This is the cover of the January – February issue of 2012 Italianicious magazine.
It is a beautiful bi-monthly publication about food and wine, Italian regional recipes, travel stories and features on Italian restaurants and chefs and cultural events both in Italy and Australia. The photos are also stunning.
The current editor, Danielle Gullaci, is continuing to develop the quality and look of the publication established by previous editor, Jane O’Connor. In the January-February issue Danielle has written a feature about me.
FUELLED BY PASSION
And these are the two beginning paragraphs:
“Although Marisa Raniolo Wilkins spent most of her early childhood in Trieste before moving to Australia with her Sicilian parents, a love for Sicilian food and culture has remained close to her heart. Her first book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking, represents eight years of hard work and a lifetime of culinary experiences.
Despite the fact that her parents both hailed from Sicily, Marisa says that she was born on the Italian island “by accident”. Marisa’s mother had lived in Catania, Sicily, before moving to Trieste in northern Italy with her siblings; and her Sicilian father (from Ragusa) was stationed in Trieste during the war, learning to be a tailor. “
I was also featured in Italianicious magazine in the November-December issue when Mary Taylor Simeti and I discussed a Sicilian Christmas at Dolcetti, Melbourne’s little gem of a pastry shop. Naturally Pastry Chef Marianna Di Bartolo contributed to the discussion and we ate some of her delectable sweets. The editor was Jane O’Connor (now group editor of all Prime Media magazines), the three camera shy women and the photographer Patrick Varney of Raglan Images all had a grand old time.
Mary Taylor Simeti is one of my heroes – I think that sometimes it takes a “foreigner ‘ with a passion to rediscover and tease out the history behind the food ( not that she is a foreigner, she is part of Sicily, having dedicated so many years to it.).
Mary and I talked to Gus about his produce at the Queen Victoria Market.
The time before that Italianicious published an article and my recipe for Caponata, that was in December 2009 – February 2010 and the editor was Glynis Macri now Director/Editor of The Italian Traveller – Food, Wine and Travel Consultant.
Mr Bianco’s recipe for Goat with Nero d’Avola (recipe from Italianicious)
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).
I am very pleased that one of my recipes (Caponata, Perfect for Christmas) has been published in the latest issue of Italianicious (Volume 5 issue 4, Dec 2009 -Feb 2010). This magazine is published in Sydney and has an Italian/Australian specific content with many recipes, articles and information about food, restaurants, wine and travel.
That particular recipe of caponata published in Italianicious is from my mother’s family originally from Catania (a city on east coast of Sicily) and it is interesting that my father’s family, who are from Ragusa (two hours drive from Catania), do not cook caponata at all. The photo is of Via Bellini in Catania.
Caponata personifies Sicilian cuisine and as you’d expect, there are many regional variations of this recipe. Some of you may be surprised that this version of caponata contains peppers as well as eggplants. The most common recipes for caponata only use eggplants as the principal ingredient, but the inclusion of peppers is an authentic, local variation in many parts of Sicily especially from Catania. On my trips to Sicily I always sample as much caponata as possible and was very pleased to find that the best tasting versions of caponata all contained peppers – this I found in restaurants in Syracuse, Catania, Sciacca, Mazara del Vallo, Agrigento, Ragusa Ibla and Caltagirone.
There are other Sicilian caponate (plural of caponata) made with other vegetables, for example, caponata di carciofi (artichokes) caponata di verdura verde (green leafy vegetables) and caponata di patate (see recipe below). The principal and most common flavourings that characterise a Sicilian caponata remain the same: the celery, capers, green olives and the sweet and sour caramelised sauce made with vinegar and sugar (agro dolce).
Other traditional caponate recipes made with eggplants or eggplants and peppers use tomato paste rather than chopped tomatoes, some add garlic, others chocolate (or cocoa). Many recipes contain nuts – almonds or pine nuts or pistachio, used fresh in some recipes, in others they are toasted. Frequently herbs are added – sometimes basil, at other times oregano or mint. Certain recipes also include raisins or currants and some, fresh pears. Several include fish, singly or in combination of canned tuna, prawns, octopus, salted anchovies and bottarga.
To make caponata I always sauté (on high heat) my vegetables separately and then combine them at the end in the agro dolce (sweet and sour) sauce.
CAPONATA DI PATATE
This caponata can be eaten hot or at room temperature. It also keeps well refrigerated for several days.
The potatoes in this caponata are fried until lightly golden. The ingredients commonly used to make caponata – onions, celery, olives, capers, tomatoes and the vinegar and sugar for the agro dolce – are cooked together separately. The potatoes are then added to the other cooked component.
INGREDIENTS potatoes, 1.5 kg celery, 1 heart (the centre pale green stalks and some of the fine leaves) onion, 2, large, chopped capers, ½ cup, salted or in brine green olives, ¾ cup , stoned, chopped white vinegar, ¾ glass sugar, 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup (or more) salt and freshly ground pepper parsley, 1 cup, cut finely tomato passata, 1 cup
PROCESSES Peel and cube the potatoes and place onto a clean tea towel (or paper) to dry. Fry the potatoes in hot extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt – do not crowd the potatoes and if needed use a wide frypan or cook in batches. Turn occasionally until they are cooked and golden. Drain the potatoes and set aside. You can use this same oil to braise the vegetables (purists would use new oil). Heat the oil and add the onions and the celery. Stir frequently and cook over a moderate heat until the onion is golden and the celery has softened. Add seasoning and parsley. Add the tomatoes, capers and olives and toss the ingredients together for about 5 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and increase the heat to high to evaporate some of the vinegar. Add the potatoes, cook for about 4-5 minutes to blend the flavours. Serve at room temperature.
VARIATIONS Add either chopped, toasted almonds or pistachio before serving (either on top or through the caponata) and scatter with fresh mint leaves.