Tag Archives: Pasqua

SCACCE and PIZZA and SICILIAN EASTER

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).

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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.

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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.

(link)‘Mpanata (A Lamb Pie, an Easter Treat)

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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.

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 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.

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Or what about a Sfincione?

(link) Sfincione di Palermo (a pizza/focaccia type pie)

There are other Easter type recipes on my blog….just key in Easter or Pasqua in the search space.

Go for it! Buona Pasqua!

PASQUA, Traditional sweets, Cassata Siciliana, Agnellino pasquale (Pascal Lamb)

This is a small pasticceria in Polozzi Generosa, in the Madonie Mountains, not that far from Palermo. I have misplaced the photos of the pascal lambs I found in this shop, but they were beautiful.

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These are Pascal lambs from Dolcetti. It will give you an idea of what I mean.

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In Sicily, the traditional pascal lambs (agnellini pasquali) are made with marzipan, however I have found a recipe for making the lamb out of pasta garofolata  (dough flavoured with cloves/ cloves are chiodi di garofano in Italian). This same dough is used to make ossa dei morti  (bones of the dead, customary Nov1st/ 2nd, the day of the Dead/ All saints Day).

Here is another version from a different Pasticceria in Sicily.

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For those of you who may wish to try making a pascal lamb (could be fun to make with children), here is the recipe from: Culinaria Italy, Claudia Piras, 2004:

Pasta Garofolata per Ossa Dei Morti o Agnellini Pasquali
2 pounds sugar — (approximately 1 kg)
2 pounds all-purpose flour — (approximately 1 kg)
10 whole cloves — ground
Almond oil
In a saucepan, bring the sugar to the boil in a little water. When the
sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and sift in the flour, stirring
constantly with a wooden spoon, being careful that no lumps form. The flour
MUST NOT be allowed to brown, it must stay snow white.Stir in the powdered cloves.
Once everything is thoroughly mixed and the flour is nice and white, remove from the heat.
As soon as it has cooled down enough to be handled make little bone shapes
or lambs out of the dough.
Alternatively, if you have appropriately shaped molds (spelling as in Culinaria text), you can brush them
with a little almond oil and fill with the dough.
Leave for a few days in a dry place. Remove from the molds if you used
them. Brush the undersides with water, place on a baking sheet and bake in
a preheated 350F (180C) oven. When the sugar has risen and turned the
distinctive colour of a monk’s habit, the cookies are ready.

NB. There are many recipes for making ossa dei morti; many use almond meal and egg white.

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In Sicily, the dessert has to be cassata – not the Neapolitan one made with ice cream, but with ricotta, and Sicilians  use sheep’s milk ricotta because they can.

Each time I make a cassata it always looks different, but they always taste good. on occasions I have even made made marzipan with pistachio nuts – a long process peeling off their skins!

 

To make cassata, see 2 different posts:
Cassata
Cassata 2

I always cover the cassata with marzipan. See:

 Pasta di madorla (marzipan)
Marzapane also called pasta reale

A slice of cassata

In pastry shops many cassate are covered with glassa (fondant):

There are many recipes where icing sugar is melted in water over a stove and then poured over the cassata – I find this too hard to work with and far too sweet. The following fondant is much easier to work with:
Fondant:
Beat 1 egg white till stiff, add 350 g of icing sugar (which has been infused with a vanilla bean). Add juice of one lemon and a few drops of green colouring. Beat till smooth. Spread over cassata. Many pasticcerie use white and green fondant.

Buona Pasqua.

 

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EASTER IN SICILY – A SICILIAN FEAST IN RAGUSA – Recipes and Giuggiulena

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 in Ragusa 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.

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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.

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Here are the links:
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.

Picture of cassatedde:

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.

Giuggiulena, recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1k honey, 1 k sesame seeds, 4 cups sugar, ½ teaspoon of each: cinnamon, cloves, grated orange peel.

PROCESSES

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.

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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.