Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I’m getting ready for Art in the Vines and spent a few minutes with my painting Gangivecchio. It brings back such great memories of Sicily….and makes me hungry just thinking about it. I realized I have been so busy with “painting and wine stuff”, I’ve been ignoring my readers who enjoy my blog for the recipes! I do apologize! So for you, here are two of my favorite recipes from Gangivecchio.

To refresh your memory, Gangivecchio was a 14th century abbey in the hills close to the mountain town of Gangi, Sicily. The abbey started out as a Roman outpost many years before the monks moved in! But before the Romans (GULP!), the exact spot on which Gangivecchio stands today, there was a pre-Greek village called Engio, believed to have been established by the Cretans by 1200 B.C.!

Today, Gangivecchio is an amazing restaurant and inn, a place where I could happily spend the rest of my life. I would love to be at Giovanna’s side, there in her kitchen, preparing food for their travelers. I would love to work in their orchards, their gardens, pausing to look out over the surrounding hills. And how I would love to be there when their two big fig trees give up their harvest! And would I love to help with the excavation going on in the main courtyard? Absolutely! They have found bits and pieces from the 5th century! Damn! We just don’t get to do that kind of thing in 21st century Overland Park, Kansas!

Giovanna and her mother, Wanda Tornabene, have written several cookbooks, and my autographed copy is a treasure. It is the ultimate Sicilian Country Cookbook, with recipes culled from generations, handed down as part of the extraordinary and charming history of the family, the town and the island we know as Sicily.

Hope you enjoy!

Panzerotti con Ricotta (Fried Dough Stuffed with Ricotta)

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Lukewarm water

2 cups drained ricotta (Put in cheesecloth lined mesh strainer in refrigerator for 2 days)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add the olive oil and about 1 cup lukewarm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough is formed, adding a little extra water as needed. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10 minutes. (Don’t whine…it is worth it! Trust me!) Let rest for an additional 10 minutes.
Season the ricotta to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each into a 35-in-long piece, about 4 to 5” wide and 1/16 inch thick. You can use a pasta machine for this step if you have one, if not, it is time for the rolling pin! Roll one 3rd of the dough, stuff and cut it before rolling out the rest of the dough.
For each strip of dough, put rounded teaspoonfuls of ricotta 1” from the edge of a lengthwise side of the dough, spacing the ricotta about 2 inches apart. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, covering the ricotta-filled portion to the edge, as if you were folding a sheet of paper. Press the end edges of the dough together, and then, press down the dough between each of the ricotta-filled portions with your fingers.
With a serrated pastry cutter, cut around the ricotta, making 2” squares. Place the panzerotti on a lightly floured baking sheet, uncovered. Make the rest of the panzerotti, they can rest for up to 1 hour.
Heat 3” of vegetable oil in a deep-sided frying pan until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Fry the panzerotti a few at a time, in batches, until golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels as they are cooked. Serve immediately! Or, stand there at the stove and chow down!

Peperoni Ripieni (Baked Yellow and Red Peppers) serves 8

4 each, yellow and red bell peppers (select peppers that are as equal in size as possible)
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
¾ cup diced caciocavallo or provolone cheese (I would check with Whole Foods for the
Caciocavallo cheese)
¾ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off tops of the stem ends of the peppers and reserve. Be sure to remove the white membrane and the seeds from inside.
Combine the ingredients from the bread crumbs through the pine nuts in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil for a light moist consistency and season with salt and pepper. Fill the peppers with equal amounts of the stuffing and replace the tops.
Put the peppers into a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the sides comfortably, with the tops pressing against the edge of the pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until the skins begin to brown and wrinkle. Serve hot, at room temperature, or even cold. Delicious!

Soon, I will give you their recipe for turning 5 pounds of ripe tomatoes into a quart of tomato sauce….plant a lot of tomato plants, you are going to need them!

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