Tag Archives: Braise

CALAMARI RIPIENI CON FORMAGGIO FRESCO E MARSALA (Stuffed calamari with fresh cheese and braised in marsala)

I use marsala fina or secca (dry) for my cooking. It is nothing like marsala all’uovo – unfortunately this has given marsala a bad name.

Marsala is the fortified wine of Sicily. Like sherry, there are various blends and some is aged in wood for longer than ten years; it is called marsala stravecchia and as noble as any good liqueur. Those of you who have been to Sicily and have visited the Cantine Florio in Marsala, in the province of Trapani would know what I am talking about.

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The squid are stuffed with fresh cheese. Being a Sicilian/ Italian recipe, the soft cheese used for the stuffing can be one of the following: tuma, pecorino fresco, mozzarella, fior di latte, bocconcini and even ricotta….and not the tub variety! On this occasion I used Danish feta – definitely not traditional, but I had some marinading in extra virgin olive oil, dry oregano and fennel seeds in the fridge.

There were other liberties I took with this recipe: Instead of the parsley, I used fresh marjoram, once again, because I had some growing and because I like the sweetness of this herb – it goes well with nutmeg and with soft cheese. Not Sicilian either! My mother would never have approved of the “fusion” ingredients – Italians are a bit like that, they stick to what is correct and proper. I have come a long way! You may be wondering about the dark colour on the body of the squid – it is because I do not bother to strip each squid meticulously  – what comes off, comes off.  ( The same with octopus!)

 

For a main course estimate 1 squid per person – these are medium sized squid – usually the smaller the better as large squid can be a bit rubbery.  For an antipasto the squid can be cut into slices and feed 6 people.

INGREDIENTS

4 medium squid 1 cup breadcrumbs (small), made from good-quality day-old bread 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely cut ¼–½ teaspoon nutmeg 150g fresh cheese cut into small cubes (see above) 1 cup dry marsala 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

PROCESSES

Clean the squid: pull off the head and the inside of the squid and discard. Cut off tentacles and save them for another time. Toast the breadcrumbs in a little oil. Cool. Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and nutmeg together and add the seasoning. Stuff the squid and secure each end with a skewer. Sauté each squid in olive oil. When golden, add the marsala, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes (depending on size). Uncover and evaporate the juices as necessary.

 

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TONNO E PISELLI (Tuna and peas)

Finally, Albacore tuna is available again in one stall at the Queen Victoria market. This tuna is sustainable, it is a lean fish and it can be quite dry if served without a sauce.

You can buy albacore tuna cut as a fillet or as slices from the centre of the fish – this cut will include the spinal bones and if you are braising the fish the bones will contribute to the taste. In Sicily this cut of tuna is called a ruota (wheel); the bones can then be easily removed at the time of serving. The wheel of tuna will have the skin still on make sure that the scales have been removed and make splits into the skin to stop it curling. Or you can remove the skin altogether.

Tuna and peas is a very common combination for Italians. I remember so vividly my maternal grandmother cooking wheels of tuna in very crowded saucepans, bubbling away on her stove in Catania, Sicily. Sometimes she also added tomatoes to the braise and studded the tuna with cloves of garlic.

Peas are sweet, hence the cinnamon stick. Sometimes I add nutmeg instead (for the same reason). Both the cinnamon and the nutmeg are optional; if using nutmeg, add it at the final stages of cooking.

Once cooked, you can also remove the centre bone, break up the tuna and serve it as a pasta sauce.

For 4 people

INGREDIENTS
1 slice of albacore tuna (about 700g)
1 onion,
400g of shelled peas
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil,
salt and pepper
2-3 fresh bay leaves
1tbs tomato paste for colour (optional)
1 cup of white dry wine
1-2 cinnamon sticks or some grated nutmeg (optional)

PROCESSES
Sauté the chopped onion lightly in the oil – use low heat.
Add the tuna and seal on both sides.
Add seasoning, bay leaves, wine and cinnamon stick.
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the peas 10 minutes into the cooking and If adding nutmeg add it at this time. Do not let the braise get dry and add a little more liquid (water and or wine) if necessary.

 

If using it as a pasta sauce:

Use 400 g pasta, short shapes.
Leave the fish in the pan while you cook the pasta.
Drain it.
Remove the central bones from the tuna (if there are any) and return them to the pan.
Dress the pasta and serve.
Unlike the rest of Italy, Sicilians include grated cheese with fish.

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SPEZZATINO DI CAPRETTO (Italian Goat/ Kid stew)

I am always very pleased to find goat meat and I found some at the Farmers Market in Albury-Wodonga when I visited there recently. The meat was from Boer goats (those attractive white and brown ones) bred and raised on a farm called Myrrhee Premium Boer Goats located on the Benalla-Whitfield Rd near Wangaratta and Benalla. It is also very close to the gourmet and wine country of the King Valley Region in North Eastern Victoria. The goats are free-range and the farm sell milk fed capretto and chevon goat meat – the young and the mature beast.

I also bought some goat sausages; these also contain a little pork meat.

Goat with two kids b

Spring in Sicily is the time to eat capretto (kid) and being in the northern hemisphere, many parts of Sicily celebrate Easter with kid. This photo was taken in the market in Catania in Spring and you will notice that whole or sides of meat are always sold with the head attached – not just in Sicily but all over Italy.  It is also common to leave some of the fur on one of the hooves. My mother used to say that this is because buyers want proof of what animal is being sold.

Notice also, the tripe on the tray in front of the carcase.

Veal or lamb can also be cooked in this very simple way for making a spezzatino (the Italian word for stew).

Usually potatoes are added to spezzatini (stews). I added fennel.

INGREDIENTS
1.5 k of chopped goat meat with bones (a young beast)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots cut into large pieces
salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 fresh bay leaves
1 cup chopped parsley
1-2 fennel, cut into quarters

PROCESSES
Heat the oil in a braising pan and over high heat brown the meat until it has a golden colour.
Remove the meat from the pan and sauté the onion, add the garlic and return the meat to the pan.
Add white wine, herbs, carrots and seasoning.
Cover and braise on slow heat for at least one hour before adding the fennel. Check during the cooking process to see if it will need more liquid and add a little water or stock.It may also need more cooking as this will depend on the quality and age of the meat.
Adjust seasoning if necessary, cover again and cook until the fennel is soft, but does not fall apart (about 20 minutes).

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FISH IN MINI CASSEROLES WITH SICILIAN FLAVOURS

Two of my friends live on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, located about 17.7 km from Auckland. They both have kayaks and when time and weather permits one or two of them go fishing and it seems that every time they do, they catch fish.

They catch mainly snapper off Oretangi Beach where they live, but if they go to some of the other bays they catch John Dory, Kingfish and Hapuka. The fish in the three photos were caught on two separate occasions and when I stayed with them we enjoyed eating fresh fish very much .

My friend boned one of the fish, a Kawhai, a New Zealand fish which needs to be bled. He smoked it using a simple smoker and manuka wood smoking chips.

We cooked some of the snapper in colourful, enamelled, cast-iron mini “casseroles” or “dutch ovens” using simple Sicilian flavours: tomatoes, capers, garlic, olives and some Sicilian common herbs.. They are brought to the table straight from the oven so do tell your guests to be ultra careful when they eat from them. Also protect your table with mats.

Of course the ingredients can go into one large casserole, covered and baked for 25-30 minutes.

For 4 people

INGREDIENTS
4 pieces of fish (1 serve per person)
4 peeled red tomatoes (or tinned)
1 tbs capers
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ cup of fresh herbs, use 1 or more: parsley, basil, oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 green olives or black olives, stoned

PROCESSES
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and pan-fry the fish lightly.
Add a little salt. Remove the fish and set aside.
Add the other ingredients and sauté, until the juice of the tomatoes is
reduced.
Spoon some of the tomato mixture into each mini-casserole. Place 1 piece of
fish in each and top with more tomato.
Either cover with a lid or if using a different type of ovenproof small baking dishes cover with metal foil and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your fish.

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PAPPARDELLE Continued…..

On 26/2/09, Fred wrote:
Dear Marisa,

I read your bit about pappardelle. We had pappardelle sulla 
lepre alla cacciatora at La Pentola dell’Oro in Firenze. It includes cinque cucchiai di aceto rosso ( 5 spoons of red wine vinegar).
 Fred





Dear Fred,
your recipe which includes five spoons of red vinegar does not surprise me. 

There are recipes where the hare, rabbit and boar are soaked in water and vinegar before it is cooked to remove the wild taste – my mother always did this with rabbit. It bleached the meat and left some of the taste. I think that Anglo-Australians soaked wild rabbit in salt water. 

I bought a rabbit at the butcher’s in Greve in December 2008 and was given three parcels, one with the rabbit, the other had the head and the third, the liver – these enrich the sauce. The other variation is the use of herbs – the addition of parsley, sage and rosemary.
There is of course the recipe for hare cooked with bitter chocolate. Now there’s a good taste!

Marisa

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