New web site and Twitter for an inside look at Sicily

14 06 2013

Please check out my personal web site for information on my books: joedamatoauthor.com.

Taste of Sicily is now on Twitter! Follow us at @scpellojoe





Flash Drive

6 05 2013

Flashdrive Skyline_NYCINCY-01Sorry for the delay in posting, but I’ve been working on the publication of my new book, Flash Drive.

If  you like detective stories, please go to amazon. com for the paperback or your Kindle Fire.

In a Cincinnati hotel, a female assassin drains the data from her victim’s laptop. The information stored on it can get her killed. She was contracted to send the hard drive’s information to a New York mobster, but reneges on that part of the deal.  She’s in a hailstorm; she can’t run, she can’t hide, nor can she escape the consequences of her latest kill.

 

When police detectives Jake Laird and Sam Ferris race to the hotel, they find a mobster’s accountant shot to death. Their investigation takes them to New York, where it becomes clear that they’re not the only ones chasing the killer. The Cincinnati detectives face a head-on collision with two powerful entities that also want to get their hands on the hitter: the New York mobster who issued the contract, and a corrupt politician in Washington.

 

But the assassin’s past experiences have taught her how to get herself out of difficult situations, and the detectives find themselves playing cat and mouse with a savvy killer.

 

 

 





SEEDS OF THE LEMON GROVE

22 12 2012

Can you avenge your father’s death by killing him?

Seeds of the Lemon Grove is the 80,000 word opening volume of a trilogy that demonstrates the corruption of the mafia through the roots of Sicilian history. It is a chronicle of the mafia’s brutal impact on its homeland. It is a record of a young man’s struggle to confront a family secret, as seen through a window into a world of what so many hear about, but so few truly understand.

Go to amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com for your hard copy or Kindle and Nook.

Print





Foods in Sicily

3 12 2012

Food in Sicily

The variety and complexity of the culinary art in Sicily is the result of thousands of years of history, the amassing over the centuries of different layers of civilization and culture. Sicilian cuisine is rich an elaborate, contributions to it from distant places. In fact, almost every dish have some ingredient from outside the island. There is the influences of Greek, Latin, Arab-Norman, Franco-Hispano.

The ancient Greek cuisine remained true to itself during the time of the Roman occupation, when the island was the ‘granary’ of the Empire.

Typical of Sicilian cuisine: as hors d’oeuvres, stuffed tomatoes, vegetable caponata, stuffed or crushed olives; as first course, pasta with sardines, pasta ‘ncasciata, pasta A la Norma, crispeddi, sfincioni. As main and side dishes we should mention swordfish A la ghiotta, aubergines prepared in various ways, sardines a beccafico, broccoli affogati, falsomagro and a great varety of cheeses, from pecorino to tuma to primosale. From the vast array of sweets and cakes we will mention cannoli, frutti di Martorana, agnello pasquale, pignolata and a great variety of granite.

Sicilian wines are of high quality, pure and strong with a punch in them and often a touch of Marsala quality. As well as the various types of Marsala, Bianco di Alcamo, Regaleali, Corvo di Salaparuta, various kinds of Moscato and Passito (Pantelleria), the excellent wines of the Etna district (white, rose and red), Malvasia delle Lipari, Ambrato di Comiso and Faro di Messina.





Sicilian Seafood

27 10 2012

The best way to understand the importance of seafood on the Sicilian table is to visit the fish markets in villages along the sea. I watched these villages come to life in the early mornings. Workers unloaded their catches onto tables full of ice. There were heaps of octopuses, buckets full of snails and tiny clams, and any other form of sea life imaginable. The fish came from Mazara del Vallo, Italy’s largest fishing port, in southwest Sicily, as well as smaller ports famed for specific things: anchovies from Sciacca, swordfish from Favignana., and Tuna from Trapini. Teenage boys carried espressos in tiny plastic cups from nearby bars to the fishmongers, who—arms flailing and voices raised—were negotiating with housewives and wholesalers and chefs.

Just think of it, the fish you eat for lunch were caught that morning.

This blog is filled with recipes from towns and villages throughout the island. Read, cook, and enjoy!





Sicilian Cheeses

23 10 2012

Ricotta Salata is an aged, salted Ricotta (cottage cheese whose Italian name literally means “re-cooked”) made from sheep’s milk, produced in the Sicilian heartland. Usually only the rind is actually salted heavily, leaving the core mild and quite sweet for an “aged” cheese.

Pecorino, as its name implies, is made from sheep’s milk (“pecora” meaning sheep). It is true that Sicily’s sheep population is ever diminishing, but in Italian regions, only Sardinia presently raises more sheep than Sicily. Like Tuma, Pecorino is sometimes flavored with peppercorns or other spices. Made throughout Sicily, where it may be considered the most widely produced aged cheese product, it is a favorite for grating over pasta. Its taste, though sharp, is often less pungent and dry than that of Caciocavallo, despite a distinctive flavor and texture.

Like Pecorino, Tuma is sometimes flavored with peppercorns or other spices. Unlike Pecorino, it does not age well and is best served with ham, wines and fruits as a table cheese. It has a sweet taste not unlike that of Provola, with an equally rubbery texture.

Caciocavallo is made from cow’s milk, though its cryptic name literally means “horse cheese” –the Sicilian word “cacio” sharing the same root as casein while “cavallo” means horse. It takes at least eight months to age Caciocavallo properly, achieving a sharper flavor in about two years. Caciocavallo is a good complement to stronger wines, and widely used for grating over pasta. Indeed, it is a favorite of Sicilian chefs for use with pasta. It’s usually shaped as a large wheel. “Caciovacchino” was a similar product made in times past.





Adrano

18 01 2012

Adrano is a comune in the province of Catania on the east coast of Sicily. It is situated 41 km northwest of Catania, which is the capital of the province to which Adrano belongs. It lies near the foot of Mount Etna, at the confluence of the Simeto and Salso rivers. It is the commercial center for a region where olives and citrus fruit are grown. Neighbouring towns include: Biancavilla, Bronte, Paternò, Randazzo, Santa Maria di Licodia and Centuripe.

The Castle-

The city has a rich cultural and historical structures that draws thousands of visitors a year. Among these is the castle founded in 1070 by Roger the first.

Among the beautiful monuments to visit, there is the Norman Chiesa Madre, the Monastery of S. Lucia erected in 1596, today residence of a public school, the Chiesa di S. Lucia rebuilt in 1775, and the Chiesa di S. Agostino preserving an engraved marble altar.

http://youtu.be/ohX13po8hKO

Clam Stew was served in all of the trattorias I visited.

Sicilian Stew of Clams

1 lb small potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoon of chopped parsley

1 cup white dry wine

3 cans of tomato sauce

3-4 pounds of small clams

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes. When completely  cooked through cut into quarters.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. add the minced garlic and stir. Cook until garlic begins to color and add parsley.

Raise heat and add wine. Cook for about 4 minutes and add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Add potatoes and clams and cover saucepan. Cook until clams open and discard all unopened clams.

Adjust for taste with additional salt or pepper if needed.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.





A Trip Along The Northern Coast of Sicily-Cefalu to Palermo

10 11 2011

It is difficult to cover the history and culture of all of the interesting villages and cities of this beautiful island.  The You Tube below should entice  the discriminating traveler to race out a purchase a round trip ticket to Palermo.  After your visit you may find you’ve wasted the money for the return ticket.

Pasta with Ricotta e Pecorino and Asparagus

The best Ricotta comes from Sicily. This dish is a sample of old peasant cooking using ingredients that are on hand.

1 lb of Penne, shells, Farfali or Spaghetti.

1 lb of asparagus-Woody ends trimmed

1 clove of finely chopped garlic

8 ounces of whole milk

1 onion chopped

2-3 tablespoons of grated pecorino

salt and pepper to taste

fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove the asparagus and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Bring the water back to a boil.  Add tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook uncovered until al dente.

Cut the asparagus diagonally  into 1/4 inch pieces and combine the them with remaining ingredients in a large bowl while pasta is cooking. Combine mixture and when the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the bowl. Mix and serve.





Giardini-Naxos

5 10 2011

Since 1970, Giardini Naxos has become  a popular tourist destination. Famous for its beaches, it attracts foreign visitors and Italians alike, many of whom own summer residences in the comune. The seafront, Via Tysandros, is lined with hotels, smaller pensions, pubs, restaurants and pizzerias.

In the summer months, Giardini Naxos has many tourists. The public beaches are quite crowded in the months of July and August, especially around Ferragosto which occurs on 15 August and people celebrate this event by camping on the beach in tents and running into the sea at midnight for a swim with an accompanying display of fireworks. Besides swimming and boating, there is plenty to do and see in Giardini. There are shops, discothèques, bars, strolling musicians wearing traditional Sicilian costumes, live bands, theatrical productions, and impromptu dancing on the beaches at night.

The beautiful town of Taormina is situated in the hills above Giardini and can be easily accessed by car and bus. Giardini also has many churches and an archaeological park.

I was there in April and the beaches and shops were still crowded.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive oil

1 lb spaghetti, pasta (uncooked)

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 tablespoons fresh minced garlic, divided

1 teaspoon dried red pepper  flakes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper

2 Basil leaves-chopped

Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil with 3 teaspoons salt; add in the spaghetti and cook only until firm-tender; drain but RESERVE 1/2 cup pasta water.

Start this when you are boiling the pasta; Heat about 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet.

Add in 3 tablespoons garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon salt with black pepper to taste; saute stirring often until the garlic is light brown (about 6-8 minutes) remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water; mix to combine.

Transfer the drained pasta to a large serving bowl; toss with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining reserved cooking water.

Add in the garlic mixture; toss well to combine.

Season with more black pepper and salt to taste if desired.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.





AVOLA

28 09 2011

Avola, in the province of Siracusa, managed to revive after the terrible earthquake that in 1693 destroyed all the south-eastern side of Sicily. It was rebuilt on a modern grid of perpendicular street within an exagonal perimeter. A large and square piazza with nearby minor ones marks the heart of town, according to the typical Renaissance design.

The new Avola developed around the Monte Aquilone district, the site of the ancient city, and stretches to the plain and the coast, these miraculously left undamaged by the nature disaster.

Visitors can enjoy several fine churches begin with the Chiesa Madre. Its frontage is graced with panels representing the Seven Sacrements. The façade, is so-called a torre (towered) because it is divided into three tiers. The courtyard is embellished with some statues representing Saints. The interior is divided into three naves with chapels, and is ornamented with fine pieces of art such as the painting depicting the Sposalizio della Madonna attributed to Olivo Sozzi.

Avola’s most attractive buildings include the Palazzo Ducale, near the Mother Church, flanked by a 1800’s clock-tower, and the 1800’s Palazzo di Città.

The site of Avola Antica, the ancient city, in the Monte Aquilone district, is of historical interest, with the ruins of the medieval city and features that testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements at the site.

The Cava Grande del Cassibile, consisting of a natural huge gorge stretching across the coast. The valley at the bottom of the Cava, being amongst the largest in the Iblean area, is enclosed by steep walls. It preserves numerous cave-tombs forming part of the Cassibile necropolis ranging in date from the 11th to the 9th century BC and two cave-settlements. One of these, on the northern side, can be reached following a trail traced by the shepherds, starting at the Cassibile river

Pasta con zucchini

1 pound of spaghetti
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon of capers (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
two mint leaves (shredded)
1 head of garlic (chopped)

Place spaghetti in boiling water and add a pinch of salt.
Cut zucchini in 1/4 inch slices.
Place olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Add the pieces of zucchini to the olive oil. Turn the zucchini when it turns a light brown saute the other side and add capers.
Drain spaghetti and add to the sautéed zucchini. Mix and cover with the shredded mint.

The dish came without cheese, but I asked for Parmigiano Reggiano and of course got it.

A full-bodied Nero d’Avola red would go well here.