NORTHERN ITALY, rye and buckwheat pasta and PIZZOCCHERI, REVISITED

I first wrote this post many years ago. It has a recipe for making buckwheat and rye pasta. Buckwheat spiralli are commercially available and are obviously a very easy choice. The post also contains information about some of the mountainous regions of northern Italy.
Potatoes cabbage and buckwheat pasta when cooked by themselves are not particularly flavourful. The distinctive flavour of this dish is enhanced by butter, garlic and sage and the alpine cheeses that the region is renowned for producing such as Bitto and Valtellina Casera (DOP cheeses – Protected Designation of Origin). Alternatively use Fontina or Gruyère, Emmental, Edam, or Gouda.
### Tap the link above for recipe
 

The Queen Victoria Market

There are many who read my posts. Apart from Victoria, there are others from different Australian states, Italy and Europe, and many from the US.

But I am not writing recipes this time.

I live in an apartment overlooking the Queen Victoria Market. This time, I want to tell you about the birds that come to my balcony to drink, and how Melbourne City Council are going to fell the trees where these birds nest. The reason is to make way for a development consisting of three block towers in the southern end of the open air car park in the Queen Victoria Market.

I have considered myself to be very lucky to live at the end of Queen Street in the centre of the city of Melbourne, and I have a roundabout in front of my apartment block plus twenty mature trees. This oasis and roundabout once had a sculpture on it that was especially designed and constructed within that green space to compliment the sculpture and provide a compelling entrance to welcome shoppers to the Queen Victoria Market. The market is one of the reason I chose to live here. In Adelaide I also had an apartment very close to the Adelaide market. In Trieste (Italy) where I lived as a child my family of three also lived close to the central market. When I travel, markets are always on my agenda.

Markets and fresh produce are very important to me. And so is greenery.

The roundabout with its specially commissioned art work by Lisa Young was erected over twenty years ago, and the variety of native trees were chosen in collaboration with a landscape gardener of Young’s choice. The trees are Casuarinas and two tall Eucalyptus trees. These trees, especially the Eucalyptus trees house a variety of birds that visit my balcony to drink from the water bowl that I provide. The Casuarinas house smaller birds that only occasionally are seen on my balcony. This one below liked my olive tree. They don’t often visit, but I hear them chirping.

The sculpture unfortunately was removed a couple of years ago, but the trees have remained. Until now.

Because the roundabout with its mature trees has contributed to this part of Queen Street being greener, the bird life has returned.  There are roadworks all around my apartment building and partly because of the hot days we have experienced recently and probably in the future, the water bowl I provide for the birds on my balcony and the security has been a haven for the birds.

The Wattle birds have visited my balcony for a number of years. The visiting couple nest as solitary pairs, alone during their breeding season, later in pairs and because breeding conditions must be favourable, they are brooding twice per year. They then visit as family groups of three. I have watched them dip into the water bowl, then preening and flapping their wings before they fly back to settle on the Eucalyptus trees.

The Lorikeets are the most numerous visitors and were the second set of guests after the Wattle birds; I have read that Lorikeets have reappeared in Melbourne CBD after decades of absence.

Interestingly, after some disputes to settle pecking orders the birds seem willing to share the bowl of water except when the Lorikeets bring their young; these rainbow- plumed parrots constantly chatter and perform acrobatic feats and dives into the water bowl keeping me entertained.

The spotted doves and the feral pigeons don’t seem to care about what other birds are drinking, and vice versa. They do a lot of cooing and pacing on the edge of the balcony and, when there is a space around the water bowl, they drink. They are simply ignored by everyone.

The Currawongs are the most majestic, and like the other varieties that visit they too like a dip in the water bowl, except that the bowl is not large enough and they take it in turns to stand in the water that only reaches to the top of their legs. It is very amusing. They make their melodic calls from the surrounding trees. They prefer to come when the sun is beginning to set.

The silent Crows also visit in twos, but not as regularly. Just like when the Currawongs visit, these larger birds have the bath and the balcony to themselves. Their presence is ominous.

Native noisy Miners and Indian Mynas come too, and there is no fighting with each other or with the other species. But how is this so? Aren’t Miners and Mynas supposed to be aggressive?

The black and white Peewees (Magpie-larks) with their distinctive, piping calls are the most recent arrivals to come. Their breeding season is from August to January and I am watching one family unit feeding their fledgling and teaching it to drink and dunk.

There is a grim reason for this accounting of city birdlife. The Queen Street roundabout and the trees that have grown there are to be destroyed within days. My neighbours have everything possible, but all strategies have been unsuccessful.

The trees and roundabout are collateral damage in Melbourne City council’s plan to redevelop the Queen Victoria Market through a land sale to the developer – Lendlease.

The roundabout which has managed the relatively smooth flow of traffic through and around the market will make way for a complicated intersection controlled by traffic lights. Is this a suitable replacement as an entry to our iconic market?

What’s more, as part of its urban forest strategy Melbourne City Council is planning to remove the Plane trees that continue along Queen Street and that border the existing open-air carpark. Within next ten years street trees in the rest of the CBD will reach the end of their useful lives and council is progressively replacing trees (including Plane trees) with new tree species that are more appropriate to the changing climate planted in public land across the Municipality. Removing old trees that are not suitable to our conditions and planting new trees is a positive strategy, but we have left it too long to begin to replace our older trees.

Trees take years to mature. The trees that are to be felled on the roundabout have taken more than twenty years to be old enough to support insects and birds of different species. One of the large Eucalypt trees is a flowering gum and the migratory bats come and feast on the blossoms during the flowering season.

Mature trees provide fantastic canopies and significant environmental benefits in terms of shade, cooling and biodiversity. Melbourne City has a target to reach a 40% green canopy cover by 2040.

How can we achieve this? Why are these trees on the roundabout been removed?

If the roundabout is to go, I will certainly miss it.

I ask myself why can’t Melbourne City Council find ways to save at least some of these trees, especially the two Eucalyptus trees and leave them as part of a nature strip that is within keeping with the rest of Queen Street that leads into the Queen Victoria Market? Too difficult? Don’t care?

Trees and birds need us as friends in difficult times.

Please save the trees, and by doing so, save the birds and the insects.

And how does the sale of the land by Melbourne City Council for a development benefit the Queen Victoria Market?

A RAVE ABOUT BORLOTTI BEANS

As much as I am enjoying the range of winter leafy greens (see previous post Seasonal Winter Vegetables in Melbourne Australia), I am also enjoying pulses, and at this time of year pulses seem very appropriate.

There are many types of beans that I cook, including Black, Kidney, Lima, Black-eyed, Broad/Fava, Azuki and Navy beans (also known as Haricot), but perhaps because I come from an Italian background the beans I use more often than others, are Cannellini and Borlotti.

In this post I have chosen to celebrate the versatility of Borlotti beans, both fresh and dried. It is a long rave.

When I say versatility, I am not just upholding their usage in soups and salads with many variations to the combination of ingredients, but I am endorsing their irrefutable contribution in the nutritional value and flavour to many vegetable, meat and fish dishes.

I cannot think of any vegetable that I have not combined with Borlotti.

Significant are the vegetables used in an Italian soffritto – a mix of finely chopped carrot, celery, and onion, sautéed in olive oil (or butter or other fats or a combination). Those ingredients are the basis for most sauces, soups, braises and stews in any Italian kitchen. Soffrigere (verb) means to slowly fry or sauté. Soffritto is the product/the sautéed end result.

I particularly like combining Borlotti with bitter, leafy vegetables. Probably the most bitter are radicchio, endives, chicory, but mustard greens like kale, cime di rapa/turnip greens, kohlrabi and to a lesser extent – broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, all types of cabbage, radish, swede and turnips.

Thyme, bay, sage, marjoram, rosemary, fennel and parsley are my favourite herbs. But I also often use chilli or pepper, and at the other end spectrum nutmeg, a spice that brings out the sweetness of Borlotti. Of course, in Italian cuisine there is also garlic.

Bean soups can be thin or thick. Pasta of all shapes and sizes including broken spaghetti are commonly added to bean soups.  There are many regional variations to Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) but overall it is a relatively thick composition, a wet pasta dish in many localities.

 

Rice, Orzo (Barley) Farro (an ancient variety of wheat related to spelt) and even polenta are also common, but probably less common than pasta. Barley, Borlotti and sauerkraut are the ingredients in the soup in the photo above. Chestnuts taste quite farinaceous and while pairing them with beans may sound like an odd combination, but they are added togetther in some Italian regional soup recipes. They are popular in the regions of Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Liguria, Emilia Romagna and Toscana. Of course, the beans can also be mashed. Bean soups are considered to be nourishing and even brothy bean soups are usually presented with crostini or thick slices of good bread.

A drizzle of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil at the time of serving is a must. The perfume of the oil hitting the hot soup  does wonders for my appetite!

And not all soups nees to be presented with grated cheese. One of the things I like to do as a dressing for some soups once they are cooked, is to sauté crushed or chopped garlic and  finely cut parsley (sometimes I include fresh rosemary leaves) in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and pour it over the soup just before serving. This, too, stimulates the olfactory organs.

I must mention Borlotti and its association with pork – fresh meat or smoked – for example hocks, pancetta, lardo, salame, sausages, rind and ribs.

I will definitely not omit to mention, JOTA/IOTA an emblematic dish soup from Trieste,  a city in Friuli Venezia Giulia, north-eastwards from the Veneto region. It is the city of my childhood. Jota is a thick, hearty soup of sauerkraut, Borlotti Beans, potato and smoked pork. Pretty Marvellous!

Below is a pasta sauce I made with minced duck, mushrooms and Borlotti. I cooked the sauce like a Bolognese but used minced duck instead of pork and beef. I also added nutmeg as is common in a Bolognese. And I presented the pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.

Borlotti combined with fresh pork sausages make flavoursome pasta sauces either cooked with or without tomatoes (or passata, paste).

One of my favourite ways of eating polenta is with a generous topping of fresh sausages cooked as a sugo made with tomatoes/passata. Cooked Borlotti beans are added to the sugo towards the end of cooking;  these impart extra depth to the flavours of this dish and certainly make it more homely.  A topping of grated Parmigiano on top of this dish is a must.

Anchovies are excellent in salads and braises that contain Borlotti.

Try a salad of Borlotti, roasted peppers, anchovies and a strong-tasting bitter green, like radicchio, chicory, endives or puntarella dressed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, wine vinegar or lemon juice, seasoning and a little garlic. The anchovies can be mashed into the dressing.

The season for fresh Borlotti in the Southern States in Australia is late summer. The season is not very long so if you see them buy them. I was recently in a very good vegetable shop called Toscano in Kew (a suburb of Melbourne) and saw fresh Borlotti. In the Victoria Market, at the stall called the Fruttivendolo you will also find fresh Borlotti but if you are concerned about food miles ask where they are grown. It is winter in Melbourne. Both of these greengrocers sell fresh Borlotti in season but the ones sold in Melbourne now are from Queensland.

Below is a photo of fresh Borlotti in Bologna. The word scozzezi on the sign adveertises them as being Scottish. I guess that when we think about food miles, Queensland is about as far from Melbourne, as Scotland is from Bologna.

Fresh borlotti beans can be enclosed in pink, purple or white speckled pods; either way the beans are the same attractive colour and look as if they have been coated with wax. They are shiny and bursting with flavour.

It is preferable to shell the fresh beans soon after purchase. The skins of the fresh beans harden if they are exposed in the air for too long. While fresh beans may be difficult to obtain, the dried beans are much easier to find, as are canned beans, and if you are lucky, you can buy them packed in a jar.

Borlotti beans are also called Cranberry beans, especially in North America. Their attractive colouring sets them apart from other beans, but once cooked, they fade to a light – mid brown colour. Pinto beans are similar to Borlotti in colour, but have more brown specks and are not as vibrantly coloured.

Dried beans are simple to cook; I leave them to soak overnight before cooking.

I usually cook beans (all types) in 1kg quantities and keep them in sealed containers covered with their broth/cooking juice (I like to use sealed glass jars). I keep some jars in the fridge to use during the week and some jars in the freezer. The beans in jars also come in very handy on our many camping trips.

This Pasta e Fagioli was made by two of my Sicilian aunts in Ragusa, south eastern Sicily.  It consists of cooked, fresh Borlotti and homemade, finger-rolled pasta (called causineddi/cavatelli).

As you can see by the consistency of this dish, it cannot be classed as a soup. This combination of fresh Borlotti and pasta is a late summer, Sicilian favourite.

 

1 kg of fresh borlotti beans (will give about 300 g when shelled)
1 stick of celery
1 red tomato
1 onion
1 carrot
200 g of pasta or more

Being summer use basil in the broth and just before serving.

In a saucepan, preferably earthenware, put the beans, the finely chopped onion, the tomato, celery and carrot cut into very small pieces. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Put the lid on and simmer on low heat for about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper or some chilli flakes – this is the soup part. Add more water if necessary (or stock) and bring to the boil before adding some pasta.  As soon as the pasta is cooked pour a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil on top.

Links:

PASTA E FAGIOLI (Thick bean soup with pasta)

Pork Hock, Polish Wedding Sausage, Borlotti and Sauerkraut =IOTA (a lean version)

IOTA FROM TRIESTE, Italy, made with smoked pork, sauerkraut, borlotti beans 

MINESTRA from Trieste; borlotti, pearl barley, Sauerkraut

Polenta and its magic

BIGOLI NOBILI (Bigoli pasta with red radicchio, borlotti and pork sausages)

RADICCHIO, TUNA AND BORLOTTI SALAD and BRAISED FENNEL WITH TAPENADE

SEASONAL WINTER VEGETABLES in Melbourne, Australia

CICORIA and Puntarelle (Chicory)

WAYS TO COOK RABBIT – with chocolate sauce

 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.

For a more complete recipe see:

RABBIT, CHICKEN, Easter recipes

Sicilian Pumpkin with vinegar, mint, sugar and cinnamon
RABBIT AND HARE:

HARE OR RABBIT COOKED IN CHOCOLATE. LEPRE O CONIGLIO AL CIOCCOLATO (‘NCICULATTATU IS THE SICILIAN TERM USED)

RABBIT with cloves, cinnamon and red wine (CONIGLIO DA LICODIA EUBEA)

ONE WAY TO COOK RABBIT LIKE A SICILIAN

CONIGLIO A PARTUISA (Braised rabbit as cooked in Ragusa)

PAPPARDELLE (PASTA WITH HARE OR GAME RAGÙ)

LEPRE ALLA PIEMONTESE (HARE – SLOW BRAISE PIEDMONTESE STYLE

EASTER SPECIALTIES IN RAGUSA

SCACCE and PIZZA and SICILIAN EASTER

‘MPANATA (A lamb pie, Easter treat)

I  have relatives  in Sicily but  my parents and I lived in Trieste in Northern Italy. Just for interest, here are  the traditional  Easter sweets of Trieste:
Traditional Easter Sweets in Trieste in Friuli Venezia Giulia

PICNIC FOOD – Potato salad with smoked fish, asparagus and green beans

Coronavirus Restrictions have eased in Melbourne recently and with it comes the freedom to see friends by having picnics. It sure beats Zoom.

Easy and transportable food include smallgoods, smoked fish, cheeses , good bread, and as always vegetables –  made with  raw or cooked vegetables.I have made the occasional frittata, either with  zucchini or asparagus (in season ) and asparagus with homemade mayonnaise or sautéed with capers. Dips and spreads are also convenient – beetroot is always a favourite. All easy stuff!

What is good about picnics is that the  friends also bring food and a simple picnic turns into a feast. There have been hot quiches and Spanakopita, Pâtés and fresh fruit.

THis is a version of a salad  I used to make many years ago when I lived in Adelaide with  laschinken a dry-cured, cold-smoked pork loin. The butchers in the Barossa Valley where many of the settlers  were German or of German origin. I was also able to purchase it at the Adelaide Market. It is interesting how foods made in the long distant past resurface.

The following is a simple salad I made with smoked fish –  hot smoked, cold smoked, gravlax or fresh cooked fish.

Below, in the photo , you see the ingredients: salad greens (I used endives), cooked green beans and asparagus,  chunks of smoked fish, potatoes, spring onions, homemade mayonnaise, capers and herbs – I used parsley, tarragon and some of the light green tops of celery.

Slice the potatoes, the spring onions and chop the herbs.

Line the salad bowl or container with the green leaves and place the sliced potatoes on top.

Begin by distributing the herbs and spring onions and capers throughout the potato layer(s).

Insert the green beans and asparagus in between the potatoes and on top.  Lightly salt the ingredients (if you wish) and remembering that the mayonnaise and smoked fish both contain salt.

This is what I carried to the picnic. I took the mayonnaise and and the chunks of smoked fish separately .

Dress with the mayonnaise and place the chunks of fish on top when  ready to eat it.

There are many types of fish  that have been smoked and you do not have to use Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout.  The most commercially available smoked fish in Australia is from Tasmania and I am not a great fan of fish farmed in sea cages.  Imported farmed Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout is available in Australia. For more information on imported product, look for country of origin labelled on the packaging and refer to seafood guides produced in that country.

Rainbow trout is caught in rivers, dams and lakes (land based) and is sustainable.

For other recipes:

Frittata:

ALL ABOUT MAKING FRITTATA and Podcast with Maria Liberati

FRITTATA: SAUSAGE and RICOTTA

ASPARAGI DI BOSCO and FRITTATINA (Wild Asparagus continued, and Frittata)

I

With Mayonnaise:

CHICKEN LAYERED WITH A TUNA AND EGG MAYONNAISE ; A cold Chicken dish

YEARNING FOR VITELLO TONNATO

ITALIAN RUSSIAN SALAD, no beetroot

Staples in my fridge – olives, capers, anchovies and nuts

In my fridge you are likely to always find green and black olives, anchovies, capers and nuts, especially almonds, pine nuts, pistachio, hazelnuts and walnuts.  I consider these as staples and frequently add these ingredients, common in Italian cooking, to much of my cuisine.

In my freezer you will always find jars of stock and pulses of some kind, usually chickpeas, borlotti, cannellini or even black-eyed beans. I say “even” because they are not considered a common bean in Italian cuisine.  I do not bother storing frozen lentils  because they cook so quickly and don’t need  soaking.

I have not mentioned how important fresh herbs, spices and extra virgin olive oil are in my cooking – but they are.

What  you will also find  in my fridge are some jars of homemade  pastes  – always harissa and maybe a couple of jars of other pastes  that contain a combination of three or more of these ingredients: olives, anchovies, various fresh herbs, capers or nuts.

For most of this year, my partner has been doing the shopping. Perhaps he enjoys having this time on his own and to chat with his favourite stallholders at the Queen Victoria Market.

Someone once asked me if I trusted him with the shopping.  I do, but sometimes he buys too much….  last week it was too much squid, this week he came home with two large freshwater trouts.

There is no inviting friends around! We are in lockdown in Melbourne.

We eat a lot of vegetables and I can easily turn excess vegetables into soup or pickles. Meat I can freeze, but I do not  like to freeze fish, so we had trout for two nights in a row.

The first night I simply fried  the trout in butter and a substantial amount of  fresh sage. Good, but ordinary.

In my fridge I had a jar of a combination of ground toasted walnuts, hazelnuts, nutmeg, black pepper and Za’atar.

You could say it was a version of dukkah that I had used for something else and I sprinkled some of this on the trout once  the trout was filleted at the table.

The second night I cooked the trout on a bed of  sautéed shaved fennel and parsley and  at the very end of cooking I added some green olive paste. I had this in the fridge. The sauce was plentiful and went beautifully with the braised lentils and endives.

And once again I was able to add a different taste to something that was pretty good in the first place but was made even better.

I do not measure ingredients when I am making a paste, but for the sake of the recipe, I have made an estimation of  the ingredients.

My combinations of ingredients vary, but for this particular green olive paste I used:

200g of pitted green olives,
100g capers, either drained if in brine or soaked and rinsed a number of times if using the salted capers,
100g of toasted almonds,
4 anchovies,
1 garlic clove,
grated orange peel from one orange,
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of chopped parsley
juice from half a lemon.

Making pastes is dead simple. Blend all of the ingredients together except for the olive oil that you can add at the very end….slowly… until you have a paste to your liking. You can make it as smooth as you wish; I prefer some crunch.

Place in a clean glass jar, top with some more extra virgin olive oil and keep it in your fridge.

This is the first time that I have taken a photo of inside my fridge, but you can see what I mean!

A WET PASTA DISH WITH KOHLRABI

Kohlrabi, can be green or purple. it is a root vegetable with dark green leaves that shoot out from the top. All parts of the kohlrabi can be eaten, both raw and cooked.

GreenKohlrabi.jpg

In Ragusa where my father’s family is from, they make a wet pasta dish. In the days when fresh pasta was made at home and when my elderly aunt was still alive they use to make a short pasta shape called causineddi. The younger members of the family sometimes make this pasta  on special occasions.

I bought two kohlrabi recently and ate the green leaves braised and mixed with kale . I later regretted this because when I decided to make the wet pasta dish I had to substitute kale for the green component.

The “real” recipe is in a much earlier post: KOHLRABI with pasta (Causunnedda )

I used chifferi rigati (shape) as the pasta.

Under the circumstances may be forgiven for substituting kale or cavolo nero for the green kohlrabi leaves , however I also used a strong chicken stock instead of the pork rind  for flavouring ….I cannot therefore call this a Sicilian traditional recipe.

The drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil  as the finishing touch makes this dish very fragrant and tasty.

Sicilian Cunnighiu (rabbit) as cooked in Ragusa, ‘a Portuisa’ 

One of my Sicilian aunt’s favourite ways to cook rabbit in Ragusa was Cunnighiu a Pattuisa (cunnighiu is coniglio in Italian, rabbit in English)I did some research and found that two other Sicilian food writers call it something different: Giuseppe Coria calls it Cunnighiu a Portisa, and Pino Correnti Cunnighiu a Portuisa. In Italian this becomes, alla Portoghese, that is in the Portuguese style.

I am not quite sure why the Portuguese are accredited for this recipe, but one can assume that it is because of the Spaniards in Sicily.

Sicily was ruled by Spaniards at various times by: House of Aragon (1282–1516), Kingdom of Spain (1516–1713), Duchy of Savoy (1713–1720), Habsburg Monarchy (1720–1735) and Kingdom of Naples (1735–1806).

Located on the southwestern tip of the European continent in the Iberian Peninsula are Spain, Andorra and Portugal and Portugal only gained independence from Spain in 1640. Olive oil, olives and capers are used extensively in Sicilian and Spanish cooking.

There are various versions of this recipe for rabbit cooked in the Portuguese style as cooked in Ragusa and most seem to contain green olives and capers. Some contain vinegar, others white wine. Some recipes suggest adding a spoonful of tomato paste (mainly to enrich the colour), some add a little sugar, others chilli.

I cooked a version of this rabbit for friends in Adelaide, the photos tell the story.

IMG_7899

In a fry pan I browned 1 rabbit in about ½ cup extra virgin oil. I sectioned the rabbit into 5 pieces (number of pieces is optional).

I then added some salt and pepper, some green olives and capers, 2-4 cloves garlic and some fresh thyme. Sicilians would use a few fresh bay leaves. If you are using salted capers make sure to rinse them and soak them in several changes of fresh water. 

IMG_7900

I then added about 1 glass of white wine mixed with ½ cup of white wine vinegar.  I covered it with a lid and cooked it slowly on low heat. 

*If it is a tender rabbit and if it is cut into small enough pieces, the rabbit may be cooked by the time all of the liquid has evaporated. If the rabbit is not as young or as tender as you had hoped, and you feel that it needs to be cooked for longer add a little water, cover with a lid and simmer it gently until it is soft – keep on adding more wine and water.

IMG_7906

I partly cooked some potatoes and placed them with the rabbit for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. The green leaves are mint. These add colour and taste: Ragusani use quite a bit of mint in their cooking. 

One way to cook Rabbit like a Sicilian

POLLO OR GALLINA ALLA CONTADINA, ALLA PAESANA. Braised Chicken or rabbit with Olives, Sicilian style

RABBIT with cloves, cinnamon and red wine (CONIGLIO DA LICODIA EUBEA)

CONIGLIO A PARTUISA (Braised rabbit as cooked in Ragusa)

POLLO AL GUAZZETTO (Sardinian Chicken or rabbit braised with Saffron)

 

CAPONATA FROM PALERMO (made with eggplants)

No exact quantities,  just like an Italian.  You can tell from the photos how easy it is to make Caponata Palermitana. Unlike Caponata Catanese there are no peppers (capsicums) in this caponata but the rest of the ingredients and processes for making  any caponata are the same.

I used 2 egglants. Cooked each separately as I did not want the frying to be overcrowded. I use salt when I am cooking and not after the dish is cooked. I always use extra virgin olive oil.

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A good heavy saucepan is good to use.

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After the eggplants, sauté the onions and the celery. I used 1 large onion, 2 sticks of celery and some of the tender leavesof the celery. Add some salt.

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When the onions and celery have softened to your liking, add green olives and capers.

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I made a space in the centre of the saucepan, added a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Melted that and added about a quarter of a cup of red vinegar and evaporated it.

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I made another space in the centre and added about 1/3 cup of passata.

CFB15A9B-AE28-48E3-A9E7-E05752A95BF3Cooked it – you can see that there is very little liquid left.

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Time to add the eggplants and combine all the ingredients.

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This time I will decorate the caponata with fried breadcrumbs (day old bread mollica) toasted in a frypan with a little olive oil.

I could decorate the caponata with toasted pine nuts or almonds but I think the bread will add crunch but not too much taste so as not to compete with the eggplants. At this time of year, egglants are of excellent quality.

Mint rather than basil appealed to me more on this occasion.

There are numerous recipes for caponate (I can spell, it is the plural of caponata). Use the search button.

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