Category Archives: Sicilian Seafood Cooking

SAUCES for meat, fish and vegetables to brighten up your Christmas

Because one of the books that I have written is called Sicilian Seafood Cooking and because my blog is called All Things Sicilian And More many of my readers assume that at Christmas I will be cooking Sicilian food.

And what is the norm in Italy  or Sicily for Christmas?

As many have stated before me, there is no point in restricting the menu to a few common dishes because the food in Italy is very regional and depending where you live is likely to determine what you eat on Christmas day. When I was celebrating Christmas in Trieste (in Northern Italy), Brodo (broth) was always the first course on Christmas day. When I celebrated it in  Sicily I had entirely different food – home made gnucchiteddi ( small pasta gniocchi) or Ravioli di ricotta  were the norm.

See:
RAVIOLI DI RICOTTA
GNUCCHITEDDI

Sicily is relatively a small island, yet the food in Sicily is also very regional. All you need to do is look at the posts that I have written about Christmas food in Sicily to see that. For example when I celebrated Christmas in Ragusa, they always made and continue to make scacce,( baked dough with various fillings) and they make these during other festive occasions as well. Are Sicilians living in Australia likely to have scacce for Christmas? Not likely. They may be part of Christmas fare for those Sicilians coming from Ragusa and  the province of Ragusa,  but the menus from any Sicilian  living in Australia is going to be influenced by other offerings of either Sicilian or Italian origin and by Australian culture and the  Summer climate.

SCACCE

As I have already stated in my last post QUADRUCCI IN BRODO, Squares of home-made Pasta in Broth:

Time and time again I am asked what am I cooking for Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. The answer is that I do not know yet.  I can say is that on Christmas eve I like to eat fish as is traditionally observed in Italy and on Christmas day I usually cook something that I do not normally cook or have not cooked for a while, for example for first course I may cook Spaghetti/ Pasta with sea urchin (ricci) or bottarga or squid with black ink or crayfish or crab.

So for this Christmas fare post, I am going to provide links to some of my posts which highlight sauces and dressings. This is because, irrespective of whether you are presenting a seafood salad, baking a turkey, or using a BBQ for fish or meat you can always vary the sauce you present a- Let’s face it, sauces can make a lot of difference and if you wish, you can enliven any food with a new sauce.

Here are some sauces. that are suitable for Savoury food.

SALSA D’AGRESTO

It was a sauce which dates pre-Renaissance time and went out of fashion because lemons became popular in cooking and superseded the use of green grape juice. The recipes suggested that the juice of the green grapes can be extracted by using a mouli or a juicer. It is very good for any hot meat. Verjuice can be used instead and white wine works as well.

Walnuts and almonds are blanched to remove as much skin as possible. My sources indicated that there may have been more walnuts used than almonds in these sauces.

Onions, garlic and parsley and a few breadcrumbs are pounded together with the nuts. Add a bit of sugar, some chopped parsley and sufficient grape juice to make the amalgamated ingredients soft – like a paste.

Heat these ingredients and add a little broth as the sauce will thickened because the bread crumbs.

SALSA VERDE – ITALIAN GREEN SAUCE

Salsa verde can be used to jazz anything up – vegetables, roasts, cold meats, smoked fish, crayfish etc. I sometimes use it to stuff hard boiled eggs (remove the yolk, mix with salsa verde and return it to the egg). It is mainly parsley, anchovies, capers, green olives.

SARSA DI CHIAPPAREDDI

There may be times when an accompanying sauce for steamed, baked, grilled or fried fish will bring you greater compliments.

The sauce is called sarsa di chiappareddi in Sicilian and it is made with capers and anchovies.

For me it is most essential to use quality, extra virgin, olive oil. This is especially important for cold sauces, – when the cold sauce hits the hot food, the fragrance of the oil will be strongly evident.

 BAGNA CAUDA

Bagna Cauda, translated as “hot bath,” is a dip for any combination of firm vegetables- cooked or uncooked. I would not have it on roast potatoes and can enliven many vegetables.

It is a hot sauce mainly of garlic, anchovies and butter.

SALAMURRIGGHIU – SALMORIGLIO (salmorigano)

Such a simple Sicilian dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon and oregano that will make an enormous difference to any grilled or BBQ food- whether fish meat or vegetable.

HOME-MADE MAYONNAISE OR SAFFRON MAYONNAISE OR TUNA MAYONNAISE

Excellent for any cold meat, fish, eggs, vegetable dishes.

See:
MAYONNAISE  and SAFFRON MAYONNAISE
INSALATA RUSSA
CHICKEN LAYERED WITH TUNA AND EGG MAYONNAISE
VITELLO TONNATO

 SALSA ROMESCO

Salsa Romesco is said to have originated from Tarragona, a town close to Barcelona in north-eastern Spain. It is an old Roman town so I can understand why you might think the sauce originated from Rome.

This sauce is usually associated as a condiment for shellfish and fish. It is also good with grilled and roasted vegetables (especially cold, left over ones that need dressing up the next day). Recently, I have been to two restaurants and this sauce was presented with cold asparagus. Garlic, red peppers, almonds and paprika are the main ingredients.

SALSA SARACINA (Saracen sauce)

Does a combination of green olives, pine nuts, sultanas and saffron appeal to you? It is a cold Sicilian sauce, especially suitable for fish but I use it for many other hot or cold food.

ANATRA A PAPAREDDA CU L’ULIVI

Last time I roasted a duck I made a special sauce for it and it tasted great –  green anchovies, parsley, the pale centre of a celery, garlic, stock and wine added to the roasting pan made an excellent gravy.

HOT MINT SAUCE

This is a recipe from Sam and Sam Clark’s Casa Moro, The Second Cookbook. I had this sauce at a friend’s house accompanying roast goat. It is made mainly with mint, cumin and garlic and red vinegar (or balsamic).

*There are many other posts for Christmas food.

BUON NATALE 

MERCATO 625-627 Lower North East Road Campbelltown, SA. Sicilian Cooking class, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

La Cucina 

Tradizionale Siciliana 

with
Marisa Raniolo Wilkins
at MERCATO
625 – 627 Lower North East Road Campbelltown SA ph: 08 8337 1808 fax: 08 8337 8024 e: marketing@mercato.com.au book online: www.mercato.com.au

 

About Marisa Raniolo Wilkins…

Like a true Sicilian, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins is a lively fusion of cultures and experience. She was born to Sicilian parents in Ragusa, but she spent her childhood in the far northeast of Italy in the famous port city of Trieste, where her parents had met. In her summer holidays Marisa would travel to Sicily to visit her relatives. This was where Marisa learnt about food and cooking from her Sicilian relatives.

“My mother always told me that my father’s family knew nothing about cooking, but it was my father’s sisters who were some of my greatest inspirations in the kitchen,” Marisa says.

Marisa and her family migrated to Australia in the late-1950s and settled in Adelaide, not far from where Imma and Mario established Mercato. Growing up in Adelaide, Marisa always kept in touch with Sicily and maintained her interest in flavours and ingredients.

Over the years she has travelled to Sicily many times to visit her extended family, adding to her store of first-hand experience with every visit. Marisa enjoyed a successful career as a teacher and educationist in South Australia before moving to Melbourne in early 2002.

As she was getting settled in Melbourne, and in between jobs, Marisa rediscovered her passion for writing and her ambition to write a book about Sicilian cuisine and to document some of the classic, local Sicilian dishes cooked by her grandmothers and aunties and food that she has eaten throughout the island of Sicily. The result, eight years later, is her book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, published by New Holland in November 2011.

 

Photos courtesy of Bob Evans 

Modern takes on traditional Sicilian dishes. Although Sicily is not a large Island, the cuisine varies considerably from region to region.
In this food workshop & cooking demonstration Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, author of the book Sicilian Seafood Cooking, will prepare and demonstrate the ways Sicilian cuisine has been shaped and influenced by the dominant cultures of the Mediterranean from the ancient times to the modern day, which includes Greek, Roman, Arabic, French and Spanish cultures.Marisa will share her experience in the kitchen and her love of Sicilian Cuisine.

~Menu~
Caponata
When you go to Sicily, you must eat Caponata & you may have thought that eggplants are the main ingredient. Marisa will make different caponate
(plural of caponata) which feature different
ingredients that reflect the seasons.
Paired with 2011 Tavignano Verdicchio Villa Torre

 

Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a traditional dish from Catania.
In modern restaurants & kitchens it is now presented in a variety of creative ways that reflect the inevitable fusions of cuisines across the world. Marisa will prepare different variations of the dish that she experienced in her recent trip to Sicily, including some that use fish.
Paired with 2009 Baglio Curatolo Nero d’Avola, SicilyCucciaYou will also experience a modern version of a very ancient dessert called Cuccia that has deep-rooted religious and seasonal associations.
Paired with 2010 Etna Rosso Erse, Sicily

When: Friday 12th July 2013

Where: at Mercato in the demo kitchen
625-627 Lower North East Road
Campbelltown SA

Tickets: $120 per person
This class starts at 6.30pm and runs for approximately 3 hours and includes detailed recipe notes, delicious food matched with a tasting of Italian wine and informative, fun conversation.
We also offer all guests 10% discount on any purchases made in-store on the evening
This class has a limit of 16 people.

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PESCE ALLA GHIOTTA (Sicilian Fish, a recipe to satisfy the gluttons)

Wendy is a friend who lives in Ardrossan, a small town on the east coast of the Yorke Peninsula (about 150 km from Adelaide). She and her husband have a boat and they often go fishing. I too have gone fishing on their boat and watched them catch fish, mainly King George Whiting, Squid and Garfish.

To make me jealous and as a subtle way to suggest I should go to visit them, she sent me a photograph of a large Australian Salmon she caught recently; she then sent me more photos of how she cooked it.

Australian Salmon belongs to the perch family (surprisingly it is not a salmon). As you can see from the photo Wendy has filleted the fish. Some people find this fish very fishy, but it lends itself to recipes with strong accompanying flavours.

Wendy chose a recipe from my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking. The recipe is Fish alla ghiotta from Messina and is cooked with tomatoes, green olives, capers, pine nuts and currants (AGGHIOTTA DI PISCI A MISSINISA – PESCE ALLA GHIOTTA ALLA MESSINESE).

 

There are many variations of this dish and this one contains Sicilian flavours in excess –  it is sure to satisfy the gluttons.

Sicilians use piscispata (Sicilian for swordfish; pescespada is the Italian), but any cutlets of firm, large fish cut into thick slices or thick fillets are suitable. I like to buy sustainable seafood and  have used: Flathead, Trevally, Kingfish, Snapper, Mackerel and Barramundi. Obviously Australian Salmon can now be added to this list but in Victoria I have not seen much of this fish.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 x 200g (7oz.) fish steaks or
cutlets
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
¾ cup salted capers, soaked and washed
1 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup currants, soaked in a little warm water for about 15 minutes
½ cup pine nuts
2 – 3 bay leaves
500g (17oz.) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (tinned are OK)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

PROCESSES
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a wide pan, large enough to accommodate the fish in one layer. Shallow-fry the fish for a couple of minutes on both sides over medium-high heat to seal. Remove from the pan and set aside.

For la ghiotta, add the celery and onion to the same oil, and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir frequently. Reduce heat to medium, then add the capers, olives, garlic, currants, pine nuts and bay leaves and stir well. Add tomatoes, season, stir, and cook for about ten minutes until some of the juice from the tomatoes has reduced.
Arrange the fish in the sauce in one layer and spoon some of the sauce over it. Cover, and cook on moderate heat until the fish is done.

Thank you Wendy for all of these wonderful photos and I am so glad that you enjoyed it.

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PASTA CON SPADA E MENTA (Pasta with swordfish and mint)

Coinciding with the Long Weekend in October on Saturday Beachport had one of their regular Market Days, which are held at various times through the year.

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Beachport is a small seaside town in the South East of South Australia close to Robe and Millicent. Anyone familiar with South Australian wine would know about the Limestone Coast and the Coonawarra wine regions. Both are close by. Neighbouring wine regions include Wrattonbully and Mount Benson.

On the foreshore at Beachport there is a large, impressive landmark. It is an historic property called Bompas, formerly Beachport’s original hotel. Bompas has been through many changes, but since April 2012 Sarah and Jeremy are bringing life back into this independent, boutique hotel that serves as a cafe, restaurant and bar with unique accommodation and function facilities.

The reason I am writing about Bompas is that on the October Long Weekend the menu at Bompas featured Pasta with swordfish and mint, one of the recipes in Sicilian Seafood Cooking.The weekend was also the launch of their Asian menu which proved to be very popular.

Sarah and Jeremy now have Trish, an enthusiastic, local and young chef who is very happy to be there and they are equally pleased with her.

In the traditional Sicilian recipe swordfish is the preferred fish, a dense textured fish. I prefer to use sustainable fish and use, mackerel, burramundi, flathead, rockling, yellowtail kingfish or Mahi Mahi. Shell fish also enhances the sweetness of the dish and Sarah, Jeremy and Trish used scallops. They are also looking forward to using local fish on their menu (the fishing season has just started).

Trish did an excellent job of preparing the dish, but what it taught me as the writer is that it may have been useful to include extra hints in the recipe to clarify the process of cooking. Chefs may know how to do it, but what about the person who is not familiar with Italian cooking?

There is so much more advice that the writer of recipes may need to give. For example:

The recipe contains zucchini. What I wish to say is that Italians do overcook vegetables by our standards and in this case it is fairly important that the zucchini are sliced thinly and sautéed till soft – the recipe does not say this. The cooking releases the sweet juices of the zucchini and these are also added to the pasta and contribute to the flavour the dish.

There is also a fair amount of mint, this is added in the cooking process and at the end.

An other thing is that the wine needs to be evaporated so as to caramelize the juices released by the fish when this is sautéed.

And finally, all of the ingredients need to be hot when they are mixed together; this enables the fresh cheese to soften.

For 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS
pasta, 500g, ribbed, tubular like rigatoni or similar
fish, 400g, cut into pieces (4cm)
extra virgin
olive oil, ¾ cup
white wine, ½ cup
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
mint, fresh, 15-20 leaves
salt and pepper to taste
formaggio fresco or fresh mozzarella or bocconcini, 300g,
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

PROCESSES
Cut the cheese into small cubes and set aside.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil; add the fish or shellfish and sauté it till it      is lightly coloured.
Add the garlic, wine, about a third of the mint and seasoning to the fish. Cover and cook gently till the fish is ready.
Combine fish, cheese and extra mint leaves (large leaves can be cut into smaller pieces).
Add the sauce to cooked and drained pasta, mix and and serve.

VARIATION
Add slices of 2-3 lightly fried zucchini (cooked separately in some extra virgin olive oil and added at the end). Add any juices left over from the zucchini.
To complement the green colour of the dish I sometimes sprinkle pistachio nuts on top.

I contribute a recipe for Seafoodnews a monthly publication.This is the same recipe and photo of the dish I submitted for the October issue.

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PASTA ALLA NORMA (Pasta with tomatoes, and eggplants)

I ate at a friend’s house recently and she cooked one of my fish recipes from Sicilian Seafood Cooking; she apologized for using tinned tomatoes instead of fresh and asked me if it had altered the taste of the recipe. There was no need to make an apology – the fish tasted great and I told her that I only use red, fresh tomatoes in cooking when they are sold ripe and at a reasonable price; the tins of whole, peeled tomatoes I buy are a perfectly suitable substitute, and quick too. I try to buy Australian tomatoes.

There are some summer pasta dishes which call for uncooked, ripe tomatoes and I would never substitute tinned ones for this recipe – Pasta alla Norma.

long eggplants P1010074 (1)

Pasta alla norma is one of those dishes Sicilians are extremely fond of   especially in late summer when the tomatoes are ripe, the basil is abundant and the eggplants are at their best.

All it is = a  salsa of fresh tomatoes , pasta and fried eggplants added last of all – usually cubed. Ricotta salata tops it all off.  Easy stuff – see recipe below.

The dish originates from Catania, the city that my mother’s family comes from. Many presume that the dish is named after the opera, La Norma, by the composer Vincenzo Bellini who was born in Catania (1801-1835), but there are others who think that the expression ‘a norma’ (in Sicilian) was commonly used in the early 1900s to describe food that was cooked true to form (i.e. as normal, as it should be) according to all the rules and regulations specified in the recipe.

I ate a version of Pasta alla Norma in a seafood restaurant in San Leone (on the coast, near to Agrigento). The tagliatelle were presented on top of half an eggplant, (which had been cut in half and then fried). The sauce also contained a few currants and a few anchovies, thin slices of bottarga (dry, salted tuna roe) and cubes of ricotta salata. It does look very spectacular, but if you intend to do this, and are using a large round eggplant, cut the eggplant horizontally and remove a slice from the centre of it to make it thinner – the eggplant it will cook more evenly.

Recipe for Pasta alla Norma

INGREDIENTS
I have used casarecci, 500g

eggplants, 500g or more
extra virgin olive oil, 1 ½ cups ( ½ cup for the tomato salsa,1 cup to fry the eggplant) 
garlic, 3 cloves
ripe tomatoes, 1k, peeled and chopped
salt (a little) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
basil, fresh leaves (10-15) some for the salsa and some for decoration
PROCESSES
Remove the stem end of eggplant and without peeling and slice or cut into cubes. Soak in salted water if you wish. Pat-dry the eggplant and fry in 1 cup of olive oil until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Make the tomato salsa: place the tomatoes in the pan with garlic, oil, salt and some basil leaves: cook uncovered on medium heat till it is thick.
Cook pasta and drain.
Mix the pasta with the tomato sauce, place in a serving bowl (s) and top with the eggplants and the remaining basil.
Present with grated cheese, preferably ricotta salata.
 

 

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SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING, ITALIANICIOUS and READER’S FEAST Bookstore. Recipe for Slow cooked goat in Nero D’Avola

ital-0112-cover-250-210x297
This is the cover of the January – February issue of 2012 Italianicious magazine.
It is a beautiful bi-monthly publication about food and wine, Italian regional recipes, travel stories and features on Italian restaurants and chefs and cultural events both in Italy and Australia. The photos are also stunning.
The current editor, Danielle Gullaci, is continuing to develop the quality and look of the publication established by previous editor, Jane O’Connor. In the January-February issue Danielle has written a feature about me.
Ital-0112-people-Marisa-Raniolo-Wilkins-630
FUELLED BY PASSION
And these are the two beginning paragraphs:
Although Marisa Raniolo Wilkins spent most of her early childhood in Trieste before moving to Australia with her Sicilian parents, a love for Sicilian food and culture has remained close to her heart. Her first book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, represents eight years of hard work and a lifetime of culinary experiences.
Despite the fact that her parents both hailed from Sicily, Marisa says that she was born on the Italian island “by accident”. Marisa’s mother had lived in Catania, Sicily, before moving to Trieste in northern Italy with her siblings; and her Sicilian father (from Ragusa) was stationed in Trieste during the war, learning to be a tailor. “ 

DOLCETTI-ONE1
I was also featured in Italianicious magazine in the November-December issue when Mary Taylor Simeti and I discussed a Sicilian Christmas at Dolcetti, Melbourne’s little gem of a pastry shop. Naturally Pastry Chef Marianna Di Bartolo contributed to the discussion and we ate some of her delectable sweets. The editor was Jane O’Connor (now group editor of all Prime Media magazines), the three camera shy women and the photographer Patrick Varney of Raglan Images all had a grand old time.
Mary Taylor Simeti is one of my heroes – I think that sometimes it takes a “foreigner ‘ with a passion to rediscover and tease out the history behind the food ( not that she is a foreigner, she is part of Sicily, having dedicated so many years to it.).
Mary and I talked to Gus about his produce at the Queen Victoria Market.
The time before that Italianicious published an article and my recipe for Caponata, that was in December 2009 – February 2010 and the editor was Glynis Macri now Director/Editor of The Italian Traveller – Food, Wine and Travel Consultant.
Marisa in kitchen 3
Caponata recipe:
Italianicious also has recipes on line. This one is one of Mister Bianco’s:
Here are the ingredients for one recipe. It is from the October 2011 issue. I have seen goat available at The Queen Victoria Market recently and the recipe uses Nero D’Avola – that marvellous Sicilian red wine.
If you want the full recipe:
Slow cooked goat in Nero D’Avola
Serves 4
2kg goat consisting of shoulder cut into 150g pieces and 4 shanks
1.5 litres Nero d’Avola wine
3 onions, chopped roughly
200ml red wine vinegar
3 carrots, chopped roughly
3 celery sticks, chopped roughly
1 garlic clove, peeled
200g prosciutto fat
5 whole tomatoes, chopped
2L reduced beef stock
20 crushed whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
For the garnish:
12 baby carrots, peeled and roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, then roasted with olive oil, garlic, sliced lemon and rosemary.
Reader’s Feast Bookstore
 
The other nice thing that happened this week is that I went into Reader’s Feast Bookstore. Sicilian Seafood Cooking has been featured in their Summer 2002 Book Guide and has been written by Helen.
Helen is only one of the helpful, knowlegable and personable staff who has been working with Mary Dalmau at Reader’s Feast for a very long time.
“Our bookstore will be a place of interest and enjoyment, peopled by committed and enthusiastic staff, who present a range of books to suit all visitors” Mary Dalmau, 1991
Finally my cookbook of the year is Sicilian Seafood Cooking by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins.
This incredibly substantial cookbook takes
us on a culinary odyssey through Sicily; It is
a book of love celebrating seasonal produce,
traditional recipes, methods and techniques
while providing us non Sicilians with suitable
alternative ingredients. The food is delicious
and the advice is such that you are never
alone while preparing these recipes. It’s as if
the grandmothers and aunts are beside you.
Happy Holiday Reading and Feasting.
Helen

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BRACIOLINI or INVOLTINI DI PESCE – Small fish braciole stuffed with herbs, cooking demonstration at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market

Mullet+in+pan+copy+2

Braciolini di pesce are easily picked up with fingers and are ideal for the festive season when guests are standing around with drinks in their hands.

These make wonderful little morsels on an antipasto platter. Because they are small bracioIe and the stuffing is light – only herbs and garlic are used –fillets of small fish (with skin on) are suitable: anything from mild-flavoured whiting, stronger tasting flathead or gunard to even stronger oilier fish such as mullet or sardines.

Adelaide Showground Farmers Market is for shoppers who enjoy fresh, seasonal and regional food. It is open each Sunday from 9am-1pm.The Adelaide Showground Farmers Market also has Demo Kitchen which offers chef demonstrations and tastings of produce and wine and on Sunday Nov 27th 2011, I was able to discuss Sicilian Seafood Cooking with RozTaylor who is the Demo Kitchen Host.

DSC_0026

Roz prepared a simple recipe from the book while I talked about some of the fresh market produce that was used in the kitchen demonstration. I also discussed some of the recipes in Sicilian Seafood Cooking and interacted with the audience.

We used fillets of Coorong mullet from Coorong Wild Seafood (Trevor Bowden). He and his wife have a stall at the ASFM.

This is the recipe:

Ingredients
750g (1lb 12oz) fish fillets
fresh herbs (rosemary, flatleaf
parsley and oregano)
garlic, finely chopped
fresh red chilli, deseeded and sliced (optional)
about ½  cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method
Flatten each fillet; if using steaks, cut into small pieces.
Mix the herbs, garlic, chilli and seasoning with the olive oil. Place a little
of the stuffing at one end of each fillet and roll up. If using chilli, use about
1 slice per roll in the herb stuffing.
Secure each roll with a toothpick.
Saute in extra virgin olive oil. Add seasoning and (if you wish) herbs (rosemary, bay, oregano) or whole garlic cloves or 1 finely sliced onion. A few minutes before the end of cooking, add about ½ cup white wine and reduce. Remove herbs and garlic and serve.

I also took the opportunity to discuss some of the vegetable produce from Patlin Gardens (Pat D’Onofrio). HIs stall is laden with a large variety of Italian vegetables.

On that particular day, Pat had puntarelle, chicory, green radicchio (called biondo) and endives- all wonderful produce where the soft centre leaves can be separated to be used in a green salad and the coarse leaves can be braised.
He also had fennel bulbs complete with long stalks of fronds- the fronds are excellent for flavouring and are a substitute for wild fennel which is used extensively in Sicilian cooking.

Marisa demos to audience #2

 

BOOK SIGNING OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING AT READINGS (and Fennel Frittata)

Christine Gordon intros Marisa @ Readings
EVENT | Thursday 17 November 2011 at 6:30pm

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Food, wine, book signing
Readings Hawthorn: 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122
The event was organised by Christine Gordon.
 

After this event I went home and made a wild fennel frittata and had it with a bottle of Rocky Passes Estate syrah – a very fine wine and the only bottle left over from the book signing event held in Readings in Hawthorn (Sicilian Seafood Cooking).

readings

Friends Vitto Oles & Candi Westney own and run Rocky Passes Estate and they graciously donated the wine for the Readings event.

Rocky Passes bottle 2

Vitto is the viticulturist and wine-maker of exceptionally good Syrah and Candi is just as important because she is responsible for the entertainment – the music concerts, performances and art exhibitions. Both manage the cellar door and the range of appetising Argentinian/Spanish inspired morsels (tapas) that are available when you visit their winery.

Rocky Passes Estate is at the spectacular southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges, near Seymour in Victoria. If you look at their wine label you will notice two eagles – these birds are often soaring above their very attractive property.

The winery is relatively new and had its first vintage of Syrah in 2004 and every vintage since has been highly rated by James Halliday. The winery is open Sundays 11-5pm or by appointment and Tapas also served onthe last Friday of the month as well as during art openings and special events.

I love wild fennel and when I find it I use it.

Fennel fronds

I have written about frittata in a previous post and as you see it is not difficult to make. The fennel can be replaced by any wilted green vegetable, for example spinach, endives, spring onions or asparagus.

Wild greens are superb or you can use bulb fennel, but keep the greens.You can vary the amounts of vegetables but as a general guide I would use 3-4 eggs to a cup of greens. For this frittata I used 12 eggs and it fed 4 of us (we were greedy).
Remember to use a spatula to lift the cooked part of the frittata as it cooks and release the uncooked egg. Need I say that I only use free range eggs?

Frittata cooking

Then flip it over – I used a pizza tray. Finally, slide the frittata out. At the Readings book signing event I accompanied the Rocky passes with green Sicilian olives  (olive schiacciate), marinaded anchovies.

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Marianna Di Bartolo from Dolcetti made more fish shaped biscuits for this occasion and once again these were perfectly matched with Brown Brothers’ Zibibbo.

Zibbibo[1]

And once again it was an other fine celebration for Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

 

 

LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING AT MERCATO (Baccalaru ‘o fornu – Sicilian and Baccalà al forno- Italian).

ADELAIDE LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING

After the excitement and satisfaction of the successful launch of my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, in Melbourne on 6 November, and book signing event at Readings Hawthorn on 17 November, I drove to Adelaide, for the launch of my book in South Australia.

The launch was hosted and organized by the team at Il Mercato, the Italian providore in the north-eastern suburb of Campbelltown, which is where my family settled after migrating from Italy. The local member and the State Minister for Education, Grace Portolese, MP introduced the South Australian event on Sunday, 20 November.

I was thrilled and honoured that respected cook and cooking teacher, Rosa Matto, agreed to launch the book in my former hometown. Rosa and I have known each other for over many years and I have always admired her cooking skills, her generosity and her commitment to sharing her knowledge of food through her cooking classes.

The launch at Il Mercato was very well attended. John Caporosa, the owner of the providore, had ordered 100 copies of Sicilian Seafood Cooking and on the day 99 were sold and signed.

Book signing queue at il Mercato

I am immensely grateful to John and his team, especially Cynthia and Lina who helped to make the event a success and prepared a selection of food:  there were white anchovies and arancini and Lina selected and cooked two recipes from Sicilian Seafood Cooking, the Caponata from Catania (pg 362) and the Baked baccalà (pg 193). It was presented on a ceramic spoon – practical and attractive and very suitable for this occasion.

Baccalà is cooked in many ways but this is probably my favourite – It is full of flavours and colours that can only be Sicilian. It can be presented as a main dish or as an antipasto. At Il Mercato it was served on spoons and everyone loved it.

Baccalà. has to soak for a couple of days before it is cooked, so begin preparations beforehand ( min. 24 hours but if  it is extra salty it will need extra time. It can be purchased pre soaked in some stores which sell Italian and Spanish food.

INGREDIENTS

1–1.2 kg (2lb 4oz–2lb
12oz) baccalà, soaked
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup finely cut parsley
500g (17.oz) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
(or canned)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
mixed with ½ cup water
flour for coating
½ cup salted capers, soaked and washed
½ cup sultanas or currants
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup white wine
½ cup black olives, pitted and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD

Cut the baccalà into square portions and leave to dry on a paper towel.
Heat ½ cup of oil in an ovenproof casserole. Add the onion, garlic and
parsley and cook until the onion is pale golden. Add the tomatoes, the tomato
paste and seasoning and cook until thickened.
Lightly coat the baccalà with flour and fry in hot oil.
Arrange the baccalà in the casserole with the capers, sultanas, pine
nuts and ½ cup of wine. Bake in a preheated 180C (350 F) oven for
30–45 minutes. Add the rest of the wine and the olives and bake for another
15–30 minutes until cooked (the fish should flake). During cooking, check to
see if it is dry and either add more wine or water.
Variation
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves or extra pine nuts and serve with chopped chilli and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cook any firm-fleshed fish this way. Large thick pieces are best.

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LAUNCH OF SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING AT COASIT, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins – Pushing out the boat

One upon a time, when people talked about “launching” something, they were usually talking about ships and the launch usually involved some celebrity smashing a bottle of champagne across the bow and standing back to watch the hull slide down the slipway and into the water! Or spectators crossing themselves and praying for the vessel’s safe voyages.

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My feelings of anticipation, excitement and relief were just as intense when Richard Cornish launched my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, at the Museo Italiano in Faraday Street Carlton, last Sunday (6 November).

And while Richard didn’t crack a bottle of champagne over the lectern, and I did not make the sign of the cross, there was certainly plenty of wine, food and bubbles to float my book out into bookstores, and a great crowd of well-wishers who to lent a hand to see it on its way. All of them need to be thanked.

Crowd shot 1

First, thanks to the staff of CoAsIt and the Museo Italiano [link to http://www.coasit.com.au] especially to Carlo Carli who is the Coordinator of the Museo Italiano, and Rosaria Zarro, Italian Education Officer at CoAsIt, who hosted the launch in the spacious and well-equipped conference room in Faraday Street, Carlton.

Crowd shot 3

Special thanks to Richard Cornish, award-winning author and journalist. I have always admired Richard and his writing and I am deeply honoured and seriously grateful to Richard for launching Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

Richard [link to http://www.profiletalent.com.au/richard-cornish ] is best known to readers of Epicure (the Age) and Good Living (Sydney Morning Herald) for his articles on food, concentrating on ethical and sustainable production. Richard has also co-authored a series of books on Spanish cuisine with Frank Camorra, chef and owner of Melbourne’s Movida restaurants. The latest book MoVida Cocina is published in November 2011 so I know how busy he must be.

The Sponsors

Wine

The wine was generously provided by three producers – two of them, family companies, Coriole and Brown Brothers – and the other, a major producer of wines in Sicily, distributed by Arquilla Food and Wine.

Coriole 2

Coriole [link to http://www.coriole.com] provided two varieties of Sangiovese, a wine whose Italian origins are most closely linked to Tuscany. Led by Mark Lloyd, Coriole has ventured further and further into the production of Italian varieties in their McLaren Vale vineyards, south of Adelaide. Coriole began with Sangiovese in 1987, and followed by Nebbiolo and Barbera. The experimentation has continued with plantings of Fiano (recently awarded Best McLaren Vale White Wine), Sagrantino and Nero d’Avola, which is yet to have a vintage – maybe next year.

Brown Brothers [link to http://www.brownbrothers.com.au] provided a sparkling Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for a grape originally named Muscat of Alexandria. You can never finish a meal in Sicily without being offered a glass of Zibibbo! [link to http://www.snooth.com/varietal/zibibbo/] Brown Brothers, who established their first vineyard at Milawa in the lower King Valley, grow the grapes for their Zibibbo at their Mystic Park Vineyard beside the Murray Valley Highway about halfway between Kerang and Swan Hill.

Arquilla [link to http://www.arquilla.com.au] supplied traditional Sicilian wines, Nero d’Avola and Frappato, produced by Feudi del Pisciotto. [link to http://www.castellare.it/eng/introFeudiPisciotto.html] I first tasted the Feudi Nero d’Avola at my favourite Sicilian restaurant, Bar Idda, [link to http://www.baridda.com.au] another fabulous family affair in the hands of Lisa and Alfredo La Spina, with Lisa’s brother Anthony managing the bar and the drinks.

Food

The book didn’t just float out on glasses of Sicilian wine. There was a selection of tasty finger-food (or as they are called in Italian, spuntini).

Fiona Rigg and Richard Cornish

Fiona Rigg, who was the amazing food stylist for the book, made a Christmas caponata [made with celery]. Being very creative she made some sauces (cipollata and mataroccu) from the chapter Come Fare una Bella Figura from Sicilian Seafood Cooking. [link to http://www.fionalouise.com.au]

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Lisa and Alfredo from Bar Idda contributed roasted peppers [link to http://www.baridda.com.au] l Iove to eat at their restaurant!

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The highly capable pastry chef, Marianna DiBartolo, who owns Dolcetti, [link to http://www.dolcetti.com.au] a Sicilian-inspired pastry shop (pasticceria) in North Melbourne, made special fish-shaped biscuits for the occasion, which were perfectly matched with the Zibibbo.

I was really pleased to see the editors of two important publications at the launch: Agi Argyropoulos editor and publisher of Seafood News 

[link to http://www.seafoodnews.com.au] which I contribute a recipe to every month. Agi held the publication so that he could include photos from the launch, which deserves a special thank you, and has given it a whole page in the November edition.

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And Danielle Gullaci from Italianicious, [link to http://www.italianicious.com.au] the bi-monthly magazine which celebrates all things Italian, and which is publishing an article on me in the January-February 2012 issue.

Others I would like to thank for their contribution to the success of the launch, include:

UCG Wholesale Foods at 58 A’Beckett Street Melbourne for the Novara Mineral Water,

The Sicilian travel experts, Echoes Events [link to http://www.echoesevents.com] for the posters of Sicily and a special thank you to the photographers on the day,

David and Rilke Muir, directors and cinematographers for Making of Movies, [link to http://www.makingofmovies.com.au]

Valerie Sparks, [link to http://www.valeriesparks.com.au]  and

Rita Price [link to http://www.weekendnotes.com/profile/125374/]

launch

NEXT EVENT IN MELBOURNE
 
EVENT | Thursday 17 November 2011 at 6:30pm

Marisa Raniolo Wilkins

Readings Hawthorn: 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122
 
Food, wine, book signing
 
*Entry is free but you must book before Monday by phoning: 9819 1917. 
 
ADELAIDE
The Adelaide launch of Sicilian Seafood Cooking is at:
Il Mercato, 625 Lower North East Road, Campbelltown at 3.00pm
on Sunday 20 November.
Il Mercato specialises in Italian food, wine and culture.
If you wish to attend the launch please RSVP to Cynthia at Il Mercato:
CynthiaPorciello@ilmercato.com.au
Sicilian Seafood Cooking will be launched by Rosa Matto [link to http://www.rosamatto.com] – a great friend and a cook I’ve admired and respected for as long as I have known her.
Rosa and I will be introduced at the launch by the newly appointed Minister for Education and Child Development in South Australia, Grace Portolesi MP, the Member for Hartley (which includes Campbelltown).
AND A BIG THANKS TO ALL WHO ATTENDED

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