May 30, 2011

Never too much Sicily

I love Palermo. This Sunday, no attempted mugging!

Lovely lunch at Zia Pina with my ladies, quite the antipasto table.

Great fried fish again.

Then a lovely day in Cefalu'.

Nothing better than learning to slow down.

We saw this great "500" with a demijohn, suitcase and extra tank for gas on the roof, was for a historic parade.

Summer is on the way, Campari soda on the rocks!

May 25, 2011

Gifts from the Farm

Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. At the Saturday market, my vegetable vendor gifted me with these lovely eggs from her mom that lives in Old Certaldo and some tiny new zucchini with their blossoms.

Inspiration for lunch- Zucchini Carbonara! 

Mille Grazie Francesca e Erica!

My mother in law always said to spend more time shopping and less time cooking.
When you have the best ingredients to work with--- the less you do the better the dish!

May 22, 2011

More Sicilian Gold- Arancini

Arancini, fried rice balls; looking like small oranges, are probably the most famous Sicilian street food. We had our own lesson in the art of Arancini making at Foresteria Planeta in Menfi as part of our Sicily Culinary Adventure.

Our chef Angelo Pumilia is a fabulous and funny teacher and we all became experts easily.

Angelo at work with part of the group

There were several secrets to the arancini making, but the ragu which filled them was a traditional family recipe from the Planeta family. I can't wait to make it here for my husband.

In Sicily, there are various shapes of arancini, each shape means that there is a different filling inside. There is a cone shape, a log shape, a pear shape. Always ask! The round is meat ragu usually with peas.
Other fillings may be tomato sauce with cheese, ham and cheese or spinach and mozzarella. But there are a million creative ways to fill them.

ragu enriched with peas and cheese for filling

it's a messy job, but someone has to do it

the secret is teamwork
Our finished product

  • The basics are a Saffron-infused rice, not cooked as risotto, but regular rice cooked in a saffron broth, no need to stand and stir. Ratio of rice to broth is key. Like a pilaf.
  • Make a rich ragu, let cool and add small cubed cheese and peas.
  • Flatten rice in palm of hand and fill with ragu.
  • Seal and close into a ball. Let rest.
  • Dip in a light egg, milk and flour batter then roll in breadcrumbs.
  • Let rest again.
  • Deep fry quickly, but not too long. The arancini will keep cooking once out of the oil too.
  • Eat with your hands!

Watch Angelo in this Video- forming the arancini

I fully support learning about the culture of a place through cooking. Where ever you go, please take a market tour or a cooking class as soon as you arrive in a new location. You don't want to miss anything!

A Tavola non si invecchia
One does not age at the table

May 18, 2011


We are back down in Maremma,enjoying a little beach time, before work starts again. To get down to the beach at the Nature Reserve, there are 5km of road, passing by horses and these majestic cattle.

The beach is rather "wild", everyone finds these pieces of wood and creates sculptures,teepee's and small walled structures. The winds were high, great for the windsurfers, but not so much for us!

One of the main reasons we came back, was the fabulous dinner we had at Remo's nearby. Tonight's dinner was equally fabulous.

Marinated anchovies-Venetian style

Stuffed calamari

Seafood carbonara- a real surprise

Incredible wine- the Maremma area produces great reds and whites

Whole roasted fish with orange, tomatoe and black olive. To repeat!

The fish is roasted whole, then cleaned table side and served with the pan sauces.

My Crema Catalana with limoncello, served flaming!

May 15, 2011

SiciliAMO-- I love Sicily!

Good news, Bad news...

I adore Sicily as much as ever and am closer and closer to my dream to live by the sea!
Maybe in Trapani.

First day in Palermo a guy drove by on a Vespa and tried to steal my purse..... Judy 1 - Palermo 0 
I think I scared the guy as I held on for dear life and when he realized I wasn't letting go fled before I pulled him off the scooter! My purse was saved; my body a little bruised; but what a beginning to a week in Sicily. I flew through the air and fell hard-- but that didn't stop us from having a fabulous first meal at Zia Pina's near the Vucceria! I avoided a big bruise on my hand and swelling by holding a large chilled Moretti beer in my hand for the whole meal!

Zia Pina is your Sicilian Mamma-- a MUST visit in Palermo, the closest thing to eating with family.
There is a plate at your table when you sit down, grab it and head to the large antipasti buffet and help yourself; you can see the fresh fish for the main course right there too. They can grill or fry whatever you see.

zia pina--- at the cash register. Supervising the cooks

the antipasto table, not yet filled for lunch service

Our antipasti plates-- lots of fabulous vegetables, breaded, baked, braised. Each had a distinct flavor and  all were luscious.

fritto misto di mare

We had the our antipasti, a huge tray of mixed fried fish with wine and water.
Total was 35 euro for two and we couldn't finish the fried fish!

what's not to love?

Zia PinaVia Cassari, 69
Past the Vucceria Market- heading down to Port on the left before park.

I will be posting more on the highlights of the trip.

If you would like to join me on a Sicilian trip- write to me- I will do a custom program for 3 or more people. One week to 10 days.

May 6, 2011

Special Pasta with Special Students

I love kitchen gadgets, who doesn't? When I was on my way to Torino one year, we passed Chiaveri which is one of my favorite towns. I already wrote up the story about my visit to Franco, my master of Corzetti stamps. Everytime I make this recipe, I have remember the trip, what we ate and his fabulous workshop.

This is the design that my custom stamp makes

I have several others which I can use in class, one I recently got in Florence at Gioia della Casa, for 19 euro, not custom, probably a cheaper wood, but it works! ( I bought one with the Fleur du Lys, symbol of Florence)

I have some clients that come yearly so we have fun breaking away from classic Tuscan recipes and create our menu's as we like. This year,Wende brought along her cooking pal Candace and their spouses to cook. They were thrilled to learn to use the corzetti stamps. We went to the shop in Florence earlier in the week and they had bought their own, which inspired this lesson.

they really worked hard

When you spend a lot of time making fresh pasta, the best sauce is the simplest.
We did a traditional brown butter with toasted pinenuts and parmesan cheese. I didn't have any marjoram, which would have been traditional herb to use.

I used a recipe which is sort of a blend of egg pasta and the hot water pasta.

We used 300 grams of 00 flour- 2 egg yolks, a tbs of EVO, salt and hot water.
Some people add some butter to the blend, I wasn't sure, so I used EVO.

The dough rested and rolled out perfectly.

Once the dough is rolled out, the bottom of the wooden stamp cuts the disks, then the disk is placed between the two sides of the stamp and you press.

It prints both sides of the pasta.

Boil in salted water and serve with brown butter, toasted pinenuts, grated parmesan cheese and marjoram.

Pesto is also nice thinned with a little pasta water.

Terry in California is making Corzetti stamps too--- closer than coming to Italy!

It is nice to share new recipes, remember old trips and create new memories.

I am off to Sicily for a week, we'll see what this trip brings me!