~ Palermo & Taormina
Sicilian Caponata ~ Eggplant Relish
Eggplants were introduced into Sicily by the Arabs. This relish, served over pita triangles or garlic toast, can be a throwback to more ancient times by substituting powdered almonds for the tomatoes. Sometimes a light dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder is added to this recipe.
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
- 1 ½ lbs Eggplant, cut into ¾-inch cubes, skin left on
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- 4 inner Celery stalks, chopped
- 1 Onion, finely sliced
- 6 oz canned Tomatoes, minced
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
- ½ cup Capers
- ½ cup Green Olives sliced
- Salt, as needed
Place the eggplant cubes on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt all over. Allow to sit for 1 hour, then, using other paper towels, dry them off.
Heat the oil in a skillet until hot but not smoking and sauté the eggplant cubes until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the chopped celery and fry it in the same oil until it is golden, then remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the onion until it is soft, then add the tomato. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and vinegar and heat them. Add the capers and olives and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the eggplant, celery and onion/tomato mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for about an hour.
Serve at room temperature.
Fettuccine Di Carciofi ~ Fettucine With Baby Artichokes & Parma Ham
That faddish vegetable of the early Renaissance is revived in this pasta dish with a Renaissance of its own—baby artichokes. To prepare the baby artichokes, slice off the tops and bottoms and remove any of the purple or pink leaves. Drop in ice cold water with lemon juice, let set for 20 miuntes. Steam or boil them until tender, then cut them into quarters, lengthwise.
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 1 cup Parma ham, julienned
- 2 tbsp Shallot, chopped
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 1 cup Chicken stock
- 4 cups hot Fettuccine, cooked ‘al dente’
- 1 ½ cups cooked baby Artichokes
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
- ¼ cup black Olives, chopped
- Italian parsley, minced, for garnish
Melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté the ham, shallot, and garlic for about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add the fettuccini and toss. Add the artichokes, stir, and heat through. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and olives, garnish with the parsley and serve hot.
- 1 large sponge cake, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Marsala
- 1 – ½ cups Ricotta cheese
- 2/3 cups Caster Sugar (fine sugar)
- 4 drops Vanilla extract
- 2 oz candied fruit, finely chopped
- 2 oz candied Orange peel, chopped
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate, grated
- 3 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
- 4 drops Green Food Coloring
- 3 tbsp Water
- ½ cup Whole Glacé Fruits
Line the sides and bottom of an 8-inch mold with aluminum foil, then line it with sponge cake slices, reserving some to cover the top. Sprinkle with half the Marsala.
In a blender, combine the ricotta, caster sugar and vanilla and blend on low. Add the candied fruit, candied peel, and the chocolate and mix until well – blended.
Add this mixture to the mold, cover with the remaining slices of sponge cake, and sprinkle with the remaining Marsala. Cover the mold with aluminum foil, press down on the molded ingredients, and refrigerate for 3 hours.
In a double boiler, melt the confectioners’ sugar and add the food coloring and water. Stir well with a wooden spoon and take care that it does not brown. Unmold the cassata and cover with the icing and the glace fruits. Slice thinly and serve.