salsicce e carciofi – sausages and artichokes

The original plan was to do stuffed baked artichokes, but I have a nasty cold and just couldn’t muster the energy. I wanted something equally tasty but quicker and less fiddly. The solution was to use the ingredients for stuffed artichokes and to simply mix them together to create a one-dish meal. Same flavours, less work. Deconstructed rustic cooking. Could this be the birth of a whole new trend? The breadcrumbs in fact are not Continue Reading →

insalata di carne – beef salad

Just saying the words “beef salad” makes me feel better about the world, or at least better about salad. When I was a kid, the Sunday evening salad was possibly the meal that depressed me most. Sunday afternoon was depressing enough anyway, but finishing it off with limp lettuce, ice-cold flavour-free tomatoes and salad cream struck me as adding insult to injury, like having Vogon poetry read to you before being flung out of a 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 →

ragù bianco di suino nero e porcini, e tutto il resto… – “white” ragù of pork and porcini, and the rest…

 So, a white-themed Christmas it was, although to be honest this was due to chance rather than design, in the sense that the dishes I chose for Christmas happened to be white, rather than being the result of a conscious decision to find colour-challenged recipes. That would have been much too much like hard work. And in any case, the all-white theme came a cropper, since the original starter of baccalà cream tarts got scuppered Continue Reading →

spezzatino aggrassato – sicilian beef stew

Why cook for four if you can cook for eight? This seems to sum up the philosophy of home cooking in southern Italy in a nutshell. It’s all very stereotypical, I know, this image of the mamma slaving over a hot stove to produce gargantuan quantities of food for a ravenous family and any last-minute unexpected guests. A stereotype, maybe, but every time that unexpected guest was me, I’ve found it to be true. So, Continue Reading →

sciusceddu

Just for a change, we have a problem with names. My friend Caterina told me the dialect word sciusceddu comes from sciusciare (‘to blow’), in turn from the French souffler (courtesy of the Normans), deriving from the Latin subflare. She’s not alone in thinking this, but Giuseppe Coria, author of the iconic Profumi di Sicilia, the undisputed authority on Sicilian food, tells us that “there are various names for this dish, but the correct one Continue Reading →

sugo di maiale – pork and tomato sauce

Go into a Sicilian agriturismo in the mountains in the winter, and there’s a good chance you’ll be given a steaming bowl of maccheroni al sugo di maiale. Washed down with some Sicilian vino locale in front of a blazing log fire, I can imagine no better way to warm myself up, or lift my spirits on a dark winter night, for that matter. This is not food for anyone counting their calories, unless of Continue Reading →