Summer is here and it’s time for icy refreshing drinks to cool you down when the temps and humidity get high. One of my favorite thirst quenchers was taught to me by my Sicilian born paternal Grandmother, Giuseppa (Josephine) Lucia Vizzi Battaglia. Born in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily she immigrated to the USA with her Mom and siblings around 1900. Her Dad already had established residency on NYC’s street of Sicilian immigrants, Elizabeth St. Grandma married my Grandfather, Francesco Battaglia in 1912, they were neighbors on Elizabeth St. He too was born in Sciacca, Sicily and immigrated around the same time. After having 3 children (my Dad being one of them) they moved to the “country”, the NYC borough of Staten Island settling in one of many Italian enclaves during those years. In 1923 they bought a home in the Mariners Harbor section and continued growing their family. Nine children later (one dying as a young child from pneumonia) their family grew exponentially. You couldn’t ask for a Grandma who loved her Grandchildren more, I believe a little more than she loved her own kids. All 24 of us were the apples of her eye. When I think of Grandma Battaglia I think of hugs, great big bear hugs and pinches with those Sicilian mits of hands she had. When you went to her house she fed you, even pushing food into your pockets as you left. One of my favorite memories of “things Grandma made” was her SICILIAN ICED ESPRESSO WITH ORANGE. In true Sicilian tradition her Iced Espresso was strong, very sweet, and infused with the juice and peel of sliced Oranges. Today, June 19 is the 45th anniversary of my beloved Grandma’s passing. Every time I make a pitcher of this it’s as if she’s opening her fridge in her big kitchen and taking the tupperware or Plastic pitcher loaded with Iced espresso, sugar, ice, and oranges and pouring a big glass for me, of course the glass was loaded with ice so it was the sweetest, coldest, most refreshing tumbler of a drink..EVER. Simply brew 10 cups of Espresso, use a good Italian coffee for this. Pour it into a pitcher. Dissolve 1/2 cup of Sugar (super fine works best if you can get it)..what? You’re staying away from sugar? OK, just remember, Sicilians love SWEET things. Since I’m making this Grandma’s way, use the sugar (or keep it unsweetened, not very Sicilian, just sayin….or use Splenda, or any other sugarless sweetner to taste). Slice 2 oranges into wedges. Squeeze each wedge into the coffee. Then add the wedges. Stir well. Taste…sweet enough? If not, add more. Let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Then add lots of ice. Stir. Let stand in the fridge for 1 hour. Serve. You’ll be addicted. Pour in Glasses filled with more ice. I’m smiling from ear to ear sharing this with you, a gift from my Grandmother’s kitchen. Everyday I am grateful that I had both my Italian born Grandmothers in my life. When you have your glass, raise it and toast my Grandma Battaglia…Salute’ e Cent’Anni.
Last week I, A FOOD OBSESSION, had my first POP UP Dinner and I hope it’s not my last. It was an amazing amount of fun, anxiety, great kitchen work, planning and working with some great people. Through a Facebook food group I’m in, the MERRICK GIRLS WEEKNIGHT RECIPES group, my blog and my posts became known to the owner and chef of a Merrick, Long Island NY restaurant beautifully located on the water, ANCHOR DOWN SEAFOOD BAR AND GRILLE. Chef Stephen Rosenbluth and his wife Jennifer had the idea to have me come to their restaurant on a Sunday night, create a special menu showcasing my recipes that I would cook with his wonderful kitchen staff and serve to members of the group. FANTASTIC!!! It would so much fun meeting all these people I’ve been in the group with for the last 2 years as well. So I came up with a seafood menu and somehow it just evolved into a celebration of my Sicilian heritage. Now TIRAMISU is hardly Sicilian. It’s a Northern Italian creation most likely from the late 60’s -80’s up in the northern province of VENETO. It’s said to be derived from the more traditional Zuppa Inglese layered dessert once very popular throughout Italy. Growing up there was no TiraMiSu’, which translates as PICK ME UP alluding to the Espresso which is the main flavor in the dessert. I remember Zupp’Inglese as a child but no TiraMiSu’ which is historically correct. America started seeing this dessert in the early 80’s or so and it took off. If you tell me that as an ItalianAmerican in the NYC area you knew what Mascarpone Cheese was before the arrival of TiraMiSu in the 80’s i say…i don’t think so. LOL.. TiraMiSu took over as the standard offering in all the Italian American and Italian restaurants in the USA. It’s everywhere now. Some versions good, some not so good. It’s an Italian Crisp LadyFinger (called SAVOIARDI) layer, soaked in Espresso and sometimes a Liquore, then layered with an egg enriched Mascarpone and Whipped Cream layer, scented with Vanilla. There’s some unsweetened cocoa dusted over the top and it’s chilled and sets up beautifully. But let’s get back to what it’s doing here in my Sicilian PopUp. I thought I’d play on the idea of a traditional Tiramisu but make it SICILIAN and a nice light ending to the meal. I made a basic cannoli cream and added that to a wine glass. The Savoiardi were only 1/2 dipped into a syrup we made with Espresso, sugar, Marsala, Orange Peel. All Sicilian flavors. The LadyFinger was place into the cream with the dry end up. A drizzle of the syrup…a grating of Orange zest and a cherry completed the dessert. Sicily in a cup…deconstructing a classic Northern dessert. I think you have the idea now and you will want to make this for a party or dinner. Let’s make CANNOLI TIRAMISU’!!
for 8 servings…have 8 stemmed glassed
takes..about 5 hours (not because it’s difficult, but the cream should be made at least 5 hours and chilled before making the dessert, overnight is best)
3 cups of drained RICOTTA pressed thru a sieve, or 3 cups of Impastata Ricotta.
To drain wrap into a cheesecloth and hang over your kitchen faucet with a bowl underneath it. This is the difference between the texture of Pastry shop Cannoli cream and loose runny homemade cannoli cream. It’s worth the extra work.
1 drop CINAMMON OIL, or 1 TSP. GROUND CINNAMON
1/4 CUP SEMI SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS
1 CUP SIFTED CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR
1/2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
8 IMPORTED ITALIAN SAVOIARDI (LADY FINGERS)
3 TSP. ORANGE ZEST
8 CHERRIES, GLACE’, CANDIED, or MARASCHINO (DRAINED AND BLOTTED)
Using a mixer beat the cheese till smooth. Add the cinnamon and the vanilla. Beat till blended in. Now add the sugar slowly and when all incorporated raise the speed and beat until it’s smooth and no lumps are present.Fold in the Chip. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
2 CUPS STRONG BLACK ESPRESSO
2 STRIPS ORANGE PEEL
JUICE OF ONE ORANGE
1/2 CUP MARSALA
3/4 CUP GRANULATED SUGAR
WHISK together in a saucepan till the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange peel. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until it’s reduced by almost 40%. Let cool.
Now add a small amount of the syrup to the bottom of the 8 glasses. Into each glass fill 1/3 of the way with the cannoli cream. One by one, dip 1/2 of the SAVOIARDI into the Syrup and let the excess run back into the pan. Now place it into the glass on top of the cream. When finished with all 8, garnish with a drizzle of the syrup, divide the orange zest over the 8 cups, and add a cherry to finish.Now serve!! It’s a tiramisu’ idea with the flavors of Sicily…who doesn’t love CANNOLI???? The happy diners at the PopUp all enjoyed their desserts. It was a pleasure cooking with Chef Rosenbluth and staff and a pleasure working with and finally meeting the Girls of the Merrick Girls Weeknight Recipe Facebook Group. You can find the group and join it on Facebook at :
And you can dine at ANCHOR DOWN SEAFOOD BAR AND GRILLE in Merrick LI :
Tell Chef Stephen, Jennifer, Chef Jason and Murph, Christian, Bev, and Megan you read about them on my blog!!!
An amazingly flavored dessert/drink that comes from Italy is the perfect idea for your Summer entertaining (ok, not just Summer but i’m trying to play up the seasonal thing here). It’s called AFFOGATO and it means DROWNED. A scoop (s) of usually VANILLA GELATO is placed in a chilled glass, cup , or bowl and hot ESPRESSO is poured over it. Let’s talk here for a moment. I’m American so I will have to say, you can use a good creamy naturally flavored VANILLA ICE CREAM and a good strong BLACK COFFEE for this treat. It’s way better though when you stick to the original and proper when possible and find (or make if you’re into that) Vanilla Gelato and make a pot of Espresso. Now again, since I’m American I’m almost forced into telling you that you can top this with Amaretti Crumbs, Shaved Chocolate, I guess the sky is the limit. I will also tell you that now you are making an Ice Cream Sundae of sorts and you’ve sucked the Italian soul completely out of the mix. Americans LOVE having lots of varieties especially when it comes with toppings. Me, I’m more the purist and I prefer this as the Italians intended it to be made. Lots of overkill “recipes” for this on the web. Why complicate???
To make this tasty treat…simply scoop Vanilla Gelato or Ice Cream into a chilled glass that can withstand heat, we want no accidents here..or into a bowl (safer),then for each scoop, 1 1/2 ounces of hot espresso over the top. Serve…eat/drink enjoy. This, along with a platter of cut Summer fruits and berries and some biscotti is a great way to end a Summer’s meal.
The picture is of an AFFOGATO I enjoyed for dessert at the OBICA’ MOZZARELLA BAR, Canary Wharf, London ( I know, that’s not Italy, but so what,It’s Europe..LOL) in July 2014 on family vacation (or should I say Holiday since it was in London???). Just to keep my authenticity badge, I have had this in Italy but there’s not corresponding picture. So there’s that. Now enjoy the Summer and enjoy the foods and gatherings that make it the great season it is.
Now if you want to expand on the basic “affogato” as nature intended it…here’s some ideas, for you boozy adults, a bit of your favorite Liquore, think ones that go well with vanilla and coffee like Amaretto, Fra Angelico, Kaluha….or for the non boozy types some Nutella, Chocolate or Caramel Syrup. I’ll keep mine gelato and espresso. Enjoy!!