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Filtering by Category: Regional Specialties

Caponata di Carciofi

Rosetta Costantino

Caponata di Carciofi (Sweet and sour artichokes stew)

A caponata featuring fresh artichokes, perfect to make in the spring when fresh artichokes are in season. Caponata is typically served as an appetizer or a side dish, at room temperature or cold.  Be sure to make the tomato sauce ahead of time.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs small artichokes, 20 small artichokes about 1 – 1.5 oz each

One lemon

1/4 cup Olive oil

3 stalks celery, about 1 cup chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (see attached recipe)

One tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed well

1/ 4 cup chopped green olives

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

Salt and pepper

Fill a bowl with cold water and squeeze the juice of a lemon into the water.

Clean the artichokes by removing the outer leaves, until you see pale yellow leaves.  Trim the stem and cut off the top of the artichoke and discard. Cut in quarters for small artichokes or slice about 1/4 inch thick lengthwise.  Place in the bowl of water and lemon juice.  Continue until all the artichokes have been cleaned.

Place two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy duty saucepan, add the drained artichokes and stir for few minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of warm water.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the water is evaporated and the artichokes are tender, but not fully cooked. 

Remove the artichokes from the pot and set aside.  Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the celery and onion until soft and translucent, add the artichokes and salt to taste. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, capers and olives.  Continue cooking for about 10 minutes until the artichokes are soft and fully cooked stirring occasionally.  Add the vinegar and sugar and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.  

The caponata should have a sweet and sour flavor.  Use more wine vinegar or sugar to adjust the balance.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool.

Serve at room temperature or refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

Copyright 2015, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.

Friscatula con Cavolo Verzo (Calabrian polenta with Savoy Cabbage)

Rosetta

With the rain finally arriving in the Bay Area, it is starting to feel like winter, and thanks to the rain and cold we are able to make and cure our annual production of Calabrian sausage , that we typically produce in January when the weather conditions are ideal for curing sausage, cold and humid. In addition to the curing of sausage I love to prepare Friscatula, Calabrian polenta with savoy cabbage, during this time of the year. 

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Buccellato Siciliano (Christmas Fig and Nut Pastry Ring)

Rosetta

This year I would like to share with you a traditional dessert that is prepared in Palermo, Sicily for Christmas – Buccellato. Think of the Buccellato as a super-sized fig cookie. The smaller size of this pastry is called Cucciddati or Buccellatini. I think it is more impressive (and easier) for the Christmas table to prepare one Buccellato than a dozen small cookies. 

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Dolci di Noci (walnut cookies)

Rosetta

This is the first recipe that I am sharing with you from my new cookbook “Southern Italian Desserts”.  It has become one of my favorite cookies and it couldn’t be more simple to make.  Can you think of any other cookie that has only three ingredients?  It is so good that anybody that has one wants more and more.

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Name that dessert contest --- The winner is .....

Rosetta

Back in April I shared five photographs from my new cookbook "Southern Italian Desserts"  in a post and asked you to guess the name of the following desserts and the region they come from.   Everyone that named at least one dessert correctly (name of dessert and region) was entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of "Southern Italian Desserts". 

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Eating our way through Calabria - Culinary Tour 2013

Rosetta

After spending a couple of weeks in Calabria and Sicily, I am back home.  During those weeks I spent 8 days with a fabulous group touring and eating our way through Calabria.   We had a great time and enjoyed many luscious meals. Take a look at some of the photos below and the remainder on Cooking with Rosetta Facebook Fan Page.

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Chiacchiere

Rosetta

Carnevale, or "Fat Tuesday", is coming up, so it is time to make chiacchiere. The word "chiacchere" translates into "chatter", "chit-chat", or "gossip", but in this context it is a strip of sweet pastry dough fried and coated with powdered sugar. These crispy strips of dough are made throughout Italy and are called by various names: I have heard them called bugie, cenci, crostoli, and frappe. Check this link for a list of all the names. "Chiacchiere" is what we call them in Calabria. Below are pictures and a short video to show you how to shape them.

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Tonno sott'olio: Tuna preserved under oil

Rosetta

Tuna preserved in olive oil is the pride of the Calabrian pantry. Most Calabrians that live near the Tyrrhenian coast preserve their own. My parents did not, since they lived inland, but were fortunate to be able to buy good tuna. At the end of every summer vacation we would spend in Calabria my son would have me pack as many jars as would fit in my suitcase.

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Cipolle di Tropea (The Sweet Red Onions of Tropea)

Rosetta

Calabria is famous for its sweet red onions named after the glamorous beach town of Tropea. During the month of May and June you can buy them freshly harvested at roadside farm stands.

Later, in June and July, they are sold at markets strung in a ristra.

The main growing area is south of Tropea, around Ricardi and Capo Vaticano. You will find these onions grown all over Calabria but the ones grown close to the sea are extremely sweet because of the sandy soil and the mild climate throughout the year. They come in two shapes, torpedo and flat round. I grow both types in my garden. If you want to grow them you can order the seeds online from Seeds from Italy or Garden Edibles and start them in early fall. You will then need to transplant them in October, and by June they'll be ready to eat. Here is what they look like in my garden right now:

In Calabria these red onions are eaten raw in salads; cooked in sauces; roasted or grilled; placed on top of pizza or in frittate; made into jam, and even added to ice cream!

Last year when I was in Calabria in May, right when they were being sold as young fresh red onions, I enjoyed them roasted under salt at Casa Janca in Pizzo. I never had them prepared this way and it was the most wonderful side dish of the evening. Signora Rita Callipo roasted them under a crust of salt and then served them with only a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I could have made an entire meal out of them. They were so good that when I got back home I pulled some young red onions from my garden and prepared them the same way. I just made them again last night and decided to share this simple recipe with you.

If you have never cooked under salt don't be afraid of the quantity required. The salt seals the food and keeps it moist, yet it doesn't get into the food. I roast whole fish under salt and it is truly the best way to prepare it. You can get my recipe for seabass under a crust of salt in my cookbook due out this fall.

Red onions just pulled from my garden:

Clean the fresh red onions by removing their roots and stems.

Mix 1.5 lbs of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (a half box) with enough water (about 1 cup) to make it the consistency of sand. Use only Diamond Crystal kosher salt; other brands are made by a different process, so the crystals have a different shape and are less absorbent.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, which will make cleaning easier, and make a bed of salt.

Lay the onions on top and cover them with the wet salt. Pat the salt down and make sure that no part of the onion is exposed.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Crack the salt crust.

Remove the onions and clean any salt that sticks to them. I also remove the outer layer of the onion.

Cut the onions in half and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a little sea salt if needed.

Give it a try.  They are so good!

Bocconotti calabresi

Rosetta

The Calabrian town of Mormanno is famous for sweet pastry tartlets called bocconotti, a word that literally means “small bites”, because they can be eaten in one bite. They are traditionally filled with grape jam or cherry preserves and covered with pastry dough. I baked a couple of them with grape jam (mostarda d’uva) so you can see what they look like.

Someone wrote to me last week saying that her relatives in Rende used to make bocconotti with an almond chocolate filling, and wondered if I had a recipe for them. I had never heard of this particular filling for them, so I promised her that I would do some research in my collection of Calabrian cookbooks and pamphlets. These books, by the way, are usually self-published, very small, and always have recipes for local food. You can usually find them in little stores and markets in Calabria.

I went through my collection and lo and behold, I found a recipe for bocconotti from Amantea, in the province of Cosenza, that are filled with almonds and chocolate. They sometimes have a bit of cinnamon and cloves when they are made at Christmas time. I also found other recipes for bocconotti with just an almond filling, like a frangipane.

Unfortunately a typical Italian cookbook usually gives you the ingredients but not all the amounts, so in a way I had to create my own recipe for the filling. I used my basic recipe for the pastry dough. I like the traditional bocconotti filled with jam but these are even better, a heavenly treat, especially when made with cocoa and good dark chocolate like Valhrona. I made them without a pastry cover as you see in some recipes, but you can add a cover of pastry dough to look like the traditional ones from Mormanno.

Make a batch of my pastry dough as follows in the recipe below. Take a small amount about the size of a ping pong ball and using your fingers press the dough into 1 1/2" tartlet forms (measured across the bottom). Trim the edges.

To make the filling, grind all the dry ingredients in a food processor.

Make sure you grind the whole almonds with the rest of the dry ingredients until very fine.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in the dry ingredients, about a quarter at a time. You should have a thick fluffy batter.

Spoon the batter into the dough-lined tartlet shells and bake for 15–18 minutes at 375 F.

Here are my beautiful bocconotti dusted with powdered sugar.

The bocconotti in the center are the traditional shape covered with pastry dough. If you prefer, you can fill them with any jam you like, or with Nutella. Below are the bocconotti with the chocolate almond filling.

If you make them let me know what you think.

Bocconotti Calabresi

Pastry dough:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch kosher salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Filling:

1/2 cup almonds, about 3 ounces

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 ounces dark chocolate

1/4  cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Make the dough: Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times to blend. Add the butter and pulse four to five times, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest. With the food processor running, add the egg mixture through the feed tube. Process just until the dough begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently, just until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. If refrigerated for more than 1 hour, you will need to soften the dough slightly by removing it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to use it.

Preheat the oven to 375° F

Make the filling:  Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and grind them until you have a fine powder.  Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold in the dry ingredients in the egg whites, about ¼ at a time.  When all the dried ingredients are folded in the egg whites, add the vanilla and stir.

Take a small amount of dough, about the size of a ping pong ball, and using your fingers press it into the tartlet mold up against the edges.  Trim excess dough.  When all the tartlets are done, place a heaped tablespoon of filling in each tartlet.  Place all the filled tartlets on top a cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 15 to 18 minutes until the dough is lightly colored.

Cool on a rack. When cool remove the bocconotti from the tartlet forms.   Dust with powder sugar.

Makes 16 bocconotti

Copyright 2010, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.