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COOKING IL VOLO STYLE 3 by SUSAN

Piero’s – Pasta with Tomato Sauce

I’m sure by now you figured out that Piero loves Pasta. So, I will make Pasta with Tomato Sauce.
In Sicily they use a very rich tomato sauce. But, before I get to the recipe, let me tell you a little bit about the town Piero lives in.
Naro is a small medieval town in the province of Agrigento, not far from the Valley of the Temples.
The hill town offers stunning views of the surrounding hills, all the way down to the sea.

This monumental city has a very ancient history, dating back to the Sicani, the most ancient inhabitants of the island. According to ancient Greek writers, Sicans, where the original inhabitants of central Sicily. The Greek historian Thucydides believed the Sicani to be Iberians from Spain who were driven out by the invading Siculi into the central parts of the island. (From Sicans and Siculi derives the name Sicily.) They were also invaded by Arabs, Normans and Swabians. We can find remnants of their presence everywhere: from the ancient city gate, the only one left from the seven gates, to the mosque which was transformed into a Norman Duomo. There is also an ancient Jewish quarter and the Medieval Chiaramonte Castle which rises high above the city.

The monuments, also, tell us about Naro’s important history. The city received the title Fulgentissima (Splendor) and had a seat in the Sicilian Parliament. There are many churches, in particular, the Church dedicated to Maria SS Annunziata (Our Lady of the Annunciation). Within the church we find many treasures including the statue of the Madonna of the Chains by Antonello and Giacomo Gagini. This beautiful church also has a medieval baptismal font.

Note: When the Spanish invaded they brought along Empanadas which Piero mentions in his story and calls by its Sicilian name “impanate.” This is how Piero described them, “Impanate are rolls of pizza dough with vegetables inside, a typical dish of my area.”
In Naro, there is an old tradition which says, “The righteous, before going to paradise, take a tour of the island to say farewell to seven ‘special’ places in Sicily: the Castle of Naro, which is windswept day and night; Caltabellotta, coiled up around the rock; Mount Erice, that looks towards Africa; Ustica, a small island in a green colored sea; Stromboli, the volcano that mingles with the waves; Ortigia, the ancient Greek island…” (I count six – I checked and couldn’t find seven). Piero, do you know what the seventh one is???
The most important event for the inhabitants of Naro is the Feast of San Calogero, the black Patron Saint, who is celebrated on 18th and 25th of June. In nearby Sciacca you can visit the Sanctuary of San Calogero.
Now to the Tomato Sauce.
I’m going to give you two recipes. One is the actual recipe with whole tomatoes. It’s wonderful if you want to do the work. The other is a simpler version which is very easy to make. The sauces in this region are very rich.

Tomato Sauce from the region of Agrigento

  • 2 1/4 lb. of ripe tomatoes (you can use vine tomatoes or plum tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pasta of your choice
Preparation:
Wash and dry the tomatoes, cut them in half and crush them. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan together with garlic, (If you were making this for Piero, you would have to leave out the garlic because he’s allergic to it.), onion and basil. Add a small amount of water. A half cup should do. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and puree them. I’m sure you don’t have a mill to puree so, I suggest you take a colander and place it over a saucepan. Add the tomatoes to the colander and crush with your hands. Be careful it’s hot. You could use a spoon to do this.
This will allow the sauce to flow through and what will remain are the skins and seeds. Next, put the tomatoes back in the saucepan, add oil, salt and pepper and heat over a low flame to thicken the sauce. Cook for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt.
When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready.

Before I get to the simple recipe, I want to mention Strattu. Strattu is Sicilian word for tomato paste. The Sicilians jar their tomatoes in the summer for winter use. While doing this, they take some of the tomatoes and spread them out on a ceramic or wooden tray and leave it out in the sun for two – three days, constantly stirring it, to turn it into tomato paste. It takes about seven pounds of tomatoes to make one jar of strattu!
The first sauce I gave you the recipe for is a plain sauce that would be used alone or with fish. When making a pork (ex. sausage) sauce or any meat sauce (meat balls) you would add strattu (a couple of tablespoons) to it because pork will thin your sauce and, strattu gives it a thicker consistency.

Simple Tomato Sauce

In place of ripe tomatoes use one can of plum tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • pasta of your choice
Preparation:
In a saucepan heat the olive oil, add onions, garlic (remember Piero is allergic to garlic) salt & pepper. Sauté a few minutes and then add tomatoes. Now add the basil. After the sauce bubbles, lower the flame. Let it cook for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt. When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready. If you want to make a meat sauce add tomato paste (two or three tablespoons) as a substitute for strattu. Serve with red wine. Of course, my choice, is always Montepulcino d’Abruzzi.

Buon appetito!

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

~Personally Speaking~ Tribute to Ignazio via Cappiddruzzo di Ricotta!

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I am so happy to say, “We did it, we did it!!”   Penina and I made our first ever “Cappiddruzzo” di Ricotta…a Tortello in honor of Ignazio!

Jane says…

It was not hard.  The recipe is very easy. (See earlier post from 11/6/17 for recipe.)  I used the pre-made pizza dough you can buy in the refrigerator section at your grocery store.  I have to add a correction to the original recipe…roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick, NOT 2-3 cm!    The ricotta-chocolate chip-vanilla-cinnamon combination is delicious.  I think they taste best just fresh out of the oven!   Besides sprinkling the finished top with sifted powdered sugar, I dressed it up a little more with a drizzle of melted Nutella…all the while listening to IL VOLO serenading me in the back ground!

Tortello 4 (1)

 

Penina says…

I found it very easy. The dough that I had came in a big thick rectangle. I was able to pull it apart into two thinner rectangles because the dough looked layered and I just turned up a corner and started pulling. It was a lot easier to roll it out that way as it was already a lot thinner. I started out doing what it said–folding it over twice.  Then I had a lot of filling left, so I went back and cut off the parts that were just empty dough and re-rolled them and made a couple more to use up the filling. I have plenty of ricotta left–I may try it again with the pizza dough in a few days (after we eat these up!).

If you have bought dough this is a no brainer.  How hard is it to stir up the ingredients? My grandkids could do it (okay, two of them couldn’t!).  The hardest part is rolling out the dough.

 

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Now we are ready to sit down with a cup of Lavazza coffee, and feast on our creations!  The only thing missing is YOU, our fellow Flight Crew members.  How we wish we could all sit together at the same table and share our friendship in person, while enjoying a special treat in tribute to Ignazio, (and of course we can’t forget his brothers, Piero and Gianluca!)

 

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ENJOY…Godere!

 

Credit to owner of Ignazio photo and to Nina, for the inspiration of the Tortello!

Recipes of Italy ~ Leelee

Hi folks,

 

Ricette Italiane – by Leelee

Happy 4th of July (tomorrow) everyone! 

Summer Fare (Italian Style)

A great start to a wonderful meal!

Insalata Caprese (compliments of our Ann)

Leelee- Insalata
Ingredients:
4 Tbsp 100% Extra virgin Olive oil
10 fresh cherry tomato cut into large chunks
2 mozzarella cut into pieces
basil chopped
black olives chopped
salt
black pepper
Preparation:
In a large bowl put the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olives, salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil then gently mix thoroughly. Allow the mixture to stand for 15 min. Serve.

Anyone who knows Italians knows you have to have pasta as the second course. Okay, okay, maybe this can be the main course.

Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomatoes (compliments of Foodnetwork.com/Recipes)

Leelee - rzo with SausagueEI1209_Orzo-with-Sausage-Peppers-and-Tomatoes.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

Ingredients:
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 pound orzo pasta
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 ounces (2 links) mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
Directions:
Using tongs, place the bell peppers over a gas flame. Cook, turning occasionally, until the skins are charred on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. (Alternatively, place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil for 5 to 8 minutes, until charred.) Place the charred peppers in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam for 20 minutes. Under running water, peel away the charred skin from the peppers. Pat the peppers dry with paper towels. Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock, water, and kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage and saute until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the sausage mixture, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss well to combine all ingredients, adding reserved cooking liquid, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Top with the ricotta salata and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve.

Dessert

Chocolate Chip and Mascarpone Cupcakes (also compliments of Foodnetwork.com/Recipes)

Leelee - Choc chip cipcake

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup water
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (recommended: Nestle morsels)

Ganache:
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (recommended: Nestle morsels)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Special equipment: 2 (12-count) muffin pans with paper liners
Directions

For the Cupcakes:
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
Combine the unsweetened chocolate and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese until the mixture is smooth.
Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl for 30 seconds. Stir in the mascarpone mixture. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture. Stir until just blended.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with no crumbs attached. Cool the cupcakes completely before dipping, about 1 hour.
For the Ganache:
Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until small bubbles appear on the outside edge of the cream. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate chips. Using a fork, gently stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Dip the tops of each cupcake in the ganache and transfer to a baking sheet. Place the dipped cupcakes in the refrigerator to set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to return to room temperature before serving.
Cook’s Note: For puffier cupcakes allow the batter to rest in the muffin pans for 20 minutes before baking.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

MANGIA E GODERE!!
~~Leelee

Ricette Italiane – By Leelee

It’s June! Why do I feel like there is something symbolic about June? Is it because summer’s here? No, that’s not it. Is it because school’s out? No, that’s definitely not it. Is it somebody’s birthday? I think that’s it! But who? Maybe you can all help me. Until I figure it out, I am posting a recipe for Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake. Why do I feel like Sicily represents this person? Anyway, if you know who it is, and you want to make this person a cake, here it is. Otherwise, make it for yourself and/or your family in honor of this adorable and talented Sicilian (what IS his name?).

Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake

leelee- Sicilian Ricotta Cheese cake

Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
32 ounces ricotta cheese, drained…
1 orange (for 2 teaspoons orange zest/grated rind)
⅓ cup flour
1 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 graham crackers (2 packets from a 14 oz box)
1 stick butter

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Generously grease a springform pan with butter.
For graham cracker crust, crush graham crackers in food processor until consistency of bread crumbs; stir with melted butter until mixture holds shape when squeezed. If needed, add a little more melted butter.
Firmly press graham cracker “crust” into bottom and along bottom sides of spring form pan; set aside.
Sift together flour and sugar in small mixing bowl.
In medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and orange zest. Slowly fold in flour mixture with spatula until well blended and smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, continuing to blend with spatula. Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour batter into spring form pan and gently smooth top with spatula.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until cake is firm all the way to top center. Cool completely and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set.

MANGIARE E GODERE!!
~~Leelee