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Hands On


Hands On

Sicilian Gnocchi

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We have been getting some stunning “Hands On” submissions lately.  This, photo comes from Marisa in Australia who has roots in Sicily and Trieste.  (An interesting life, huh?) Thank you Marisa for sending these photos of Niluzza threading pasta. 

My Siciilian relatives live in Ragusa (south-eastern region of Sicily) and my zia Niluzza makes a lot of pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes, especially when I visit her from Melbourne, Australia.

My relatives in Ragusa make causuneddi (Sicilian) but these gnocchi or gnocchetti shaped pasta (in Italian) are known by different names in other regions of Sicily – gnocculi, gnucchiteddi, cavati, caviateddi (in Sicilian). All have an indentation in the centre to ensure even cooking. Some are rigati (have ridges on the surface) and some are lisci (smooth).

The photographs
The first photograph shows zia Niluzza’s special pasta-shaping device (it looks like a loom). It belonged to her grandmother (my great grandmother) and as you can appreciate it is very unique and rare. Small, fine strips of pasta (40mm) are rolled onto a long fine reed and by rolling the reed on the device, she makes grooves on each piece of dough. The small shapes of pasta are then released – the reed, allows them to slide off easily.
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In the second photograph you meet some of the members from different generations of the same family. Life still seems to be the same in Sicily when it comes to doing things together and usually all of the women and children contribute to the shaping of pasta. My relatives make these very quickly and I am always embarrassed when I offer to help because even the youngest members of the family shape them faster than I can. It is just practice.

Check out Marisa’s blog http://allthingssicilianandmore.blogspot.com/

Thank you Marisa!


Hands On

Turkish Woman and her Outdoor Oven



“Turkish Woman and her Outdoor Oven,” photo by Holly Chase; all rights reserved.  Location: Mugla Province, Aegean Coast--a village to the Northwest of Bodrum. image


Hands On

We Love Feedback

How great it is when I get feedback on a story or recipe.  I always initially cringe with some apprehension.  Did I get it right?  Did it work?  (Self doubt never entirely goes away, does it?)

Well, I’ve been really happy because t he pandolce story I wrote in December got some wonderful responses.  Why this particular story?  Don’t know.  Perhaps because the idea of natural leaven has a certain magic to it--the wild yeast around us, the idea of a lump of living dough that gets passed down from one generation to the next--"mother yeast.” It’s just such an old technique.  Or maybe it was simply that love so many of us have for Italy. 

Ken Albala sent me this wonderful post from his blog about how he read my pandolce story in Saveur, and it inspired him him to make his own pandoro with a starter--and no recipe. The results look gorgeous, and he makes it so easy.  Check it out. (Ken is an award winning writer and food scholar who tells me he plans to build a backyard bread baking oven this summer--and plans to do it all by hand.) You can see his story and pandoro picture here. 
http://kenalbala.blogspot.com/2008/12/pandoro.html
Valerie Tassa from San Francisco initially wrote me asking where she could find fresh citron--not so easy in the U.S., but she triumphed, and found these, which she candied
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to make this gorgeous thing,
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and yes, she is a ravioli fan, too, and boy was I touched to find out she made Tessie and Adalgisa’s recipe from my book.  Gosh. 

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Hands On

Hands On from Istanbul

image Tijen writes:  “I took this photo in August 2006, in a village called Zavotlar, near the Armenian border of Turkey.

“I love watching old women, making bread or doing any work in the kitchen, related to food. We have a lot to learn from them. I especially liked this lady. She was so peaceful, quiet and friendly. It was a wonderful day, spent with three generations of women baking bread and having freshly baked pastries with “kasar peyniri” a cheese made by the same family, along with freshly brewed turkish tea.”

- Tijen Inaltong, Istanbul, Turkey
www.zeninthekitchen.blogspot.com

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A Thousand Years Over a Hot StoveA James Beard Award winning book that tells a history of American women through food, recipes, and remembrances. Recipes and illustrations from prehistory to the present day.
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