My second book, Small Fishy Bites, was released by New Holland on 1 October 2013.
To mark the occasion, on the evening before, friends joined me for a celebratory dinner at the Moat Bar and Cafe in Little Lonsdale Street below the Wheeler Centre.
The Moat was the perfect place to launch the book, enjoy excellent food and wine – a brilliant match for the occasion.
Thanks to all my friends who enjoy eating and cooking fish and whose contributions have enlarged my repertoire of recipes.
Below, photo shoot in my apartment.
Food photography by Sue Stubbs, styling by Jodi Wuesterwald.
Getting a chance to look in….most unusual as I spent the majority of time cooking.
From: The Australian Michelle Rowe: Food Detective, October 05, 2013 12:00AM
I took the following comment by Michelle Rowe to be a positive rather than a negative and I appreciated being mentioned in her weekly column.
She praises Sicilian Seafood Cooking and for this I am pleased. And there is a hint that in spite of its title, Small Fishy Bites could be OK.
DETECTIVE accepts that with so many cookbooks out these days, it may be difficult to think up a title that has not already been claimed, but she wonders whether anybody could have fixed upon a less-inviting moniker than Small Fishy Bites? She trusts the new book from Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, who also wrote the very good Sicilian Seafood Cooking, holds more promise than its distinctly fishy title.
Equiem, online portal, Melbourne cookbook author gives Friday night fish ‘n chips the boot, Bronwyn Eager, October 2013
Oh Yum Magazine, New Zealand
The Victorian Writer, Food and Wine, Voices: Bring to the boil, Simmer slowly, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, November 2013
Yorke Peninsula, Country Times , Yorke Peninsula Seafood in Cookbook, Wendy Burman, 22 October 2013
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Food, wine, book signing at Readings Hawthorn: 701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122
The olives and anchovies are both called my Cheat Recipes and you will see why.
I also made caponata, the Catanese version, which includes peppers. These little offerings, together with the generous food offerings by Fiona Rigg from Fiona Louise,Marianna di Bartolo from Dolcetti and Alfredo and Lisa La Spina from Bar Iddawere very much appreciated by those who attended the launch.
MARINADED WHITE ANCHOVIES
Ingredients and Processes:
I used boquerones(white anchovies) from Spain (1 kilo pack)
Drain them (they are packed in oil and vinegar), add 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 cup of finely cut parsley and 3 spring onions and cover them with extra virgin olive oil.
Leave in marinade at least one day.
This recipe is nothing new. When we first come to Australia and could not buy fresh sardines (they were used a bait, like squid used to be) my father would buy Spanish sardines packed in salt, wash them carefully, drain them and dress them in the same manner. And he was Sicilian. Sometimes he added oregano or chopped fennel fronds, sometimes capers. The anchovies were stored in the fridge ready to be placed on a fresh piece of bread whenever anyone was hungry and they were also very useful if guests dropped in unexpected.
Accompanied with a cold glass of white wine or a glass of dry vermouth (or dry marsala if we had been able to buy some in the 60’s in small town Adelaide) these marinaded anchovies were very much appreciated. And we never made a brutta figura.
By tomorrow they will be superb. In two days time, they will taste even better.
Not everything need take a long time to prepare. And some of your guests may even like them more than eating fresh sardines treated the same way – some people squirm at the mention of fresh sardines.
I asked my daughter Francesca to prepare the olives for me. The following is her writing:
With two book launches to promote, one book signing, menu preparation for two cooking demonstrations, sourcing wine, book promotion, writing her blog and launch speeches plus a family wedding interstate thrown in, Mum was in need of an extra pair of hands, those I could supply.
I was a little daunted, to begin with, when I learnt my ‘job’ was to prepare 7kg of olives. Not because 7kgs of olives sounded so much and they all had to be crushed in small amounts but I hadn’t made them before and what if they are awful? How embarrassed I would feel and would they come even close to the olives my mother dressed? But there is no cooking involved and I had my instructions – it would be hard to “stuff it up” so I did it.
(for 1 kg of olives, double up for 2kg and so on)
Sicilian Green olives in brine (These were Nocellara brand)
garlic 4/5 large cloves
orange rind from 1 orange
chilli flakes 2 tbls
fennel seeds, 2 tbls
bay leaves, 3-4
wild Fennel fronds/ leaves/green stuff (failing this, use extra fennel seeds,1 tbs)
extra Virgin olive oil, about a litre- you need enough to cover the olives
Drain the brine from the olives, no need to rinse them. I used a mortar and pestle to crush the olives, a handful at a time and they don’t require much force.
Roughly chop the garlic and wild fennel fronds. Place the crushed olives into a jar or sealable plastic container and add the chilli, wild Fennel, bay leaves, orange peel and garlic and cover them completely with olive oil.
The olives need to be keep completely under oil at all times and should be stored in the fridge. I placed a plate over the olives to keep them under the oil level. The oil will solidify so the olives need to be removed from the fridge a couple of hours before eating and the oil drained off. Remember to keep and re-use the flavoured oil – great for salads and cooking.
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.
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.
First, thanks to the staff of CoAsIt and the Museo Italiano and 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.
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 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 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 [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 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! 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 supplied traditional Sicilian wines, Nero d’Avola and Frappato, produced by Feudi del Pisciotto. I first tasted the Feudi Nero d’Avola at my favourite Sicilian restaurant, Bar Idda, another fabulous family affair in the hands of Lisa and Alfredo La Spina, with Lisa’s brother Anthony managing the bar and the drinks.
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, 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]
Lisa and Alfredo from Bar Idda contributed roasted peppers [link to http://www.baridda.com.au] l Iove to eat at their restaurant!
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.
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,
*Entry is free but you must book before Monday by phoning: 9819 1917.
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:
Sicilian Seafood Cooking will be launched by Rosa Matto – 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).