I am always very pleased to find goat meat and I found some at the Farmers Market in Albury-Wodonga when I visited there recently. The meat was from Boer goats (those attractive white and brown ones) bred and raised on a farm called Myrrhee Premium Boer Goats located on the Benalla-Whitfield Rd near Wangaratta and Benalla. It is also very close to the gourmet and wine country of the King Valley Region in North Eastern Victoria. The goats are free-range and the farm sell milk fed capretto and chevon goat meat – the young and the mature beast.

I also bought some goat sausages; these also contain a little pork meat.

Spring in Sicily is the time to eat capretto (kid) and being in the northern hemisphere, many parts of Sicily celebrate Easter with kid. This photo was taken in the market in Catania in Spring and you will notice that whole or sides of meat are always sold with the head attached – not just in Sicily but all over Italy.  It is also common to leave some of the fur on one of the hooves. My mother used to say that this is because buyers want proof of what animal is being sold.

Notice also, the tripe on the tray in front of the carcase.

Veal or lamb can also be cooked in this very simple way for making a spezzatino (the Italian word for stew).

Usually potatoes are added to spezzatini (stews). I added fennel.Goat with two kids b

1.5 k of chopped goat meat with bones (a young beast)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots cut into large pieces
salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 fresh bay leaves
1 cup chopped parsley
1-2 fennel, cut into quarters

Heat the oil in a braising pan and over high heat brown the meat until it has a golden colour.
Remove the meat from the pan and sauté the onion, add the garlic and return the meat to the pan.
Add white wine, herbs and seasoning.
Cover and braise on slow heat for at least one hour before adding the fennel. Check during the cooking process to see if it will need more liquid and add a little water or stock.
Adjust seasoning if necessary, cover again and cook until the fennel is soft but does not fall apart (about 20 minutes).


Small Fishy Bites celebrates the diversity and versatility of seafood. These recipes recognize the popularity of serving small helpings with easy, casual and varied dishes.

Small morsels are convivial fare that can be shared at social gatherings or as an accompaniment to drinks. They are an easy and pleasant way to sample a range of flavors without the commitment to one entrée or the different courses.

Small Fishy Bites is my second book. Some of you may be familiar with my first book Sicilian Seafood Cooking which  includes 120 traditional Sicilian recipes for fish and its many accompaniments – first, second course dishes, sauces and contorni (side dishes).

The recipes in Small Fishy Bites reflect reflect the widening repertoire of cuisines we are exposed to in Australia, especially the Asian and Mediterranean flavors, especially Italian. In the above class at Mercato the emphasis will traditional Italian style antipasto – small fishy bites cuisine, accompanied by wine.

For convenience sake the menu for the cooking class has been divided into Starters, Entrées and Mains, but all the easily prepared dishes can be presented for any course – only the quantities may vary.

Some of the recipes from the book sampled on the night will be:

Scallops wrapped in prosciutto
White anchovy & sundried tomato leaf boats
Fish balls in a tomato salsa
Fish fillets rolled around a herb stuffing
Italian grilled prawns with a fried breadcrumb & herb garnish

Hope to see some of you at this event.

625-627 Lower North East Road, Campbelltown , SA
Ph: 0883371808


Red wine and beef seem to be very compatible, and not just for drinking. Beef cheeks are the facial cheek muscle of a cow. They may look ugly but the meat is lean and tender once it is slow cooked in liquid, and in this case wine and marsala.

Some cooks marinade cheeks in red wine overnight; this will intensify the dark colour and the wine flavour of the final dish. In this recipe wine is added as part of the cooking liquid; the rich taste will still come through so I do not think that the marinade is necessary.

Most Italian recipes suggest using a strong red wine, some also add Marsala (dry). The French do the same and if you have Movida Rustica (Spanish cuisine) by Frank Camorra (the cook) and Richard Cornish (the writer) you will notice that Frank adds Pedro Ximenez sherry to his recipe.

Whether cooked in Italy, France, or Spain the choice of herbs used are the same: bay leaves, rosemary, thyme or sage. Onions, carrots and celery seem to be the common ingredients for what the Italians call the odori (smells), these are the basic vegetables which add ‘smell’ and taste to basic broths and stews.I also added thinly cut orange peel to mine; I do this often with braises.

This dish is so easy. I went out while it was cooking. When I returned I braised some fennel and boiled some potatoes. Polenta and mashed potatoes take a bit more time to cook, but soak up the juices even better.

There were 4 of us.

2-3 beef cheeks
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, sliced roughly
2 stalks of celery, sliced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry marsala
1 cup red wine,

2 cloves of garlic (optional)
orange or tangello peel from one citrus, thinly cut, no pith
several fresh bay leaves, sage or thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

Remove any offending sinew and silver skin from the cheeks and cut into quarters.
Brown the cheeks in hot olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Remove from the pan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.
Add the beef cheeks, wine, marsala, herbs, orange peel, seasoning and 1 cup of water.
Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook at least for 3 hours – Cook longer if you wish – the cheeks should be very tender and falling apart.
If you would like a reduced, thicker sauce, remove the cheeks and reduce the sauce to desired consistency.Return the cheeks to the braise.
Some cooks remove the vegetables because they have served their purpose, but we ate ours. Waste not, want not.
I do not know the equivalent Italian saying – that’s because they usually eat everything…and I mean this as a compliment.


Two of my friends live on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, located about 17.7 km from Auckland. They both have kayaks and when time and weather permits one or two of them go fishing and it seems that every time they do, they catch fish.

They catch mainly snapper off Oretangi Beach where they live, but if they go to some of the other bays they catch John Dory, Kingfish and Hapuka. The fish in the three photos were caught on two separate occasions and when I stayed with them we enjoyed eating fresh fish very much .

My friend boned one of the fish, a Kawhai, a New Zealand fish which needs to be bled. He smoked it using a simple smoker and manuka wood smoking chips.

We cooked some of the snapper in colourful, enamelled, cast-iron mini “casseroles” or “dutch ovens” using simple Sicilian flavours: tomatoes, capers, garlic, olives and some Sicilian common herbs.. They are brought to the table straight from the oven so do tell your guests to be ultra careful when they eat from them. Also protect your table with mats.

Of course the ingredients can go into one large casserole, covered and baked for 25-30 minutes.

For 4 people

4 pieces of fish (1 serve per person)
4 peeled red tomatoes (or tinned)
1 tbs capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ cup of fresh herbs, use 1 or more: parsley, basil, oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 green olives or black olives, stoned

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the fish lightly.
Add a little salt. Remove the fish and set aside.
Add the other ingredients and sauté, until the juice of the tomatoes is
Spoon some of the tomato mixture into each mini-casserole. Place 1 piece of
fish in each and top with more tomato.
Either cover with a lid or if using a different type of ovenproof small baking dishes cover with metal foil and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your fish.



Do not assume that as an Italian I use Vincotto. I knew about grape “must” but not Vincotto and I wonder if Italians in Italy are using it and promoting it as widely as it seems to be in Australia.

You may have noticed bottles of Vincotto are appearing in gourmet delicatessens and Italian produce stores. Like Balsamic vinegar took over Australian produce stores a few years ago or Verjuice, Vincotto seems to be the new secret ingredient.

Literally translated it means “cooked wine” – and I am not talking about what my father used to make for me when I had a cold, boiled red wine with spices served hot. We called it vin brulé (Italian term for mulled wine).

The popular brand for Vincotto seems to be manufactured by a Gianni Calogiuri. It claims to be an ancient traditional recipe from the Italian region of Puglia, the heel in south-eastern Italy. The Vincotto is produces in Lizzanello (Lecce).

Vincotto is made from grape must (containing the skins, seeds and small stems of the withered, partly dried grapes from Malvasia and Negroamaro variety). These are cooked and reduced, blended and aged in oak barrels.  Like balsamic vinegar, the good stuff is aged for a number of years.

If made in Australia, Vincotto is made from a ‘must’ from Australian shiraz grapes. This is combined with high quality red wine vinegar and slowly reduced over many hours.

My first bottle of Vincotto was the Originale (original flavour). It has a sweet and sour taste and like a good quality wine vinegar so I used it in salad dressings and to de-glaze pans.

But now I am seeing many different flavoured bottles of Vincotto and I am finding it all very confusing.

At one of the specialised Italian produce stores I was given a “Carob Sweet Vinegar” and a Lemon Velvety Condiment” to try. The one made with carob suggests using it with carpaccio, fish, dried fruits and sorbets. The lemon one suggests to use it with fish, ice cream, desserts and cocktails. Thank you Enoteca Sileno.

I have two other different ones, both gifts from different friends on different occasions. I have a “Fig Vincotto Vinegar” and
“Lamponi (raspberry) condimento agrodolce”. Both of these have the statement on the label that they contain no added sugars. The one made with figs suggests: “Use it on meats, fish, soups, cheese and desserts”. The raspberry one: “excellent on meats, salads, sorbets, fruit and ice cream”. Thank you dear friends.

I am none the wiser by the suggestions made by the manufacturers, but I am especially enjoying the raspberry and the fig varieties in salad dressings – for example raspberry vinegar has been a common ingredient in English salads (I used to make it once!). I often add fruit or nuts, meats, fish or cheese to my leaf salads or I often combine roasted vegetables together so when I say “salads”, I am talking about composite salads. See:

salade composee

composite salads.


I like using Vincotto instead of wine or I combine it with wine when I de-glaze the cooking juices and food particles in the bottom of pans, especially those where I have cooked meat  – game meats especially. Last night I was pan frying some fish with bay leaves, saffron and caper berries and I de-glazed the pan with a mixture of white wine and about 1 tablespoon of lemon Vincotto. I am getting more adventurous and do not think that just because it is an Italian product that all Italians use it.

Fish with capers & saffron 3

I can see me roasting figs, apricots, plums or quinces with a splash of Vincotto and maybe presenting the fruit with cheeses and nuts. I cannot see me using it in ice cream or sorbets – this may come later.

Vincotto is also very similar to the middle-eastern Pomegranate molasses (thick, fragrant and a tangy reduction of pomegranate juice, boiled to a sticky, syrupy consistency). Over time I have used the molasses very successfully by experimenting and not just with middle-eastern ingredients. I guess that I will gradually begin to use Vincotto in similar ways but then again, it may be yet be just another passing fad.