Lately, I have fallen in love with the delicious Sicilian pastries from Dolcetti made by Marianna Di Bartolo.

DOLCETTI, handmade sweet things (223 Victoria St, West Melbourne).

 

Dolcetti means little sweets in Italian (it implies exquisite little morsels) and my frequent visits to this pasticceria has revived my desire for that distinctive, strong citrus taste present in many Sicilian desserts.

Sicilians produce a large range and quantities of citrus. One of the citrus is the cedro (citron). Cedri (plural) look like very large lemons and they have very thick skins. Sicilians use them fresh to make a salad (dressed with salt, extra virgin olive oil), but most of all they are candied (used for making cassata) or made into a sweet conserva (conserve/ jam/marmalade), especially common for flavouring desserts and placing in the centre of almond pastries.
Marianna also sells beautiful preserves in her pasticceria, but I have not seen a lemon one.

These may not be cedri, but the size and amount of pith on these lemons is comparable (each lemon weighed approx. 700g each). I decided to treat the lemons like cedri and make a conserva.

Finding a recipe can be an interesting process. I  do not think that I have ever followed a recipe from start to finish; I always enjoy finding and comparing recipes in the various publications, adding what I know and then modifying it to suit my tastes.

Each of the numerous times I have visited Sicily (and Italy), I have bought cookery books – not only by the greats of Sicilian cuisine and highly recognized writers and publications (Coria, Correnti, Taylor Simeti, Tasca Lanza, ….I could go on), but also by the less known ones (Maria Consoli Sardo, Di Leo, D’Alba,….I could go on).

The variations in the recipes (quantities and methods) I found in the different publications for making this preserve were many. Some recipes directed peeling the fruit first, others boiled the peel several times and discarded the water and some added sugar after boiling the pulp; there were almost as many variations for making marmalade as I found in my old Australian publications (for example The older South Australians may remember the Green and Gold Cookery book).

The two recipes I ended up liking the most were: Marmellata di Limone (in Bitter Almonds, Maria Grammatico and Mary Taylor Simeti) and Conserva di Citru (in Profumi di Sicilia, Giuseppe Coria).

Maria Grammatico and Mary Taylor Simeti suggested pricking all of the lemons with a fork, putting them in water and letting them soak for 5 days, changing the water every day.

In Coria’s recipe the lemons were soaked (un-pricked) for 24 hours.

One recipe suggested mincing, the other grating the fruit.

Grammatico / Taylor Simeti suggested weighing the pulp and using 1¼ their weight in sugar. Coria suggested adding 2 kilo of sugar for every 3 kilo of pulp and 1 cup of water, but what I liked about his recipe was the addition of a cinnamon stick which was also mentioned in many other of my older Italian publications (most that do not include amounts of ingredients).

What I did was:
  • pricked the lemons and soaked them for 3 days. I thought that pricking the lemons would soften the skins and it did
  • used a mandoline to slice the lemons into medium sized julienne pieces – I decided I liked texture
  •  reduced the amount of sugar to 1kilo of sugar to 2 kilo of pulp, added 3 cinnamon sticks and no water
  • cooked the pulp until set – mine took about 40 minutes. (You know the old trick about testing jam/ marmalade by placing a little on a cold saucer, cooling it, and if adequately set it should wrinkle and feel firm)
  •  placed the conserva into hot sterilized jars.

The flavour of my conserve is very intense and very lemony, but the texture is a little rubbery (maybe I cooked it too long). I am also disappointed that I am unable to taste the cinnamon and noticed that the sticks also break up during the cooking. I expected the conserve to be a lighter colour – the cinnamon may have contributed to the darker shade .

I wanted my conserva to be perfect and I was going to give a jar of it to Marianna. It seemed a fair exchange – my labour of love, for many of hers.

 

MA2SBAE8REVW

These plants are what I have always known as broccoletti selvatici. They are part of the group of edible plants called piante selvatiche (wild plants) or piante spontanee or erbe spontanee (spontaneous herbs) in Italian.

For the photo shoot, I collected two whole plants and the photos took place in my dining room (this is why they look so well groomed).

The weed, is classed as a brassica,(family of vegetables which includes broccoli and cabbage) and if you can be patient enough to collect a sufficient quantity of wild broccoletti you will not be disappointed. As you see by the second photo, it is only the tender tips with young leaves that you pick – love and patience is required – take a bag, be prepared to walk and pick only the tender shoots from each plant.

They taste similar to cime di rape and tossed around in a pan with garlic, some chilli and olive oil, they make a vey tasty vegetable contorno (side dish) or a pasta sauce for orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears and popular in Puglia). As a variation for that pasta sauce, a fresh, Italian pork sausage or some anchovies can be crumbled into the hot pan at the same time.

The pasta will need pecorino rather than parmigiano cheese grated on top – not only because it is a southern Italian type dish, but also because a strong tasting sauce requires a strong cheese.

I discovered that what I have always known as cime di rape have local names in some regions of Italy. In Lazio they’re broccoletti. in Campania  they’re named friarielli, and in Toscana, rapini.  You may therefore not be surprised that what I call broccoletti selvatici are known by different  local names in the different regions of Italy. For example in Sicily which is a small island, some Sicilians may call them lazzane (a similar wild green in Sicily) and other Sicilians from a different part of Sicily may refer to them as cavoliceddi.

Like all vegetables, these wild broccoletti are seasonal and you will need to wait till the yellow flower appears before you pick them, but not too many yellow flowers, because this means that the plant is going to seed. If this is the case, and the plant will be spindly – its energy would have gone into seed production, and in fact, if you look at the photo, this is already beginning to happen.

Most of the world’s other cultures harvested (and some still harvest) from the wild: dandelions, wild chicories, nettles, amaranth, purslane and wild fennel may be the most recognised.

Other cultures living in Australia also collect wild greens, for example Greeks call them horta and I have written about vlita - a summer weed, in a previous post. Indigenous Australians had their favourites and some early pioneers ate wild greens, such as Warrigal greens and pigweed.

INGREDIENTS
orecchiette 500 g
wild greens or cime di rape, 500-700g
garlic cloves, to taste, chopped
chillies, to taste, chopped
anchovy fillets 3-4 chopped finely or 1-2 pork Italian sausages
extra virgin olive oil, ½- ¾ cup
white wine, a splash
pecorino for grating
PROCESSES
Wash the greens
Heat some olive oil, add the garlic, chillies and the anchovies (or broken up sausage).
Add the vegetables sauté for a few minutes until they begin to wilt.
Add white wine, cover and cook till soft.(Some cooks pre-cook the greens and then sauté them – this is not necessary if you are only cooking the young shoots).
Cook the orecchiette and dress them with the greens.
Present them at the table with grated cheese.

MA2SBAE8REVW

Sicilians are very enthusiastic about their local cow and sheep’s milk cheeses. Goat’s milk is generally drunk rather than made into cheese, and as always there are exceptions.

Each Sicilian region is proud of their local product and many of the cheeses are named after the region, for example: Madonie provola, from the Madonie Mountains (north west Sicily), Nebrodi Provola, from the Nebrodi Mountains (north eastern Sicily) and Ragusano is the caciocavallo cheese from Ragusa. Sadly, very few of the local Sicilian cheese varieties are unknown outside Sicily and never make it into Australia.

Many of the Sicilian cheeses are pecorino or provola type cheeses.

These cheeses are eaten at varying stages of maturity – dolce (sweet) when it is fresh and piccante (spicy) when mature. Some cheese is eaten very fresh and unsalted. Once the cheese is salted it is eaten progressively until the cheese crust has formed and the cheese is considered ripe (which could be as short as five months).

The most commonly recognised Sicilian cheeses made in Australia are tuma and primo sale, pecorino and provola. Ricotta, is not technically a cheese but it is eaten and used as such.

I have been fortunate to have lived in both Adelaide and Melbourne where I am able to purchase freshly made cheeses and the latest business enterprise in Melbourne is La Latteria in Carlton.

This cheese making and selling endeavour of two innovative people: Linguantii from That’s Amore Cheese (he is experienced) and Laird from a South Melbourne Restaurant (where she was head chef). The combination of skills seems a good one; I would imagine that Italians would still buy the traditional cheeses and the adventurous buyers may venture to purchase  the cheeses that have been formed into less traditional shapes and that have herbs or salame added.

Liguanti and Laird are both passionate about their work and the fresh stretched cheeses (e.g. fior di latte, bocconcini, burrata) are made daily in small batches. And this is exactly how Italians like to eat them, made daily and if possible, warm, just like their bread (it is very common to buy warm, freshly made bread twice a day).

Latterie are found all over Italy- this is where one buys milk products and this includes fresh cheeses, so the business is appropriately named. They sell fresh yoghurt, un-homogenised milk, cow and buffalo milk cheeses. Not all the cheeses have to be made fresh on the day and there are some in the selection for example the smoked scamorza, which is slightly aged. The cheeses they make are found in various regions of Italy, for example the burrata is popular in Pugia, provola in the south of Italy from Campania to Sicilia, and crescenza is like stracchino is made in Lombardia and Piemonte.

La Latteria also make ricotta salata, very much longed-for by Sicilians not living in Sicily. It is mainly used as a grating cheese, but Sicilians find any excuse to-get-stuck-into-it and at any  time. As you can see by the photo, La Latteria’s ricotta salata is made into small shapes and sold dried ready for grating. What I used to purchase in Adelaide from La Casa del Formaggio was sold in much larger shapes and left to the buyer to dry it out; the problem with this was that it was eaten before it was dry enough to be grated. A real treat.

 

See my previous posts:
This has a recipe Formaggio all’Argentiera (pan fried cheese).
RICOTTA
RICOTTA FRISCA‘NFURNATA – RICOTTA FRESCA INFORNATA (Baked, fresh ricotta)
This has the recipe for baked ricotta.

VARIATIONS to Baked Ricotta recipe:

In a restaurant in Syracuse I ate baked ricotta presented warm and sprinkledwith a coating of toasted pistachio nuts. If you would like to make this version just rub the ricotta with olive oil and a little salt. Add the nuts in the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Instead of salt I have also dribble honey over ricotta, bake it and present it with poached fruit as a dessert. I have never eaten this in Sicily, but we all experiment with ingredients and it is winter after all.

Apologies to my overseas readers, I do not know where you can buy freshly made Italian cheeses.

MA2SBAE8REVW

The happy chefs of Bar Idda (photo).

Lisa and Alfredo (right) are the proprietors of Bar Idda in Lygon Street. They have returned from their holiday in Sicily full of ideas and enthusiasm for their small, Sicilian restaurant.

See previous posts:

On the 5t of July they celebrated their first birthday and their new menu strongly influenced by their recent discoveries of different recipes experienced while in Sicily.

Anthony is the bar person and after discussing the wine with him we selected a bottle of ROSSOJBLEO, a bio-organic, Sicilian Nero d’Avola from Chiaramonte Gulfi (Ragusa). My partner and I then ate our way through many very enjoyable Sicilian specialties. These included:

Hot ricotta soup with home made pasta. Ricotta is very much appreciated by Sicilians especially when it has just been made.  Particularly in Ragusa and the environs people visit cheese makers (sometimes on farms) and watch the ricotta being made. Ladles of hot, fresh curds and whey are usually poured on broken pieces of bread and eaten like soup.  See earlier post:

SICILIAN CHEESE. A VISIT TO A MASSARO (farmer-cheese maker) IN RAGUSA.

 
 
 

Gelatina di maiale (brawn, made with pork- see recipe and photos below) and some affettati (a selection of cold cuts of salumi). An eggplant caponata was also included in this antipasto course, and this is a photo of it. (See recipe CAPONATA SICILIANA).

Farsumagru (il falsomagro is a beef, meat roll stuffed with hard boiled egg and can include cheeses , salamini and mortadella).  It is braised in a tomato sauce and presented sliced. In this case it was made with minced beef and Alfredo’s version included a little zucchini for colour and variety of textures. Farsumagru translates into false–lean. It contains delectable ingredients including meat, so this is a pun on ‘lenten’ food – during the liturgical seasons Catholics were required to eat simple food and to abstain from eating meat. These laws have relaxed over time.

The farsumagru was accompanied by a warm potato salad with capers and comichons, and a fennel and orange salad with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

We then had a glass of Malvasia a very rich flavoured dessert wine made by drying Malvasia grapes (bianche– white variety)  before crushing.  It was an excellent accompaniment to the small fried pastries called cassateddi. There are many local variations to this recipe, and in this version the dough was stuffed with ricotta, cinnamon, and honey. I could taste some alcohol too. (Honey is used instead of sugar in the Ragusa area).

Thank you Bar Idda, for a very enjoyable meal. Auguri e complimenti and may there be many years to come.



Gelatina (means gelatine or jellied)

In various parts of Sicily the gelatina di maiale is called by a variety of names: jlatina di maiali, Suzu, suzzu, or zuzu.

I found a recipe for gelatina scribbled in one of many notebooks which I use to record recipes when I visit Italy. In this particular notebook from 1980, there are many Sicilian recipes, but on this particular trip I must have visited the relatives in Genova (a Piedmontese aunt married to my father’s brother and living in Genova and her daughter Rosadele who is an excellent cook also). There were  also some recipes written in Trieste (my zia Renata was from Rovigo and married my mother’s brother).

I have not made gelatina di maiale for many years but I have always included a half of a pork’s head – this provides the jelly component. The tongue adds texture and extra flavour (you can throw out the eyes).

It is always a good idea to pre-order a pork’s head beforehand and I was not able to purchase one. I used pork feet instead (as you can see by this photo) and fortunately it turned out very well. In this gelatina I included approx 1.500 kilo of lean pork (cut into large pieces) and four pig’s feet.
INGREDIENTS AND PROCESSES
The recipe is one of my zia Niluzza’s who lives in Ragusa (Sicily) and it simply says:
1 part vinegar to 3 parts of water, red chilli flakes or whole pepper corns and salt. Use a mixed selection of pork meat, including the head.
Place in cold water mixture, cover meat.
Boil for 6 hours (covered) on slow heat.
Filter broth, remove some of the fat and reduce, remove bones, shred meat.
Lay meat in earthenware bowl, cover with cooled broth and leave to set.

Over time, I have altered the recipe and include bay leaves and peppercorns and I boil the pork without the vinegar only for about 3 hours (until I can see the meat falling off the bones).

Once it is cooked, I leave it to rest overnight.

The next day I remove the meat from the jelly, I add ½ cup of vinegar and the juice of a couple of lemons to the broth and reduce the liquid down to a third of the original amount.

I shred the meat and place it into a terrine and cover it with the cooled reduced stock. Any fat will rise to the surface and can be scraped off when it is cool (in fact, it acts as a seal).

 

I cooked this over the weekend and my guests enjoyed it very much.
MA2SBAE8REVW

I love all brassicas (brassicaceae or mustard family), not just the Italian cime di rape, coloured and white cauliflowers, broccoli, cavolo nero, kale, kohlrabi (which I have written about, see links) and Asian mustard greens, but also the cabbages and Brussels sprouts.

If we are talking about Sicilian favourite brassicas, there are the cime di rape, coloured cauliflowers, the green and purple coloured kohlrabi and the broccoli, but you will have trouble finding cabbages, except for the white variety.

Brussels sprouts in Italy are called cavolini or cavoletti di Bruxelles (or Brussels).

My mother cooked these very often in Trieste and in Australia. Sicilians seem to buy local produce and sprouts, like cavolo nero and red cabbage are grown in north of Italy. I have never seen them in Sicily, but that does not mean that they are not found.

The Brussels sprouts in my mother’s house were brasati (braised in a little broth – stock or stock cube with a little water).

These Brussels sprouts were bought from Fresh Generation Stall in the Queen Victoria Market (aren’t they marvellous!!).

INGREDIENTS
Brussels sprouts, 1k
onions, 2 sliced finely
butter and extra virgin olive oil, ½-¾ cup
stock/broth, veal or chicken, ½- 1 cup
pepper and salt to taste

PROCESSES
Remove the external leaves to the cavolini, and cut a little cross at the base
(to help them cook evenly).
Precook them for about 5 mins by boiling them in salted, boiling water (I do not pre cook them) and drain well.
Saute` the onions in a mixture of oil and butter, add the cavolini and toss them around till coated.
Add the broth, salt and pepper, partly cover them with a lid and braise slowly.

My mother’s cavolini were always what I call overcooked – I have found that this is the way that  Italians prefer to eat vegetables.
In Sicily the white cabbage (cavolo cappuccio), available in winter, is often used uncooked as a salad green and simply dressed with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The salad tastes quite sweet.

Red cabbage (cavolo cappuccio rosso) is not a Sicilian vegetable, but is appreciated in Trieste and goes very well with pork. The following recipe has Austrian origins, which is nor surprising when one looks at Trieste’s location. The olive oil is added because Italians could not possibly eat a salad without it.

INGREDIENTS

bacon or speck cut into very small cubes, ½ – 1 cup

red cabbage, ½ sliced very thinly
extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
red wine vinegar, ½ cup
cumin seeds,
salt and pepper to taste

PROCESSES
Lightly brown the bacon or speck in a little oil.
Boil the vinegar, add the cumin seeds and a little salt and pour the hot mixture over the cabbage.
Add the bacon, toss and let it marinade for at least 2 hours.
Add a drizzle of oil when ready to serve.

Cooked cabbage is not very common in Sicily, but it is in Trieste and I have always loved the way my mother cooks Savoy cabbage (cappuccio verza).

When we first arrived in Australia, there was plenty of cabbage and not much else in the way of green vegetables, so cabbage was frequently eaten. As silly as this may seem to you, I used to love this cabbage dish as a filling in a sandwich or panino (bread roll). Although it was my favourite filling I used to cringe on those occasions that my mother had packed this for my school lunch. It used to smell so strongly and on those particular days, I used to pretend I had forgotten my lunch and ate it on the way home. My school bag always needed to be aired overnight.

INGREDIENTS
Savoy cabbage, ½ sliced thinly
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
white wine, ½ glass or water
bay leaves, 2, fresh
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, ½-¾ cup

PROCESSES
Add the garlic and the cabbage to the hot oil.
Stir the cabbage in the oil until it begins to soften, add the wine, bay leaves and the salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and cook on very gentle heat for at least 20 minutes (my mother cooked it twice as long). Stir from time to time to ensure that it is not sticking and add more wine or water if necessary.

MA2SBAE8REVW

One of my readers has sent me a photo of cardi (cardoons); it was taken in France in September last year. He writes:”The market was in the Place St-Michel, Bordeaux in the square in front of the Eglise St-Michel”.

We were there on a Saturday morning. There are grower market stalls, live chickens and rabbits, bread and pastry stalls as well as textile, clothes and secondhand stalls (bric a brac) – the usual produce and goods one finds in markets. There were the cardi; they looked very much like overgrown celery and were obviously not the gobbi you write about. When I compare these to your photo they look smaller in size and perhaps they were picked earlier.”

Carduna Chini (Cardi ripieni)

I found this recipe in Giuseppe Coria’s Profumi di Sicilia. Apparently this is one way of cooking cardi in Enna (centre of Sicily). They are stuffed and then braised.

For cleaning and precooking cardi  proceed as in previous post. Cut into 6-10cm pieces (sticks – they are shaped like celery). The stuffing will be in between 2 sticks and will resemble a baguette.  Select a wide, shallow saucepan that will hold the stuffed cardi in one layer.

Once the cardi have been precooked and drained, stuff half of the number of sticks with in an anchovy and small cubes of cheese (does not say what kind but I would use provola in the traditional pear shape).

Soften some onion until golden. Place each of the stuffed cardi on top of the bed of onions. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper and heat gently till warmed through.

Thank you E, much appreciated.
Marisa

MA2SBAE8REVW

This is not a photo taken in one of the markets in Italy – it was purchased from Gus and Carmel’s stall in the Queen Victoria Market (Carmel is holding the plant, she was reluctant to pose).

It is a cardoon (called cardone or cardo in Italian) a close relative of the artichoke with light green to white stalks ribbed like celery. Cardoons (cardoni or cardi) are fibrous; the stringy fibres run lengthwise and need to be removed. Only the stalks are eaten and they the plant is young can be eaten raw when young.

I am very excited by this because it is the first cardoon I have ever seen for sale and cooked in Australia.

I was in Chanti two years ago and travelled through Tuscany when cardi were in season and I must admit that I have never seen cardoons as gigantic as the one anywhere in Italy. The other photo (see bottom of this post) showing a darker variety of cardi was taken in the market in Catania, Sicily and this is the size (not necessarily the colour) that I remember my mother buying when we lived in Trieste.

Cardoons are a winter vegetable and appreciated in all parts of Italy. I know that there are a number of varieties of cardi but they can be grouped into two sorts. One grows straight and long (60 to 150 cm), and I guess that this is what I have (it is 110cm tall, and the top leaves have already been trimmed); the other cardi are curved and in Italy are known as the gobbi (hunchbacks).

The best cardi are grown blanched. This is like the blanching of some celery – the plant is tied together and paper or boards are used to block out the light and shade the stalks. When the light source of celery is blocked out the plants lack green colour, the stalks are generally more tender and are sweeter in taste. Apparently the best cardi are grown in total darkness; to blanch the gobbi, the plants are bent on one side and covered with earth; this contributes to the typical arched shape.

When my family settled in Australia we missed our cardi and my mother cooked the ivory stalks of silver beet the same way, i.e. gratinati – au gratin (part boiled and then baked with béchamel and parmesan cheese). She also part boiled them, crumbed and fried them (called impanati). My mum has never worked and was particularly bored when we settled in Australia, where in fact she developed her best cooking, even if she did not have the range of ingredients. We knew that the silver beet stalks would never taste like they should (similar to artichokes), but they looked good when we were having guests.

Gus is Calabrese and the fruit stall next door is also run by Calabresi. They tell me that one of their favourite ways to eat cardi  are when they are preserved in extra virgin olive oil. They are boiled first in acidulated water, drained well and like when preserving carciofini (small artichokes) are then covered with oil, salt and perhaps some dried oregano.

In Tuscany the cardi are often recooked in chicken or veal stock and in Piedmont they are precooked and then presented with bagna caoda (a warm dip of anchovies, garlic, and olive oil, usually served with fresh vegetables as an appetizer).

To clean cardi, take off the outside leaves and any that are discoloured or soft until you reach the inside of the plant. As you can see in the photo the plant was significantly reduced in size and looks very much like the centre of a celery. With a sharp knife strip off the coarse, outer, stringy layer of fibres – some people use a potato peeler to do this. I do the same with artichoke stalks and like artichokes they need to be placed in lightly acidulated water as you are cleaning them. The cardoons are then cut into 5-6 cm pieces and are partly boiled to remove more of their bitter taste, and then recooked. A good squeeze of lemon juice added to the cooking water will also help to prevent them from darkening. Do not think about reusing the cooking water as stock – it is bitter.

INGREDIENTS
cardoons, cleaned and cut into pieces (I ended up with only 20 pieces)
lemons, the juice of 1- 2
béchamel, (white sauce made with butter, flour, milk salt, white pepper and some nutmeg and I used 2 cups)
parmesan cheese, grated.  I used 120g
butter, extra
PROCESSES
Clean and cut the cardi to size, place them into boiling, salted water and lemon juice and cook till softened. The cooking liquid should completely cover the vegetables. My cardi remained slightly crunchy and I cooked them for 35-40 mins. Some cardi can take a long time to soften and some of the recipes I read suggested a couple of hours cooking time.
Drain well. If you intend cooking them later keep them in the cooking water till you are ready for the next cooking stage.
Preheat the oven 200°C.
Grease a wide, shallow ovenproof dish with butter and place a layer of the cardi in it (there will be two layers). Cover with some of the béchamel (besciamella) and half of the parmesan.
Continue with the second layer of cardi, followed by the béchamel and cheese. At this stage you can decide if you would like to sprinkle some coarse breadcrumbs made with good quality bread (sourdough or pasta dura) on the top of the cheese and dot the crumbs with some bits of butter.
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the surface has turned a golden brown. Serve at once.
More cardoons/ recipe

 

MA2SBAE8REVW

Last week’s post mentioned patate in teccia, a perfect accompaniment for vitello arrosto (veal roast). In fact in Trieste where this recipe is common, it can be the perfect contorno to accompany many other hot main courses which have a little gravy or juice.

In teccia is triestino (dialect used in Trieste) for cooked in a pan.

Patate schiacciate,  means ‘squashed potatoes’. I was away with friends over the weekend and one of my friends cooked these potatoes (see photo). He was surprised that I too knew them as ‘squashed’ and that they are cooked in various parts of Italy.

Here are two recipes for ‘squashed’ potatoes.

PATATE IN TECCIA (Trieste)
INGREDIENTS
potatoes 600g
onion, 1 large
extra virgin olive oil, 6 tablespoon
salt and pepper to taste
PROCESSES
Place whole, un-peeled potatoes in cold water and boil until cooked. Drain them.
In Trieste the potatoes are peeled and squashed into smaller, uneven sections. I sauté the potatoes un-peeled (and not forgiven).
Sauté and soften the onion till they are a light golden colour.
Add the potatoes and cook on medium heat until they begin to colour (form a crust) on the bottom. Stir them continually so that they can continue to colour (this process will take about 10 minutes).
PATATE SCHIACCIATE
INGREDIENTS
potatoes 600g
extra virgin olive oil, 6 tablespoon
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 200 C
Place whole, un-peeled potatoes in cold water and boil until cooked. Drain them.
Position potatoes in a well-oiled baking pan (not-overlapping) and squash them with the palm of the hand (or a cup).
Dribble with the remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes till golden (have formed a crust) and serve.
MA2SBAE8REVW 

When we first arrived in Australia, we lived in Adelaide and one of the favourite things that my mother cooked in Australia when we had guests was vitello arrosto (roast veal).

It was not vitello as we had been used to in Trieste (veal which was very pale in colour and young), however, we were very fortunate to have a good Hungarian butcher who did his best to supply us with cuts of meat that we were better acquainted with.

When I was a teenager I often had friends who came to stay and I used to tell them that what we were eating was roast veal, they were confused. Firstly because it was not roast lamb (my mother thought the lamb as pecorona – ultra big sheep), but secondly because it was not roast cooked in the oven, so why did we call it roast?

Ovens were not commonly used, baking was not common, but wet roasting was, and if you look at recipes for vitello arrosto you will find that the most common way of cooking it is in a pan with a close fitting lid on top of the stove. The juices do not dry out and the roast will be tender and very flavourful.

This is not a recipe my Sicilian relatives cooked – their arrosto was cooked slowly in the oven, with onions, a little tomato, bay leaves and usually with potatoes. This was also moist and cooked for some of the time partly covered. The photo was taken in Sicily; the cut of meat that my relatives often use for a boneless roast is called a reale.

Ask your butcher for a piece of veal that you can roast.  A girello is suitable, but it is more likely to be yearling beef (most Australian butchers label this piece of meat as such, if not it is also called silverside – but not pickled). A leg of veal is also suitable, but it will be gelatinous and not every one likes this.

The pan often called a Dutch oven, is a good shape to use for vitello arrosto.

INGREDIENTS
roasting veal in one piece of 1.5 – 2 kg
extra virgin olive oil, ½ – ¾ cup
white wine,  up to 2 cups or 1 cup wine, 1 cup stock
onion, 1 cut into quarters
carrots, 3, leave whole
fresh rosemary, sage and whole garlic cloves to stud the meat
salt and pepper to taste
PROCESSES
Make holes in the meat (use a sharp, thin knife) and stud the meat with the flavourings – use separate flavours for each hole.
Heat the oil, brown the meat well on all sides.
Pour in 1 cup of the wine and evaporate.
Add the onion and carrots, a few more sprigs of rosemary and sage, salt and pepper.
Cover and cook over low heat for about 1½ hours, but keep on adding a little more wine (or stock) so that the meat is kept moist and does not stick to the bottom of the pan (add extra water or stock if necessary).

When the meat is cooked, cut the roast into thin slices and serve it with the sauce (I always include the bits of onion and carrots, some cooks use a mouli to passare (grind/ mash) the vegetables into the sauce.

My mother always presented the veal with spinach saulted in butter and nutmeg and patate in teccia…but these are part of another story.

MA2SBAE8REVW 
Bresaola+ricotta26+231DA316

Bresaola is not Sicilian; it is a specialty of Lombardy. It is beef that has been salted and air dried and then eaten dressed with good quality extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and pepper.Air-dried beef is hard and dark, and like prosciutto it needs to be sliced paper-thin. A little goes a long way.

I needed to prepare something quickly for our Saturday lunch (2 friends visiting from Adelaide) so I made two salads – a tomato salad (with a little celery, basil and spring onion) and a rocket, radicchio and fennel salad. I baked some ricotta (see link to recipe) and prepared some bresaola. It was an easy and perfect lunch.

Good quality bread and good extra virgin olive oil to make the dressings are a must.

Although some bresaola is made by a small number of smallgoods manufacturers in Australia, it is not always easy to buy, however, I am able to purchase quality, local, air-dried beef (made by people of German, Dutch or Polish origins) which can be prepared the same way.

I often present bresaola as an antipasto. It is remarkably tasty and ever so easy.

PROCESS:

Lay thin slices of meat (one layer thick) on a plate and then drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top. This softens the meat; I do not leave the meat to marinate for very long (up to an hour) unless it is particularly dry. Just before it is ready to serve, add lemon juice and grind some black pepper over the top.

Although bresaola is not Sicilian, I was presented with this as an antipasto in Sicily when I was invited to dinner by one of the younger relatives of the family. I should not have been so surprised. Although their mothers generally only cook Sicilian food, their daughters read about food, watch food programs and experiment with different ingredients and recipes from elsewhere.

Those of you who have eaten at Cumulus (Melbourne Restaurant) may have eaten the bresaola of Wagyu beef; here it is presented with shaved fresh horseradish sprinkled on top. Not bad.

MA2SBAE8REVW