fried Sicilian pidoni (you can also bake them)

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endive stuffed Sicilian pidoni

PIDONI FRITTI ALLA MESSINESE. The Pitoni or Pidoni are parcels of a pizza-like dough, stuffed with curly endive, mozzarella and a tiny bit of anchovy. Not dissimilar to calzoni but fried, they are a typical and most appreciated dish from Messina. In Sicily you can find them in the friggitorie, the Italian equivalent of fish and chips shops.

The dough it’s made with more fat than regular pizza, so it becomes deliciously flaky once is fried.

I know, I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t fry”. The pidoni in the picture are actually baked and fabulous. However if you can, do fry them please. Just once, you won’t regret it.

For this recipe you need a summer evening, a bunch of friends and family, kids running around in the garden, plenty cold drinks and a huge bucket of fruit salad as a dessert. They are filling so it’s a one dish dinner. It’s party food, make it once and I promise, they’ll want it forever.

Recipe

For the dough:

  • 400 gr (3 cups) Italian 00 or pastry flour
  • 200 gr ( 2 cups) Manitoba or strong bread flour
  • 300 ml (1 and 1/3 cup) water
  • 2 gr ( 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 40 gr (6 tablespoon) olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the filling:

  • 500 gr (1 lb, about 2 bunches) curly endive which is also named chicory or frisee
  • 600 gr /18 oz diced canned tomato
  • 400 gr (14 oz) fresh mozzarella
  • 6-8 anchovy fillets
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for deep frying

Schedule and method:

  1. Twenty-four hours before you need it, make the dough using  my instructions for slow focaccia. Basically you need to mix the dough ingredients , oil the dough, cover it and let it raise in a draft-free area. About half way the proving period knead it briefly to knock off the gas and cover again.
  2. A couple of hours before dinner, make the filling. Wash the curly endive thoroughly and chop it finely. I pulse it in a food processor. Mix the chopped salad with the tomatoes, salt lightly and transfer in a colander for at least one hour. It’s important to remove as much liquid as possible from the vegetable mixture so squeeze it in a cotton towel if necessary. Transfer in a bowl, add one tablespoon olive oil and season the filling with a sprinkle of black pepper.
  3. One hour before dinner, divide the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Place each ball on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a thin disk of about 20 cm ( 8 inch) in diameter.
  4. Now assemble the pidoni. You’ll need to work fast so they don’t fall apart. Divide the filling among the 16 disks leaving a 2.5cm ( 1 inch) margin around the edge. Place 1 slice of mozzarella and 1/2 anchovy fillet broken in 2-3 pieces over the filling and fold the disk of dough to form a small calzone.
  5. It’s time to cook them. Preheat the oil in a deep saucepan,  until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in about 25 seconds. Seal the edges of the pidoni with a fork,  drop them carefully  into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes per batch until golden . Drain on kitchen towel and set aside while you continue making the next batch. Continue until all are finished and serve.

If you decide to bake them, brush the pidoni with olive oil on both sides, place them in an oven tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in a very hot oven until golden, 15- 20 min.

Serves 6-8

home-made pizza

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a slice of heaven

a slice of heaven

HOMEMADE PIZZA. In Italy, the term pizza is generally used to indicate a flat bread which can be stuffed or topped with all sorts of ingredients.  In Central Italy, pizza is also  a panettone-shaped bread traditionally made for Easter.  No news so far, all Mediterranean populations have been eating flat breads for at least 3000 years.

Things changed when, at the end of 1700, someone in Naples had the brilliant idea to top the pizza with tomatoes and invented the world’s number one most popular food, the pizza Napoletana.

The recipe of the traditional Neapolitan pizza  is now protected by a law dictating the ingredients and methods of preparation. A traditional pizza Margherita should be made with a 10 hours leavened dough, hand rolled, topped with fresh crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and basil and cooked for 60 to 90 seconds at 485 °C (905 °F) in a wood oven.

That’s it, no pineapple.

My pizza is not a Neapolitan pizza as the above method cannot simply be reproduced with home equipment and schedule. It’s a recipe lovingly developed by my mother over years of experiments in her small electrical oven. It’s the best home pizza one can get in a relatively short time. Really, this time I will not be modest.

Recipe

for pizza dough:

  • 4 gr. (1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 400 gr (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

for topping:

  • 300 gr (9 ounces) fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 2 flat anchovy fillets cut in approx. 10 small pieces
  • 1 400 gr (12 ounces) tin diced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon EVO oil

Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it stand 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a food processor, combine flour, olive oil, sugar and salt. Mix briefly. Add the yeast mixture and mix at maximum speed until a soft dough forms. Alternatively mix ingredients by hand in a large bowl, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Lightly coat a pizza pan with ½ olive oil and ½ sunflower oil. Place the dough on a table, and flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it is about ½ cm (1/4 inch) thin. Place the pan in a warm, draft-free place, cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1/2 an hour.

While the pizza is raising, warm up your oven at maximum temperature. Allow enough time for the oven to stay at maximum temperature for at least 15 min before cooking the pizza

Distribute the mozzarella cubes, anchovy fillets and tomato over the pizza dough. Sprinkle with dry oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with EVO oil and cook in the high part of the oven for 8 min or until golden below and around the sides.

Should you have more time and are able to plan your pizza dinner one day ahead, please try the slow dough version.

peperoni all’aceto balsamico

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a very Italian stir fry, balsamic glazed bell peppers

a very Italian stir fry, balsamic glazed bell peppers

BALSAMIC GLAZED BELL PEPPERS  More glorious summer colors and Mediterranean flavors here. Make sure to use large, thick fleshed, fresh peppers, yellow or red as the green ones are not sweet enough.

Capers are the edible buds of  a hardy bush which grows on walls and rocky soils in the  Aeolian islands, near Sicily. If possible, use small capers preserved in salt, they are more aromatic and less pungent than the pickled ones. This is a simpler version of a recipe I found on Antonio Carluccio’s book “Southern Italian feast”.

Recipe

  • 2 large red or yellow peppers
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Deseed the peppers and cut them in 1/2-inch wide strips. Put the oil and pepper strips in a large, heavy based, pan and cook over fairly high heat for 10 min., stirring often to prevent burning.
Lower the fire, move the peppers strips towards the edge of the pan and add the pressed garlic, and anchovy, stirring quickly until the anchovy melts. Add vinegar, stir for a few more minutes, sprinkle with chopped basil and remove from the fire.  Let it rest for at least one hour and up to two days, it improves with time. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4