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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cod

British American usually refers to Americans whose ancestral heritage originated in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). In the 2017 American Community Survey 1,891,234 individuals or 0.6% of the responses self-identified as British. It is primarily a demographic or historical research category for people who have at least partial descent from the peoples of Great Britain and the modern United Kingdom. The first English settlers were males drawn from social classes with little experience of hunting, fishing, or cooking. Although much of their food did not survive the sea journeys, they brought cattle, swine, poultry, and honeybees with them and introduced wheat, barley, rye, and fruit trees to America.

When the colonists came to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, or any of the other English colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America, their initial attempts at survival included planting crops and farming animals familiar to them from back home in England. Their manner of cooking also followed along the lines of British cookery up until the American Revolution.

The diet of New Englanders was plain, featuring cod and corned (preserved) meat. Popular dishes included succotash (a mixture of beans and corn) and baked beans prepared with salt pork and maple syrup. The English also learned from Native Americans to combine lobsters, shellfish, and vegetables in communal clambakes. They drank beer, often brewed from corn, and cider made from apples and pears. In time, rum made from West Indian sugarcane and tea from China became popular. As women joined the settlements, they were expected to take over the cooking, most of which was done over open fires.

Wheat, however, the grain used to bake bread in England, was almost impossible to grow in the eastern colonies, and imports of wheat were costly. Substitutes like cornmeal became standard for baking bread. Many of the northern colonists depended upon their ability to hunt, or upon others from whom they could purchase the game. The commonly hunted game included deer, bear, buffalo, and wild turkey. The larger muscles of the animals were roasted and served with currant sauce, while the other smaller portions went into soups, stews, sausages, pies, and pastries. Scrapple, a traditional dish of the Delaware Valley region, is still eaten today.

A number of fats and oils made from animals served to cook much of the colonial foods. Many homes had a sack made of deerskin filled with bear oil or rendered pork fat. Pork fat was used more in the southern colonies than the northern colonies as the Spanish introduced pigs earlier to the South. The colonists enjoyed butter in cooking as well, but it was rare prior to the American Revolution, as cattle were not yet plentiful.

In comparison to the northern colonies, the southern colonies were more diverse in their agricultural diet. The Piedmont uplands and the coastal lowlands made up the two main parts of the southern colonies. The diet of the uplands often included wild game, cabbage, string beans, corn, squashes, and white potatoes. Colonists ate biscuits as part of their breakfast, along with pork. The lowlands, especially in Louisiana, included a varied diet heavily influenced by the French, Spanish, Acadians, Germans, Native Americans, Africans and Caribbeans. Rice and peppers were a large part of their diet. In addition, unlike the uplands, the lowlands main source of protein came mostly from coastal seafood.

As the colonies grew so did travel and that of taverns and pubs. The availability of meat and game exemplified America’s bounty, so that venison, pigeon, turkey, duck, bear and other game were usually on the tavern’s menu, both in the country and in the city. Vegetables were not often eaten in those days. Fish was popular and breakfast usually consisted of several eggs, game birds, pancakes, and coffee or tea.

Back in the UK the tradition of fish battered and fried in oil may have come from Jewish immigrants from Spain and Portugal. Western Sephardic Jews settled in England as early as the 16th century and would have prepared fried fish in a manner similar to “pescado frito”, which is coated in flour then fried in oil. Charles Dickens mentions “fried fish warehouses” in Oliver Twist (1838), and in 1845 Alexis Soyer in his first edition of A Shilling Cookery for the People, gives a recipe for “Fried fish, Jewish fashion”, which is dipped in a batter of flour and water.


As time passed fish and chips, served in a paper wrapper became popular. The exact location of the first fish and chip shop is unclear. The earliest known shops were opened in the 1860s, in London by Joseph Malin and in Mossley, near Oldham, Lancashire, by John Lees. However, fried fish, as well as chips, had existed independently for at least fifty years, so the possibility that they had been combined at an earlier time cannot be ruled out.

Fish and chips became a stock meal among the working classes in England as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea, and the development of railways which connected the ports to major industrial cities during the second half of the 19th century, so that fresh fish could be rapidly transported to the heavily populated areas.

Deep-fried chips (slices or pieces of potato) as a dish may have first appeared in England in about the same period. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that its earliest usage of “chips” is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (1859): “Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”. This British favorite crossed the Atlantic before long. You can make this updated version at home for a real treat.

British Fish & Chips

For 4 servings

Seasoned Flour:
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Beer Batter:
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup beer

Fish:
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless wild Alaskan cod(because of its quality and sustainability)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt
Good-quality malt vinegar, for serving

Chips:
2 russet potatoes, peeled
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt

Directions

In a medium shallow bowl combine the seasoned flour ingredients and set aside.

In a large deep bowl place the batter ingredients. Using a fork mix the ingredients until a thick, smooth batter forms. Place the batter in the refrigerator to rest for between 30 minutes and an hour.

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch slices, then slice these into chips, however wide you would like them. Place the chips into a colander and rinse under cold running water.

Place the washed chips into a pan of cold water, bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain carefully in a colander and then dry with paper towels. Place the potatoes on a tray and refrigerate covered with paper towels until ready to fry.


In a high-sided heavy pan, add oil to a depth 1/3 full and bring up to a temperature of 375°F.

Dry the fish fillets with paper towels. Dredge each fish fillet in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess.

Dip into the batter.

Then carefully lower each fillet into the hot oil. Fry for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until the batter is crisp and golden, turning the fillets from time to time with a large slotted spoon.

Using the slotted spoon, remove the fillets from the hot oil, drain on paper towels, and season with salt. Cover with greaseproof paper and keep hot.

Bring the oil in the same pan to 350 degrees F and cook the chips until golden and crisp about 5-6 minutes. You may have to do this in two batches depending on how wide your pan is.

Serve immediately with the fish accompanied by malt vinegar.

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Serve with Focaccia Bread and a Winter Salad. Recipes below.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed and cut in half
8 oz sea scallops, halved
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until tender. Remove the cover and the salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, and tomatoes. Sir well.

Add the fish cubes, Cook stirring the mixture gently for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 2 minutes more or until the seafood is cooked. Add the cream, parsley, and remaining tablespoon butter, heating gently until the butter is incorporated. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.

Winter Salad

Radishes are in season where I live and this week they came in jumbo sizes.

Ingredients

Dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad
4 cups arugula, washed well and dried
4 jumbo radishes or 8 small radishes (8 ounces), sliced thin

Directions

In a medium salad bowl, whisk together mustard and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 day.) Add arugula and radishes to bowl, and toss to coat. Serve salad immediately.

Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and black pepper, for sprinkling
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the dough and the parchment on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the dough with the garlic and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.


Sicilian Style Codfish Cakes

Makes 8-10 cakes

Ingredients

1 pound fresh cod fish fillets, poached (see directions below)
1 pound potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Cook the potatoes in salted water and mash with the olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped onion, garlic, 1 egg, the flaked codfish, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the fish mixture into eight equal portions, then, with floured hands form each into a flat cake, about 3-inch rounds; 1/2 inch thick.

Beat the egg with the water. Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden
Drain on paper towels and serve with a remoulade or tzatziki sauce.

Poached Cod Fish

3 cups cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium bay leaf
A large branch of fresh thyme
3 chive stalks
Salt and pepper
1 lb cod fillets
1/2 medium lemon, sliced paper-thin
3 fresh parsley sprigs, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the fish in a large, shallow-sided pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low until liquid is at a simmer. Add fish in a single layer, making sure it is completely covered with liquid. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
Poach until the cod flesh is opaque and flakes easily (the internal temperature should be 175ºF).

Low Carb Codfish Cakes

Makes 4 cakes

For this version, I made mashed cauliflower and mixed it with butter and sour cream for a previous dinner side. I reserved a ½ cup of the mixture for the codfish cakes.

Ingredients

Cakes

1 lb poached cod fillets
1/2 cup leftover mashed cauliflower mixed with sour cream
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Coating

Arrowroot powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup store-bought Low Carb panko bread crumbs or homemade, recipe below
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making low carb fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Add the leftover cauliflower, chopped shallots, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, flaked codfish, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours.

Divide the fish mixture into four equal portions, then, with arrowroot powder floured hands form each into a flat cake.

Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg mixture and then into the low carb breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden.
Drain on paper towel and serve with the tzatziki sauce.

Low Carb Panko Crumbs

I buy low carb bread, such as Smart Buns, and turn them into homemade croutons or panko crumbs.
Slice the bread into cubes.
Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast, in a single layer in a 350 F degree oven. Store the croutons in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

To make breadcrumbs: Place the toasted cubes in a food processor and pulse to create course breadcrumbs.
Store the remainder in an air-tight, zip-seal bag in the freezer.

Tzatziki Topping (cucumber yogurt sauce)

Mix 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt with ¼ of a cucumber (seeds removed, grated and squeezed to remove extra liquid), 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped dill.

Spiralized Carrot & Beet Salad

Servings 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 carrots spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant carrot spirals, defrosted
2 beets spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant beet spirals, defrosted
1/2 of a shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
A generous handful of chopped parsley

Dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Directions

Peel and spiralize the carrots and beets or defrost the frozen spirals in a colander and dry on paper towels.


Cut the spirals into shorter strands for the salad and place in large salad bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, and almonds.
In a separate small bowl whisk together lemon and olive oil with a couple dashes of hot sauce.
Pour dressing over veggies and mix well. Serve with the codfish cakes.


Most major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adopt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases. Why? Because the Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — along with the addition of olive oil and a glass of red wine — and other components that characterize the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.  Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean region. Be sure to add it to your diet on a regular basis.

Oven Baked Fish

 2 Servings

Ingredients

2 cod, haddock or salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove finely grated
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
8 green olives, sliced
2 sprigs fresh oregano sprigs
Sea salt and black pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Make the fresh bread crumbs from several slices of bread by processing in a food processor

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a small baking dish large enough to hold the fish in a single layer with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Place the cod in the dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the tomatoes, olives, garlic and oregano leaves on top of the fish.

Combine the crumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and use a spoon to sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the fish and vegetables.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fish is cooked about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Lemon Rice Pilaf

Servings:3- 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (uncooked)
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 large lemon to yield 1 teaspoon zest + 3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Black pepper

Directions

Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add garlic and onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender.

Add rice, stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add broth, salt, and water. Place lid on, bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to low.

Cook for 12 minutes or until the water is evaporated. Remove the saucepan from stove and rest for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Remove the lid. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and black pepper to taste. Stir well and serve.

Creamy Spinach

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot. finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained or equivalent fresh
1-ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions

Saute the garlic and shallot in the butter in a medium saucepan. Mix in the spinach and cook on low heat, covered about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.

Add the cream cheese, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese to the saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the cream cheese is melted. Whisk until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the spinach mixture and mix well. Reheat over low until the spinach is hot. Serve immediately.


Cod Pomodoro

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Half of a small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, plus a few fennel fronds
Half of a small onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
Two 4-ounce skinless cod fillets
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat.

Add minced garlic, sliced fennel, onion and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add spices and cook, stirring, until spices are absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add marinara sauce to the skillet; bring to a simmer and cook to meld the flavors, about 5 minutes.

Season fish with salt and pepper and place the fillets in the sauce. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish.

Place the pan in the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the fish is firm when touched with a fork.

Remove the pan from the oven and top the fish with the mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven until the cheese melts.

Serve the fish with the sauce.

Baked Eggplant Slices

Place the eggplant into the oven about ten minutes before you place the fish in the oven.

2 or more servings

1 small eggplant, peeled
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, for the baking pan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly coat a baking pan with oil. Set aside.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg with 1 tablespoons water. In another shallow dish mix the Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.

Cut the eggplant into thin slices. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off.

Dredge the slices in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down gently to coat well. Transfer the breaded slices to the baking pan.

Bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.

Turn the slices over and continue to bake until lightly browned on other side, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from the oven, serve plain or drizzle with a little marinara sauce, if desired.

Swiss Chard Sautéed with Garlic and Lemon

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2” pieces (about 12 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash Swiss chard well and place in a colander.

With some water clinging to the leaves, immediately transfer the washed chard to a large, deep skillet.

Cook the chard over low heat until almost wilted, 3-4 minutes. Drain the chard in a colander.

In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing often, until completely softened, about 4-5 minutes.

Add lemon juice and cook, tossing, about 1 minute; adjust seasoning if needed. Serve.


Looking for a few ideas on what to cook for dinner on busy weeknights? Here are a few recipes for you to try. The codfish, pork kabobs and Parmesan chicken come together fast. For the pasta dish, roast the broccoli in the oven while the pasta is cooking. Just a few minutes more are needed to pull it all together with some delicious results. Use seasonal vegetables for the sides.

Lemon Breadcrumb Topped Codfish

Pacific cod is a sustainable fish. Serve with a pasta or rice side dish and a vegetable.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil mayonnaise
Two 6 oz center cut Pacific cod fillets

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Make the lemon-zest breadcrumbs: In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, oil, salt and pepper to taste and the lemon zest.

Mix well. Set aside.

Place the cod fillets in a small baking dish coated with olive oil.

Spread the non skin side of each fillet with some of the mayonnaise and then press on a layer of breadcrumbs.

Put the pan in the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through, 18-20 minutes.

Grilled Pork Kabobs

Serve with potato salad or baked beans.

4 servings

Ingredients

3 (1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick) boneless pork loin chops (1 lb), trimmed of fat
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ of a red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
Half a medium bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup Peach BBQ sauce

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Sprinkle both sides of each pork chop with salt and pepper; cut each chop into 1 inch pieces.

Alternately thread pork pieces, zucchini, onion and bell pepper evenly onto metal skewers. .

When ready to grill, place the skewers on a gas grill over medium heat or on a charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from medium coals.

Brush with the BBQ sauce. Cook 5 minutes. Turn kabobs; brush with more sauce.

Cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta

Serve with an Italian mixed green salad or a tomato salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb dry rigatoni pasta
1 large bunch broccoli florets
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup grated Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt, pepper and olive oil
6 slices of Prosciutto di Parma

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix the broccoli with enough of the olive oil to coat generously, add salt to taste, and a few grinds of pepper.

Turn the broccoli out onto the baking sheet and arrange the pieces so that they are evenly spaced.

Roast until the florets begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir the broccoli pieces and add the slices of prosciutto to the pan,

Continue to roast until the broccoli is tender and the prosciutto is crisp, about 10 more minutes.

Boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta. When it reaches a full boil, add salt and the pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente.

When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander.

Mince the garlic and cook it over medium heat in the empty pasta pot with the butter until the garlic has softened slightly (3-5 minutes).

Add the flour, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Whisk in the milk.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the milk mixture comes to simmer.

As soon as it reaches a simmer, it will thicken and should be able to coat a wooden spoon.

Turn the heat off and whisk in the cheese. Add freshly cracked black pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste.

Return the drained pasta to the sauce in the pasta pot and add the reserved pasta water, tossing the pasta to loosen it up.Stir in the roasted broccoli.

Top the pasta with broken pieces of the crispy prosciutto and serve.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Serve with a light pasta and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each)
Table salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a lemon , cut into wedges

Directions

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even 1/4-inch thickness.

Pat dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Set up three shallow bowls: one with the flour, one with the egg and one with the cheese.

Using tongs and working with 1 cutlet at a time, coat chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

Transfer chicken to the egg; coat evenly and let excess run off.

Coat chicken with shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so that cheese adheres.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the cutlets in the skillet and reduce heat to medium.

Cook until cheese is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Carefully turn the cutlets over and continue to cook until the cheese is pale golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


Palermo by Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov, 1850

Palermo by Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov, 1850

Palermo’s history has been anything but stable as the area passed from one dominating power to another with frequency. Its strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean brought invaders including the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracen Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the French and the Spanish Bourbons, just to name a few. The result of this history is evident in the vast range of architectural styles, the names of places in the region that are obviously not Italian and the fusion of ingredients used in many local dishes.

Palermo,_Sicily

Human settlement in the Palermo area goes back to prehistoric times. It is one of the most ancient sites in Sicily. Interesting graffiti and prehistoric paintings were discovered in the Addaura grottoes in 1953 by archaeologist Jole Bovio Marconi. They portray dancing figures performing a rite with shamans. In 734 BC Phoenicians from Tyre (Lebanon) established a flourishing merchant colony in the Palermo area. The relationship of the new colony with the Siculi, the people living in the Eastern part of the Island, involved both commerce and war.

Piazza-Pretoria-Palermo-Sicily-Italy-720x538

Piazza Pretoria

Between the 8th and the 7th centuries BC, the Greeks colonized Sicily. They called the area Panormus (“All port”) and traded with the Carthaginians, Phoenician descendants who were from what is now Tunisia. The two civilizations lived together in Sicily until the Roman conquest.

Streets-of-Palermo-Sicily-Italy

Situated on one of the most beautiful promontories of the Mediterranean, Palermo is an important trading and business center and the seat of a university. Palermo is connected to the mainland by an international airport and an increasing number of maritime links. The city of Palermo is vibrant and modern and its large harbor and international airport makes it a popular tourist destination. There are many events and festivals that take place throughout the year in Palermo, the most important of which is the feast day of the city’s patron saint, Saint Rosalia. There is a sanctuary dedicated to her at the top of Monte Pellegrino, just outside the city, and the mountain dominates the backdrop to the city. The surrounding area is a green and pleasant nature park and is a favorite picnic area for locals. Also in Palermo are the Catacombs of the Capuchins, a tourist attraction.

palermo-ballard sicily-8

Palermo Cuisine

In the Sicilian food culture there is no such thing as a “main course”, but rather a series of courses of varying number, depending on the occasion, usually a (primo) first course of pasta, soup, rice, etc. and a (secondo) second course of meat, fish or vegetable, often served with a (contorno) side dish of vegetables. Fresh fruit is usually served as dessert. For a more formal occasion an (antipasto) appetizer comes before the primo.

A number of popular foods are typically served as side dishes or “starters.” Arancini are rice balls stuffed with meat or cheese encrusted in a crispy coating. Caponata is a mixture made with eggplant, olives, capers and celery, and served as an appetizer. Sfincione is a thick form of pizza made with tomatoes, onions and anchovies, usually made in bakeries rather than pizzerias. Panella is a thin paste made of crushed or powdered ceci (garbanzo) beans and served fried. Maccu is a creamy soup made from the same bean, usually served in winter. Crocché (croquet) are fried potato dumplings made with cheese, parsley and eggs. Fritedda is a springtime vegetable dish or pasta sauce made with fresh green fava beans, peas and artichoke hearts.

Ricotta is a soft cheese made from sheep’s milk and Ricotta Salata is an aged, salty version. Caciocavallo is aged cow’s cheese used for cooking. Canestrato is similar but made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. Tuma and Primo Sale are sweeter and softer, aged only briefly. Gattò is similar to quiche and made with potatoes, ham and cheese.

Sicily is renowned for its seafood. Grilled swordfish (pesce spada) is popular. Smaller fish, especially triglie (red snapper), are sometimes prepared in a vinegar and sugar sauce. Seppia (cuttlefish) is served in its own black sauce with pasta. Another Sicilian seafood dish made with pasta is finocchio con sarde (fennel with herring). Ricci (urchins) are popular in spring. Beccafico are stuffed roasted sardines.

Meat dishes are traditionally made with lamb or goat.  Chicken is usually served on skewers and spiedini are small meat rolls (involtini), also, on a skewer similar to shish kebab. Salsiccia alla pizzaiola is a port sausage filled with onions, tomatoes and other vegetables. Couscous is usually served with meat or seafood.

palermobakery

Sicilian desserts are outstanding and popular. Cannoli are tubular crusts filled with creamy sheep’s milk ricotta. Cassata is a rich cake filled with the same ricotta filling. Frutta di Martorana are almond marzipan pastries colored and shaped to resemble real fruit. Sicilian gelato (ice cream) is popular with flavors ranging from pistachio and hazelnut (nocciola) to jasmine (gelsomino) to mulberry (gelsi) to strawberry (fragala) and rum (zuppa inglese).

palermocake

Not many people outside of Sicily are familiar with Torta Setteveli. The cake of the seven veils, named after the dance of Salome. The Torta Setteveli is the typical birthday cake in Palermo. It’s a combination of alternating chocolate and hazelnut layers, with a crunchy layer that combines both those flavors. There are many stories about who actually created the cake. You can find the cake throughout Sicily, but it is in every pasticceria in Palermo. The Palermitani see it as the ultimate dessert to enjoy on special occasions, especially for birthdays.

Primo Course

ANEL-4T

Baked Anelletti

This dish is a popular “pasta bake” in Palermo and it is made with a very specific pasta shape called anelletti (little rings). In Sicily it is often sold in cafés as timbaletti, which are single portions that are shaped like a cone. When eaten at home, however, it is often made like a “pasta cake” to be portioned and shared by the whole family.

palermopasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb anelletti pasta
  • 2 large, long eggplants
  • 1/2 lb mortadella, cubed
  • 1 lb mozzarella, cubed
  • Grated pecorino cheese

For the Ragu

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb peas
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Directions

Wash the eggplant, peel and slice them lengthwise about 1/4″ thick.

Coat each slice with olive oil, put them on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Set them aside. Turn the oven to 375 degrees F.

Make the ragu:

In a saucepan, add a 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown the ground pork and beef.  Discard any fat that is produced. Set aside in a separate bowl.

In the saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onion. Once the onion is translucent add the browned ground meat.

Saute the meat and onion for a few minutes and add the peas followed by the crushed tomatoes and the basil. Add salt to taste.

Cover and let the ragu cook for 20 minutes over medium heat.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta al dente and drain well. Place in a mixing bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the sauce to the pasta so that it does not stick together and set aside.

In a 10″ x 5″ bundt, tube or springform pan line the bottom and sides with the slices of baked eggplant so that part of the slices hang outside the top of the pan. Add a layer of pasta followed by a layer of the meat sauce, some grated cheese, a layer of mortadella and then a layer of mozzarella.

Repeat the layering process again.

Once finished, turn the eggplant slices hanging from the pan onto the top of the pasta.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Let rest before cutting. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley or basil.

Second Course

palermocod

Merluzzo alla Siciliana (Cod Sicilian Style)

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs (800 g) cod fillets
  • 2 ½ cups (500 g) chopped fresh tomato pulp (seeds removed)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • 15 pitted green olives
  • 2 pinches of dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions

Heat a skillet and add the olive oil and crushed garlic.

When the garlic is browned, add the tomato, salt and pepper.

Add the wine and bring the sauce to boil, add the cod fillets and cook for 6-7 minutes, turning them over once.

Add some more salt and pepper (if needed), the olives and capers.

Sprinkle with oregano and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top.

palermofennel

Pisci di Terra – Sicilian Fried Fennel

Ingredients

  • 6 fennel bulbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) flour
  • 1/2 cup fine, dry homemade breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Clean the fennel bulbs and cut them in half. Boil them until al dente (fork tender) in lightly salted water. Drain them well and quarter the halves.

Mix the breadcrumbs together with the cheese. Lightly beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Dredge the fennel slices in the flour to coat well, then dip the slices in the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Fry them in abundant hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

palermocassata-siciliana

Cassata alla Siciliana

This is a classic Sicilian cake. The word Cassata derives from the Latin Caseus, which means cheese. Cassata is one of the world’s first cheesecakes. It comes as no surprise that there are a great many variations throughout Sicily.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (280 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Half a lemon, zested
  • Butter and flour for the cake pan
  • Marsala wine
  • 1 1/8 pounds (500 g) fresh sheep’s milk ricotta (you can use cow’s milk ricotta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (50 g) finely diced candied fruit
  • 2 ounces (50 g) bitter chocolate, shaved
  • 9 ounces (250 g) blanched peeled almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract diluted in ¼ cup of water
  • Green food coloring
  • Potato starch
  • 5 cups (500 g) powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 egg whites
  • Strips of candied fruit

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Whip 6 egg whites to firm peaks with a pinch of salt. In another bowl, beat the 6 yolks with 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar until the mixture is frothy and pale yellow.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and slowly add it to the beaten yolks, together with a couple of tablespoons of whipped egg whites and the lemon zest and then fold in the remaining beaten egg whites

Turn the batter into a buttered and floured pan (9 inch square) and bake it for a half hour; remove the cake from the oven and let it cool before removing it from the pan.

To make the almond paste:

Grind the almonds in a food processor, using short bursts until finely ground. Add 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and the almond water; blend until the mixture is homogenous.

Dust a work surface with the potato starch before turning the paste out onto it (you can also turn it out onto a sheet of wax paper) and incorporate a few drops of green food coloring diluted in a few drops of water. Work the paste until the color is uniform and then wrap the paste in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator.

Press the ricotta through a fairly fine wire mesh strainer and combine it with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, the vanilla, the shaved chocolate and the diced candied fruit.

To make the cassata:

Line a 10-inch (25 cm) diameter springform pan with plastic wrap,

Roll the almond paste out to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick and wide enough to cover the cake pan bottom and sides. Fit the almond paste into the pan.

Next, line the bottom and sides of the pan with half-inch thick pieces of the baked cake.

Make a syrup by diluting some Marsala with a little water and a little sugar, and sprinkle it over the cake. Fill the empty space with the ricotta mixture and cover it with more of the cake, sprinkling again with the Marsala syrup.

Lay a dish on the cassata, press down gently, and chill the cassata for several hours in the refrigerator. Turn the cassata over onto the serving dish and remove the pan and the plastic wrap.

Beat the remaining two egg whites and sift the remaining powdered sugar into them, beating continuously until thick. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and spread it over the cassata. Let the glaze set for a few minutes, then decorate the cassata with candied fruit. Chill the cake for several more hours before serving.

palermomap



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