste of this dish, savory and sweet, reminds me of the Arabic traditions. In fact, Sicilian cuisine was strongly influenced by the Arab domination and shares close historical, cultural and “flavorful” ties to it.

PASTA CON I “BROCCOLI” (PASTA WITH “BROCCOLI”) – VROCCULI ARRIMINATA

Preparation time: 25 min. Cooking time : 10 min. Servings: 4

Pasta con i "Broccoli"
INGREDIENTS
340 g (12 oz) bucatini
1 medium cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
80 g (½ cup) toasted pine nuts
80 g (½ cup) raisins
4-5 saffron threads
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Trim the tops of the cauliflower. Wash under running water and cook for 6-8 minutes until al dente. Drain with a slotted spoon. Set aside and keep the cooking water for the pasta
2 . In a pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic at medium-low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Add the anchovies , raisins , toasted pine nuts and the cauliflower. Dissolve the saffron in 50 ml of water in which you cooked the cauliflower and add it to the sauce. Mix (arrimina) with a wooden spoon and cook for 5 minutes. Remove garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper.
3 . Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the cooking of cauliflower you get salty. Cook the pasta al dente for about 10 minutes (follow the cooking time indicated on the package ). Strain and pour into the pan with the sauce. Stir and serve hot .

Note: To give an extra of sweetness, add the ” muddica atturrata ” prepared as follows: in a nonstick frying pan toast 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs over medium heat. When it is well colored remove from heat and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. When oil is well absorbed, add a tablespoon of granulated sugar and serve over the pasta. Paola

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Pollo con i Peperoni (Chicken with Peppers)

21 Apr

This recipe is simple, but it teases your palate with its rich flavor.
Chicken with peppers, better known as chicken of ” Sora Lella ,” is a tasty main course (watch this interesting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMRY2DFWBos). It takes its name from the renowned sister of the famous Italian actor Aldo Fabrizi (1905-1990). She used to prepare this recipe in her trattoria in Rome. It’s a tasty Roman dish that you can enjoy with mashed potatoes, polenta or basmati rice. The combination of peppers and the delicate chicken meat creates a truly inviting dish. The addition of chilli pepper gives a special bite to this recipe. The amount of chili is purely personal, if you want a really spicy dish you can add two chilli peppers. The chilli pepper adds flavor, and it is beneficial to your health (see also spaghetti alla puttanesca). You should not forget that it increases your metabolism and is therefore a good ally to help you lose weight!

Like many recipes, this one has a lot of variations. You can either add onions to the chicken or omit the tomatoes. The recipe that I am presenting is the one I like the most.

Peppers are very versatile vegetables, I enjoy them prepared in different ways. I would also suggest trying grilled peppers, a tasty appetizer or side dish .

POLLO CON I PEPERONI (CHICKEN WITH PEPPERS)
Preparation time: 1 ½ hours                                         Servings : 4

Pollo con i peperoni

INGREDIENTS
1.2-1.4 kg (about three pounds) chicken, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 hot chili pepper
240 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
400 g (14 oz) canned tomatoes (San Marzano)
1 clove of garlic
4 average-sized peppers of different colors
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Clean, wash and pat dry chicken
2. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, saute the chicken on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until chicken is golden brown on both sides
3. Add rosemary and chilli pepper. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the white wine and cook for about 25-30 minutes with the lid. The meat should be tender
5. While the chicken is cooking, prepare peppers. Wash, cut in half, remove the seeds and white filaments. Cut into pieces of approx. cm 3 (1.5 inch) width. In a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat, saute – but don’t burn! – a garlic clove in 3 tablespoons of oil. Add peppers, raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, sugar and salt, and cook with the lid on for approx. 15 minutes until the peppers are soft
6. When chicken is done, add peppers to the chicken, stir and serve warm. – Paola

 

Pizza Rustica (Rustic Pizza)

17 Apr

This pizza is a little bit a different from what you imagine about pizza, but it’s still delicious! Pizza rustica is a typical recipe for Easter, especially for the Easter Monday picnic, Pasquetta, but I prepare it as an aperitif or appetizer for a casual dinner with friends throughout the year too. To tell the truth it is not a real pizza but a pie with a buttery crust, filled with eggs, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and spicy pepperoni, a very appetizing mix. Ricotta is a fresh cheese with a delicate flavor that blends perfectly with the peperoni. There are several variations of pizza rustica with different crusts depending on the region where it is prepared. Some people use a yeast dough as a crust, others add different types of cheese. This recipe is the one I love the most, one that my children especially enjoy.

PIZZA RUSTICA (RUSTIC PIZZA)
Preparation time: 60 min . Cooking time: 40 min. Servings: 6

Pizza rustica

INGREDIENTS
Pie dough
350 g (2 ¼ cups ) flour 00
5 g (1 teaspoon) salt
5 (1 teaspoon) sugar
5 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder for pizza or focaccia
170 g (6 oz) butter, cold, cut into pieces
70 ml (heaping ¼ cup) cold water
Filling
350 g (12.5 oz) ricotta cheese
3 eggs
75 g (¾ cups) grated Parmesan cheese
250 g (9 oz) mozzarella cheese (see note below), cut into cubes
100 g (3.6 oz) pepperoni
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. For the pie dough. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and baking powder). Add butter and work with a pie cutter until the mixture is sandy. Add water, working first with a spoon and then with floured hands to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
2. Prepare the filling. In a medium bowl mix the ricotta with a fork and then add the eggs. Beat with a spoon to obtain a creamy mixture. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, mozzarella and pepperoni. Add salt and pepper to taste
3. Preheat oven to 180 ° C
4. Remove the dough from the fridge. Spread 2/3 of dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface with 2-3 mm thickness. Transfer the dough into a ceramic pan (25 cm, 10 inch) in diameter, puncture the bottom with the tines of a fork, pour in the filling and level. Roll out the remaining third of the dough. Cut into 6 mm wide strips with a knife and form a latticework over the filling
5. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool on a rack for about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: I would suggest using a pizza mozzarella because fresh mozzarella has too much liquid in it. If you can’t find it, Caciocavallo cheese and Provolone cheese are good substitutes for pizza mozzarella. Paola

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Mini Cassata Siciliana (Mini Sicilian Cassata)

13 Apr

This year I will celebrate Easter with cassata, a delicious, tempting and colorful cake. Cassata is a typical dessert of the Sicilian pastry, in particular of Palermo. In the past it was enjoyed exclusively to celebrate Easter after the long period of Lent: a well-deserved award! Today it is enjoyed throughout the year.

The preparation is not particularly difficult as far as the cake it is concerned, whereas the decoration can be sumptuous and baroque, requiring some ability. The version that I propose is quite easy, also good for less experienced cooks. The ingredients are simple: ricotta cheese, dark chocolate and candied fruit. All these ingredients are mixed with sugar and used as a filling between two discs of sponge cake covered with colored marzipan and decorated to taste.

This recipe, like other Sicilian ones, was influenced by the Arabic domination. The name, in fact, derives from the Arabic “Quas’at”, which means round bowl. In fact, the shape looks like a bowl. The mini cassata is an alternative to cassata, elegant to serve and tasty to eat. Happy Easter all my beloved readers! Buona Pasqua a tutti!

MINI SICILIAN CASSATA
Preparation time: 2 hrs                        Servings: 6 people

Cassatta fetta

INGREDIENTS
450 g (16 oz) sponge cake, sliced 1 cm (½ inch) thick and cut into 12 discs 8 cm (3 inch) diameter with a cookie cutter
600 g (21 oz) ricotta cheese
160 g (2 cups) powdered sugar
150 g (5 oz) dark chocolate, cut into small cubes
150 g (5 oz) candied fruit, cut into small cubes
28 g (1 oz) peeled pistachios, cut into pieces
White Marsala wine
450 g (16 oz) almond paste
Green food coloring
White icing
Candied fruits for decoration

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large bowl whisk sugar with ricotta. Add chocolate, candied fruits and pistachios
2. Line the base and the sides of 8 cm (3 inch) diameter and about 10 cm (4 inch) height bowl with parchment paper. This process will help remove the cassata from the bowl. Place a disc of sponge cake sprinkled with Marsala wine, pour in some of the filling (almost to the top) and cover with another disc of sponge cake sprinkled with Marsala. Cover the surface of the cake with some parchment paper and store in the fridge for about one and a half hours
3. Knead the almond paste on a working surface sprinkled with powdered sugar, mixing in the dye until you get the your favorite shade of Easter green. Roll out a disc of marzipan to cover the entire mini cassata, including the sides, to a thickness of 4-5 mm.
4. Take out from the the refrigerator, remove from the bowl and flip over onto a serving plate
5. Place almond paste on top to cover the entire surface. Decorate as desired. I decorated it very simply with some white icing and candied fruits. You can use your creativity to make it fancy.

Note: You can use this recipe to prepare just one cassata with a disc (25 cm, 10 inch) diameter. The amount of almond paste is 280 g (10 oz). Paola

Involtini di Prugne e Bacon (Prunes and Bacon Rolls)

6 Apr

This a fast and irresistible appetizer prepared with only two ingredients: prunes and bacon. Pitted prunes are wrapped with bacon and cooked in the oven until bacon becomes crispy and tasty. The combination of prunes and bacon is delicious: the sweet flavor of prunes mix well with the bacon’s salty taste. When the bacon fat melts during cooking, it lends a special touch of extra flavor to the prunes. When you start eating these appetizing bites, it is hard to stop…..uno tira l’altro!

INVOLTINI DI PRUGNE E BACON (PRUNE AND BACON ROLLS)
Preparation time: 10 min. Cooking time: 10 min Servings: 4

Involtini di prugne e bacon

INGREDIENTS
8 thin slices of bacon
8 pitted prunes
8 toothpicks

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 180 °C
2. Soak prunes for 8 min. in water. Remove and dry
3. Wrap each prune with a sheet of bacon (about 15 cm long and 2.5 cm wide ). Pierce a toothpick through center of prunes to hold bacon into place
4. Arrange the rolls on a baking sheet covered with a baking paper
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until bacon is crispy. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Note: You can substitute the prunes with almond-stuffed dates. -Paola

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