Looking at my stats for that post indicates that the interest for cooking rabbit must be fashionable at the moment. Is it because we are close to Easter and some in Australia consider rabbit to be a suitable Easter dish?
Chicken recipes seem also to be popular at Easter.
Not so in Italy.
If Italians are going to cook at home, they are more likely to cook spring produce – lamb or kid, artichokes, spring greens and ricotta is at its best.
If you live in Ragusa, Sicily, you are more likely to have a casual affair with family and friends and eat scacce or impanate – vegetables or vegetables and meat wrapped in oil pastry (see links at bottom of this post).
This is a common Italian saying that seems appropriate for Australia as well. Natalie con I tuoi, Pasqua con chi voi.
Christmas with yours (meaning family) and Easter with whom ever you choose.
There are several recipes for cooking rabbit and hare on my blog. There are also recipes for cooking chicken and I have chosen to list the chicken recipes that would be suitable to cook as chicken or to substitute the chicken with rabbit. If you are substituting rabbit for a chicken recipe, cook it for longer and you may need to add more liquid during the cooking process.
It always seems a time for scacce in Sicily, but particularly at Easter.
I have already written about scacce (focaccia-like stuffed pastries) and for suggestions of fillings and the recipe and ways to fold the pastry, see the post called: Scacce (Focaccia-like Stuffed Bread).
One of the most difficult things if you are a novice at making the traditional shaped scacce is the folding of the pastry. So, why not try just forming them into these shapes below instead. Use the same fillings and pastry as described in the post Scacce ( Focaccia- like Stuffed Bread) above.
This scaccia (singular of scacce and not a misspelling) in the photo below is round and pie shaped. The filling is made from lamb and ricotta.
The braised greens on the side could also be used in a filling – spinach or chicory or broccoli- softened/ wilted and then sautéed in garlic, chili and extra virgin olive oil (but drain well).
There is a post for impanate with a lamb filling – a typical dish for Easter.
The photos for these scacce (and pizza) are from a small eatery in Catania. The filling is made from slices of fried eggplant, a little bit of tomato salsa and a little bit of caciocavallo ( Sicilian cheese) – you could try provolone (cheese) instead.
Or you could try small pasty shapes as in the photo below (circle of dough = filling on one side= fold over to make a half moon). The pastries in the photo below are cooling on the racks in Dolcetti pasticceria (pastry shop in Victoria Street Melbourne). Marianna is the pastry chef and her mum is Lidia – and she is all Sicilian. Lidia visits Dolcetti each Saturday to make these pastries. She calls her pastries impanate. They are fabulous and she uses a variety of fillings.
What about just a pizza ….. These pizzas (in the photo below) are from Pizza D’Asporto (Rifle Range Shopping Centre, Williamstown). They are made by Sicilians and are very good – worth a visit.
Nice to see this. For those of you who do no read English, in the province of Catania, Ristoworld (a network of people who are interested in food production and cuisine) is supporting ENPA in their objection to kill baby lambs, traditionally eaten at Easter.
I know my family in Ragusa used to make ‘Mpanata for Easter.
A whole lamb used to be chopped up, bones and all and once dressed with with garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning was wrapped in bread pastry. They no longer make this – Unfortunately this could be because it is too much work.
There is a recipe for ‘Mpanata– a lamb pie. It can be made with regular lamb.
CONTRO LA MATTANZA DI AGNELLINI PER PASQUA DUE ALLEATI DI ECCEZIONE: ENPA E GLI CHEF RISTOWORLD
Ogni anno in Italia vengono uccisi oltre due milioni di agnellini per dare seguito alla barbara tradizione Pasquale di cibarsi di questi esserini innocenti.
Due milioni di vite che piangono dal momento stesso in cui vengono strappati alle loro mamme fino all’ultimo respiro mentre vengono sgozzati.
Chiamarla tradizione Pasquale e ricondurla ad una festività Santa che parla di Rinascita, di amore e di purezza è raccapricciante.
Noi di Enpa Catania preferiamo chiamarla per quello che è: ingordigia.
Abbiamo accolto con estremo piacere la volontà dell’associazione di ristoratori Ristoworld di mettere in discussione questa macabra usanza, convinti che il buon esempio debba partire dal monito degli stessi addetti ai lavori. La Ristoworld non metterà nelle proprie cucine agnellini e con loro ci auguriamo che presto li seguiranno, gli altri.
It has been a while since I have had an Easter in Sicily and I am feeling very nostalgic. This year, a large group of my relatives inRagusa are all going to celebrate lunch at Stefania and Aurelio’s country house, just outside Ragusa and I wish I could be with them.The country house is a stable which in the 18 Century belonged to a local Baron called La Rocca.
Stefania and Aurelio bought the property several years ago (it also has a few surrounding buildings and land) and they are slowly converting it into a beautiful holiday home. They are using local artisans to recreate and restore many features in the original style and character. As much as possible they have kept its original outside appearance and interior features, especially the original carved wooden ceiling.
I do miss my relatives (and the feast that they will be sharing), but I also miss Spring in Sicily.
In Sicily, spring is the start of everything. It is the time when the island comes alive – flowers bloom, vines sprout and vegetables ripen. Spring is the celebration of life, which in cultural and religious terms is expressed in Easter. In Sicily Primavera (Spring) and Pasqua (Easter) are a fusion of nature and culture, family and food.
The ancient Greeks (once settlers in Sicily) also marked spring and – like the Christian Easter – their myth celebrated another resurrection from the dead through the legend of Persephone.
The Greeks considered Sicily to be Persephone’s island because, according to the myth, Pluto, the god of Hades, who imprisoned her in his underworld realm, abducted Persephone from the Sicilian town of Enna.
So Persephone’s grieving mother, the goddess Demeter, (goddess of agriculture) plunged the island into a barren winter, until Zeus, the father of the gods, struck a bargain with Pluto to let Persephone to return to land of the living for six months of the year. So it is that when Persephone is released from Hades, Demeter allowed the world to thaw and bloom before her daughter must once again return to Pluto and Hades.
The pagan traditions were slightly transformed and unofficially accepted into the rites surrounding devotion to the Christian saints. Offerings of bread, cheeses, and sweets, associated with pagan harvest rituals, are common in many of the present-day festivals.
Some of the foods the relatives will be eating are on my previous posts.
There will also be baked capretto (kid) and wild spring greens collected from their property and sauteed in virgin olive oil and garlic (see top photos, taken at one of the other family feasts in the country house).
Franca will make scacce and sguogghiu (alternatives to scacce)
They will be buying cassata from the pasticceria (pastry shop) and making cassatedde. In Ragusa (and nearby Modica) these are little baked tarts with a pastry bottom and a ricotta, sugar, egg and cinnamon. Some add candied orange.
In the rest of Sicily, cassatedde are ravioli like pastries and fried.
The pasta will be a must. Zia Niluzza will be making gnucchateddi (causunedda) all night for so many people!( She never takes off her jewellery when making pasta). She may even make large ricotta ravioli with a strong ragu made with pork and conserva (strong tomato paste).
And there will be homemade liquers: Nocello (made with green walnuts) and Mandarinetto (made with green mandarins)
And small sweets: Cotogniata (quince paste) rolled in sugar and Giuggiulena (or sesame seed torrone). It is also called Cubbaita and is said to be a legacy from the Arabs who lived in Sicily.
1k honey, 1 k sesame seeds, 4 cups sugar, ½ teaspoon of each: cinnamon, cloves, grated orange peel.
Melt the sugar in a large saucepan on very low heat, when sugar is melted add honey. Add sesame seeds and aromatics mix well. Remove the torrone from the heat quickly (or the sesame seeds my burn). Let cool slightly.
Pour mixture onto a tray with baking paper or a marble that has been coated with oil. Spread evenly and quickly before the torrone hardens, cut into rectangular pieces before it cools and store in airtight containers.
Photos of Stefania and Aurelio’s country house:
Aurelio with one of his horses on the property.
One of the many lunches at the property. On this occasion the local cheese makers were invited…..this is why there are all those men at the table. They bought cheeses for us to taste.