November and December are my least favourite months, they are always very busy and although much cooking gets done there is not the time to take photos or to write about it.
Although I am not one to stick to particular traditional, festive foods over the Christmas period there were some occasions where I was asked to make a particular dish.
Zuppa Inglese and Caponata Catanese must have made such a favourable impression on many friends because there are the preferred requests.
The Zuppa Inglese for one of the shared Christmas lunch this year was topped with Chantilly cream, preserved cherries soaked in Maraschino and bits of Torrone with pistachio. Instead of sherry traditionally used in English trifle, Alchermes/Alkermez is the traditional, ancient Florentine liqueur drizzled over the Savoiardi biscuits. I spooned egg custard between the layers.
Recipe for Zuppa Inglese:
ZUPPA INGLESE, a famous, Italian dessert
LONG LIVE ZUPPA INGLESE and its sisters
ALCHERMES/ALKERMES (The liqueur used to make Zuppa Inglese)
The essential ingredients of my Caponata Catanese, a Sicilian caponata from Catania, are eggplant, red and green peppers, celery and onion with green olives (I also added capers). Each of the vegetables in the caponata are separately cooked in olive oil and not mixed together until some sugar is caramelised before adding white wine vinegar that is evaporated and finally some tomatoes that are cooked till reduced to a cream.
Caponata is eaten cold.
I scattered this one with fresh leaves of basil, pine nuts and breadcrumbs toasted in some extra virgin olive oil. The breadcrumbs added the crunch.
Recipes for Caponata:
CAPONATA Catanese (from Catania) made easy with photos
A MOUNTAIN OF CAPONATA two days before Christmas
CAPONATA SICILIANA (CATANESE Caponata as made in Catania)
Home-made egg mayonnaise and Zogghiu, a garlic, mint and parsley green dressing are others; both sauces are fabulous for almost anything, the green sauce is particularly good for grilled food.
Both were excellent with crayfish and the green sauce was particularly good with grilled squid.
ZOGGHIU (Sicilian pesto/dressing made with garlic, parsley and mint)
GRILLED CALAMARI (CALAMARI ‘NTA BRACI (Sicilian) – CALAMARI ALLA BRACE (Italian)
PESCE IN BIANCO (Plain fish). MAIONESE (Mayonnaise)
I do like a meat broth and one dish I had not made for a very long time was Stracciatella, so quick and easy and so delicious.
Stracciatella can refer to a Roman soup, a soft and creamy, fresh cheese from Puglia, or a gelato flavour that originated in Lombardy.
The soup is named for the beaten eggs, which look like little straccetti (shredded little rags). The centre of the cheese also has straccetti – heavy cream with shards of soft, fresh mozzarella type cheese.
It is simply meat broth with eggs, chopped fresh parsley, grated nutmeg and Parmigiano.
To prepare, bring the meat broth to a boil. Using a fork beat the eggs with chopped parsley, nutmeg and grated Parmigiano and add the mixture to the broth over low heat, whisking constantly. You can make the soup as thick as you like.
Although the Christmas period is over, all of the recipes I have provided are summer recipes.
I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas period.