Saturday, December 30, 2006

Micky Dees
I know we over indulge at Christmas but some people are trying and going to the gym to burn off extra calories. Some are also taking a pit stop after the gym at McDonald's...not mentioning any names?! Am sure it was a one off and they enjoyed it while they were eating it but as long as it is done in moderation....the famous saying for everything.

This pic was taken in Leicester Square in Nov. 2005 when there was a protest outside of McDonald's. I love the way the guy inside is causually eating his grub. I didn't get all the info on the protest but am sure it was something to do with Micky D's being a multi-national congolomorate that exploits everything from farmers to workers. Anyhow to each his own, it is not on my list of places to eat. I prefer to have fresh, whole food that I know what the ingredients are or how to pronounce them. Am going to rent the video Fast Food Nation soon and may have an interesting post for that too.

Get ready for the new year and detox!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sugo with soul
Sugo (tomato sauce) as made in the Dolce kitchen.
The basis of all Italian cooking, tomato sauce. From the lonely red tomato you can make an abundance of recipes that are traditional to Italian cooking. Boiled, peeled, fried, baked, sliced and diced the tomato provides the base for some of my favourite Italian foods -pizza, pasta and bruschetta. The meatballs are also ones that were made by Momma Dolce and have been in demand in the UK and Canada. They were almost frozen and delivered by airplane to some demanding customers, but I wasn't sure if I could explain to customs if I did get caught what I was doing with frozen meatballs in my case?! Meatball secrets will come in another post.

Anyway -tomatoes are supposed to be great for your health. So learn how to make a nice tomato sauce, it is easy - just use fresh ripe tomatoes or buy canned tomatoes from the shop (with no extra ingredients) saute some onion and garlic, add the tomatoes a little bit of water, salt, pepper, basil and oregano and let simmer until smooth (about an hour) may need to add a little sugar to remove some of the acidity but try and buy good quality canned tomatoes and voila, a great sauce is ready for all your cooking needs.

Hard to believe but tomatoes came to Europe in the sixteenth century and were generally avoided because they were believed to be poisonous...luckily the Europeans figured out what to do with the little red rounders.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Pig's Tale

The much awaited 'Palazzolo pig' was served on Christmas Day. There was a pregnant woman craving it on Christmas Eve and others providing hype to the pig that was roasted specifically for the occasion.

A pig in the trunk story was told and then finally on Christmas Day the pig was unveiled. I felt a bit sick at the initial unveiling, others commented on the pig's tail or what they initially thought was a roasted shriveled up pig-penis. It was quite a laugh - the apple was not red as all had imagined and the electric knife did not work initially but after plugging in the cord, the machine roared to life and our pig was carved.

I think the pig should've been cut behind closed quarters as it would've made eating it more enjoyable. My issue with meat is that I do not like to see it raw in any format - I somehow like to just see it magically cooked!

Anyhow, the roasted pig or 'porchetta' as said in Italian was delicious. Final last words of the evening,

'I am waiting for my parents, they are in the basement cutting the pig!'

That said by a tired 8 year old is quite funny! Hope you all had a Christmas filled with family and great food.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Apprentice
We got him making us Christmas dinner too...
He is getting good at rolling pizza dough, watch out Terroni!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Eat, drink and be merry
Now this is a wine cellar! This space churns out several bottles of wine which are consumed all year long. This is a pic taken at my Uncle Vince's home. This part of the house smells wonderful and feels just like a winery - all cold and musty with the smell of grapes, wine and fermentation...can you smell fermentation? Anyhow, eat, drink and be merry this time of year! Try some Sicilian wine from the shops or find an Uncle Vince type who may make you try some home brew.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tis the Season
Fa, la, la, lah! Well have you made your gingerbread house or train yet? We did so last week and so did some other family members, ours miraculously still has 99% of its candies still attached to the frosting, but theirs has about one poor candy holding on for dear life!

I have to tell you we are becoming a lazy society as an easy to make gingerbread house is now so pre-packaged you can almost make it with your eyes closed. Also, there is no imagination to creating your own home, you are following instructions to create a simple structure. Hmmm...four walls and a roof, how do I assemble that? I have to admit that this year I got the easy to assemble fool proof package, with icing already made (isn't icing just sugar and water?) but next year the home made gingerbread is coming out fresh from the oven!

Secret Gingerbread Recipe
225g Self Raising Flour
110g Brown Sugar
110g. Butter
½ Egg (Beaten)
1 Large Tablespoon Golden Syrup
2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
2 Teaspoon Rum or Brandy

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Breed for dish washing
The downside to cooking is the washing up. My sis always said she wanted to breed so she could get her kids to cook and clean...the pic is scary then non?
My nephew is a gem and is so helpful when it comes to cooking, he is doing well at stirring, beating and licking the spoons after making cookies and he also loves to splash with the water when washing the dishes. Don't you love his makeshift apron? It is a table cloth so he is not completely soaked.

Am sure once he gets older and realises it is work he will not be volunteering in the kitchen so much...the breeding must then continue.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Daily Gorgeosity

As Lainey sometimes chooses the 'Daily Gorgeosity' this is today's gorgeosity. Not only is the boy in the pic tres handsome, the cookie he is holding is gorgeous as it just melts in your mouth. It is made with such basic ingredients but it melts in your mouth and it is covered in a thick layer of frosting. It is in the cookbook, but also being made by Terroni Restauraunt (Queen St.West).

Yum, check out their food and gorgeous staff!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cookbook advice

Thx to my friend Stefano who gave me some great advice tonight on cookbook writing, publishing and more...He co-wrote the Grazie restaurant cookbook to commemorate their 15th anniversary at the corner of Yonge and Eg. He self-published and they have sold a large amount of copies so far which is great news! I have been collecting recipes for the last few weeks and have not thought about some of the other elements that Steve got me thinking still collecting recipes but the next phase is about working on the writing bits.

Any Sicilian kids with any stories of their Nonna's feeding (or rather stuffing them!) with food please contact me so I can write down some funny little stories.

Am going to start with my cousins and am sure our charismatic and funny grandmother will give me enough content but would be good to hear about other spunky and fun grandmothers giving their grandkids big hunky paninis with several types of meat and cheese while the other kids at school had pbj-(peanut butter and jelly) sandwiches on thin white bread. I know we did a lot of swapping--mmmmmm!

We never had those nor any canned pasta which my mother would sometimes indulge us with but I think she also had to hide that from our Nonna too as pasta from a can is a definite no, no in any Italian family. But Chef Boyardee was sooo good to us -the MSG and chemicals were a treat!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Recipe Books

There is a common theme when I am collecting recipes from family members, either they

a) do not have them written down and know them from memory or
b) they have their recipes written on pieces of paper like the one in the picture - these papers come from drawers, from filing cabinets, dirty envelopes, found inside photo albums, books and other mysterious places like cookie jars and other containers of the sort.

It is actually quite entertaining to see where the recipes emerge from!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ricotta -ree-kawt-tah
Ricotta is an Italian dairy product/cheese made from the whey which is left over from making cheeses such as mozzarella or provolone. The term "ricotta" means "cooked again" ("re-cooked") in Italian, referring to the second processing of the liquid to produce it. It is also great on toast with some sugar sprinkled on top!

In Canada and the UK it is usually made from cow's milk but in Sicily it is made from sheep and goat's milk. So when you taste a cannoli in Sicily it tastes very different from one bought elsewhere. It seems to have a different flavour and taste better, not sure if it is the atmosphere or that you are having it at the mecca of cannoli land.

So what is a cannoli? It is a tubular pastry shell stuffed with a sweetened filling of whipped ricotta, sugar and it often contains nuts (like pistaccios in pic), orange rind/lemon or bits of chocolate.

Here is a pic of a gigantic one that was served to dozens at a wedding in Sicily earlier this year. It is an easy recipe, most people who make them now buy the shells as they are easy to find and purchase. Some old-schoolers do make the shells which is a long process, includes deep frying and using special moulds.

A great xmas treat and sooo delicious -get one if you can at an Italian bakery or make it yourself. Below are pics of bite sized ones served at a b-day party in Sicily a few days after the wedding- ah food glorious food and Sicilan hospitality!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fashion Designer Bruschetta

Made by my talented, pharmacist by day - fashion designer by night, friend (she also made Santa's belt!) this bruschetta was a twist on the original recipe, it had marinated eggplant.

So delicious!

The recipe:
-finely chopped tomatoes
-finely chopped garlic and onion
-basil or parsley as desired
all marinated in olive oil & use salt & pepper to taste
serve on crusty bread

See pic-although I think someone took a bite of one of those pieces and put it back...that is how good it was.

Marinated eggplant is another recipe collected from Aunty Elenor so that will be posted soon!

Thx Fashion Design-armacist!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

East coast Santy rocks the halls
Ladies and Gents, boys and girls yesterday was a great day in history, Mr Claus was tall and skinny (I think a first) he did some odd version of the running man (see pic -must've been training for the big trip on the 24th -or recently watched Napoleon Dynamite), the food was in abundance (as usual) and I think almost everyone (or their mammys) MADE what they brought.

And even though it was hard to manage, the twinkling, tree formed, dutch braided and even the joker inspired Christmas hats were worn in a larger percentage this year! I know shocking - I had some lame excuses about people being pregnant and not being able to bring boiling water or strawberry salad but everyone did well -good work laydees!

And the hostesss with the mostess (is that a word?) was as usual the star of the show, for each year without the help of (CGA-add a few letters for real name)Momma Dolce the event would not be even close to what it was - she is a natural Martha with matching candles, napkins and decor which made the place sparkle.
I will post more but here are a few pics...