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Recipe: Limecello

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We need something to snap us out of this icy winter, don’t we? So far this January I’ve learned about, and experienced, ice storms, a polar vortex and frost quakes. I think that’s enough of ice and snow. Around this time of year I also start to miss all the fresh food from the garden and all the produce options from local farmers. I need something fresh and light to brighten up this grey January.

Last year, I shared a recipe for Limoncello, an intense Italian liqueur, that to me embodied everything fresh, bright and exciting about spring. Well, it’s time to get that feeling back, but with a twist. I’ve tried out the same recipe, but with limes. The result, another vivid and crisp flavour that you can serve up as an after-dinner drink or use in desserts (the friends I’ve shared this with agree that well-chilled, it is wonderful over ice cream).

Make sure to pick out the best, shiny limes for this recipe. While you only use the zest of the limes, don’t waste the juice! Use it to make lime-ade (like lemonade), vinaigrette for salads or granita (Italian ice dessert).

Limecello
12-14 good quality limes
1 litre of 90 proof alcohol 
900 grams sugar
2 litres of water

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Recipe: Sicilian Anchovy Pasta and a Catelli Pasta Giveaway!

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I’m ending out 2013 with a two-in-one post: a traditional recipe that tries out something new AND a giveaway! Get ready to enter to win a great prize from Catelli Pasta!

We start by mixing the old with the new, just in time for New Years. With more and more frequency, we’re encountering dinner guests to our house who must avoid gluten (a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and some other grains). That means our quick go-to pasta recipes are out and our homemade pasta is definitely not an option. In order to enjoy our pasta dinners, we’ve had guests actually bring their own gluten-free pasta to dinner, which is unacceptable to us as hosts. So we’ve been searching out pasta options for our guests and Catelli recently shared their Catelli Gluten Free Pasta with me to try. It is made with rice, corn and quinoa and is produced in a dedicated gluten free facility, so I can guarantee my guests a meal they don’t have to worry about.

A good pasta has to hold up to a traditional recipe, so I tried it with Sicilian Anchovy Pasta. The pasta definitely has the right taste, it’s very close to traditional white/wheat pasta, so you and your guests shouldn’t notice a taste difference. The cooking time is much quicker than “regular” pasta so be sure to use the timing on the box and keep it “al dente” (still firm, but not hard). As with most gluten-free pastas, when overcooked, the pasta may begin to break apart. Time it well, like with this recipe below, and you’ll have no problems.

If you like this recipe, or have one of your own you want to try out, you are in luck!

The good folks at Catelli are offering two lucky readers of this blog a Catelli prize pack: 12 boxes of pasta for you to enjoy at home!

To enter to win: Leave a comment on this blog post about what new recipes or ingredients you are going to try in the new year by January 6.

Want a second entry? If you are a subscriber, or sign up now to be a subscriber to An Italian-Canadian Life, your name will be entered in the draw twice. Use the Subscribe form at the top, right hand side of the blog (enter the same email address that you use to leave your comment).

A winner will be chosen, using a random generator, on January 6 at midnight. Enjoy the recipe and I’m looking forward to your entries!

Sicilian Anchovy Pasta
340g pasta (I used Catelli Gluten-Free Spaghetti and served four)
2 cloves of garlic
10 anchovy fillets
dried hot pepper flakes
olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

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A year in review: top 5 posts of 2013

The end of December marks the second anniversary

Recipe: Chocolate Salame

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For Christmas, I’m offering an extra recipe this week – it’s a little something fun to surprise your friends and family with when you bring out the desserts during the holidays!

I’ve been wanting to make a chocolate salame for the past year and when I found myself with a few extra egg yolks after completing another recipe, well, there was no time like the present and I’m thrilled with how it turned out after a little testing.

While not traditional to my family, I remember eating sweet treats like this when I tagged along with my grandparents and parents visiting friends, family and neighbours throughout the holidays. The hint of alocohol underlying a deep chocolate taste makes this classically Italian to me.

I’ve seen modernized versions of this recipe where the cocoa is replaced with melted chocolate and all sorts of nuts and fruits are mixed into the dough. Tying on the decorative string to make it look like a salame is a great addition to the surprise. Feel free to adapt, that’s half the fun. A warning about using raw egg yolks: when eggs aren’t cooked there is always the risk of salmonella. To avoid this, be sure to use clean, pasteurized, properly refrigerated grade A eggs.

Chocolate Salame
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, soft or melted and cooled
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces Amaretto di Saronno (or rum, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, etc.)
1 cup crushed dry biscotti (you can use store-bought cookies or I used leftover Zia’s Biscotti)
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
Powdered sugar for decorating

Recipe: Turdilli di Paolina

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We’re so close to Christmas and baking is in a frenzy. I can see that many people are searching for turdilli recipes and my family’s turdilli recipe, which I featured last year, is very popular.

But there’s more than one way to make this traditional Calabrese fried cookie. Turdilli, also called tordilli, turdiddri or turtiddi depending on your dialect or how you want to spell it, almost always have the same base: flour, yeast, eggs and wine or flavoured alcohol. Then different families get a little crafty, kneading in their own flavourings (like orange zest) or additions (like dried fruits) or switching up the honey coating for fig syrup. Our family recipe, for example, includes coffee, cocoa, cinnamon and walnuts.

But if you don’t like those flavours, and want something more simple or that can be easily adjusted, then I have the turdilli recipe for you. This basic recipe is light on flavourings and creates pale-coloured turdilli. It can act as a base for any flavours or additions you want to mix in. My mom originally picked up this recipe from a great-aunt sometime ago who, we think, got it from a friend. The heading in her notes is “Turdilli di Paolina.” Who’s Paolina? Your guess is as good as mine. Let’s just say she’s a great-aunt to all of us, sharing her recipe so we can all enjoy. We adapted it a little bit ( of course the original recipe said “as much flour as is needed”) and it does make a lot (a lot!) so be sure to cut the recipe in half before starting out on your first try of this!

Turdilli di Paolina
6 eggs
2 cups oil
2 cups water (to boil)
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
13 cups cake and pastry flour, plus an additional half cup to flour the board when kneading
1 tablespoon liqueur or vanilla
Vegetable or another light-flavoured oil for frying
Honey for coating
(note: I’d recommend cutting this recipe in half)