It is far too late to write about Christmas recipes, although Christmas melds with New Year Festivities, especially in Australia.
I have to admit that usually my month of December is just so busy that I don’t have time to investigate new recipes. I tend to rely on old favourites that I can cook with my eyes closed. Some of these old favourites are: Pasta con le sarde; baccalà cooked in various ways; a risotto or pasta with squid and black ink with green peas; mussels; tuna steaks also cooked in different ways: insalata Russa; grilled seasonal vegetables like zucchini, peppers and eggplants; and for dessert, there is either Zuppa Inglese with Arkemes (Alchermes) or Cassata.
You will find all of these recipes on my blog.
This year I am in Adelaide for Christmas. I had given my family in Adelaide some options of what I could cook for Christmas Eve, but they all asked for two old favourites – Baccalà Mantecato and Caponata Catanese as antipasti….. same old, same old…
The Baccalà Mantecato is from the Veneto region in Italy and something that was very common in Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) where my parents and I lived when I was a child. The baccalà is soaked in water for 3 days, then poached in milk, bay and a couple of garlic cloves, drianed and creamed with extra virgin oilve oil. It is spread on crostini – bread brushed with oil and toasted. The crostini my mother made were toased in a frypan and never in the oven. Crostini made with polenta are also favourites… but who has the time?
Photo below is the soaked baccalà.
The Caponata Catanese is from Catania in Sicily. Unlike the Caponata from Palermo that is made with eggplants. This version is made with peppers as well as eggplants and the usual caponata ingredients of green olives, celery, a bit of tomato paste and the agro-dolce, (a sweet and sour sauce). This is topped with pine nuts and basil.
So let’s just share a recipe for Christmas, but remember that at this time of year it is hot in Australia (because it is summer), if it is winter where you are, you may not even consider cooking it.
It is braised lentils cooked with Cotechino…..Cotechino con le lenticchie.
Although I would never serve this at midnight as was customary in some parts of Emilia-Romagna where the dish originates, it is an interesting choice. The Cotechino is a rich seasoned pork sausage that I poach with the lentils. The thick sausage is then sliced and served on top of a bed of braised lentils.
The green lentils that resemble the shape of coins are intended to bring you prosperity in the New Year.
Photos of the caponata cooked in Melbourne and brought to Adelaide. once again I used my heavy wok to cook each of the vegetables separately.