Tag Archives: Sicily

AGGLASSATO braised meat with a thick onion sauce

When a food is Agglassato (from a French word glacer) it is glazed. For example if it is a cake it could be glazed with glacé icing, glace cherries are glazed with sugar, the surface of a meat pate meat or fish could be glazed with a jellied stock. And to me this implies that the glaze has a sheen.

In Sicily there is a traditional dish called Agglassato also Aggrassato ( to further complicate matters it can be spelled Agrassato and Aglassato) and it is braised meat (veal, lamb, kid, tongue) cooked with large amounts of onions.It is also referred to as Carne Agrassata -meat carne =meat and it is a feminine word, therefore the ‘a’ at the end.

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Once cooked, the onions become very soft, the sauce is reduced and the onions became a thick puree Agglassato can also be eaten cold. This is when the onion sauce jellies, thickens and glazes the meat.

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Although this particular dish may have been influenced by French cuisine, lard rather than butter is used – lard being more common in Sicilian cuisine.

Agglassato seems to be a method of cooking meat which is fairly wide spread across Sicily with a few variations. Some use less onions, others add potatoes and in some parts of Sicily, especially in the South-eastern region grated pecorino cheese is added at the end of cooking. Sometimes the meat is cooked in one piece and held together with string, at other times it is cubed as in a stew.

The sauce (without potatoes) can also be used to dress pasta – remove some of the onion sauce for the first course (pasta) then present the meat for the second course with contorni (side vegetable dishes).

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The recipe is simple.

The ratio is:

1 kg meat to 1 kg onions
200 g lard or a mixture of lard and extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
½ -1 glass of white wine
rosemary or sage or bay leaves
meat stock (optional)

In a pan suitable for making a stew heat the lard, add the sliced onions, and herbs. Soften the onions on low heat and then add the meat (cubed or in one piece).
Toss the meat around until it is white on the surface (unlike other stews do not brown).

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Add the wine, cover and cook it over low heat for about 70 minutes per kilo of meat, less if the meat is in small pieces. Remove the lid about 15-20 minutes if the contents look too watery and allow the sauce to thicken.

If you are cooking kid or lamb (this is a common recipe for Easter especially in the south east of Sicily), the following ratio of ingredients is a useful guide.

2 kg kid, or lamb on the bone, cut into stew-size pieces
800g-1kg potatoes
500g onions
100g lard or a mixture of lard and extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
4 cloves of garlic (whole)
1 glass of white wine
rosemary or sage or bay leaves
1 cup of parsley cut finely
meat stock (optional)
100 g grated pecorino cheese

In a pan suitable for making a stew heat the lard, add the sliced onions, garlic and herbs (but not the parsley).
Soften the onions and then add the meat.
Toss the meat around until it is white on the surface. Add the wine, cover and cook it over low heat for about 50-60 minutes. Check for moisture and add splashes of stock or water if the stew looks too dry. In Sicily kid and lamb are slaughtered as young animals and depending on the age and tenderness of your meat you may need to cook it for longer.
Peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks and add them to the stew. Add parsley and stock or water to almost cover the potatoes and cook until they are done (probably 30 minutes).
At the end of cooking sprinkle with grated pecorino.

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In a previous post I have written about how my father used to cook tongue (lingua) in this way. Now and again he would also cook meat instead of tongue

See Recipe: Carne Aglassata-  Glazed tongue in onion sauce

Below is a photo of the whole tongue( lingua)  – this is removed from the sauce and sliced before being served.

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APPLE CAKE FOR BREAKFAST – TORTA DI MELE

 

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Whenever I visit my relatives in Sicily they cannot do enough for me. They fuss and fuss over my well-being and happiness and like all Italians they are constantly preoccupied about food. For them, maintaining me in a blissful state has to include the constant preparation of food.

It is common for Italians in all parts of Italy to eat light cakes at breakfast and this light cake is a torta di mele (an apple cake). It was made by my cousin Franca who lives in Ragusa (in Sicily).

Cathedral in Ragusa in the photo below.

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Franca made this in front of me and surprisingly on this occasion and for my benefit she weighed the ingredients (a bit of a rarity in an Italian/Sicilian kitchen where everything is done by estimation and touch, sight and smell.

The milk was not measured, but it was a splash, as she described.

When one encounters an Italian recipe for making cakes, listed as one of the ingredients is likely to be a proportion or a whole bustina of lievito. This is the leavening agent and each bustina (small envelope or packet) weighs 16g. In English lievito is translated as yeast, but the leavening agent in these packs is baking powder.

Italians use the same word (lievito) for yeast and baking powder – both are leavening agents but the way that they differentiate between the baking powder and dried yeast is that the packet of baking powder is likely to include a picture of a cake or/and include the phrase per dolci (for cakes). The bustina of dry yeast and will have a picture of bread or pizza on it or/and include per pane (for bread).

Fresh yeast is referred to as lievito fresco compresso (fresh compressed yeast) or lievito industrale (industrial) or lievito di birra (beer yeast).

The contents of each bustina di lievito is listed as being sufficient for 500g flour and for this cake Franca used a half of the packet.

Pears could also be used for this cake.

INGREDIENTS

250 g plain flour

8 g baking powder

150 g sugar – divided into three parts

2 eggs

75 g butter (melted)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 apples (she used Delicious apples)

grated rind of 1 lemon

a pinch of salt

a little milk (she says, as much as it takes)

icing sugar to sprinkle on top.

PROCESS

Peel and cut one apple into small, thin pieces, add the lemon rind and about one third of the sugar and set aside.

Mix the eggs with another third of the sugar, add the butter and oil and beat well – Franca used a metal spoon. Gently fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and a little milk to make a stiff batter. Fold in the pieces of apple.

Slice the other apple into thin slices – leave the peel, cut the apple in half, then into quarters and then into slices.

Pour the batter into a buttered baking pan (in Australia I use a spring back tin covered with buttered parchment paper). Place the apple slices in a radial pattern on the batter and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar.

Bake at 180C for 25 minutes and at 150C for about 20 minutes or so.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan, then sprinkle with a little icing sugar.

Franca in her kitchen.Franca MG_0272

And some fabulous Melbourne autumn fruit below:

Autumn Fruit platter hero

 

ITALIAN DRUNKEN CHICKEN – GADDUZZU ‘MBRIACU or GALLINA IMBRIAGA – depending on the part of Italy you come from

In Trieste my zia Renata used to make what she called Gallina Imbriaga (in dialect of Trieste- braised chicken in red wine), but as a child I thought that she called it by this name to make me laugh, and it did. I thought that the concept of a drunk chicken was hilarious.

Recently I decided to investigate the origins of this recipe and  it seems that  Friulani (from the region of Friuli Venezia Guilia, in a northeastern region of Italy) and i Triestini (who are part of this region) claim it as their own, but so do those from Padova (in the neighbouring Veneto region) and those from Central Italy particularly those in Umbria and Tuscany.

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The recipe in each of these regions, whether it is a pollo ubriaco (drunk) and pollo in Italian being the generic word for  gallina (hen) or a galletto (young cock or rooster) seem to be cooked in a very similar way with the same ingredients – chicken cut into pieces, red wine and the following vegetables – carrot, celery, onion, garlic and parsley – all common ingredients for an Italian braise. Some marinate the chicken pieces beforehand, and as expected the wine needs to be from their region, i.e. if it is a Tuscan recipe the wine must be a Sangiovese or Chianti and if from Umbria, the choice of wine must be an Orvieto or Montefalco.

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One recipe from Friuli  browns the chicken in butter and oil and also add brandy as well – drunken indeed if not paralytic.

Other variations are in the type of mushrooms: fresh or dry porcini or cultivated mushrooms. Rosemary is the  herb most favoured and parsley; some use sage and/ or thyme. The recipe is beginning to sound more and more like Coq Au Vin. So which came first… is it the French or the Italians ?

But I also found a recipe called Gadduzzu ‘Mbriacu (rooster) in Giuseppe Coria’s Profumi di Sicilia, and what I like about this recipe is listed as a variation – it is the addition of a couple of amaretti (almond biscuits) at the very end to flavour and thicken the sauce. Now that is a great addition!!

Coria suggests 1 onion, 1 carrot, heart of celery, 100g of porcini …. I added greater amounts of vegetables and used chicken legs (called coscie di pollo in Italian). Corai does not suggest using Nero D’Avola but this would be the preferred Sicilian wine to use.

1 chicken, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
200 g. mushrooms.
2 onions, sliced finely
2 carrots, diced
3-4 sticks from the centre of the celery, sliced thinly
½ litre of red wine
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 amaretti
Dry the chicken pieces with kitchen paper and brown them in the oil evenly. Remove them and set aside.
Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until golden in the same pan and oil .
Add the chicken, herbs, seasoning and the red wine, cover and simmer for about 20 mins.
Add mushrooms and cook everything some more till all is cooked (30-40 mins altogether).
Break up the amaretti into crumbs and add it to the sauce before serving.

 

 

 

SPAGHETTI CHI RICCI – SPAGHETTI CON RICCI DI MARE (Spaghetti with sea urchins)

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When in Sicily eating Spaghetti With Sea Urchins (Spaghetti chi Ricci) is a must.

They are relatively unknown culturally in Australia and have been next to non-existent commercially.
Sea urchins have a unique taste – they are considered a delicacy by Italians and are popular particularly with the Japanese, French, and Greeks. The gonads of both sexes of sea urchins are referred to as roe (which sounds nicer than testes and ovaries).

They are called ricci in Italy (means curly, the spines of sea urchins are curly at the ends) and when I was a child visiting Sicily, I remember finding sea urchins under rocks on the beach — family and friends wrapped their hands in newspaper and went looking for them at low tide. Most of the time it was very easy to find 4 to 6 sea urchins for each of us to eat raw — the urchins were simply cut in half using a very sharp knife, revealing the yellow-orange roe that was easily removed with a teaspoon and eaten from the spoon with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The next favourite method of eating them was as a dressing for pasta.

In my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking there is a recipe for this. I had great trouble finding sea urchins to cook (and to be photographed) for my book that was published November 2011.

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At the time I found it surprising that there are about 42 species of sea urchins found in Australian waters and although they can be found in many locations, only a few are good tasting. Most are exported to Japan. The market price for fresh, chilled sea urchin roe varies considerably depending on colour and texture.

The Tasmanian sea urchin fishery is now the largest in Australia and I purchased Tasmanian roe from a specialist sea-food vendor (Ocean Made) who deals mainly with restaurateurs. I found some whole sea urchins at the Preston Market but when I opened them I found them very inferior in quality.

In the photographs (from my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking) you see the work of the photographer Graham Gilles and food stylist Fiona Rigg. I was the cook. The photo of the boats at Mondello is by Bob Evans.

Spaghetti are traditionally used for this recipe, but I also like ricci with egg pasta, either fresh or dry  — narrow linguine  — a delicate taste, which in my opinion complement the sweet, fresh taste of the roe.

I ate my best ever pasta with sea urchins in a restaurant in Mondello (close to Palermo) and I am sure that this included lemon – grated peel and juice so I have included these in the recipe.

And one last thing — the sea urchins are not cooked and are mixed with the hot pasta at the time of serving. The aroma is indescribable. Bottarga is sometimes grated on top of the pasta and anchovies are commonly added to the sauce to accentuate the taste, but this is optional.

For 6 people

spaghetti, 500g. If I am using fresh pasta, I use 600g
sea urchins, 3-8 per person
garlic, 4-5 cloves, chopped finely
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
salt and freshly ground black pepper or chili flakes
parsley, ¾ cup cut finely
anchovies, 3 cut finely (optional)
1-2 red fresh chilies cut finely

finely grated lemon peel of 1 lemon, and the juice

½ cup of your best quality, extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top of the pasta at the end.
If you have purchased whole sea urchins, using a short and very sharp knife or scissors cut into the shell and enter the riccio di mare via the mouth (you will see the opening).
Split the sea urchins in half and remove the soft urchin flesh using a spoon. Place the roes into a bowl and discard all the rest. Break up the sea urchins into smaller pieces – they are soft so use a spoon.
Cook the pasta and while the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.
Heat the ¾ cup of olive oil, add the garlic and over slow heat cook the garlic slowly until it becomes translucent.
Add chili and anchovies – the anchovies will dissolve in the hot oil.
Add this mixture of oil to the hot just drained pasta at the same time as the sea urchins and toss quickly to coat.
Add the parsley, lemon peel and the juice. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately and top each portion with a drizzle of your best olive oil – this is best done at the table.
Finally there has been some interest in eating Sea Urchins:
Date with plates sends chills down urchins spine:
 
Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs, are the black, spiky creatures that lurk at the bottom of the ocean.
They prey on the kelp beds that are a vital habitat for the rock lobsters and abalone of the north-east coast of Tasmania and are considered one of the state’s worst marine pests. But have you ever thought of eating them?

Diver and seafood exporter Dave Allen has helped pioneer the sea urchin export industry in Australia and, in the process, has set about saving the reefs from being stripped bare by these pests.

Laura Banks. From Sunday Age, March 2, 2014.

I was pleased to see that sea urchins will be featured in a dinner called The Delicious Pest at The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival on March 9, 2014.

Sea Urchin Roe is seasonal and as mentioned above, it is available from (Ocean Made), fresh  and frozen when it is not in season.

It is also available from David Stringer at Kina Sea Urchins Australia:

We deliver all over Melbourne and Australia wide. We use air freight and provide the freshest sea urchin roe available across the country. All our processing is done with the highest degree of care in order to make our product the best and we pride ourselves on excellent customer service and quality of product. Last year we won a Victorian seafood of the year award for best customer service and quality of product.
We have a minimum order of 20 X 100gram or 150 gram punnets.
If that seems too much then you could suggest our products to friends to see if they would like to be included in the order. Please also note that when we have further shops open in Victoria then we will list them on our website. Customers can also sign up to our newsletter and stay informed of seasonal conditions, new products or anything regarding sea urchins.
Our new prices for 2015 are being implemented as we speak.
Welcome to Sea Urchins Australia.

 

 

ENPA (National Protection of Animals)

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.
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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.
Happy Easter
Marisa
                            E. N. P. A.

              Ente  Nazionale  Protezione  Animali

                                          Ente  Morale

Sezione Provinciale di Catania

Via Anapo nr. 45, Catania,  tel/fax 095270869 –  www.enpacatania.org – catania@enpa.org
COMUNICAZIONE AI MEDIA
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.
Catania, 28 marzo 2013

 

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SELZ, GRATTACHECCA and GRANITA (Icy drinks) )

This photo is of the drink kiosk in Sicily directly opposite The Duomo  (cathedral) in Palermo

The cathedral was founded by the Normans (1184) on the site of a Muslim mosque. There had been a Christian basilica on the site before that. If visiting Palermo it certainly is worth seeing to appreciate the various architectural styles of the Duomo. The cathedral is steeped with history: the decorative Islamic parts completed during the Norman times, added to which are  Gothic, Catalan, Aragonese embellishments – various rulers of Sicily who built on rather than destroying and beginning to build again. I really love this aspect of Sicilian architecture.

This photo is of a kiosk in Catania.

There are drink kiosks all over Sicily and many are much older than the one above and they sell drinks such as coffee, drinks and Selsa (selz) – freshly squeezed lemon juice, seltzer water (sparkling) and a pinch of salt – great for hot weather and drunk since ancient times. Helping replenish the salt you lose when you sweat.

Some readers may be reminded of sorbetto = Italian for sherbet  a beverage from the Ottoman Turks (serbet, sorbet, charbe zerbet ) that was made from fruit juices or extracts of flowers or herbs, exotic ones such as violets roses,musk and ambergris, combined with sugar, water and snow or ice. Italians developed frozen confections  even further during the Renaissance and the term sorbetto  probably came about because of a combination Of the  terms above and sorbire (old Italian expression, to drink’). Salt-and-ice churns later replaced the snow and probably led to the making of granita.

This photo was taken in Naples and this Napoletana (woman from Naples) is shaving a block of ice., which she then pours into a glass. She then asks you to select a syrup of your choice, pours it over the ice, and hands you the drink. This too is from ancient times. Once, of course, it used to be done with snow or ice from mountains and stored in deep caves for these types of drinks.

You may have seen people shaving ice in Rome – it is called a grattachecca (from word gratta – to scratch) and it is prepared with grated ice and topped with syrup or juice. it is different to granita – this is syrup and water which is then frozen and broken up (or churned) when it is frozen. Granita should have enough sugar in it to keep it crystalline. Alcohol also does the same trick and at the moment there is one in my freezer made of good quality, sweet (but gone flat) sparkling wine (Zibibbo), a good glug of St Germain (elderberry liqueur) and very little fresh thyme (from my balcony). I was not going to waste the wine. I present this granita as a palate cleanser – a between courses treat.

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POLPETTONE (in Sicilian purpittuni – a meat loaf on platter by Giacomo Alessi of Caltagirone)

I asked my butcher to mince some very lean beef for me – I was going to have it as steak tartare. I did not get around to using it and made a polpettone (a large meat ball/ loaf, called a purpittuni in Sicilian).

In previous posts I have written about polpette (meatballs) and braciole (meat rolled around a stuffing), and although making a polpettone is very similar to these recipes it gives me an opportunity to get a photo – visuals  are helpful when cooking a recipe.

In this polpettone, I have placed some stuffing in the centre, as one would do when making a farsumagru (a large, thinly pounded steak of young beef, rolled around a stuffing) and this time I have used a few slices of cooked ham, small bits of pecorino and hard-boiled eggs. In Italy, cooked ham is called prosciutto and what we call prosciutto in Australia is known as prosciutto crudo (raw ham).

The older, Sicilian recipes rarely include wine in cooking (vinegar, yes) so the wine is optional.

I need to mention the platter. It is one of Giacomo Alessi’s ceramiche (ceramics, just I case you have not guessed).

I bought my very first in Caltagirone, Sicily’s most important centre for ceramics and where Alessi’s pottery is based. He has since established other outlets; I bought the one in the photo in Erice (central Sicily) last year and I purchased another in Palermo.

I love his ceramics, especially the ones with the bright green border; these are based on traditional and very old designs.

I am attracted to his use of strong colours, the ornamentation and images he uses, so evocative of the past. All my cousins and their offspring have the very old, original platters scattered around their homes (not Alessi’s, but he has reproduced and revived the old designs). They had belonged to Rosa, my paternal grandmother (Ragusa), but unfortunately when they were distributed within the family I was out of sight and out of mind. Apparently, one of the many uses for these platters was to dry conserva (rich tomato paste), which was placed to dry in the hot, Sicilian sun.

For the recipe complete with photos, see HOW TO MAKE A POLPETTONE (in Sicilian purpittuni – a meat loaf).

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Ristoworld

A short time ago I became a member of an organisation called Ristoworld. This is an organisation that was first formed in Sicily, under the direction of Chef Andrea Finocchiaro who is based in Catania.

This is different to my other posts and I wish to explain why I am doing this.

Originally the group wanted to promote mainly Sicilian food&beverage – managers, sommelier, chefs and all staff involved in the trade as well as Sicilian produce. This group and its network have recently expanded. Andrea is still the President and he is working with Mario Principi, a group of advisers, representatives from all regions of Italy and from other parts of the world.

The initial concept of promotion Sicily has become the promotion of all things related to food&beverage of Italy – ‘all made in Italy’.

Recently I posted a message on their face book site (in Italian) about Mary Taylor Simeti. Mary is a leading Sicilian food writer living in Sicily who is coming to the Sydney International Food Festival– she is participating in a session is on October 9th.

Andrea has since asked me to publicize this photo on my site and I have agreed to do so – reciprocal thanks.

In summary, the photo is an idea of Andrea’s to demonstrate how culinary art and fashion can be linked (the sweetness of the chocolate with the beauty of the models). Michele Crimi, a Sicilian photographer of note is responsible for the photo; Lucia Russo, Angela Viola e Selene Eulalia Cabrabas are the models. It has been photographed in the scenic restaurant  Falconiera di Acireale, located the beautiful coastal city of Acireale in the north-east of the province of Catania, Sicily. The decorated chocolate centerpiece has been produced in collaboration with the ancient and famous Pasticceria Michelangelo Spina di Misterbianco. Although this is not mentioned in the article I was given to work from, there is promotion for the beauty of Sicily (Acireale and this restaurant) and the craft of the people involved in making this photo possible including the pastry cook.

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PRESNIZ and GUBANA (Easter cakes in Trieste)


In Trieste, while the Sicilian relatives were eating their celebratory desserts at Easter, we were either eating presniz or gubana (also called putiza) – both are made with similar pastry (gubana has yeast) and fillings containing different amounts of a mixture of nuts, sultanas, peel and chocolate. A little grappa or a little rum always helps.

The presniz or gubana are then placed into a round baking tin and coiled inside the tin so that when baked, the sides will join up and form a round shape when removed from the tin.

The preparation of gubana requires several steps in order to allow a sourdough to develop using very little yeast.

Pastry with yeast:
500 g flour 00
20 g of yeast
2 cups milk
130 g sugar
100 g butter
1 lemon, peel
1 egg yolk to complete
butter for the plate
3 eggs
salt
 
FOR THE FILLING:
150 g raisins,
60 g Mixture: candied citron,  candied orange, prunes, dried figs
150 g of walnuts
60 g of pine nuts
60 g almonds
100 g of dark chocolate
1 glass of grappa or brandy
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
30 g butter
2 eggs
grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon
 
Heat 4 tablespoons of milk and when it is warm, add the yeast and let it bubble.
Mix 100 g of flour with a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast dissolved in milk. Cover and allow to rise. When it has doubled in volume, add the remaining flour and remaining sugar, eggs, softened butter, a pinch of salt, grated lemon peel and milk. Work this into a dough. Allow to rest 24 hours.

Prepare the filling:

Soak the walnuts and almonds in boiling water, remove their skins and chop them finely.
Soak the raisins in alcohol for a couple of hours. Add the rest of the fruit cut into small piece sand soak for another hour.
Add grated chocolate  peel and pine nuts.
Add 1 beaten egg (beaten with a fork) and  soft or melted butter .
 
Roll out the dough on a towel in a thin rectangular shape (about 5 mm thick).
Fry the breadcrumbs in a little butter and when cool spread them over the dough.
Cover with the filling and leave a boarder around the edge (2 cm) . Roll it up on itself, in the shape of a coiled snake. Arrange on baking paper or buttered and floured baking tray.
Brush the surface with 1 beaten egg yolk, sprinkle with a little sugar and bake in a preheated oven at 190 ° C for about 45 minutes. Serve luke warm or cold (it cuts better and it is usually made well in advance of being eaten).
 

All you need to do is look at a map of Italy to understand why much of the cuisine in Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), is influenced by Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav traditions.

The apple strudel that is celebrated throughout the year and is a standard dessert in the kitchens of Triestini, has yet again a variation of the pastry, some of the nuts, peel and chocolate, but also raw apple. My mother always used the delicious apples because they were the sweetest. In all three desserts, the pastry is rolled around the filling. See Strucolo de Pomi

One year I went to Sicily for Easter and brought a presniz for the Sicilian relatives to try. I had gone to considerable trouble, buying it from what was considered to be the best pastry shop in Trieste and handling it carefully so that it would not be damaged while travelling.

There was no enthusiasm when I put it on the table, most of the relatives were too full to try it (it was presented with coffee and liqueurs after the big Sicilian Easter lunch after all), and those who did try the presniz did not express any great enthusiasm.

Tradition and only Sicilian food is everything for most Sicilians and I could probably say the same about any other region in Italy.

The traditional desserts for Easter in most of Sicily are made with ricotta. Many have cassata, made with sponge cake, ricotta, chocolate and candied peel, others, like the Ragusani  have cassatedde, small, baked ricotta filled tarts made with short pastry (cassatedde can be different shaped ricotta filled pastries in various parts of Sicily – some versions are smaller adaptations of cassata, some cassatedde are fried instead of baked). Very different, quite delicious and perhaps as interesting as presniz and gubana.