The Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook is a son's tribute to his the father, "The Old Man" an Old World gent renowned as much for his cooking as for his delightful stories and outrageous claims. By the time you've finished reading his book you may not be convinced that Sicilians are responsible for chicken soup, rice, and pasta (as the Old Man claims) but you may well believe they invented laughter.
The writing style is relaxed and conversational. The recipes more than 160 combine Sicilian and American influences and include antipasto and salads; vegetables; soups and stews; pasta and sauces; seafood; poultry and meat; and sweets.
The dishes are all simple, authentic, and delicious:
- A Meatloaf Like No Other (combines Italian sausage, pine nuts, olives and wine)- Shellfish Marinara 1, 2, and 3 (each a distinct version)
- Pasta with Polpette (Sicilian meatballs that have a flattened oval shape, much like a stepped-on football. Odd they may look, but they're never tough since you need brown only two sides)
- Pasta with Beans, Pasta with Artichokes, Pasta with Cauliflower, Pasta with Eggplant
- An abundance of recipes for chicken and for fish and one for chicken with fish (plus a handful of dried figs)
- Traditional veal dishes
- Desserts that include holiday pastries, a ricotta pie, and a Sicilian rice pudding
Readers not familiar with Sicilian cooking are in for a treat. The food of the Mediterranean's largest island was influenced by the people who conquered it. From the Arabs and Moors come stuffed vegetables and the use of dried fruits and pine nuts. From the Greeks come olive oil and lemon. It is a simpler cuisine than that of the north, emphasizing leaner ingredients. For Sicilians, seafood is more important than meat, and lamb is more likely to be seen on the table than is pork.
The Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook is filled with all the warmth, love, and happiness of the home that the Old Man created. The recipes are generously garnished with anecdotes and old-world philosophy.
|Publisher:||Firefly Books, Limited|
|Edition description:||Revised Edition|
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Author Don Baratta captures the voice of The Old Man. Don, who makes his home in Washington State, was born and grew up in the Bronx, in the midst of Sicilian neighborhood. As for the Old Man, nobody is sure where he was born maybe Sicily, or possibly somewhere in New England.
Read an Excerpt
From the chapter on Vegetables and Stuffings - Verdure e Ripieni, sample recipes and an excerpt
You will need:
1 head cauliflower
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
vegetable oil (approximately 4 cups)
Lower cauliflower into a pot of salted, boiling water. Return water to a boil, then remove and drain the cauliflower. Separate into florets and set them aside.
Combine all other ingredients except the vegetable oil into a large bowl and beat vigorously until mixture is without lumps.
Heat vegetable oil to 375° in a deep pan or fryer. Dip each floret into the batter, then drop it into the oil. Do not overcrowd.
Fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, turning pieces so they cook evenly. Serve hot.
Cauliflower is a much-hated vegetable in this country, yet it need not be so. It is usually boiled and accompanied by small groans. A non-Italian guest once watched with interest the respect the Old Man paid this detested food. Her curiosity broke down her ancient reservations, and she tried a piece. The result was near-disbelief in the lively flavor. The Old Man flatly pointed out (indifferent to the insult he offered the poor girl's family), "If it had been prepared correctly, you would have always liked it!" So much for polite chatter. He remained unrepentant all his life.
You know, I have a theory about vegetables. Ialso have a theory about tools. I advise you to buy either the best or the cheapest. Trying to compromise with something that claims to be a little bit good and a little bit cheap will bring you to calamity. But the best you will take good care of; and the cheapest can be used once and then thrown away.
But this is not my theory about vegetables. With vegetables, I suggest you grow your own. I do not mean you should cultivate a farm for this would leave you little time to enjoy anything else. But you can grow that which you always use, such as plum tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and perhaps some eggplant. And don't forget about sweet basil.
The rest must be bought in a store, and you must make the best of this situation. You will have noticed how Italians spend a good deal of time searching among the produce, always seeking perfection. Some have been known to stand at attention and salute a particularly fine specimen. I know of a musically inclined young man who would sing an aria from Turandot at the sight of a ripe melon, but this demonstration of exuberance I feel to be misplaced. Artichokes, perhaps ... even an eggplant. But a melon?
My point, by the way, is that Italians have the extraordinary idea that fresh produce used immediately is half the battle. To date, no one has yet proven them wrong.
Fried Squash Blossoms
Fritto di Fiori du Zucca
If you grow squash of any kind, you are lucky in that you will be provided with the big, puffy, orange flowers that precede the fruit. They are quite wonderful when stuffed and fried. You will, of course, have to leave enough of them on the vine to guarantee getting the squash as well -- but that's no great problem.
You will need:
12 unopened squash blossoms
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, diced
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
all-purpose flour (for dredging)
2 eggs, well beaten
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Gently wash each flower under running water. Pat dry and set aside. Mix cheeses and parsley together and flavor with salt and pepper.
Slit each flower along the side and push cheese filling into the flower. Dredge each flower in flour and then in beaten eggs.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and gently lower filled flowers into hot oil. Brown both sides quickly.
Serve hot. A wonderful thing!
Table of Contents
Antipasto and Salads
Vegetables and Stuffings
Soups and Stews
Pasta and Sauces
Beef, Lamb and Pork
The Song Ends
- A Final Word About the Old Man
- The Sicilian Gentleman on Wine
- Pasta Shapes
- Conversion Tables
- The Sicilian Gentleman on Wine
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Back in print after too many years is 'The Sicilian Gentleman's Cookbook,' which the author first self-published back in the 1980s. It's a winningly personal book, really an hommage to his late father, who was born in the little town of Mussomeli in central Sicily and who emigrated to the U.S. in 1905. 'The Old Man,' as Baratta refers to him, was a man of many and strong opinions; for example, he didn't consider most Italians on the mainland (which most Sicilians call 'la penisola'--the peninsula) to be Italians at all. As he put it, anything north of Palermo is Swiss.' The younger Baratta also minces no words, and often in these pages he and his father combine delightfully: 'Cauliflower is a much-hated vegetable in this country [the U.S.], yet it need not be so. It is usually boiled and accompanied by small groans. A non-Italian guest once watched with interest the respect my father paid this detested food. Her curiosity broke down her ancient reservations, and she tried a piece. The result was near-disbelief in the lively flavor. The Old Man flatly pointed out (indifferent to the insult he offered the poor girl's family), 'If it had been prepared correctly, you would have always liked it!' So much for polite chatter. He remained unrepentant all his life.' There's much more of the same in these pages, and plenty of recipes, too. Many are as unusual as they are delightful (Sicilian cooking is one of the richest and most varied cuisines in the Mediterranean basin). The pages are large, the type is clear, and there's only one recipe to a page. So whether you try the cauliflower recipes--or the cardoons or the meat and seafood dishes--you're in for a treat. Still, the best part of this book is the salty talk of two Sicilian gentlemen--the one who wrote it and the one who inspired it.