Tag Archives: Under the Almond Tree

Karamelliserad brysselkål

January 19, 2015

Januari på Pantelleria betyder mängder av citrus, pumpor, fänkål och otaliga variationer på kål. Jag älskar de flesta sorters kål men speciellt brysselkål. Namnet har den från Belgien, där den har varit som mest populär sedan 1300-talet men det sägs att den ha haft en föregångare som odlades redan i antika Rom. På en brysselkålsplanta får vi ut ca 1-1,2 kg brysselkål. Tyvärr kan man ibland bli serverad överkokt brysselkål och det gör ingen glad. Brysselkålen ska helst ha tuggmotstånd och själv har jag en fäbless att karamellisera den. Världens enklaste grönsaksrätt kommer här. Den passar som en antipasto eller som ett grönsakstillbehör på vinterbordet.

Karamelliserad brysselkål
Som ett tillbehör eller förrätt till 4 pers

800 gram brysselkål
3 msk råsocker

Gör så här
Ta fram en stor kastrull och koka upp lättsaltat vatten.
Putsa och skölj brysselkålen.
Koka brysselkålen ca 4 min och häll sedan av i durkslag.
Hetta upp olivolja i stekpannan och stek brysselkålen samtidigt som du rör i pannan hela tiden.
Salta med ett gott flingsalt.
Strö över sockret och fortsätt att då och då röra i pannan så att inte sockret bränns.
Brysselkålen ska bli jämt karamelliserad och gyllene.


Passito spiced summer cherries

July 24, 2014

This is my local take on Maraschino cherries, but instead of Maraschino liqueur I used our local sweet wine, Passito di Pantelleria. Originally maraschino cherries were made from marasca cherries (originated in Croatia) which were then preserved in Italy’s maraschino liqueurs. Since I am not using Maraschino liqueur, rather Passito di Pantelleria such as Sangue  d’oro  and the local cherries “Amarena”. The cherries need to sit in the jar for about two weeks to really soak in the spices before serving. Eat the cherries as a dessert with or without vanilla ice cream, place them on top of a cupcakes or as a garnish to a whiskey sour.
Chin chin!AT-CF038203 1Passito spiced summer cherries
1 Cup (2.4 dl) sugar
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) water
3 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Star Anise
1 Clove
A pinch of grated nutmeg
1 Vanilla bean cut and seeds scraped
2 LB (900 grams) sweet stoned cherries (use your local variety)
1 Cup ( 2.4 dl) of Passito di Pantelleria

Wash and remove all the cherry’s stones.
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients excluding the cherries and the Passito allowing them to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cherries and simmer for 8-10minutes. Remove from heat, add the Passito and let cool.
Transfer the cherries and liquid into clean jars and cover tightly and refrigerate for two weeks.

Almond Bar’s Whiskey Sour
1 part Bourbon whiskey
2 part simple syrup, recipe for simple sirup here
1 part lemon juice
1 Passito spiced cherry

Mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and serve with a cherry on the top. If it’s a hot summer day serve with some extra ice.



Panzanella Pantesca

July 17, 2014

This year we went all out with the tomatoes. We planted a bunch of different varieties hoping to get different flavors, colors and sizes. In these last few days we have harvested 10 -12 boxes every day. Carlo’s granny Rosa is making tomato sauce to preserve for the winter. We are eating, giving away and paying for our breakfasts in the bar with tomatoes.

Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan bread salad. Here is a local version with anchovies and the Rolls Royce, the Bentley, rather, of capers “Capperi di Pantelleria.”  This panzanella is a perfect light and satisfying meal to enjoy on a hot summer’s day. Invite some friends for lunch, pop a chilled bottle of prosecco and dig in.


Panzanella Pantesca
Serves 6-8
1/2 Loaf of old white bread
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) extra virgin olive oil
3 Each cloves of garlic
2 Pounds (1 kilo) of mixed variety of tomatoes
1 Red small sized onion
1 Fresh red chili pepper minced
1/3 Cup ( 0.8 dl) black olives
4 Tablespoon rinsed and drained salt packed capers ( Capperi di Pantelleria)
20 Small fillets of anchovies packed in oil (reserve oil for dressing)
1 Bunch of basil leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoon of the oil that contains the anchovies
Sea salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to your taste

Break bread into bite sized pieces, in a saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil add crush the cloves of garlic add to the pan, then add in a little sea salt flakes. Toast the bread in the pan with seasoned garlic oil until it’s golden. Remove toasted bread from the pan place on top of a paper lined tray and set a side. Let any left over oil cool and reserve to use in the dressing.

Wash and remove the outer skin of the red onion. Cut off the stem side, lay flat on the cut surface and proceed to cut the onion in half. Remove the root core then length wise cutting stem to root cut the onion into strips.

Finely chop the chlli pepers, wash, core and cut the tomatoes into wedges.

Combine in a large bowl the bread, tomatoes and onions, capers, olives, anchovies and basil leaves.

In a small bowl whisk together, balsamic vinegar, rest of the olive oil, 2 Tablespoon of anchovies oil, the red chili, pepper and sea salt.

Pour dressing over the top of the bread, tomatoes and onions in the large bowl. Toss all ingredients as to combine everything, then, let the bread soak up the juice from the tomatoes and olive oil.


Get your Capperi di Pantelleria here!

Summer lemonade

July 14, 2014

This last days has been really hot and what’s better for a dry mouth than a lemonade this hot afternoons in the garden. I usually make a lemonade concentrate and if there are leftover I pour it in a bottle and save it in the fridge. When serving I couldn’t resist decorating the lemonade with some mallow flowers. If you have extra time on your hand you could also freeze eatable flower in the ice cubes to give it a summery and colorful look.


The recipe will make around 6 cups  (14 dl) of lemonade concentrate


2 cups  (4.8 dl) caster sugar

2 cup (4.8 dl )water

12-14 lemons or enough lemons for 3 cups ( 7.4 dl) of fresh lemon juice

To serve : Still mineral or soda water and ice


Start by making a simple syrup.

Warm sugar and water in a small saucepan on the stove, stir until the sugar has dissolved and incorporated into the water, set a side.

Squeeze the juice from the lemons, if you so desire you can strain the pulp from the juice or leave it in.

Combine the lemon juice and the simple syrup stirring to make sure they are full incorporated.

Fill a pitcher or glasses halfway  with ice cubes and lemonade concentrate.

Add either sparkling or still mineral water to dilute.

Server  immediately!


Lemon curd

June 26, 2014

The other day, while reading over some really tempting summer recipes in the Swedish magazine Lantliv. I realized that I haven’t enjoyed cheesecake for quite some time. This particular recipe included a lemon curd. The lemon tree just outside my door inspired me to make my own curd. The cheesecake and lemon curd was delicious, as for the left overs we’ll indulged ourselves with pancakes the following morning.

AT lemon curd -CF109015

Lemon curd

3 Egg (room temperature)
1 Cup (2.4 dl) caster sugar
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) lemon juice
Lemon zest from 1 lemon (use the lemon as part of the juice)
3.5 oz (100 gram) butter

Place a pot of water onto the stove top to use as a water bath.
Over a low heat let it arrive to a simmer.

In a heatproof bowl and mix sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Cut the butter into small pieces.Whisk the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously, until the curd thickens.
Be attentive so that the eggs not coagulate to become scrambled eggs.
When the curd has thickened, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter chunks.
Pour into jar and let cool. (I suggest that you use the water to boil the jar as to make sure it is clean prior to cooking the curd)
Store the jar in the fridge, should keep for a week.


Zucchini salad

June 23, 2014

June is high season for zucchini in gardens and farm fields all over Sicily. Here in Pantelleria the local name for zucchini is Cucuzze. Every day we harvest boxes of different variety of zucchini. These last few days its been really hot weather by mid day, zucchini salad is the perfect fresh light lunch! Keeps the kitchen cool, it also can be served as a side some grilled fish. I used a white balsamic vinegar but if you don’t have that on hand you can replace it with any white vinegar.

Zucchini salad
Serves 4

3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Garlic cloves crushed
2 Chilies cut in small pieces and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons shredded lemon zest
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh grounded black pepper

11/2 lbs (700 gram) zucchini
A handful of basil leaves

Mix all ingredients for the marinade.
Cut the zucchini thinly and add to the marinade, toss to coat the zucchini evenly.
Let the zucchini rest in the marinade for at least 20 minuets.
Mix with basil leaves and serve.

AT marinated zucchini salad-CF109126

Braised chicken with wild oregano and olives

March 2, 2014

It’s still just the beginning of March, but I have the feeling that spring is around the corner. We have been talking walks on Mount Gibele to gather wild oregano. What a blessing! The oregano of Pantelleria is very intense. It is a cross with oregano and marjoram, and it carries the best qualities of both. The oregano is not only a fabulous spice but it also contains a lot of other great things within its oil, namely carvacrol. Oregano contains high amounts of omega-3s, iron, manganese, and antioxidants and it’s super antibacterial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal! This subject is something I will write about further in the future, after I have learned more about it. If you interested to read more about the Oregano harvest in Pantelleria, please visit my friends Amy and Peter’s blog http://flourishnourishinpantelleria.blogspot.it/2013/01/tales-from-harvest-of-green-gold-part-i.html   , http://flourishnourishinpantelleria.blogspot.it/2013/01/tales-from-harvest-of-green-gold-part-2.html

Anyhow, after our day in the mountains I was craving a hot plate of chicken. With our own olives, bay leaves, celery, lemons from the garden and a splash of the local zibibbo wine this recipe came together.
I hope you like it!



Braised Chicken with wild oregano and olives
Serves 4
Note: You will need a oven ready pot with lid.

2 lb (1 kilo) Whole roasting chicken cut into quarters, then legs, thighs and wings separated at the joints (optional should you prefer boneless chicken you will need 1 pound (1/2 kilo) of chicken meat cut into eight pieces.) . If you so desire you can remove the skin of the chicken.
1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (for seasoning the chicken prior to searing)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (for searing)
3 Garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
2 Lemons (washed)
1 Leek or 3 spring onions (washed, peeled cut into quarters, using leeks one inch pieces or (2.5 cm)
4 Stalks celery (washed, ribbed, cut into one inch pieces or 2.5 cm)
2 Bay leaves (whole)
3/4 Cup ( 1.8 dl) dry white wine
3/4 Cup ( 1.8 dl) water
20 Olives green or black, green olives will loose their color due to the heat turning brown so if you wish to use a combination for eye appeal cook with black half black olives then add the other half green olives prior to serving.
8-10 Sprigs fresh oregano, if not available high quality dried oregano can be substituted Oregano di Pantelleria
1/4 Cup ( 0.6 dl) olive oil

Preheat the oven at 350 F degrees (180 C).
Gather and prepare all the ingredients as listed and instructed.
Place the chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle salt and pepper on it tossing as to make sure the chicken is evenly seasoned.
On the stove top place your oven ready pot in a medium sized burner which is placed on the highest setting and allow if a minute or two to become hot.
Add the two Tablespoons of olive oil. Next place the chicken pieces in the bottom of the pot covering the surface but not over crowding as to all the chicken to sear and caramelize. If you find you have more chicken then room in the pot, sear the meat in stages. Have a plate to remove and place seared pieces and repeat this process until all the pieces are seared.
When chicken is seared add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot and minced garlic.  Allow the garlic 10 seconds to cook then add the lemons and rest of the vegetables stirring them as to coat with the garlic flavored oil. Add wine, water, lemons, bay leaves and olives. If you do not have fresh oregano add dried at this time. Place the chicken back into the pot and allow the liquid to come to boil. Turn off the heat on the burner, place the lid on top of the pot and place pot into the oven.

If you decided to use boneless chicken in about 30-40 minutes the dish should be complete. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove the lid as to check on the meat. If boneless it will be firm to the touch, if on the bone the meat should be firm and able to come off the bone easily. If you see any red or uncooked meat place the lid back on the pot and place the pot back in the oven to allow 15 more minutes of cooking time. After 15 minutes repeat the aforementioned process.

This dish can be served over cooked rice or potatoes or in a bowl alone with crunchy bread and a nice glass of white wine.

1ATCF015137Ceramic pot from Crate and Barrel
Dinner dinner plate from Pearl River Mart
To buy Origano di Pantelleria http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/origano-di-pantelleria
To order Origano di Pantelleria in America, contact Jim Dixon at www.realgoodfood.com

Parmesan nibbles with oregano

February 25, 2014

This recipe is a savory twist of the butter shortbread dough. The addition of Parmesan cheese, Oregano, with the butter and a bit of spice, results in a savory delight , you just can’t go wrong! This is a great nibble to serve with drinks or cocktails before dinner. I usually make them bite sized, but if you so desire you can shape them more like a cookie or biscuit sized by adjusting the thickness and end shape of the dough. You can make the dough before hand and keep in the fridge or in the freezer. If you don’t finished this nibbles all at the same time, store them in a container or a paper bag in a dry place.


makes about 60 bite sized nibbles
1 Cup (2.4 dl) all purpose flour
3.5 Oz (100 grams) grated parmesan
3.5 Oz (100 grams )soft butter
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Origano di Pantelleria http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/origano-di-pantelleria (or other dried oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 Egg
2 Tablespoon of pine nuts
Some extra oregano to sprinkle before baking

Mix all ingredients together until the dough forms a clump and kneed.
Divide in 4 piece and roll out each piece into a cylinder.
Using plastic wrap roll the dough into a cylinder form and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 min.
Heat the oven at 400 F (200 C )
Cut the cylinders into coin shapes thickness of about 1/2 inch (1 cm).
Arrange an oven tray lined with nonstick baking paper .
Beat the egg and brush on to the cookies, place one pine nut on each and sprinkle with some oregano.
Bake for about 12-15 min, they should be light golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Swedish magazine Lantliv and a pie from the lemon tree

January 26, 2014

Friends, I have news! I will be contributing the food portion for a blog in the Swedish Magazine Lantliv http://www.lantliv.com/category/bloggar/anna-huerta/. The recipes will be in Swedish and there are three posts already! And make sure to check out my fellow bloggers Leija Kortesaari, Victoria Skoglund and Bella Linde all very interesting in their different fields http://www.lantliv.com/bloggar/
Under the Almond Tree will continue to be published in English. My hope is that you will continue to follow our posts whether you choose the Swedish version at Lantliv or Under the Almond Tree.

lemone lunare tree-CF020182

This week’s post is from our garden, home to an amazing lemon tree. The name for this tree is Limone Lunare. Upon the full moon, it makes new lemons. Picking the fruits releases their perfume, a magical scent, fresh and sweet at the same time. The tree provides us with fruit year round, but during the hottest summer months when rain is in short supply it adjusts its production accordingly. Late January through April the tree is full of yellow lemons. I have a weakness for all sweets and desserts made with lemon. The first time I ever tasted this lemon pie was after a dinner served by my friend Sara, a master of desserts and baked goods. She generously gave me her recipe. Over the years and many pies, I have changed it a little bit by adding more lemon cream and including some vanilla to the crust.
10 years later, this pie remains a favorite to all. Enjoy!

Lemon pie

9 Inch ( 24 cm) cake tin
Serves 8 portions

Pie crust
7 Oz (200 grams) butter
1 1/4 Cup ( 3 dl) All-purpose flour
5 Tablespoon caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder or other vanilla extract
Lemon cream
6 Eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 Cup (3.75 dl) caster sugar
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) sifted flour
1 Cup ( 2.4 dl) fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) degrees.
Melt the butter over low to medium heat on the stove.
In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and vanilla sugar.
Pour the butter over the flour mixture and stir to a smooth dough .
Place the dough into the cake tin. Using your fingers, make a thin crust by pushing the dough evenly across the cake tin as well as up a bit on sides of the tin.
When finished, place the tin to rest for 10-15 minutes in the fridge. (this will allow the butter to harden when baking the crust the butter melts creating steam and making the crust flaky.)
Place the pie crust on the lower rack in the oven bake pie crust at 400 degrees F (200 C) for about 7-8 minutes remove and allow to cool.

In a bowl, whisk sugar and eggs to soft peaks, sift the flour into the bowl slowly alternating with whisking to make smooth batter, last add in the lemon juice.
Fill the crust with the lemon cream and bake for 10 minutes on the lowest rack in the oven.
Let pie cool before serving, this allows the cream to sit and gel a little bit.
Serve with whipped cream .

lemon pie-CF013257Plate from Anthropologie http://www.anthropologie.eu/anthro/index.jsp


Uva Passa and Passito Cake

December 4, 2013

This is the Pantescan variation of dried fruit cake, I can’t resist using our delicious uva passa , sun dried Zibibbo grapes (raisins) from this summer. Marinated in Passito di Pantelleria it brings out the essence of the island into this cake.  Serve the cake as an Italian breakfast with coffee or as a winter dessert with a spoon of whipped cream or marscapone. The cake can keep at least a month if you can resist not eating it all up.

uva passa half done-CF053734This is Zibibbo grapes drying in the sun, those became sweet delicious raisin now in my cake!

uva passa- centesimoCF050373 1

Uva Passa and Passito cake
9  Oz (250 grams) of  seedless uva passa or other raisins
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) Passito di Pantelleria or other sweet wine like Marsala or Port
1/4 Cup (0.6 dl) almond flakes
1.2 Lb (545 gram) of soft butter
5 Eggs
3 Cups (7.3 dl) all purpose flour sifted
2 Cups (4.8 dl) sugar

Marinate the uva passa with the Passito allow them to marinate  for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
Toast the almonds in a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over low heat.
The almonds should be toasted to a golden, be careful not to burn them.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until white and fluffy.
Whipped butter to a fluffy and soft.

Combine in batches, the egg mixture with the sifted flour into the whipped butter. Add the uva passa (also add the left over Passito in to the batter) and almonds.
Pour the batter into  parchment paper lined loaf baking pan .
Bake at  350 F degrees (175 C) for at least 90 minutes.
Check with a toothpick so that the cake is dry in the middle, if not continue baking and check every 10 minutes.

Let the cake cool down, wrap in foil and let rest until time to serve.

uva passa and passito cake-CF091417