I quite often use jam (good ones, lots of fruit and not too sweet) in desserts and sometimes I use them as a base for sweet sauces to accompany cakes, crepes, fruit salads and puddings. This time I wanted to make a strong tasting citrus jam that I could use to make an ancient Sicilian dessert.

Sicily is the land of citrus.


I love honey and I frequently use it in the place of sugar and when I make jam I also often add some liqueurs or spirit. For example in this recipe I could easily have added a tablespoon of an orange or lemon flavoured liqueur – Cointreau or Grand Marnier.


4 citrus: I used 1 lemon, 1 Seville oranges, 1 tangello, 1 orange, 
2 cups water, 
½ – ¾ cup honey

I removed some of the peel from the tangelo and cut some of it very thinly. Peel /cut off all skin and white pith and discard.
Chop fruit roughly, discard seeds( these make the jam bitter).
Place pulp and water in a saucepan, cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add honey, and boil it uncovered, without stirring, for about 20 minutes or until set (semisolid).

If adding liqueur add about 2 tablespoons towards the end of cooking or if making a sweet sauce add the liqueur to thin the jam.


Believe it or not but some people can do without dessert and I am one of them. This could be a reflection of the way I was bought up –as an Italian child there was always fresh fruit after any meal and very special desserts were saved for special occasions. I think that they were appreciated more because of this. I generally prefer to eat savoury food. You have to leave room for a dessert and I often find that I have had too much of the other stuff to appreciate it. However I do like something small and sweet at the end of a meal, especially if I have been drinking.

I had some left over marzipan in the fridge, some left over torrone (nougat) and I saw some fresh, Medjool dates and hence this recipe for the stuffed dates. Easy to make too.

I knew that orange flower water and/or cinnamon are traditionally included in the marzipan mixture in Morocco where stuffed dates are popular (I have eaten them in Tunis and Turkey as well). My marzipan was left over from making a cassata so I added more almond meal and some orange flower water to the mixture, and presto the stuffing was ready. Grated peel from 1 orange can also enhance the flavour. In these other countries the marzipan is often coloured but I prefer natural colours and flavours. This time I did not use cinnamon, but maybe next time.

There were four of us and I thought that twelve dates would be enough. Six were stuffed with almond paste and I stuffed the other six with a piece of nougat (no instructions needed – it is self explanatory).

blanched almonds to decorate.
fresh Medjool dates

This amount of marzipan will easily stuff 24 dates. Either halve the ingredients or store the left over marzipan in the fridge till next time. Wrap it in plastic film and it will keep for a couple of weeks.

To make marzipan:
1 cup of ground almonds (blanched) and 1 cups of pure icing sugar combined with ¼ cup of caster sugar – this adds the crunchy texture that compliments the ground almonds.
Mix the sugars and almond meal with fingers and add 1 tablespoon of orange water slowly. If the mixture is too wet add more almonds. Knead it and if it needs more water add a little tap water to make the mixture pliable.

Cut each date vertically on one side and remove the stone.
Make small cylinders of almond paste the same length as the dates and place one inside each date. Squeeze the sides of each date around the paste and leave some exposed.
Decorate each with a blanched almond (or walnut or pistachio).
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving.

Marzipan: Also see previous posts:


CASSATA DECONSTRUCTED – a postmodernist take on Sicilian Cassata

PASTA DI MANDORLA (Marzipan, the traditional recipe)

MARZAPANE also called PASTA REALE (Marzipan)


I first made Olive Fritte (fried olives) after I bought The Taste of Italy in 1984. Bugialli became a big hit in Australia and I still have several of his books.

These are ripe, fresh olives (not pickled) that are sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, course- grained salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Bugialli’s recipe: 1 pound of black olives, 2tbs olive oil, ½ tbsp of the salt and a pinch of pepper and sautéed gently for 15 minutes).

South Australia is blessed with wild oIive trees. I was living in Adelaide at that time and you could handpick the olives you wanted according to the degree of maturity, the range of shapes and sizes – and all for free.

Even then I had adventurous friends who were willing to try anything I cooked and those who sampled these were wary at first, but quickly adjusted and enjoyed the fresh slightly bitter taste of the olives. They continued eating them and took more. At the time, I also added fresh bay leaves.

Recently two of my friends brought me a small bag of olives as a gift. They had visited two other friends at Rocky Passes, a boutique winery at the southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges in the Upper Goulburn wine growing region of Victoria. These two friends produce award winning red wines and In their kitchen garden there are some olive trees. This is where these olives (in the photo) came from.

This time when I sautéed them fresh, I added fennel seeds and deglazed the pan with some good quality red wine vinegar. I presented them on two separate occasions to different guests and once again watched them tentatively put the first olive in their mouths, the incredulous expressions on their faces (should I be eating these??) and then the enjoyment of savouring something bitter but at the same time with a hint of sweetness (Campari?). I ensured them that bitter food is good for the liver so we drank some more wine.

Use low heat and sauté 2 cups of unblemished, black, ripe olives in ½ cup cup of extra virgin olive oil. Add ½ teaspoon of salt flakes and ½ tsp of fennel seeds. Cook for about 15 minutes stir frequently. Add 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar and deglaze the pan.
Sprinkle with some fresh fennel fronds (optional)
Serve warm.

Click here for olive recipes.


My first serious Moroccan cookbook was A Taste of Morocco by Robert Carrier. It was published in 1987. I already had Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Food and Arto der Haroutunian’s North African Cookery.

I lived in Adelaide then and with three friends once a month we celebrated different ethnic cuisines by cooking in our own homes and then sharing it at each other’s places. Each of us prepared food for 1 course – all of us were excellent cooks, had busy lives and loved to socialize. We spent less time, less planning, less money (we all liked to drink good wine) and we deepened our friendship and repertoire of cooking styles, ingredients and recipes of particular cuisines. The special privilege of the host was that they could invite 2-3 extra people of their choice.

We had this system in place well before 1987 but for the first Moroccan meal I was responsible for the appetisers and entrées (as we called those courses then!!). And part of the nibbles I bought were a variety of dressed olives.
I have said before that I never follow a recipe from A-Z and nor did I do that on this occasion, but I played around with the ingredients suggested in Robert Carrier’s recipes and I still play around with these ingredients still when I marinate olives.

In my fridge at present: 3 types of olives and preserved lemons

In this post I will provide a list of the ingredients I may use when making Moroccan olive salads. I use:

Different types/ colours/ sized of olives in brine, i.e. I may use my own olives that I have pickled in brine or bought small olives, large ones, green ones, black ones, cracked olives etc.

As the mood takes me I will use some of the following ingredients to dress and marinate the olives: harissa (North African spice paste) thyme sprigs, lemon slices, preserved lemons, fresh coriander, fresh flat leaved parsley, fresh red or green hot peppers, dried oregano, fennel seeds, cumin, fresh lemon, bitter oranges (Saville), chilli flakes.

Always, always extra virgin olive oil and I keep the jars of marinaded olives in the fridge and allow them to marinate at least 24 hours before we eat them. You are likely to find marinated olives in the fridge anytime you visit me – they store well and keep for ages.

For more olive recipes in this blog see:

ULIVI CUNZATE, INSALATA DI OLIVE (Dressed pickled olives/ Olive salad)

CHEAT FOOD: Marinaded white anchovies AND Olive Schiacciate made with commercially prepared olives


And one of my most popular posts by far: HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES


I love sardines. Being a small fish they cook quickly and are still considered by some as being exotic.

Here are two different recipes and both use wine. The same ingredients are in both recipes but in one recipe the sardines are sautéed and in the other they are baked. I prefer to use cleaned whole sardines when I bake them.

In both recipes whole fish or fillets can be used. The sardines as fillets (no bones) can be eaten on fresh or toasted bread and makes a good starter. I like to top them with a little harissa when I do this (mixing of cultures here).

500 g of fresh sardines (whole or fillets), ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of fresh parsley and ½ tsp of dry oregano, 1-2 cloves of garlic chopped finely, salt and pepper to taste, juice of ½ lemon, ¼ cup white wine.
Instead of using white wine try cooking them with red wine and use red wine vinegar. It alters the taste and colour.

Sauté sardines in hot extra virgin olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, garlic and the herbs. Turn once only. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add lemon and wine and de-glaze the pan. Evaporate a little to form a sauce. Return the sardines to the pan to coat them in the sauce and to reheat.

INGREDIENTS (as above)
I prefer to use whole sardines for the baked version of this recipe. Fillets can also be cooked the same way but will cook more quickly.

Bake whole sardines 200°C for 25-30.  Bake fillets for 20mins.
Arrange the sardines in a round baking tin that you have coated with the oil. These look very attractive if arranged in a pattern with their heads in the centre and tails radiating out to the edges (like spokes).
Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, wine and vinegar, garlic and the herbs.
Bake and eat when ready.