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The Cooking and Cuisine of Sicily

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I'm not ready to leave the islands!  :cool:

We ate a Sicilian lunch on the roof today.  As I was heading up the stairs with the food on a tray, I told my husband that we were having a sort of deconstructred cous cous.  Without looking up, he said, "Don't worry, I'm sure it will still taste good."  Sort of puts the whole 'hoity-toity' cuisine thing in perspective, don't you think?

So, deconstructed cous cous as follows:

Agrumi scented couscous

Fresh, hot, spicy tomato salsa (as in "Whoa!" hot)

Tiny little crispy fish fillets (don't worry, all the heads and bones went into the brodetto)

A bottle of Planeta's La Segreta (we discovered the 'secret' of La Segreta...when you open a bottle, you will finish a bottle)

Fresh figs for desert.





Figs from our neighbors trees


Judith, I really like your lunch, looks so much better than my simple salad!

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So, Alberts, don't keep us hanging! What did you have for lunch???

Well, I would guess that lunch was probably a slice of pizza, but dinner was involtini di pesce spada using the missing half of the fish below.


Followed by one of these deserts


I might add that, in my opinion, there is something utterly unique about deserts in Sicily. Even the same item prepared elsewhere in Italy doesn't compare. I'm not sure why.

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Thanks Franci! It was a gorgeous, sunny, almost Sicilian kind of day.

Alberts: keep those photos and deserts coming! YUM!!!

The pesce de spada is soooo good. Does anyone know, is it politically incorrect to eat Sicilian swordfish? Meaning, is the swordfish population stable and plentiful or over fished.

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  • 4 weeks later...

(And uh I trust a pecker is um a picker?)

From my understanding based on a Batali show with a similar recipe, it's a play on a variety of bird called a fig-pecker because that's what it eats (hey, we actually discussed it earlier in this very thread in fact!). Somehow it's evolved along the way to be made with sardines, but in the same style as they cook the birds.

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Small birds are extremely popular in Italy, to the point that places like the Tuscan countryside are strangely silent (somewhere in my Tuscan blog, there is a photogrpah of some sparrows on sale). There is a whole range of dishes that reflect this. Either things that would go with cooked small birds or dishes that have some resemblance to the cooked birds.

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Small birds are extremely popular in Italy, to the point that places like the Tuscan countryside are strangely silent (somewhere in my Tuscan blog, there is a photogrpah of some sparrows on sale). There is a whole range of dishes that reflect this. Either things that would go with cooked small birds or dishes that have some resemblance to the cooked birds.

"BECCAFICO" cannot be caught anymore. It is forbiden by the law, but in some places they still do. It is actually a migratory species and it is not really the Garden Warbler


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  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks for the link, Klary and Shaya! I couldn't make it last night, though, since I didn't have pine nuts on hand.

I made Sicilian sweet and sour calf's liver instead.



I didn't use a recipe, but the pepper and onion combo was in several recipes I looked at, and I added some balsamic and stock while the onions were cooking down. The creaminess of the liver was delicious with the tangy accompaniment!

Nice crust!

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  • 1 month later...

Just a quick note to say that I finally ended up using my precious organic Sicilian pistachio paste to bake sniff, Alberto's gorgeous cookies for Christmas. Mine were not as luxurious in that I used almond meal insted of the more refined and delicate almond flour. However, I poked the still-soft bottoms of each cookie as soon as they came out of the oven, so I could stuff the centers of the sandwiches with that much more paste. So pretty, and so good. So, grazie mille, albiston!!!

I still have about a tablespoon or so left, ummm...

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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That sounds really good, Pontormo!

We fooled around with almonds too...a sort of chopped almond candied with orange peel.

But...I went back to Sicilian granita-ville for Christmas Eve desserts:



espresso with sweet cream

These deserts are simple and palate cleansing after a heavy, long meal. Can't wait to find some decent blood oranges!

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Do you remember in the summer when we were eating swordfish, and capers, and tomatoes and pine nuts? With mint.

This is a winter version. I'm going to go to the 'not-eating-in-season' purgatory....I'm sure, but it was worth it.gallery_14010_2363_33172.jpg

Edited by hathor (log)
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Hathor, that looks great. I also have swordfish on my mind.

I'm thinking of making this Swordfish impanata

The crust is very special, flavored with orange zest & juice, sugar and white wine. A bit sweet, which is a perfect counterpart to the spicy salty hearty filling. I think swordfish and salted capers are a match made in heaven and this dish makes the most of that lovely flavor combination. Everyone should try this! (I'll gladly Pm the recipe  :biggrin: )


the star of a very special dinner I'm planning. It's a big dinner for about 12-15 people.

Now, I'm having a hard time picturing this pie within a menu. What to serve before, after, with it? I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask but I thought I'd start here.

Edited by Chufi (log)
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Hi Chufi!

12-15 people is already a pretty big number, also as Kevin, I would consider serving it as appetizer if you don't want to end up buying a huge quantity of swordfish.

I'd consider some possibilities:

1. rustic dinner and go tapas style: croquettes (potatoes crocchè and milk crocchè, these are croquettes made with a very thick besciamelle and egg yolk and parmigiano, a very thick mornay); panelle; arancine; your impanata, scacce, some vegetable like fried pumpkin etc.

2. impanata as appetizer, anelletti , a nice mix of fried fish with vegetables and a ricotta tart.

3. Impanata, some light fish soup and a baccala' alla messinese, cannoli or cassatine

3. Impanata and a traditional fish cous cous, a cassata light, or a pistacchio and ricotta ring or againg a ricotta tart

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Franci, welcome back! Great suggestions.

Klary, I think the idea of making 1-2 large impanatoni :unsure: would work, too, if you cut them in wedges. It's just that it would be kind of fun to hold the individual impanatini.

Hathor, your photo got me into the mood for Sicilian fish this weekend when I was surprised by fresh sardines sitting on ice at Whole Foods. One of my favorite dishes during the Sicilian month was pasta with fennel and sardines...

I ended up making something Venetian, so I will have to wait to report.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Chufi, what if you served the swordfish as a small fish course? I like the idea of individual servings...easier to plate quickly, IMHO. Your dinner parties always look like so much fun.

I've been craving some spicy Sicilian swordfish couscous....

(Pontormo: I also cheated and made some Venetian style sardines! Must be something in the air. :laugh::laugh: )

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  • 6 months later...

Come summer, my cooking interests invariably turn Sicilian. The fact that I spent one July making almost exclusively Sicilian dishes is what inspired, eventually, my yearlong cooking project and then by extension, these threads.

Here's the chickpea flour fritters so popular in Sicily:


To follow, I made pollo all'vin cotto, chicken with "cooked wine", from Mario's Molto Italiano book. Chicken is braised with standard aromatics, chilies, cinnamon, and a cooked red wine syrup, then finished with vinegar and honey. It is such a well-layered dish and the exotic smell it fills your house with on a Sunday is worth the effort alone. I served it with couscous with almonds and raisins and spicy broccoli with lemon:


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