This photo of this bunch of radishes was taken in France.

I was in France with friends and stayed in Mercadiol (a small hamlet) in the South West of France. It is the same restored barn that Stephanie Alexander stayed (with Maggie Beer and Colin her husband) when she researched material for her book Cooking & Travelling in the South-West France.

My friends and I sampled much of the local cuisine, but we also enjoyed shopping in the local markets in the various nearby towns and villages and cooked some fabulous dishes together.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this variety of radish for sale at one of my favourite vegetable stalls at the market. Carmel, one of the stall’s proprietors proudly announced that a couple of her customers had said that they had seen this variety in France. She was pleased to hear that I verified this and had a photo of them.

The following is a section from the vegetable chapter from my manuscript to be published in 2011.

Radish (ravanello or rapanello) is another vegetable that is probably over-looked in Australia – they are available all year round but are sweeter in spring. Radishes should be crisp, juicy, and peppery with sparkling white flesh.

My father grew them in his small garden in Adelaide because they reminded him of the times when he was a boy growing up in Sicily and he would help himself to the radish patch. When in Sicily, if in spring, it is quite common in people’s homes to be presented with small, firm radishes with fresh, unblemished tops at the beginning of a meal. Serve with a separate small bowl of salt, or extra virgin olive oil and salt, for dipping. Other tender vegetables such as broad beans, fennel or peas are also commonly placed on the table in the same way – it is a celebration of the vegetable and the season.

Last week, my friend The Old Foodie wrote about radish.

When I select bunches of radish or kohlrabi, baby turnips or beetroot I partly select them for the quality of their leaves. In fact I cooked the leaves from the bunch of radish and baby turnips the night before you posted your blog – I sauté them in extra virgin olive oil and garlic.My father used to grow radishes in his garden and used to collect the young leaves for salads – not to be eaten alone, but as part of a mixed salad. He also grew rocket and radicchio and chicory and collected ‘salad ‘ leaf by leaf. And I support the theory that radish was used to stimulate appetite. My father used to talk about Sicilians just presenting a bowl of radishes (in season and fresh) with salt (to dip the radish into) before a meal.

Antipasto (or nibbles) before a meal is still not a common practice in Sicily, it is a modern invention, stimulated by tourists and their expectations. Because Sicilians to always begin a meal with a primo (first course), which for the majority of the time is pasta; they do not wish to spoil their appetite. The primo is followed by a secondo (main) and then fruit, and dessert for special occasions. A few nibbles, for example olives, a few cubes of marinaded pecorino could be the ‘nibbles’ for special occasions or part of an extended meal.

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Many associate eating soups mostly in winter, but this is not the case in my household. Although the soups I prepare in summer may not be as hearty as my winter ones, they will often contain pulses.

I enjoy eating chickpeas, borlotti, cannellini beans or lentils in soups but I also enjoy them as salads.

And this is what brings me (yet again) to writing about wild fennel – I find a bowl of any of the above pulses presented in their broth and flavoured with wild fennel very refreshing. The extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top of the soup when it is presented to the table, makes the soup even more aromatic.

I never eat soup piping hot (Australia inherited this custom from the English) and in summer I present my soup cooler still.

This wild fennel plant and several other large bushes of wild fennel grow not very far from where I live, (in the centre of Melbourne). And this is where I do a little foraging. These plants are very robust and persistent and supply me with either foliage or seeds during the year (I know I need to be very careful about not picking plants that have been sprayed).

There are no seeds on this plant yet, but as the weather gets hotter there will be bright yellow flower heads which then will turn into dry, hard, brown seeds in late summer – I will be back to collect these and together with some dry oregano, chilli flakes and extra virgin olive oil, I will marinate this year’s black olives which are still in their brine.

The softer, younger foliage is also excellent used as a herb, raw in salads or when cooking fish.

Unlike the commercial bulb fennel, wild fennel does not have a bulb – the young shoots are used. In the photo below you can see the shoots within the larger foliage – they are the denser looking part of the two sprigs below; usually they are a lighter colour. When I collect the fennel, to keep the young shoots fresh I also collect the larger stem, where they are embedded. I find the stalks and the more mature, green fronds too tough to eat and the flavour too intense.

It is necessary to soak the beans (or chickpeas) overnight, and although it is said that the lentils will not need soaking, I like to soak them for about an hour beforehand. Some cooks discard the soaking water – it is a common belief that changing the water will help to reduce the flatulence suffered when eating pulses. Also reputed to help is the addition of a pinch of fennel seeds (other countries use dill and caraway) therefore adding fresh fennel to this soup should function in the same way.

For this soup, I am using chickpeas.

INGREDIENTS
chickpeas, 400g
carrots, 2, left whole
garlic, 2- 3 cloves, squashed
wild fennel, 3-5 young shoots, left whole
salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup (or more to taste)
PROCESSES
Soak chickpeas in cold water overnight – they will swell so it is important to put them in plenty of water.
Drain the water and change it (optional) Place sufficient water to cover the pulses and add carrots, a little extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves and fennel (this will be the broth).
Bring the pulses to the boil. Cook the pulses until soft but preferably still whole. If using lentils they will cook quickly, but the other pulses may take 20– 30 mins. Add salt to taste.
Remove the carrot and some of the fennel. Cut up the fennel that you choose to eat and return it to the soup. Cool to desired temperature.
Ladle into bowls. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve.
Other recipes using wild fennel can be found in previous posts.
See

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I like to buy local, sustainable fish and my fish vendor tells me that these King George Whiting are from the coastal Gippsland village of Port Welshpool.

The delicate texture of King George Whiting requires careful handling. These fish only need a little cooking, either on a grill or lightly pan-fried over medium to high heat, as I have done in this recipe.

Usually, I am happy to present the fish just with lemon. However, there may be times when an accompanying sauce for steamed, baked, grilled or fried fish will bring you greater compliments. I particularly like this Sicilian sauce with delicate tasting fish.

The sauce is called sarsa di chiappareddi in Sicilian and it is made with capers and anchovies. The sauce can be made well in advance and therefore can be particularly useful when having guests.

For me it is most essential to use quality, extra virgin, olive oil. This is especially important for cold sauces, – when the cold sauce hits the hot food, the fragrance of the oil will be strongly evident.

I like to use capers that are packed in salt rather than brine. These need to be well rinsed and then soaked for 30-40 minutes to remove the salt. If you are using capers in brine, drain carefully and only use ¼ teaspoon of vinegar.

Use a tall glass or narrow jug or jar.

INGREDIENTS
parsley, ½ cup, cut finely,
wine vinegar, 1 tablespoonful
anchovies, 3-4 cut finely
capers, 1 cup, if using  the salted variety, rinse well and soak to remove salt, as necessary
pepper or chilli flakes, to taste and salt if necessary
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
garlic, 1-2 cloves, finely chopped
PROCESSES
Place the oil and the vinegar together and whip with a fork.
Add all of the other ingredients together and using the fork, mix them together.
Rest the sauce for at least one hour to develop the flavours.

Seafood News

The above recipe and photo were published in the November issue of Seafood News, a small, independent monthly publication dedicated to serving the commercial seafood industry. This Melbourne publication is distributed throughout Australia and reaches all sectors of the industry: markets, fishmongers and some restaurants. The publication will have one of my Sicilian fish recipes per issue. So far I have recipes in Aug-Nov issues.

 

Copyright

Please do not copy material from this site without requesting permission. To do so is not only a breach of copyright – it is also bad manners.

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There are a lot of mussels (cozze in Italian) around at the moment in Melbourne. Apparently, all the wild and wet weather that we have experienced sets up the right conditions for the Planktonic organisms to increase and to be stirred up in the ocean. (Food for a range of marine life).

I am very fond of mussels and purchase them frequently, and not just when I want to cook a meal in a hurry – they are so easy to prepare and cook so quickly. I just serve them with good bread, and I mean “good”.

So is this recipe Sicilian? I would have to say that this is one of the ways that mussels are cooked all over Italy. Perhaps the addition of the tomato salsa is Southern Italian – it is a variation and I do not always include it. It did however, bring squeals of delight when I cooked them last week.

As a main, I estimate 1kilo of mussels for 3 persons.

INGREDIENTS
mussels,1 kilo
onion, 1, finely chopped ( I sometimes use spring onions- add colour)
extra virgin olive oil, ½ – ¾ cup
garlic cloves 2-3, finely chopped
red chilli,1 finely chopped
ripe tomatoes, 500g, peeled (or canned)
fresh parsley, ½ bunch, cut finely
fresh basil leaves, to taste
white wine, ½ cup
PROCESSES
Use large pan with a lid.
Heat some extra virgin olive oil in the pan and add the onions and soften it.
Add the tomatoes, basil and without using the lid cook the tomatoes gently until you have a dense tomato salsa (10 minutes). I do not use salt, fresh, mussels can release quite a lot of salty liquid.
Clean the outside of the shells of the mussels and remove the beards – I always remove broken or opened ones.
Add the mussels, chilli and the wine, turn the heat up and cover. Leave to boil for about 5 minutes until the shells open. Give more heat to the mussels that do not open – these are been wilful, they are not dead.
Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a frypan (while the mussels are cooking).  Add the parsley and the garlic and still with the heat turned up fry both of these ingredients for a few minutes till fragrant.
Put this mixture on top of the mussels, toss slightly and serve.

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I asked my butcher to mince some very lean beef for me – I was going to have it as steak tartare. I did not get around to using it and made a polpettone (a large meat ball/ loaf, called a purpittuni in Sicilian).

In previous posts I have written about polpette (meatballs) and braciole (meat rolled around a stuffing), and although making a polpettone is very similar to these recipes it gives me an opportunity to get a photo – visuals  are helpful when cooking a recipe.

In this polpettone, I have placed some stuffing in the centre, as one would do when making a farsumagru (a large, thinly pounded steak of young beef, rolled around a stuffing) and this time I have used a few slices of cooked ham, small bits of pecorino and hard-boiled eggs. In Italy, cooked ham is called prosciutto and what we call prosciutto in Australia is known as prosciutto crudo (raw ham).

The older, Sicilian recipes rarely include wine in cooking (vinegar, yes) so the wine is optional.

I need to mention the platter. It is one of Giacomo Alessi’s ceramiche (ceramics, just I case you have not guessed).

I bought my very first in Caltagirone, Sicily’s most important centre for ceramics and where Alessi’s pottery is based. He has since established other outlets; I bought the one in the photo in Erice (central Sicily) last year and I purchased another in Palermo.

I love his ceramics, especially the ones with the bright green border; these are based on traditional and very old designs.

I am attracted to his use of strong colours, the ornamentation and images he uses, so evocative of the past. All my cousins and their offspring have the very old, original platters scattered around their homes (not Alessi’s, but he has reproduced and revived the old designs). They had belonged to Rosa, my paternal grandmother (Ragusa), but unfortunately when they were distributed within the family I was out of sight and out of mind. Apparently, one of the many uses for these platters was to dry conserva (rich tomato paste), which was placed to dry in the hot, Sicilian sun.

For the recipe complete with photos, see HOW TO MAKE A POLPETTONE (in Sicilian purpittuni – a meat loaf).

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Surprisingly I bought this head of radicchio this week. Although it is spring and nearly the end of October in Melbourne, we have been experiencing winter temperatures and this has prolonged the season for radicchio – it prefers cooler temperatures and is generally at its best from May to September. My vendor says that radicchio is now available throughout the year – this should please me, but it does not. How can a winter vegetable grow in a different season or how far does it have to travel to get here.

Let’s begin to discuss radicchio with the correct pronunciation. The sound of ‘ch’ in the Italian language and unlike the English sound, is pronounced as k.

Secondly, radicchio is a northern Italian vegetable originating from the Veneto region and Italian recipes, which include radicchio (like when cooked as in a risotto) are also northern Italian recipes.

This type of radicchio in the picture is from Treviso, a city that it is closer to Venice than Trieste where I lived as a child. Trieste is in the  neighbouring region to the Veneto and it is called Friuli Venezia Giulia, which is on the furthest limit of the Italian northeast, near the Slovenian border. Various types of radicchio are cultivated in Trieste as well, varieties like the green biondissima that needs to be picked when very small and does not form a head. My father used to grow this variety in his home garden in Adelaide; I have seen the seeds in Australia, but I doubt if it will ever be sold as a salad leaf in Australia – a great pity.

Men buying seeds in Palermo – photo courtesy of a generous reader of my blog

I have been to Sicily many times and as a young person, I never saw radicchio, nor were my Sicilian relatives familiar with it, but for the last two years I have seen the Treviso variety of radicchio in a couple of modern Sicilian restaurants – usually used more for a decorative purpose, for example, a deep red leaf accompanying an octopus salad. The Sicilians import radicchio from the north; it is far too hot in Sicily to grow it and considered foreign in Sicilian cuisine.

Enough reminiscing, it is time for a recipe.

Radicchio can be cooked and there was one way that my mother used to prepare the large heads of Treviso radicchio, which I really like. The recipe may be a bit wintery, but eaten outside in the sunshine with a glass of rose sounds spring- like to me.

INGREDIENTS AND PROCESSES

Select ½ -1 head of large radicchio per person (thin heads will char).

Cut large heads of radicchio in half lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and a little extra virgin olive oil and then grill on moderate heat .

It is then and presented with grilled polenta and a little fresh tomato salsa. The outer leaves will turn brown and the core will remain moist and will soften; it may take 15 -20 minutes with a couple of rotations and a little more oil.

 

Cooked polenta can be cut into a thick slice and also be grilled on the same BBQ grill or plate. See recipe in post:

SEPPIE IN UMIDO CON POLENTA (Cuttlefish with polenta).

Sprinkle the slice of polenta with oil and salt before grilling. Polenta is also a northern Italian ingredient.

The tomato salsa is easily made.

Make a tomato salsa with the ¼- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, peeled chopped tomatoes (800-1k can in winter, fresh tomatoes in summer) and a few leaves of basil, a little salt and pepper.

Mix the ingredients together and allow the sauce to reduce – uncovered – to a cream like consistency. Take off the heat.

Present a slice of polenta, the grilled radicchio and a splash of tomato salsa on each plate – the salsa will be sweet (and red) but have some tartness, the radicchio will be bitter (and a dark red- brown colour) and the polenta will have texture (and yellow).

If you would like a more substantial dish, a little grilled fish would not go astray.

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Helen+G++Mary+T+Simeti+232
 Mary Taylor Simeti talking with Helen Greenwood

I was in Sydney where I attended some sessions of the Sydney International Food Festival. The World Chef Showcase on Saturday focused strongly on the cuisine of the Middle East and Mediterranean –this was the program that interested me the most.

The Festival list of Australian and overseas guests was very impressive and included: Musa Dagdeviren (Istanbul), Yotam Ottolenghi (London), Mary Taylor Simeti (Sicily, food history), Joe Barza (Lebanon) and Kamal Mouzawak (founder of Beirut’s Souk el Tayeb – a weekly market farmers’ produce and Lebanese food), Anissa Helou (London), Ozden Ozsabuncuoglu (Turkish food authority) and Mehmet Gurs (Istanbul).

Those of you who like Middle Eastern food and live in Melbourne will almost certainly know the names Ismail Tosun (Gigibaba) and Greg and Lucy Malouf (cookbook collaborators and Mo Mo Restaurant), also Abla Amad (Abla’s Restaurant). Sydney readers may recognise Somer Sivrioglu (Efendy Restaurant in Balmain).

There is an obvious and powerful connection between Middle Eastern and Sicilian cuisine – the Arabs ruled Sicily for two centuries (in medieval times they were sometimes called “Saracens” or “Moors”). The Arabs contributed to the development of Sicilian culture, agriculture and architecture and had a profound influence on the cuisine of Sicily.

The food that was prepared and discussed by the participating Festival guests featured many of the distinctive ingredients of Middle Eastern food – the rich spices (especially saffron and cinnamon), rice and grains, nuts and seeds (especially pine nuts, almonds, pistachio, sesame), sugar, and the typical fruits (citrus, figs, pomegranate) and vegetables and flowers (orange, jasmine, rose flower waters) of the Mediterranean.

The ‘Arab’ ingredients and flavours are not unique to Sicily. They are present in other countries of the Mediterranean, for example the cuisine of Spain and France.

A post on my blog is not the venue to discuss this topic at length. However I have already written about some recipes of sweets that could be attributed to the co-Arab and Sicilian association (for they cannot be attributed just to the Arabs).

Cubbaita

They are:
Cubbaita (my relatives call it giuggiulena), gello di mellone, nucateli, riso nero (also called riso amauticato).

Here is a similar recipe to cubbaita (giuggiulena) and it is called petrafennula, (also called petramennula depending on the Sicilian locality).

All my Sicilian relatives and friends keep a selection of these small homemade sweets at home just in case someone visits unannounced.

PETRAFENNULA – PIETRA DI MIELE (Rock made of honey).

INGREDIENTS
honey 1kg,
almonds, 500g blanched and roughly chopped into large pieces
candied orange peel, 400 g chopped finely,
cinnamon, ½ teaspoon (optional).

PROCESSES
Place the honey in a saucepan.
Add the peel.
Allow the mixture to simmer gently and stir from time to time until it begins to solidify.
Take the mixture off the stove and work quickly
Add the almonds and the cinnamon and stir gently to incorporate.
Pour the mixture on to baking paper placed on a cold surface – such as a marble slab or a baking tray (traditionally this is done without paper on an oiled marble slab).
Break it into pieces when it is cold. When my mother made this, she sometimes used to drop dollops of the mixture (about a tablespoon in size) on to a cold surface to form small odd shapes – more like pebbles than sharp rocks. This seemed easier than shaping it into one large slab, which then needs to be broken into smaller pieces.

I have a friend in Adelaide who has the most wonderful garden and beehives. She used her honey to make giuggiulena and the petrafennula and both resulted into slightly softer versions of candy. We discussed this and think that it must be due to the varying levels of moisture in different types of honey and from the various locations. I have used a variety of honey including leatherwood (definitely not Sicilian) and other organic honey from a variety of Australian locations and have achieved the required results.

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I use Alchermes  (or Alkermes) to make the famous Italian dessert zuppa inglese (literally translated is English soup). This is the Italian version of the English trifle made with sponge cake, moistened with fruit syrup or/and sweet sherry, layered with cream/and or custard, jam and red coloured jelly made with jelly crystals.

Trifle is still being made in Britain and countries like Australia (that initially inherited much of the British cuisine). Over time there have been some little variations to the recipe, for example I have often eaten trifle in Australian homes that included preserved fruit – particularly canned peaches. Recently fresh fruit has become a popular edition, particularly strawberries, which in Australia can be purchased cheaply and all year round (unfortunately).

There are many stories about how this English dessert came to be part of Italian cuisine. Some say that perhaps Italian diplomats tasted trifle on a visit to London and this may have been their interpretation of this dessert. Others say that it probably eventuated in the kitchens of the well-off English; there were many living in Florence in the late 1800’s till the lead up of the Second World War.  Most of them employed Italian staff; perhaps some signori inglesi missed some of their cooking from home and this was what their Italian kitchen maids prepared as trifle. They had to use Italian ingredients – savoiardi (sponge fingers mostly used in layered Italian desserts) and Alchermes the ancient Florentine, red liqueur commonly used to moisten and flavour cakes. Fresh cream was (and is) rarely used in cakes in Italy, but pastry cream called crema pasticcera (also crema inglesecrème anglaise) is very common. And it is easy to see how this sloppy mess could be calledsoup”(zuppa).

I have seen modern Italian versions of recipes for zuppa inglese, which include red fruit (like berries) and many include chocolate. My mother’s version sometimes included grated dark chocolate on the top; I think that this was partly for decoration, but chocolate was never part of the dessert. Other modern versions may have a sprinkling of coffee beans and I wonder if the makers are getting confused with tiramisu, which because it contains coffee is often decorated with coffee beans.

I too often make zuppa inglese especially when I am stuck for ideas, or have little time to prepare a dessert; it is so easy to prepare and never fails to impress.

I still use the traditional way to make it. I always assemble it in layers: sponge fingers moistened with Alchermes (either homemade or purchased at a good wine shop), cover these with crema pasticcera, repeat x 2-3 layers finishing with a layer of sponge fingers.

I use a large glass bowl to assemble the layers of ingredients (it is a pretty dessert) and keep the zuppa inglese, in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight before I intend to present it – it gives the dessert time to settle and the flavous to develop.  I finally cover it with a layer or tuffs of panna montata (literally meaning cream made into mountains – isn’t the Italian language marvellous!). it is also known as Chantilly cream, whipped cream with a little caster sugar flavoured with vanilla bean –Italians would never think about using plain cream in cakes.

At some stage during my research about Alchermes I found out that the name is likely to have been derived from the Arabic “al” (a) and “qirmiz” (worm). This is because it contains cochineal, which gives the liqueur its red colour. Cochineal used to be made with a particular insect which was crushed and dried, this produced a rich, red dye.

In the photo I have included a bottle of purchased Alchermes (32% volume). I also make my own and there is a recipe on a previous post. I usually purchase the savoiardi but in the photo are savoiardi courtesy of a friend’s neighbour (her version as the shop bought variety are not usually ribbed) .The only recipe for this dessert is for the crema pasticcera:

INGREDIENTS
3 egg yolks, 3 tablespoons caster sugar infused with a vanilla bean, a pinch of salt 3 tablespoons of cornflour, 1 litre of milk, rind of 1 lemon, and a cinnamon stick.
PROCESSES
In a saucepan, mix the egg yolks with the sugar and slowly add the flour, salt and a little milk to make a smooth paste – a whisk could be useful. If you do not have sugar that has been infused with a vanilla bean, use a little vanilla (not artificial).
Add the rest of the milk and incorporate to dilute the mixture evenly.
Using a vegetable peeler remove the rind in one piece from ½ lemon. Add this to the milk mixture. Add the cinnamon stick.
Use low – medium heat, stir it constantly with a whisk or a wooden spoon and slowly bring it to the boil- the custard should have thickened. Cool before using. To prevent a skin from forming, I place a piece of baking paper or butter paper on its surface.

 

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Glass++biscotti+232+++cloth

I am partial to a cup of rose flavoured tea, add rose water in some of my cooking and I particularly like my Sirop de roses (Rose syrup, mine is made in Lebanon) which I sometimes use to give a pink tinge and rose flavour to some of my desserts: home made ice creams, panna cotta, stewed fruit compotes (especially rhubarb or figs, or pears) or fresh fruit salads.

The Old Foodie has been writing about rosewater again this week and this has reminded me about a recipe for making a rose flavoured liqueur.

I too am a lover of rose flavoured foods.

Rosolio di rose (Rosoliu in Sicilian) dates back to the 15th century and was a popular cordial, originally made from rose petals. By the 18th century it had progressively became an alcoholic drink and lemon become more favoured over rose as flavouring. The pink colour was likely to have been enhanced with cochineal.Many of the ancient Sicilian recipes use rosoliu as the generic name for liqueur, several of which are made with oranges, mandarins or lemons and some are sometimes flavoured and coloured with a little saffron.

There are recipes for making Liquore Di Rose (Rose Liqueur) - this has been popular in other parts of Italy and in other countries. Some of the recipes include other flavourings for example lemon peel, cloves or orange blossoms.

My zia Niluzza (who lives in Ragusa, Sicily) gave me this recipe for Rosoliu, a long time ago.

For extra flavour I use ½ cup of rose water (as part of the 2 cups of water) and a dash of rose syrup (coloured pink and it is sweet, therefore reduce the amount of sugar and a little cochineal. I will need to wait for a generous friend and the right season before I make my next batch, but I have thought about adding a little grated beetroot with the petals rather than using cochineal.

INGREDIENTS
4 cups of rose petals from a highly scented rose (I used a black rose for mine)
2 cups very strong vodka or grappa (we cannot buy 95° spirit in Australia as they do in Italy)
2 cups sugar
2 cups of water
PROCESSES
Place rose petals a clean jar, add alcohol, close and keep in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks.
Prepare the sugar syrup: boil water and sugar. Cool.
Filter the alcohol mixture and add syrup. Keep it for least 3 months before using.
Glass of filtered  Rosoliu, bottle of Sirop de roses and the jar I use to make the Rosoliu.

 

In some recipes the petals are left in the alcohol/syrup mixture and then strained at the time of serving. I left some petals in my last batch of rose liqueur and the petals partly dissolve and this is why you may notice a layer of sediment in the jar in the photo.

This is not the only liqueur I make. See my recipe for making Alchermes (or Alkermes) that I use to make the famous Italian dessert Zuppa Inglese.

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A short time ago I became a member of an organisation called Ristoworld. This is an organisation that was first formed in Sicily, under the direction of Chef Andrea Finocchiaro who is based in Catania.

This is different to my other posts and I wish to explain why I am doing this.

Originally the group wanted to promote mainly Sicilian food&beverage – managers, sommelier, chefs and all staff involved in the trade as well as Sicilian produce. This group and its network have recently expanded. Andrea is still the President and he is working with Mario Principi, a group of advisers, representatives from all regions of Italy and from other parts of the world.

The initial concept of promotion Sicily has become the promotion of all things related to food&beverage of Italy – ‘all made in Italy’.

Recently I posted a message on their face book site (in Italian) about Mary Taylor Simeti. Mary is a leading Sicilian food writer living in Sicily who is coming to the Sydney International Food Festival– she is participating in a session is on October 9th.

Andrea has since asked me to publicize this photo on my site and I have agreed to do so – reciprocal thanks.

In summary, the photo is an idea of Andrea’s to demonstrate how culinary art and fashion can be linked (the sweetness of the chocolate with the beauty of the models). Michele Crimi, a Sicilian photographer of note is responsible for the photo; Lucia Russo, Angela Viola e Selene Eulalia Cabrabas are the models. It has been photographed in the scenic restaurant  Falconiera di Acireale, located the beautiful coastal city of Acireale in the north-east of the province of Catania, Sicily. The decorated chocolate centerpiece has been produced in collaboration with the ancient and famous Pasticceria Michelangelo Spina di Misterbianco. Although this is not mentioned in the article I was given to work from, there is promotion for the beauty of Sicily (Acireale and this restaurant) and the craft of the people involved in making this photo possible including the pastry cook.

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