Category Archives: Pantelleria

Foccacia alla Pantesca

April 19, 2013

Ever since I first tried the capers (capperi) from Pantelleria I’ve been totally addicted to them. My friends in Sweden and New York that cook obsess over them. Now and then I receive messages saying: please send more Capers! Yesterday I got an urgent note from my sister with a picture of an empty caper bag to illustrate the desperation.
In New York I could find other Sicilian capers, which are really good, but simply do not compare to the Pantescan capers… It’s the simple reality that this little island grows the best capers there are to find. Amazing how one little flower bud preserved in sea salt gives so much flavor. Last weekend we had great weather and we hung out with friends all Sunday in the tiny fishing village of Gadir. All of us made two or three dishes to bring for a pot luck picnic. One off my contributions was this foccacia bread. It is perfect for a buffet or picnic.
Wish you all a great weekend/ Anna

Capperi di Pantelleria-CF043215

Capperi di Pantelleria-CF032447

Focaccia alla Pantesca
Serves 10
Ingredients for the dough:
25 gram fresh yeast
3  cups (7.2 dl) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2.4 dl) luke warm water ideally no warmer then body temperature
1/2 (1.2 dl) cup olive oil

1/4 cup olive oil for the baking tin.

Ingredients for toppings for the Foccacia:
1/2 medium sized red onion cored and sliced
1 Tablespoon salt cured capers from Pantelleria
1 teaspoon oregano from Pantelleria
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup(0.6 dl) olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)

Crumble the yeast in a mixing bowl and mix with lukewarm water and sugar. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place or in the sunlight for 15 minutes. This is called blooming the yeast

Once yeast has bloomed add olive oil to the mixture and begin adding flour at 1 cup at a time and working the mixture into a dough. The dough should come together and the bowl should have no flour sticking to the sides. Next on a clean flat surface sprinkle some flour and place the dough on top and knead the dough for 15 minutes.

Place  the dough back into an olive oil coated bowl cover with a clean cotton kitchen towel place back in the sun or a warm place and allow the dough to rise to double its size should take about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F ( 200 C) degrees.

Take out an oven tray or baking tin, brush the bottom and edges with olive oil and sprinkle some salt flakes, don’t be skimpy on the olive oil use a 1/4 cup ( 0.6 dl)

Place the dough into the tray or baking tin shaping the dough to the size of the pan. Next place the  onion slices, rosemary, capers, oregano and drizzle some more olive oil over. Cover with a clean towel and place the pan in a warm place or the sun and allow to rise a second time for about 30 minutes.

Bake in the oven until golden for about 10 -12 minutes.

Focaccia Pantesca-CF071023

To buy capers and oregano from Pantelleria go to ships to all Europe and US adresses.

Read more about the love for capers from Pantelleria at my friends Amy and Peters blog

Black eyed pea cassoulet with salciccia and sage

March 14, 2013


These lovely local beans (yes, black eyed peas are actually a bean) was harvested last spring and dried. The farmer who grows the beans is called Centesimo. That is his nickname. All men have nicknames in Pantelleria. Centesimo’s means penny, or cent.  His nickname makes reference to the fact that he is very thrifty and frugal. He harvests all his seeds from his own fruits and vegetables that he cultivates. Centesimo and his wife live and grow their produce in Scauri, a village in the south west part of Pantelleria. When my friend Ines and I visited them this summer we got a lot of lovely products. I still had these black eyed peas, and was happy to use them last night.

centesimo-CF050352 1Yesterday we had rain and hailstorms all day. The three of us, Carlo (the boyfriend), Igor (the dog), and I were freezing. We spent all day inside, reading, watching a movie and just chilled out in front of the fire.For dinner I cooked this bean cassoulet with salsiccia and sage. It turned out to be a perfect meal for this cold day.  

The black eyed peas need to soak for 6-8 hours before you start cooking.

Black eyed pea cassoulet with salciccia and sage
Serves 4-6
To soak the black eyed peas:
2 cups (4.8 dl) of black eyed peas
6 cups (14.4 dl) of cold water
Put the black eyed peas in a bowl or a container.
Pour over the water and cover with a lid or a dinner plate.
Let soak for 6-8 hours in the fridge.
The cassoulet:
1 medium sized yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 dried chili peppers crushed or 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 medium sized carrots
1 stalk of celery
2 teaspoon salt
3 cups (7.2 dl) of white wine
2 cups (4.2 dl) of water
4 cups (9.6 dl) of soaked black eyed peas ( they will double in size after soaking)
17 oz (480 grams) salsiccia
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) of  cooking cream
12 cherry tomatoes
18 black olives
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
12 large sage leaves

Wash, peel and both the onion and garlic finely, saute in olive oil until golden and soft, add the bay leaf and chili flakes.
Wash, peel and cut the carrots and celery stalk in medium sized chunks and add to the onions with the black eyed peas, 2 cups wine,  2 cups water and 1.5 teaspoon salt.
Cover with a lid and cook on medium to low temperature for about 45 minutes then add the last cup of wine, continue cooking.

Add tomato paste, cream, sugar, Dijon mustard, cherry tomatoes and olives.
Sauté the salsiccia lightly in a skillet on the side then add to the bean stew.
Cook for another 20 minutes. Try the beans, they should be soft but not mushy,
you want them to have some texture. Crush the sage leaves and stir. Taste the stew before serving to see if more salt is needed. Serve with bread and red wine.

black eyed peas cassouletCF064656

Dinner plate

Wild asparagus canapés

March 8, 2013

obesk-CF066754I can feel the spring in Pantelleria approaching. One of the lovely things with spring is the wild asparagus. Yesterday we went looking for them and found plenty- enough to make a big tray of these asparagus parmesan cheese canapés. This recipe is original from a cookbook ” Snittar”  which in English means “Canapés”. My dear companion and friend Hedvig von Mentzer and I created and published this book in Sweden in 2003. Today it’s International Women’s Day. What could be a better occasion to invite friends for some Prosecco and canapés?
Let’s toast and acknowledge women all over the globe.



Asparagus and parmesan cream canapés
Makes about 30 canapés

10 oz (275 grams) refrigerated puff pastry sheets
1 egg (to brush the puff pastry with)
1 Tablespoon water

6 oz (170 grams) grated Parmesan cheese
2 shallots
1 clove of garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) white wine
3/4 cups (1.8 dl) heavy cream
2 sprigs of thyme crushed
Salt and grounded white pepper to taste

30 asparagus
Ice cubes


Preheat the oven to 400 F (200C) degrees.
Cut the sheet of puff pastry into 2 inch squares (bite sized).
Place the squares on a non stick baking sheet and on to the oven trays.
Whisk the egg and 2 Tablespoons of water together in a bowl, then, brush the top of each puff pastry square. Bake the squares in the oven for about 8-10 min. They should puff and be golden brown.
Remove from the oven and tray to a plate and allow them to cool to the touch.

Grate the Parmesan cheese. Finely chop the shallots and garlic.
Heat a saute pan, add olive oil then the chopped shallots and garlic saute until soft.
Add the wine, cook until the liquid is reduced to half.
Lower the fire and add heavy cream stir quickly, add the Parmesan cheese, make sure to stir the bottom on the pan to avoid burning. When the cheese has combined together with the cream it will thickened a bit. Make sure to taste the cream prior to seasoning, the Parmesan imparts some saltiness to the cream so taste the sauce as to adjust the salt amount. Season with crushed thyme, salt and white pepper, set a side.

In a separate pot boil water to cook the asparagus, add salt to the water as you would when cooking pasta. Fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes, this you have prepared on the side to immediately put the asparagus in after boiled using a slotted spoon. Boil the asparagus between 2-4 minutes and place immediately in the ice water bowl using a slotted spoon.

The time for asparagus will vary according to the size and freshness of your asparagus,
I would say between 2-4 minutes. I would  make a test by placing only two or three into the water and watch them as they are boiling. Remove them, cool and feel the texture, once you understand proceed with the rest. The asparagus should be bright green and not too cooked you would want it to remain a little “al dente” texture.  After cooling down, cut the top buds off (use the left over for example a salad or omelet).

Prior to serving, build the canapes :
Spread on top of each puff pastry square , one full teaspoon Parmesan cream,
next place one asparagus bud on the top.

Style: "Neutral"

Almond panna cotta with uva passa and orange compote

February 15, 2013

Panna cotta literally means cooked heavy cream.
The main ingredients are cream sugar and gelatin, some recipes also include egg whites.
This dessert is originally from Northern Italy in the region of Piedmont (Piemonte), were back in the days people boiled the fish bones and getting collagen out of this process that was used as the first gelatin. Since I’m still fell  inspired from the almondtree in flowering I’m making more almond milk and flavor the panna cotta that I want to serve for my dinner guest this evening. To accompany this panna cotta I’m making a fruit compote made with oranges from the tree and uva passa from this summers grape harvest. Uva passa is the sun dried Zibbio grape, that you make the Passito di Pantelleria sweet wine of. This beautiful dried grape is a regular sweet here in Pantelleria and is used as a raisin in cooking and baking . To be honest it’s actually the best bloody raisin I ever tasted… sun kissed sweet…. perfumed with a taste of nature from the volcanic soil of Pantelleria.
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If you can’t get hold of these uva passa you can exchange the uva passa to other raisins or for example use dried plums or just ad more orange or other sweet citrus fruits.

Here comes a recipe for almond panna cotta with uva passa and orange compote

Wish you all a great weekend.
/ Anna

almond pannacotta-CF011788

Almond panna cotta with uva passa and orange compote
Panna cotta
Serves 6

2 gelatin sheets (bowl large enough to cover sheets with water)
1 cup (2.4 dl) almond milk
1.1/2 cup (3.6 dl) heavy cream
1/2 cup (64 grams) sugar
1 vanilla bean ( split lengthwise and seeded)

6 each ceramic ramekins or small coffee cups
1 table spoon of sunflower oil (for the ramekins)

Place gelatin sheets in a bowl and cover complete with cold water for 5-10 min minutes. Over medium size flame, in a sauce pan combine the cream, almond milk and sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Lift the gelatin sheets from the water and stir into the hot cream until dissolved as well. Oil 6 ramekins or small coffee cups. Divide the panna cotta mixture evenly among each ramekin, set on a level shelf in the fridge,cover with plastic and let set for at least 3 hours.

Uva passa and orange compote
4 oranges
24 uva passa
1 cup (2.4 dl ) Passito di Pantelleria
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) sugar

Peel the oranges by cutting the skin off using a sharp kitchen knife.
Cut the oranges into medium sized chunks. Deseed the uva passa.

In a small but heavy sauce pan, pour the Passito di Pantelleria wine and sugar to boil.  The sugar should dissolve and the liquid must reduce to half (on my gas stow this takes about 5 min). Stir constantly all the way to the bottom of the pan when it is boiling, so as to avoid burning the sugar. Add the fruit and set a side until serving.

When serving:
Run a sharp knife around the edges and flip on to serving plates.
Spoon up the compote cooled to room temperature around the panna cotta.

Almond trees in full bloom

February 5, 2013

almond tree in flower CF012872The almond tree that this blog is named after is now in full bloom. Almond trees belong to the plum family and the almond is the core of the almond fruit that is a stone fruit. It is not actually a nut. Here in Pantelleria the almond trees are now covered with white/pink flowers. Almonds are an important ingredient in the Pantescan cuisine. I love to use almonds both in cooking and baking and, of course, just eating them plain. When the bloom period is over the trees develop their foliage. After that the fruit is at first green (see picture below) and has a soft shell similar to the peach. This skin will dry over the summer and fall off when the stone fruit is ready.
almond tree green almonds-CF022926almond tree CF052774This is what looks like a nutshell. Inside you have the almond, which is the core.  We harvested our almond trees in August, and we use them throughout the year. When the almonds are fresh they are juicy and not as sweet as the dry ones. In Sicily, almond milk is a popular drink and is often served at the bars together with small Sicilian assorted cookies.almond harvest-CF052873Almond milk
6 servings

2.1/2 cups (6 dl) whole peeled almonds
18 cups (2.8 liter) room temperature bottled water, you will need to 6 cups (14 dl) per soaking    (2 times) 6 cups for blending.
3 tablespoons honey
Optional grounded cinnamon or vanilla seeds to taste

Place almonds together in a large bowl that can accommodate both the almonds and the water so the almonds are covered by the water. Cover with plastic and allow them to soak 4 hours. Then change water and do the same procedure soaking for another 4 hours.
Drain and rinse almonds with fresh water using a colander.
Using a blender or food processor, mix the almonds with 6 cups bottled water, and add honey. Mix together using a blender or food processor (taste if you want it sweeter, add some more honey). Place the mixture back into the bowl and cover with plastic allowing it to rest for 2 hours. If you want, now is the time to add a little vanilla seeds or grounded cinnamon to taste.
Strain the almond milk through a cheesecloth or a strainer, serve well chilled.
Store the almond milk covered in the refrigerator. It has a possible shelf life 3-4 days when properly stored.

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All about the olives

November 23, 2012

olivskord-CF058270November is all about the olives in Pantelleria. Two weeks ago I was helping out picking. We had a day of beautiful weather. The olive trees that climb up the hills of Ghirlanda were packed with big olives ready to be picked. In Pantelleria the olive trees grow very low to the ground, so using machines to pick is out of the question. All olives are picked by hand. There are a variety of olive species, but the most common is Biancolilla. It takes about 7-8 kilos (15-17 lb) of olives to make 1 liter ( 33.8 oz) of oil. During this period friends and families help each other out, taking turns in each other’s land to pick. Gathering the olives is also a social event- it’s about simply being together and having a good time while the job gets done. Pantelleria does not export its olive oil. People here on the island are just making enough olive oil for the family to use in the household for the upcoming year.

Thanks to Andrea, Vincenzo, Diego, Raffaele and Salvatore.