risotto alle clementine – tangerine risotto

Before we start, I know the Italian and English versions of the title seem to be at odds, but that’s simply because here in Sicily clementines and tangerines tend to go by the same name. The fruit I used seemed to me to be tangerines, so that’s what I’m calling them. Not that it really matters – either can be used. Although we usually munch on these sweet shots of citrus in a half-hearted attempt Continue Reading →

acciughe – anchovies

Anchovies: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, especially in their preserved form – salted or in oil, in which they are only for aficionados of hard-core fishiness. I love them, but I must admit, it took a few years to acquire the taste. They’re one of the first things you’re likely to come across in Messina, part of the traditional focaccia topping of tomatoes, tuma cheese and escarole. Their salty, primeval kick can Continue Reading →

cipolle di giarratana al forno – baked giarratana onions

Onions: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I love ‘em, and for onion lovers, the cipolla di Giarratana is as good as it gets. They originally come from the town of Giarratana up in the hills of south-east Sicily, but are sold in markets all over the island. Whether they arrive further afield I couldn’t say. I sincerely hope so, because I hate to think of you going without. Anyway, these pink-violet beauties Continue Reading →

cotechino e lenticchie – italian new year’s eve

New Year’s Eve, and that means cotechino sausage and lentils practically everywhere in Italy. The dish is not Sicilian at all, but then there’s no real Sicilian traditional food for the last day of the year, so like the rest of the country, they borrow this rich, fatty, salty oversize banger from Emilia Romagna. According to tradition, the cotechino represents good health, and the lentils money. While lentils could be seen to resemble coins, how Continue Reading →

two-and-a-half ways with king trumpets – due ricette e mezzo per i funghi di ferla

Today’s little beauty is Pleurotus eryngii. It apparently also goes under the aliases of king trumpet mushroom, French horn mushroom, king oyster mushroom, king brown mushroom, boletus of the steppes, and trumpet royale. More names than your average international fraudster. Mycologists, it would seem, are even more unable to agree than taxonomists, who as we have seen, are themselves a pretty litigious bunch. In Italian, it’s cardoncello, but for me it has always and only Continue Reading →

zuppa di fave – fava bean soup

There’s something about autumn, with the nights drawing in, that makes me yearn for rustic food. Really rustic food, the sort of stuff I could imagine people eating in front of an open fire in some draughty cottage a couple of centuries ago. Yes, very Thomas Hardy, I know, very Woodlanders. Although if Thomas Hardy’s characters had eaten a bit more of today’s soup, maybe they wouldn’t have been so unbearably miserable the whole time. Continue Reading →

cardi gratinati – cardoon gratin

You may be forgiven for thinking this is Unusual Vegetable Week, what with chayote followed by mustard greens, and now cardoons (carduni in Sicilian). It’s simply because autumn is when the market stalls are brimming with the new season’s produce, including quite a few local varieties not found widely outside Sicily. Anyway, back to our cardoons, which look like an untamed, grubby version of celery. Sort of celery with attitude, not least because the edges Continue Reading →