Gelo Di Melone is pureed watermelon thickened with a little corn flour or rice flour with the addition of some rose water, vanilla and a little sugar. Once made and poured into the mould to set, I add little jewels of colour and flavours on top – chopped dark chocolate, candied citron and roasted pistachio nuts. This is the basic, traditional recipe. Arab influenced? Except for the chocolate, I think so.
But chocolate is also made in Sicily and those who have been to Modica may be familiar with the Antica Dolceria Bonajutowhere chocolate is made using the original methods in the style of the Aztecs and brought by the Spaniards in the 16th century – the Spaniards ruled Sicily at various times and foods from the “New World” (including cocoa beans) were introduced.
Gelo Di Melone is very simple to make, but it takes time to get the flavours right. Why?
The answer is simple. It all depends on the flavour of the melone (watermelon).
The puree is thickened with a little flour and stirred on heat like a custard. This time I used rice flour and I stirred it through a little melon puree to make sure it was not lumpy.
Add a little rosewater, vanilla essence and a little sugar, but then you have to taste it. Is it sweet enough? Does it need more rosewater? Shall I add a little lemon juice to lift the flavour?
Once you have decided that you like the taste, you could then experiment with the recipe. For example I like to add roasted almonds through the thickened mix, a little cinnamon can also be good and if I have run out of citron peel, good quality orange peel does the trick.
On occasions instead of rosewater I have used rose liqueur or violet liqueur. This is strictly not the traditional recipe, but if I am not making it for Sicilians I feel comfortable to experiment. And I have fun doing it.
I prefer to present the Gelo di Melone in little glass bowls, however, it doesn’t look bad in a large bowl and it takes up less room in the fridge.
The black bowl below is made of glass.
Once decorated they taste and look even more stunning.
I think I have fallen in love with rich Jersey milk.
It is so easy to make the curds to make ricotta.
All it takes is full cream milk and some lemon juice. The only other things you’ll need are a slotted spoon and a colander lined with cheese cloth (muslin) to strain the curds.
You may have a ricotta basket handy – if you buy ricotta it is often sold in a plastic basket and you can use it to drain the curds and shape the ricotta.
A slotted spoon will be handy to gently scoop out the curds.
Making ricotta is very simple.
I used 3 litres of milk, two lemons and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Bring the milk almost to a simmer on medium heat, add some salt and wait till little bubbles form close to the edge of the pot before you add the lemon juice; stir it in gently. The milk should separate into clumps of curds, and the whey will be thin and watery. If not enough of the milk has separated, reheat it and add a little bit more lemon juice and once again stir it gently. Once it has separated leave it undisturbed for about 10 minutes; stirring will make the curds dense.
Gently scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon – do not pour – into a large ricotta basket or a colander lined with cheese cloth that you have placed over a bowl to catch the whey.
A culinary specialty and a way of serving ricotta in Sicily (especially in the Ragusa region) is to ladle the curds with the whey into a bowl and to eat it with a spoon and bread.
** See post, A visit to Massaro, link below.
How long you let the curds drain or how firmly you press them down will determine how solid the curds will be. If the curds are too solid you may need some whey to mix back into the curds. But if you think of how many recipes suggest that you drain the ricotta before using it for making cannoli, cassata, frittata, ravioli, baked ricotta, ricotta salata, scacce, having firm ricotta is advantageous.
There are many recipes using ricotta on my blog that can easily be found by using the search button.
Traditionally, ricotta is made by heating the left-over whey from other cheese-making. The curds are worked to make and shape cheeses like mozzarella, trecce, fior di latte, bocconcini, and reheating the whey produces the fine-grained curd that traditionally makes ricotta – ri-cotta, translated as re-cooked/twice cooked. Usually more rich milk is added to the whey to make a full cream ricotta.
The curds can also be formed to make quark, cottage cheese and paneer. When I make paneer I do not add salt to the milk and I drain the curds or press them for longer.
however, the three links below are about making ricotta. The photo above is how ricotta is shaped and sold in Sicily .
The whey has many uses especially for baking. My partner bakes bread, flatbreads and cracker biscuits). I have not yet used whey for marinating meat, but I do braise pork in milk – a Bolognese specialty. The milk separates and forms a caramel when heated slowly at a low temperature for a few hours. I will write a recipe for this in my next post.
Pasta e fave (broad beans) is a spring-time, Italian, rustic dish.
There are many Italian, regional combinations of pasta e fave, some add chicory or wild fennel, or tomatoes. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat made from pork’s cheek (guancia – cheek) and it is also a favourite flavouring. Thick bacon can be substituted, but somehow this is not produce I associate with fresh spring flavours and I always omit it. In keeping with the theme of spring, on this occasion I added a couple of zucchini. Fresh mint leaves can be added at the time of serving the pasta.
Peas are also in season in spring and the same dish can be prepared with peas or a combination of broad beans and peas.
Depending on which part of Italy you favour, you can add Pecorino or Parmigiano, but once again, I prefer to keep the taste “clean” and the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint and freshly ground black pepper is enough for me.
Short to medium sized pasta that is suitable for zuppa or minestra (soup) is used in this dish and the pasta can be presented with the broad beans, served either wet or dry. You can choose whether to obtain a rather dry or slightly brothy dish – I always like it wet, just as I like a wet pasta e fagioli (borlotti beans).
I like to cook my pasta in with the beans, however, the pasta can be cooked separately, drained and then added to the beans. If this is your preferred method, cook the broad beans for 20-30 minutes, until soft, cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and dress the pasta with the broad beans and the broth.
1.5 kg fresh broad beans
2 spring onions
1 or 2 fresh garlic cloves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and to taste pepper to taste
2 zucchini (optional)
1 litre or more of chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
short pasta, a couple of handfuls or more, depending on how much pasta you prefer
your best and fruitiest, extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
Heat extra virgin olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic.
Add the shelled beans, zucchini and parsley and sauté briefly. Add broth, season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure that the liquid is boiling before adding the pasta. Add more hot broth or water if needed.
When the pasta is , turn off the heat and serve, but remember to drizzle your best extra virgin olive oil on top….it will be very fragrant!
Add more black pepper and/or fresh mint leaves when serving.
This week, Richard Cornish’s regular column is about artichokes. (September 21, Brain Food in The Age). His commentary has certainly provided me with an excess amount of food for thought – artichokes are one of my very favourite vegetables and I have written many recipes for artichokes on my blog.
I have included some recipes in this post and more can be found on my blog. In Italian artichokes are called carciofi, in Sicilian they are cacocciuli. As Richard says, artichokes are thought to have originated from Sicily, and therefore Sicilians have had plenty of time to appreciate their versatility and have come up with some excellent recipes for artichokes cooked in many interesting ways.
This is not to say that the other regions of Italy don’t have their own local recipes for artichokes, but Sicilians seem to have the lot.
Artichokes in Italy are eaten as appetizers, contorni (sides), first and second courses, and stand-alone dishes. Artichokes can be stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, fried whole or sliced, and crumbed before being fried, sautéed, boiled, baked, braised and stewed, roasted in ashes, used in frittate (plural of frittata), pasta and risotti (plural of risotto).
When they are young, they are sliced thinly and eaten raw in salads. They are canned commercially and, at the end of plant’s life, the last of the artichokes that will never mature but will stay small and underdeveloped, are conserved, mostly in olive oil. When they are old, they are stripped of all the leaves and the bases are eaten.
In his Brain Food column about artichokes Richard says that artichokes contain a compound called cynarin which inhibits your tongue’s ability to detect sweetness. You don’t notice it until you have a bite or a drink of something else: the cynarin gets washed off the tongue, and suddenly, your brain tells you that what you have in your mouth is sweet, even when it is not!
Hence Cynar, one of the many Italian bitter alcoholic drinks (of the amaro variety) and made predominantly with artichokes. Cynar is classed as a digestive and it is said to have stomach-soothing qualities and cleansing and restorative properties for the liver. It can be drunk as an apéritif or after dinner drink.
Richard mentions how Richard Purdue, executive chef at Margaret in Sydney’s Double Bay, beams when the word artichoke is mentioned. ‘‘One of my favourite dishes is one I picked up in Sicily, where the artichokes are cooked in a kind of caponata – tomatoes, celery, pine nuts, currants, red wine and sugar.’’ So to finish off here is a recipe adapted from my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking for a caponata made with artichokes.
The recipe in my book suggests using 9 -10 artichokes and I intended the amount to be for 6 -8 people. Caponata di Carciofi (Artichoke Caponata) can only be made with young artichokes. It is also worth noting that you will need to remove the outer leaves and only use the tender centre, therefore reducing the amount of artichokes significantly.
CAPUNATA DI CARCIOFFULI – Caponata Di Carciofi (Artichoke caponata)
I sauté each of the vegetable ingredients separately as is the traditional method of making caponata (as in a well-made, French dish Ratatouille). Frying the vegetables together does save time, but the colours and the flavours will not be as distinct. However, I have provided this method as a variation (see bottom of this recipe). Remove the outer, tougher leaves of the artichokes by bending them back and snapping them off the base until you come to the softer, paler leaves.
Prepare artichokes for sautéing. The artichokes need to be sliced thinly and vertically into bite size pieces. Keep them in acidulated water as you work. The cleaned stalk is one of my favourite parts of the artichoke and will add flavour to the caponata. Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery) and leave the stem attached to the artichoke. This will expose the light-coloured, centre portion, which is very flavourful and tender and much appreciated by Italians.
Drain the artichokes from the acidulated water and squeeze dry (I use a clean tea towel).
Select a large, shallow, saucepan to sauté the artichokes. They should not be crowded and if you do not have a large enough pan, sauté them in batches – you want to create as little liquid as possible.
Place some of the extra virgin olive oil in the pan and sauté the artichokes on low heat until they are tender. This may take up to 10 minutes or more depending on the freshness and age of the artichokes (add a little water or white wine if the ingredients are drying out).
Remove the artichokes and set aside.
Add a little more, extra virgin olive oil to the pan (and/or you may be able to drain some from the sautéed artichokes) and sauté the other vegetables in the same pan, separately. Proceed as follows:
Sauté the onion until it begins to colour, remove from the pan and add to the artichokes.
Add a little more extra virgin olive oil and sauté the celery.
Add the olives, capers, salt and tomatoes to the celery. Simmer gently for about 5-7 minutes. Add a little water if needed (this mixture should have the consistency of a thick sauce.)
Remove the mixture from the pan and add it to the sautéed artichokes and onions.
To make the agro dolce (sweet sour) sauce:
Add the sugar to the pan and caramelise the sugar by stirring it until it melts and begins to turn a honey colour.
Add the vinegar and swirl it around to collect the flavours of the sautéed vegetables and evaporate it (2-3 minutes).
Place all of the sautéed vegetables and artichokes into the pan with the agro dolce sauce and gently toss the ingredients, as you would do a salad.
Simmer on very gentle heat to amalgamate the flavours for about 3-5 minutes.
Placecaponata into a sealed container or jar and store in the fridge. Leave it to stand at least a day but preferably longer.
Now, for the easier version:
To make caponata, where the ingredients are not fried separately, proceed as follows:
Prepare and sauté the artichokes as in the proceeding recipe.
Add a little more extra virgin olive oil and heat it. Add the onion and the celery and sauté until they begin to colour.
Add the olives, capers, sugar, salt, vinegar and tomatoes. Cover and simmer gently until tender (5-10 minutes or more depending on the freshness and age of the artichokes).
As usual, I look forward to reading Richard Cornish’s regular column Brain Food in The Age on Tuesdays and today he is writing about Kohlrabi (September 7, 2021).
Just as listening to music has the power to bring up memories, reading about produce brings up memories of recipes for me.
When Richard chose to write about Sardines in his weekly column (August 24, 2021) I wrote about PASTA CON SARDE, an iconic Sicilian dish more common in Palermo then elsewhere, but now cooked in different regions of the island with local variations.
Below are recipes from my blog that use Kohlrabi quite differently to the chefs that Richard mentions in Brain Food including David Moyle, the creative director of Harvest Newrybar near Byron Bay, and Rosalin Virnik from Anchor Restaurant in Melbourne’s Elwood.
Here’s my bit about Kohlrabi and a couple of recipes below.
Just to be perverse, Kohlrabi are called cavoli in Sicily and in Italian it is cavolo rapa.
In Italian cavoli are cauliflowers, cavolo verza is a cabbage.
Just to confuse things even further, Sicilians call cauliflowers broccoli.
As well as the purple coloured Kohlrabi roots there are light green ones; the root is always sold complete with the leaves and the whole plant is eaten.
One way Kohlrabi is eaten in Ragusa (Sicily) where my father’s family is from, is boiled as a vegetable side dish with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, but the preferred way is to cook it with pasta, as a wet pasta dish.
The recipe for this pasta dish is from my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking (now out of print).
In the Sicilian language the recipe is called : Pasta chi brocculi arriminata. In Italian = Pasta rimestata coi cavolfiori.
Rimestata, seems like a fancy word, but it just means stirred.
In English, I have described this as Pasta with cauliflower, sultanas, pine nuts and anchovies.
In Italian the word for cauliflower is cavolfiore. Just to be different, the Sicilian name for cauliflower is brocculi.
In Sicily coloured cauliflowers are the most common (unfortunately most of the colour fades when they are cooked). As well as the familiar white or cheddar (pale yellow) varieties, there are beautiful purple ones (cavolofiore viola in Italian) that range in colour from pink through violet to dark purple. A friend in Australia is growing a variety called purple cape cauliflower and one that is light green and pink called cavolfiore romanesco precoce.
There are also the bright, pale green ones and a sculpted, pointy pale green variety called Roman cauliflower; I have seen these in Rome and throughout Tuscany.
Every time I cook this pasta dish, there is great applause from guests.
Over time recipes evolve and each time I make it I may vary it slightly, mainly by increasing the amounts of some of the ingredients, for example: I tend to use more bayleaves (or rosemary), pine nuts, anchovies (for people who like them and remove them for those who do not).
I also like to add some fresh fennel (at the same time as I place the cauliflower into the pan) and a little stock and white wine.
I present the pasta with both pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs. Sometimes I add cubes of feta or ricotta whipped with a little pepper. Feta is Greek, but I like it as it adds creaminess to the dish.
The ingredients and the method of cooking the pasta with cauliflower below is how the recipe appears in the book. The recommended amount of pasta is 100g per person. In our household this is far too much and 500g of pasta is OK as first course for 6-8 people. As with all recipes I hope that you vary it to suit your tastes.
500g dry, short pasta
2 tablespoons sultanas or currants
1 medium cauliflower
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4–5 anchovies, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small teaspoon saffron soaked in a little warm water
grated pecorino or toasted breadcrumbs
salt and crushed dried chillies to taste
Soak the sultanas or currants in a cup of warm water. To prepare the cauliflower, remove the outer green leaves and break the cauliflower into small florets.
In a frying pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, saute the chopped onion in the olive oil. Add the anchovies and let them melt in the oil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the cauliflower florets, bay leaves and the fennel seeds. Stir gently over the heat to colour and coat the vegetable with oil.
Add the pine nuts, the saffron (and water) and the sultanas or currants with the soaking water, salt and crushed chillies.
At this stage I add a splash of white wine and a little stock). Cover, and allow to cook gently for about 20 minutes, until the florets are soft.
Cook the pasta. Drain and toss with the cauliflower sauce. Coat the pasta evenly and allow to absorb the flavours for about 5 minutes. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs or grated pecorino cheese.
The breadcrumbs add texture and flavour. Over time, instead of tossing coarse breadcrumbs, (100 grams made with day old, quality bread – sourdough/pasta dura) lightly fried in some oil, I also add grated lemon peel, a little cinnamon and sugar to the breadcrumbs while they are being toasted.
I cooked rabbit in a chocolate sauce and somehow, it seemed appropriate for Easter. Easter has passed, but rabbit or hare cooked with chocolate can be enjoyed at anytime.
Religious Easter celebrations in Sicily go back to pagan times – the continuation of ancient rites and traditions.
Easter in Sicily is also a celebration of spring, a time for revival and new beginnings, casting away winter with particular attention to spring produce. Therefore I was not surprised when one of my favourite cousins who lives in Ragusa in Sicily told me that during the Easter lunch they ate: … le classiche impanate di agnello, le scacce, la frittata di carciofo e il risotto agli asparagi.
And, as he also told me: tutto molto buono – it was all good. For those of you who do not understand menu Italian, these particular Sicilian relatives ate two traditional Easter specialties from Ragusa – the lamb impanate and scacce, accompanied by an artichoke frittata and an asparagus risotto … the produce is a celebration of spring.
The impanate are focaccia like pies stuffed with lamb – spring lamb of course.
The scacce are pastries made with a variety of fillings. The pastry is folded like in a concertina over the filling and my favourite are those that contain sheep’s milk ricotta: the milk is at its best in spring, after the rich winter pastures.
But probably, my favourite would have been the frittata made with young artichokes. In Australia it is often difficult to purchase young artichokes unless you grow them yourself. Sometimes young spring asparagus (also wild asparagus) is cooked as a frittata, but on this occasion the asparagus went into a risotto.
He did not mention the sweets, but there would have been cassatedde half-moon shaped pockets of pastry stuffed with ricotta and/or cassata or cannoli, all made with sheep’s milk ricotta.
I know many of you may disagree, but for me traditional hot cross buns do not appear to be as appetising as what my Sicilians relatives ate for Easter (see below for the full descriptions and recipes).
Rabbit with Chocolate sauce
Rabbit with chocolate sauce is a Sicilian recipe, probably introduced by the Spaniards who ruled Sicily from 1282 to 1516: the Aragonese and from 1516 – 1713: the Spanish Habsburgs.
Rabbit in chocolate sauce is not traditionally cooked at Easter but in Australia it seemed appropriate.
You begin with a rabbit(s).
As you can see, the rabbits have been cut into sections – legs and backs. I kept the front legs for another time.
The rabbit pieces have been in a marinade that is mainly a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, chopped celery leaves, some fennel seeds, a few cloves, fresh bay leaves (I like bay) and 1 small chopped onion. In the past on some occasions I have also added cinnamon bark. I left the meat in the marinade for about 3 hours, however overnight is OK too and judging by the time the rabbits took to cook they could have done with a longer time in the marinade.
You will also need more carrots and onions and celery to add to the rabbit when you cook it.
During cooking, you will also add good quality dark chocolate, pine nuts, currants, stock, wine, a little sugar and some vinegar. The rabbit is cooked the same way as if cooked in a sour and sweet sauce but with chocolate to enrich the sauce.
The rabbit needs browning … drain the meat from the marinade and leave as much as the solids behind … don’t crowd the pan.
The rabbit browned quite quickly.
Remove the pieces of rabbit from the pan.
Have ready some chopped celery , carrots and onions.
Next, make a soffritto – the aromatic base composed of sautéed carrots, celery, and onion that forms the foundation to many Italian dishes. Sauté the vegetables in some more oil.
Remove the vegetables, add about a dessert spoon of sugar to the frypan and wait for it to melt.
Traditionally only vinegar is added to the sweet and sour rabbit dish, but I also like to add wine; for my quantity of rabbit, I added about a half a cup of white wine and about a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and I also added about a half a cup of red wine that somehow seemed more appropriate with the brown colouring of the dish.
Return all of the meat and vegetables to the pan. Add currants and pine nuts, broth/stock to cover, salt and some chocolate. I added half a block and the rest of the chocolate at the very end to enrich the sauce. Taste it, and depending on how much you like the taste of chocolate, add more if you wish.
Cover and cook it slowly till the rabbit is cooked. If it is a farmed rabbit it will take as long as cooking chicken, mine was wild rabbit and it took about three hours of slow cooking.
i served it with sweet and sour pumpkin (fegato di sette cannolli) and pears quickly fried in a little oil and butter.
I have written about making cassata many times and rewriting the recipe is not necessary so I will provide links at the bottom of this post.
I did take a few photos. The photos and a few notes tell the story.
Make or buy a sponge cake.
Slice the sponge and line the mould with the sponge cake. It helps to line the mould with some foil to ensure that the cassata can be inverted easily. You may also like to use a little apricot jam to stick the different parts of the sponge together. I did not have any apricot jam and I used marmalade… not too much, it should not taste bitter. Honey could be OK too.
Tub ricotta is not very good, both in taste and texture. Buy full cream ricotta from a good deli.
Beat the ricotta with some cream, castor sugar and good vanilla essence. The amount of cream you use will depend on the creaminess of your ricotta. I do not like my cassata sweet and may not add as much castor sugar as someone else would. Taste the mixture and see if it tastes to your liking, then add chopped pistachio nuts, citrus peel including some cedro.
Next some cinnamon powder and some chopped dark chocolate. Fold through.
Dampen the sponge cake with some liqueur, some use marsala, I like an orange based liqueur and mostly use Cointreau, but do not make it soggy. Most cooks dilute the liqueur with sugar and water. I do not – give me the full taste anytime.
Fill the ricotta cream into the mould lined with sponge cake.
Put a slice of the sponge cake on top as a lid. Dampen it with liqueur, cover it with foil and put a weight on top. Keep it in the fridge till ready to decorate. I like to make the cassata the day before I decorate it and eat it.
Marzipan. Make it the day before and keep it wrapped in foil or baking paper or whatever you use :
As you can see I use much more almond meal than icing sugar. Mix it with a little water and a little vanilla and knead it to bring it together. Like when baking dough, add more almond meal or icing sugar to make it the correct consistency.
Most cassate are coated with ‘glassa’ made of sugar and water. I find this sickly sweet and prefer the old fashion marzipan. Traditionally the more commonly decorated cassate include a pale green colour. This may have been because the green may have been made with pistachio meal and the white with almond meal. Some people do not like eating marzipan so do not be surprised if you find some guests struggling to eat it.
I made two lots. of marzipan. The green vegetable dye was far too intense., but i was not going to throw the ingredients away. next time i shall use a dropper.
Roll the marzipan out… rolling it between two pieces of greaseproof paper may help.
Ready to decorate.
I really enjoyed this part, however the way I decorated my cassata may not be like the cassate you are likely to see in Sicily. Most people buy cassate from pastry shops, they leave it to the experts. This is also the case for cannoli.
My cassata over all is definitely less sweet. I used every bit of the marzipan. I used toothpicks to keep the flowers in place.
Sicilian cassata coated with a shiny ‘glassa’ is the most common cassata. Usually glace fruit is used to decorate the top.
Ornate cassate: in noteworthy pasticcerie.
I decorate cassate as the mood takes me. Thesa are some cassate I have made in the past:
Quite a bit of cooking went on over the Christmas and the New Year period and there was no time to write about it. Most of the time I do not even manage to take photos, however for this dish, I did.
This is a slow cooked goat with mushrooms. The Sicilian bit in this dish is that the goat pieces were marinated in Marsala Fine (semi dry) and cooked with Marsala too. Most recipes eventuating from the rest of Italy would use wine – red and perhaps white.
I used the goat ragout to dress egg pappardelle.
I hope the photos tell the story.
I bought a leg and a shoulder of capretto… the italian word for kid and the etto at the end of the word makes it diminutive…however, judging by the size of it, it was a capra…a goat.
There were seven of us for lunch and I also bought a kilo of mushrooms.
Below is the photo of the marinade:
Marsala Fine, extra virgin olive oil, herbs – bay, cloves, rosemary –
these herbs are used in sicilian cooking but I also used nepitella and sage – herbs that are more common in the north and central Italy.
I cut most of the meat off the bone but kept the bones in with the meat to marinade overnight.
Drain the meat and bones and sauté the meat in some extra virgin olive oil in small batches.
Place the sautéed meat aside and finish sautéeing all the meat and the bones.
Prepare the sofritto – white onion, carrot and celery, chopped pretty small.
Use the same pan.
Sauté the onion first in some extra virgin oil, then add the carrots and celery and sauté some more.
Add the meat and bones.
Add the marinade, the herbs (and some new ones too).
Add salt and pepper and some good meat stock and more Marsala.
Cover and cook on slow heat. Check level of moisture regularly and if needed add more stock. I cooked mine for just below four hours. Remove the bones….they should be clean.
Add sliced mushrooms, cover and cook for 20 – 30 minutes more.
Dress the cooked pasta with the ragout.
Present the pappardelle with grated pecorino and fresh mint leaves.
Corrado, one of my relatives in Ragusa (in the south eastern corner of Sicily) has sent me a link to watch Storie e luoghi di un Parco (Stories and places of a Park) on Vimeo. It’s a documentary by Vincenzo Cascone.
I sat for over an hour mesmerized, and although not all of you will understand the Italian dialogue, the visuals are sufficient to get the gist of what is being presented.
The soundtrack is also evocative.
Storie e luoghi di un Parco is striking and very comprehensive documentary mainly about the preservation and restoration of biodiversity in a nature reserve to be established in south eastern Sicily.
The park is referred to as the Parco Nazionale Degli Iblei. The Hyblaean Mountains (Italian: Monti Iblei) is a mountain range in south-eastern Sicily, Italy. It straddles the provinces of Ragusa, Syracuse and Catania.
I need to tell you that it is over an hour long, but you can fast forward bits, perhaps the speaking parts , especially if you do not understand Italian.
Establishing and maintaining wildlife reserves and giving nature the space and protection it needs is an obvious solution to preserving biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. For each nature reserve, there are legislated rules, regulations and penalties established to restrict the types and amount of human activities or mismanagement by the community so as protect the habitats, fauna, flora and the geology of the natural area.
This documentary is made even more compelling by the representation of a group of diverse professions supporting and involved in the implementation of this project. The interviews with this group of specialists provide insights and observations on the archaeological, natural, scientific, cultural, historical and aesthetic features of this region of Sicily. These individuals are continuing to conduct studies and research that aim to restore a healthy biodiversity and promote better understanding of our natural heritage.
The team of professional scientists that are exploring this ecosystem explain how biodiversity can only have occurred over millions of years of evolution and by the different cultural groups who settled in this part of Sicily.
Biodiversity and ecosystems that are undamaged, healthy and finely balanced, contribute to a healthy, sustainable planet.
We all have a responsibility to revitalize our planet and it is up to all of us to prevent widespread ecological damage.
Now for the disappointing bit.
After having given the project a glowing report I decided to do some research. Unfortunately, this worthy project is at a standstill. After all of the support from many noteworthy people and local residents in this area of Sicily, Sicilian bureaucracy has stalled the project.
I do hope there will be sufficient support to make it happen.
Storie e luoghi di un Parco (Stories and places of a Park).