What I cooked during the holiday … so far

For the festive season I made several things. We went to the local Coop grocery store for what I call a “big buy”. I keep lists and we stock up on all the things we have run out of. But on that same trip we were surprised that they had an itty bitty turkey! It was only 2.7 kilos. I have never seen anything like this here so I couldn’t resist buying it. On the same shopping trip Luther also pointed out his favorite — anatra/duck. So I decided that would be our Christmas dinner.

We also had friends over for dinner one night so we took a trip to our favorite, amazing Etrusco butcher and ordered a prime rib…called costeletto here.

Anyway, the turkey turned out great and we indulged ourselves with turkey sandwiches for a few days! The costeletto was also very good and we had it as leftovers the next day. Finally the duck was our Christmas dinner.

I have an amazing way to cook duck. I saved the recipe and I’ve used it many times. It is not your usual method of cooking duck. It is simplicity in itself. The recipe is from The Omnivore’s Cookbook. The duck is stuffed with citrus fruit, heavily salted, and the breast skin is scored with a knife but not into the meat. Once this is done you pop it, uncovered into a very low temperature oven, 95 to 120 C / 200 to 250 F for 6 hours. Yes, I said six hours…you don’t touch it. You leave it be. It smells amazing as it cooks. When it comes out the skin is crisp and the meat pulls apart and is very tender. Try this! It is incredible. And, if you set your temperature low, it is fool-proof. If you like Peking duck you can buy or make the little pancakes and serve with hoisin sauce. The meat works perfectly for this.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any pictures of any of these meals…my bad!
Today, I was craving pasta. So I made Spaghetti con le Sarde. I have made this before from different sources and the ingredients are the same. This recipe is traditional. You can google it. It comes from Palermo, Sicilia. It is the typical moorish inspired Sicilian recipe that is both savory and sweet. Picture. Recipe is below.

Spaghetti con le Sarde – 2 servings

About 3 tablespoons raisins – soaked in warm water
1 tablespoon bread crumbs toasted, or panko
3 tablespoons olive oil
Handful of pine nuts
2 tablespoons onions
1/2 cup diced fennel
anchovy filets – 2 or 3
one 4 ounce can tinned sardines or 250 grams fresh – cleaned and boned
Pinch of saffron
spaghetti or bucatini for 2
if you’ve got fennel fronds use them as garnish

Boil water, add fennel and cook 5 minutes. Drain, save water for pasta. In large sauté pan add oil. Cook onions until soft, and the fresh sardines if using. Add drained raisins, pine nuts, anchovies, fennel, tinned sardines if using, saffron, pepper. Cook 15 minutes. While cooking boil spaghetti or bucatini until al dente. Add to sauce and toss, adding a little pasta water if dry. To serve, sprinkle with crumbs and fennel fronds, if using.
As for news on the Covid front, Italy extended the state of emergency until 31 March. They also came out with a new decree on Christmas Eve. From 25 December, there are new restrictions. The Green pass showing vaccination or recovery in the last six months is required to do just about anything. Even workers who had been doing work-arounds by being tested every two days can no longer go to their workplace. It is mandatory to wear a mask inside and outside. One must wear an FFP2 mask when attending concerts or events or on public transport. No food allowed at indoor events.It is mandatory to wear a mask inside and outside. You must have the pass to go to inside a restaurant or bar. People cannot take a train, plane, bus or underground, use a gym or swimming pool or attend any concerts or sporting events. All nightclubs and discos are closed until 31 January. All New Years celebrations are canceled. The numbers are jumping here by around 5,000 new cases a day. Last number I saw was 55,000 new daily cases. I have a feeling after the holidays we will see even more restrictions.

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