Tag Archives: Marianna di Bartolo

CHRISTMAS Sicilian sweets at DOLCETTI 2017

What will the carretto siciliano carry to you and your friends this year?

There  are many sweet treats (dolcetti) for Christmas at Dolcetti Pasticceria.

This year  all the dolcetti have been wrapped in subtle, neutral colours and packed in wooden boxes. They look very attractive.

And as you would expect, everything is delicious.

There is something for everyone.

New treats too.

These are new as well.

Sicilian favourites: Pipparelli…I love the pepper in these biscuits.

Sicilian favourites: Ciascuni

Sicilian favourites: Gigiolena (also Giuggulena)…sesame seeds and sugar and honey. Arabic or Sicilian?

And Marianna and her angels are still mixing fruit mince for the mince pies. We live in Australia after all.

 

Links to some Christmas sweets recipes:

CHRISTMAS AT DOLCETTI in 2014 (and Recipe for Spicchiteddi Sicilian biscuits)

CHRISTMAS DOLCI and DOLCETTI and Pistachio Shortbread Biscuits 2013

GIUGGIULENA (also CUBBAITA) – a brittle Sicilian toffee of sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds

PANETTONE AND PANFORTE for an ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

GIUGGIULENA (also CUBBAITA) – a brittle Sicilian toffee of sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds

This is a photograph of Marianna di Bartalo from Dolcetti making giuggiulena – a brittle Sicilian toffee of sugar and honey with sesame seeds and almonds – said to be in part the legacy of the Arabs. I am holding the microphone.

Marianna demonstrated how to make giuggiulena to a group who attended the Sweets Festival at the Immigration Museum (18th March). Eager participants filled the small theatre, they watched as she made it, smelt it, sampled it and took home her recipe, which I will share with you (see below). There was plenty of interaction with the group and it was a pleasure to field questions and to participate in the comments and discussions. Towards the end of the session Lidia, Marianna’s mother also participated.

In some parts of Sicily giuggiulena is also known as cubbaita. e seeds). You may be familiar with torrone (nougat) which is common all over Italy and is made with almonds, eggwhites and sugar. Marianna and I had a discussion on stage about some versions also including honey – I know that a Sicilian friend of my mother’s adds this.

 

The Festival was an amazingly successful day and it drew a very large crowd. People came to see great performances, eat glorious food, attend cooking demonstrations and see the exhibition on Sweets: Tastes and Traditions of Many Cultures (Indian, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, Mauritian). As well as Marianna there were cooking demonstrations on how to make Japanese wagashi and moshi sweets and Indian sweets. Members of the Turkish, Mauritian communities demonstrated how to make halva (helva).

 

The range of food for sale from the participating communities was of extremely good quality.
Marianna’s Dolcetti stall was stocked with an array of Sicilian sweets from her pasticceria in Victoria Street, West Melbourne. There were people lined up all day to buy samples of her cakes, pastries and biscuits.

Gluten free hamper unpacked

Her mother Lidia was making batch after batch of Sicilian fritelle (also called sfinci) and those who worked on the stall did not have time to have a break, from the moment they set up until they had sold out of everything. I believe this was the case for most of the stall-holders with many saying that they did not get time to see the exhibition on the first floor of the Museum. Like me, they are going back. Although the festival was a one off event, the Exhibition (at The Immigration Museum, Melbourne) goes on and is really worth seeing (15 March 2012 to 7 April 2013).

 

One cannot help but see the Arab influence on Sicilian cuisine – the Arabs ruled Sicily for two centuries (in medieval times they were sometimes called “Saracens” or “Moors”) and contributed to the development of Sicilian culture, the agriculture and architecture, and had a profound influence on the cuisine of Sicily. They are credited with bringing or contributing to the development of certain produce used in sweets: sugar, pistachio, sesame seeds, citrus, dates, cinnamon and cloves are some of the produce considered they made ices and pastries stuffed with nuts and dried fruit. Sicily is a blend of cultures and obviously, one cannot give the Arabs all the praise, there were the Spaniards, French, as well as the Normans, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks and original settlers as well as them.

Sicilian pastry chefs are renowned all over Italy and Marianna is no exception. Marianna’s little pastry shop is filled with handmade delicacies made with natural and fresh ingredients. Her dolcetti (little sweets) are a work of art and she is very proud of her Sicilian heritage.

As you would expect when giuggiulena (or cubbaita) is made in the various parts of Sicily, there are variations in the recipes – some use all sugar or all honey, some omit almonds. My relatives in Ragusa add cinnamon and I have seen recipes where a pinch of cumin is added.

This is Marianna’s recipe for giuggiulena.

INGREDIENTS
250gms sesame seeds
250gms orange blossom honey
250gms sugar
250gms whole raw almonds
zest of 1 orange (not too finely grated)

METHOD
Combine the honey and sugar in a pot and stir until it begins to melt and soften.
Add the sesame seeds and almonds and cook, stirring continuously until it begins to bubble.
Let it cook and darken to a dark golden brown color.
Add the orange zest.
Pour onto a sheet of baking paper lined with a touch of oil or oil spray or onto a lightly greased marble or granite surface.
Flatten it slightly with an oiled rolling pin.
Let it cool before cutting it into pieces
Keep stored in airtight container.

Giuggiulena is usually made for Christmas and more recently at Easter but because it keeps well, it is often served to visitors at other times of the year – it is particularly useful to have on hand in case unexpected guests come – one would not want to make a brutta figura.  My relatives wrap each piece of giuggiulena in cellophane or greaseproof paper.

 

MA2SBAE8REVW

SWEETS: Tastes and Traditions from many cultures, Immigration Museum 2012 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

The majority of people love SWEETS and even those who are not gluttons for all sweet things are tempted by some sweets.

For example I am not a great fan of cakes nor large quantities of puddings but I do like dolcetti  (Italian for little sweet things) like biscuits, especially Sicilian almond biscuits and torrone.

Pasticceria Erice (Sicily)

 

How many of you have tried giuggiulena or know what it is? What about pignolata?  I love  small moist ricotta filled cannoli …. All Sicilian, all exceptional, traditional and exquisitely made….and where else (Melbourne and the world!!) besides Sicily will you be able to sample these sweets?

Pistacchio treat from Dolcetti in Melbourne

 

You can taste them in Melbourne at the small and brilliant pasticceria, Dolcetti, where Marianna di Bartolo carries on a Sicilian tradition of exquisite sweet-making inherited from her family. But you will also be able to taste and purchase her sweets at the Sweets Festival at the Immigration Museum on Sunday 18 March 2012 (11am to 4pm).

Dolcetti’s Marianna Di Bartolo, her sweets are ‘to die for’

 

And Marianna will not be the only one offering her sweets and demonstrating some of her craft. This one-day festival of food and culture is a feast of toothsome sweet (and savoury) food stalls, film, music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations and workshops. along with Marianna’s sweets there will be baklava, mochi,  moti choor ladoo and napolitains as well as numerous other delicious treats, along with flavoured teas, coffee and sherbet.

During the day there will be short tours of the Sweets: Tastes and Traditions from Many Cultures Exhibition – this exhibition begins on 15 March 2012 to 7 April 2013.

For the past six months I have been part of a group coordinating the Sweets Exhibition at the Immigration Museum. This is a Museum Victoria project and is also part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. 2012.

The Museum worked collaboratively with a number of Victorian communities to produce an exhibition and festival themed around sweets, highlighting shared cultural traditions, rituals and contemporary practices.The Italian, Indian, Mauritian, Turkish and Japanese communities have been invited to participate. Obviously I am a member of the Italian group.

These communities were chosen because of their differences in food traditions and their geographical diversity. I have always been interested in the historical and cultural significance of ingredients and cooking methods and the culinary variations between cultures and even within the same culture.

Readers of my blog and my book will know about my interest in the origins of Sicilian recipes shaped by the Greeks, Arabs, French and Spaniards. Mauritius, Turkey, Japan and India all have unique histories and very different cultural and climatic influences that are reflected in what they eat.

Cannoli in Palermo (Sicily)

There will be performances throughout the day at the Sweets Festival at the Immigration Museum on Sunday 18 March. Naturally there will be Italian performers but these are only some of the performances from the other cultures represented:

Tara Rajkumar Natya, Sudha Dance Company. The performance explores treats of two of the Hindu Gods – Ganesha’ s modakam dumplings and Krishna’s favourite pudding pal payasam.

A dance theatre performance by the Turkish Ekol School of Arts. Discover the importance of baklava at an Anatolian wedding.

A musical concert with a Japanese shiobue flute and taiko drumming from the Fuefukuro trio.

Sego Lebrasse and dancers will present a Mauritian sega.

The Bumbroo Dance of the Bumblebee by the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Association.

A Japanese tea ceremony demonstration with the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Melbourne Association.

Small cassate Ragusa (Sicily)

 

I have just returned from a trip to Vietnam and loved sampling different foods and flavours from the street stalls to traditional eateries to sophisticated dining rooms. Desserts, as we know them, are not generally eaten in Vietnam. Meals are most likely to be finished with a selection of fabulous fresh fruit, if anything. But sweet snacks are available on the street all day long. Sweet cakes, snacks and specialties such as coloured glutinous rice enclosing sweet bean paste, are also made for special occasions, Buddhist festivals and other celebrations.

Sweet stall in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

It seems that wherever you go, there is always something sweet to eat. They may not always be nutritious but they always nourish some part of us.

Sweet stall in Market in Hanoi(Vietnam)

MA2SBAE8REVW

SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING, ITALIANICIOUS and READER’S FEAST Bookstore. Recipe for Slow cooked goat in Nero D’Avola

ital-0112-cover-250-210x297
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.
Ital-0112-people-Marisa-Raniolo-Wilkins-630
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. “ 

DOLCETTI-ONE1
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.
Marisa in kitchen 3
Caponata recipe:
Italianicious also has recipes on line. This one is one of Mister Bianco’s:
Here are the ingredients for one recipe. It is from the October 2011 issue. I have seen goat available at The Queen Victoria Market recently and the recipe uses Nero D’Avola – that marvellous Sicilian red wine.
If you want the full recipe:
Slow cooked goat in Nero D’Avola
Serves 4
2kg goat consisting of shoulder cut into 150g pieces and 4 shanks
1.5 litres Nero d’Avola wine
3 onions, chopped roughly
200ml red wine vinegar
3 carrots, chopped roughly
3 celery sticks, chopped roughly
1 garlic clove, peeled
200g prosciutto fat
5 whole tomatoes, chopped
2L reduced beef stock
20 crushed whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
For the garnish:
12 baby carrots, peeled and roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, then roasted with olive oil, garlic, sliced lemon and rosemary.
Reader’s Feast Bookstore
 
The other nice thing that happened this week is that I went into Reader’s Feast Bookstore. Sicilian Seafood Cooking has been featured in their Summer 2002 Book Guide and has been written by Helen.
Helen is only one of the helpful, knowlegable and personable staff who has been working with Mary Dalmau at Reader’s Feast for a very long time.
“Our bookstore will be a place of interest and enjoyment, peopled by committed and enthusiastic staff, who present a range of books to suit all visitors” Mary Dalmau, 1991
Finally my cookbook of the year is Sicilian Seafood Cooking by Marisa Raniolo Wilkins.
This incredibly substantial cookbook takes
us on a culinary odyssey through Sicily; It is
a book of love celebrating seasonal produce,
traditional recipes, methods and techniques
while providing us non Sicilians with suitable
alternative ingredients. The food is delicious
and the advice is such that you are never
alone while preparing these recipes. It’s as if
the grandmothers and aunts are beside you.
Happy Holiday Reading and Feasting.
Helen

MA2SBAE8REVW