26 August 2006

Friday Night Fry-athon

Sometimes as a treat, Antonio and I take down the deep fryer my dad gave me for my birthday last year and make as many life- threatening foods as possible! This past Friday was one of those evenings, and it ended with both of us slightly tipsy due to the requisite beer that you need to wash all the delicious grease down with...

We made our usual panelle, for which I will finally provide a recipe, and we also made Ivonne's stuffed eggplant, which were amazing! The detailed recipe with photo's can be found here. Thanks Ivonne, for sharing treasured family recipes with your devoted readers!

Panelle, for those of whom have not yet heard me ranting and raving about them, are fritters made from chickpea flour typically eaten in Palermo and its surrounds, which are served either plain with salt, or are the star of a sandwich over which lemon is squeezed. I have come to associate them with the beach, since we have eaten them there a few times, but I also ate my first panino con le panelle in Mondello, a beach side resort area in Palermo. They are quite easy and satisfying to replicate at home, and if you have your deep fryer (or pot with hot oil) already at hand, why not give them a try? Start your own Friday night tradition!


-500 grams chickpea flour (found at health food stores or Italian food shops)

-1.5 L filtered or spring water

-salt, pepper

-1-3 tbsp anise seeds (optional)

-1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (not the curly leafed one)

-vegetable oil for frying

To make:

~Set a medium size saucepan on rubber pot holder or tea towel for support. Place the chickpea flour in the pot and slowly add the water, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.

~Once the mixture is uniform, place the pot over medium heat and whisk continuously until it starts to bubble. Add a pinch or two of salt, a few grindings of pepper, the parsley and the optional anise seeds and continue whisking until very thick, the whole process should take about 5 minutes.

~Rinse out a large 8 x 12" (or similar) cookie sheet or low sided pan with cold water and dump it out. With a spatula (or an offset spatula if you happen to have one), quickly smooth the thick batter into a thin sheet about 1/2 " high, until it is relatively even throughout the pan. Let cool for about 40 minutes. At this point the mixture can be covered with plastic and refrigerated up to 2 days.

~When the mixture is firm (we often rush and wait only 20 minutes), cut into small square or rectangular pieces, and fry in oil at about 350 degrees until golden brown. This can be done in a shallow skillet as well as a deep fryer.

~Place the fried panelle on paper towels to drain, sprinkle some salt over them and serve them very hot with some lemon wedges and some cold beer.

~This recipe makes enough for 4 as a snack or appetizer, or as one part of a deep fried meal.

~Enjoy! Eat plenty of salad and brown rice the day after, to offset any artery clogging guilt!

Reflections on Saturday Night Supper

This combination of well boiled green beans, potatoes and hard boiled eggs, over which olive oil has been drizzled, lemon has been squeezed and salt and pepper have been sprinkled makes as satisfying a supper as could ever be had--add fresh bread to dip in the oil should it not be filling enough. I got this idea recently from my suocera, but I'm positive I've eaten varieties on this theme at home as well. As my mom says, eggs make the best supper!

I know this idea is simple and hardly a recipe at all, but since I'm convinced that simple food is often the best, especially when fresh and in season, I've decided that this will be my contribution to Ivonne and Lis' La Festa al Fresco. The round up will be posted September 5th.

Anniversary Flowers

2 years August 14....

Antonio's Baccala alla Pizzaiola

I stupidly didn't take a photo of the final product (too hungry I guess) so you will have to believe me when I say that even as a recently converted former vegetarian, who trembles to eat fish that is not drenched in lemon or lime and garlic, I eat this dish with gusto and a piece of crusty bread to mop up the sauce!

Cod, which traditionally is bought dried and is rehydrated overnight, is dredged in flour, fried in oil, and added to a simple sauce cooked alongside it, to which olives are added. We have altered the recipe by using pieces of frozen cod, though fresh could be used as well, mainly because in rehydrating dried cod, your house is rumoured to stink for days, fa una puzza tremenda!

(2 servings, easily doubled)
-400 grams of frozen, thawed (or fresh) cod fillets
-flour for dredging
-olive oil to fry
-large jar or can of peeled tomatoes (pelati)
-1 or 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-1/2 tsp- 1 tspchile flakes
-1 tbsp dried oregano
-salt and pepper
-handful of black olives

1) Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or deep frying pan and add the chopped garlic and chile pepper stirring quickly to prevent burning for about 40 seconds
2) Add the can or jar of tomatoes, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon and adding salt and pepper to taste
3) Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn the heat down, simmering it for 10 or 15 minutes
4) Meanwhile, cut the cod into large pieces, sprinkle some salt onto them, then dredge them in flour
5) Fill a small frying pan with a few centimeters of olive oil, heat to medium high and fry the fish until done, flipping the pieces over halfway--you will know they are done when they are well browned, only a few minutes per side
6) Drain the fish on a dish lined with paper towel
7) When the sauce has simmered to your liking, or your level of hunger, put the fried cod pieces into it and stir lightly, adding the pitted, chopped pieces of olives, cook for a scant few minutes
8) Serve straight from the pan, with plenty of good bread to finish the sauce up with...

Recipe from David Rocco's "Dolce Vita"

14 August 2006

New Feature, Old Meme~

Sicilia 2006
Lemon Trees: Siracusa

Fellow bloggers and friends! I have added a new feature to my blog, taking a move or two from Orangette--I have compiled an index of recipes and other types of posts on my blog, so if you are looking for a particular recipe or type of dish, the link is underneath the Flikr photo badge, on the lower right side of the screen (you may have to scroll down). I will update it as I go, which will also be helpful to me, so I can see which recipes I should try more of!

And now I will respond to a long overdue meme, from Sam of
Sweet Pleasure, a very talented and creative sweet- maker!

From where do you obtain the recipes you prepare?

As I am fond of very simple cooking on a day to day basis, I usually make things that are healthful, heartwarming and delicious. What I cook will be based on what is in season, what is good value for the money and of course, what I desire! Usually I don't need recipes to do this--I will steam or boil and then saute vegetables with garlic and onion, bake them in the oven or eat them in salads. We also eat pasta combined with different sauces or vegetables for lunch as a first course. I now prepare fish quite simply, either baked, or broiled with a marinade. We often eat eggs and legumes in different ways as well. Both my mother and mother-in-law are great sources of know- how and inspiration. To help me along, I often refer to basic recipes from the 5 or 6 cookbooks that are my favourites. Sometimes when I feel like being more creative or giving our tastebuds a treat, or if I want to make something traditionally Sicilian for Antonio, I will flip through my favourite Italian and Sicilian cookbooks. I refer more and more to blogs these days as well, for inspiration, flavour combinations, and basic recipes that I can adapt to the ingredients I have on hand.

How often do you cook a new recipe?

Perhaps once a week or once every two weeks. While I love finding new vegetables and new dishes, I also enjoy adapting well- known recipes to the ingredients that I have or that are in season. I love making salads with different ingredients, or experimenting with different vegetables and sauces and cheeses for pasta. Every time I bake bread, I use different ingredients and it turns out different!I

Where do you store your favourite recipes?

One reason that I actually started this blog was to keep my favourite recipes organized--hence, my excitement at the new index! I also have a few stacks of cookbooks and magazines on a shelf in my kitchen, and a small, flowered recipe card box that my mom bought me before I got married so I could store all my scraps of recipes in there. In the box I also have a little plastic "paper holder" that my dad gave me, probably intended for notes or for typing, but convenient for preserving recipes from splashes of batter or worse!

How large is your recipe pile? Is it organized? If so, how?

Even though I am known as an organization freak in other areas of my life, my accumulation of recipes has not yet warranted extensive organization. My recipe card box is organized by category of course, though I had to change the cards to suit my recipes: breakfast, sweets, pasta dishes, second courses, vegetable and legume dishes, soups and eggs.

What is the oldest recipe in your "to try" pile?

Considering I began cooking for myself officially two years today (my 2 year anniversary!), though I did my share of baking and basic cooking before, my oldest recipe to try would theoretically be about 2 years old as well, since I clipped some recipes from magazines and stuck them in my box!

Are you ever going to make those recipes in your "to try" pile?

Probably not, my tastes have changed since I first got married and discovered the huge variation of "gourmet" vegetarian foods out there (as well as fish dishes)--I am not relying on the tofu/ tempeh dishes that I once ate frequently.

Do you follow a recipe exactly or modify as you go?

I usually modify every recipe that comes into contact with me! I now have the confidence to do this, which can only be aquired through experience--for instance, certain things in baking should not be tinkered with in order to achieve good results, however, something like a flavour can always be changed up, i.e. almond extract for vanilla, spices added in, elements added in like chopped nuts, etc.

What is one new recipe that you are scared to try?

I want to make these Sicilian "fritters," deep fried leavened dough eaten hot and doused in honey or sugar. I'm scared of three elements: that I will eat all of them, of the clean up time (a deep fryer is not pleasant to wash in a single sink), and the deep fry smell that lingers in our apartment for days on end!

Tag at least one new food blogger for this meme (new as in only blogging a few months).

Dani from The Italian Vegetarian

Tag at least one food blogger you visit regularly but never interacted with?

Jennifer from The Vegan Lunch Box

Tag at least one food blogger you constantly visit and leave comments.

Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice

12 August 2006

Wish Recipe

A recipe I have previously published on this blog was published in Wish magazine! I was bored at work one day and decided to e-mail this recipe for pasta with rapini and breadcrumbs to the magazine as they were holding a 'contest' for good 20-minute week night recipes...
When I received my September issue, the subscription for which was a present from my mom, lo and behold the tear- out booklet with weeknight recipes had the photo of my recipe on the front! My little miniscule moment of fame...

08 August 2006

Angela's Sfincone

I made sfincone, which is a type of thick, moist pizza made in Sicily, for a get- together at my friend Alejandra's place this past long weekend. Antonio put together some burgers, since Ale and Nic have a barbeque, using the typical ingredients for meatballs (ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and onions, salt and pepper and some grated pecorino romano) and they turned out great (or so I heard, as some of you might now, I don't eat meat!) We also brought along my home made ice cream, both vanilla bean and rum and raisin flavours, as well as a delicious lentil salad I made with apple and cumin, the recipe for which I found on Chocolate and Zucchini here.

On to the sfincone! I have tried making it twice before, the first time from a recipe I found of the "Palermo" version (which features a double proof, caramalized onions and sauce on top, as well as browned bread crumbs) which turned out very well, and the second time from an improvised recipe that turned out ok but way too thick.

This time I was well prepared: I took the trouble to purchase fresh yeast from Tre Marie Bakery on St. Clair, I had a better pan to use in mind, I had seen my mother- in- law make the dough, and I had her recipe in hand. I implore you to try it since it's even easier and faster to make than pizza, and you can even substitute active dry yeast for the fresh if you don't want to bother.

One more note: for those who think this is some type of 'authentic deep dish pizza' a version of which I tasted in Florida when I was a kid--it's not, but it's much better! Because the dough is so moist, it results in an almost spongy end result, with a very crispy crust nonetheless. The following recipe makes enough for 4 people as a meal, since I actually cut the original recipe in half. If you have enough pans, make double the recipe for amazing leftovers for a few days--it tastes better the day after!


~600 grams of bread flour

~150 grams of semolina flour

~25 grams fresh yeast or just less than 1.5 envelopes of active dry yeast

~750 ml of water at 100 degrees (lukewarm)

~pinch of salt and drizzle of oil


~1 onion

~1 regular sized can of peeled tomotoes, chopped

~fist- sized lump of caciocavallo cheese

~garlic, salt, pepper, chile flakes, oil, oregano, pecorino or other grating cheese

1. In a large bowl, place 1 cup of the lukewarm water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir to incorporate, add a pinch of sugar and let stand to test it. If there are a few bubbles or other activity, assume the yeast lives...and proceed. (If not, make sure the water wasn't too hot or cold, or that the yeast wasn't old.) Add the flour and mix well, with a wooden spoon then your hands, or with the paddle on a stand mixer. Add the rest of the water (the dough will be wet), and when well mixed, stir in the salt, maybe a teaspoon or two, and about a tablespoon or two of oil. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm place to proof until doubled--less than an hour in a sunny summer window!

2. In a medium saucepan, warm some chile flakes in olive oil and allow some peeled, sliced garlic slices to turn golden, then remove the slices. Add one onion which has been peeled, halved and thinly sliced and saute over medium heat with a pinch of salt until transluscent, then add the tomatoes with their juices and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, mashing the pieces with a spoon and adding salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Set aside to cool.

3. Chop the caciocavallo cheese into a small dice and set aside on a plate. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, placing a rack in the lower third with a baking stone or tiles if you have them.

4. Cut parchment paper to the size of your pans, or oil them well and dust with semolina. This recipe made enough for one 13 by 9 inch pan and one round 9 inch. Use your good judgement and whichever pans you have on hand--two smaller rectangular pans would be good, or one huge one. The best material would be dark coloured.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl and place in the pans with your oiled hands, stretching and pushing it to shape. It will shape easily since it is so goopy, and don't be alarmed if it doesn't seem puffy or thick like pizza dough. Cover the top of the sfincone modestly with the sauce (don't overdo it), push the cubes of cheese gently into the top, sprinkle with some oregano and grated cheese and drizzle with oil. Cover and let rest for a few moments before baking. If it doesn't all fit into the oven at once, it's alright to leave one pan out, covered. The sfincone is finished when golden brown and crispy on the sides, between 20 to 50 minutes, depending on pan size. I stick a cake tester or knife in to confirm that the dough is cooked, but it will look slightly moist even when cooked. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before eating--but it is best at room temperature or slightly warmer.

6. Eat with family or friends! Relish the leftovers! E-mail me with questions!