Tag Archives: Under the Almond Tree

Pumpkin cake for Halloween!

October 31, 2013

Here in the very south of Italy I have experienced that cakes are made with vegetable oil…not my thing at all. I’m a Swede, I love butter! I need my butter ! So my cakes are made with butter, basta. But if you, like all people I know here in Pantelleria, prefer baking with oil, you can exchange the butter in this recipe to sunflower oil. If  you do so, use 1 cup ( 2.4 dl) of oil instead of the 7 oz (200 grams) butter. I used a square cake tin sized 8 x 8 x 2 inches ( 20 x 30 cm) and if you are using a round one a good size would be 9.5 inches (24 cm) by diameter.

Have a happy Halloween!


Pumpkin Cake
Make 10 pieces
Square cake tin 8x8x2 inches (20 x 30 cm) or a round cake tin 9.5 inches ( 24 cm)

Cake ingredients
4 eggs
1 1/2 Cups (3.7 dl) sugar
7 oz (200 grams) butter or 1 cup (2.4dl ) of sunflower oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons cardamom (powder)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 Cups (3,7 dl) flour
2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger (if not available ginger powder can be used 1 Tabelspoon)
2 cups (4,8 dl) of fresh grated pumpkin (canned pumpkin can be used if you cannot find fresh)

Frosting ingredients 
2 oz (56 grams) soft butter (room temperature
5.5 oz (155 grams) cream cheese (soften slightly room temperature)
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
1 lemon, zested and minced or grated
1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

Preheat the oven 300 F (150 C) degrees.
Line the baking tin with nonstick oven paper.
Grate the pumpkin using the a largest hole size on the grater .
Grate the ginger using a smallest size on the grater. (Halloween hint if you wrap the grater with plastic film prior to grating the ginger and or lemon. Proceed as normal this step will allow the grated ginger or lemon to stay on top of the plastic and not become caught in the grader and difficult to remove your spice and clean up the grader)
Mix these two together ingredients together using a fork.
Melt the butter.
Mix all the dry ingredients.
Beat the egg and sugar white and fluffy and mix with the rest of the ingredients until batter is smooth.
Pour the batter in the cake tin and bake for 50- 55 min.
Check the cake with a wooden toothpick  to make sure it’s ready.
The cake should be soft but not sticky inside.

Whip the frosting ingredients together in the order presented above until you get a smooth cream. When the pumpkin cake has cooled after baking, spread a thick layer of frosting over the pumpkin cake, cut pieces and serve, yum yum!

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Under the Almond Tree celebrates it’s first year anniversary!

October 28, 2013

It’s been one year since I struggled with the technology, persisted, and, finally, managed to put up my first blogpost here at Under the Almond tree. It was pomegranates season in Pantelleria and I’m lucky to have a full tree just outside my office in the garden. So the first recipe was, of course, my all-time favorite cocktail – Pomegranate Martini! http://www.underthealmondtree.com/2012/10/26/pomegranate-martini/

To celebrate Almond Tree’s first anniversary I opened a little web shop. As many of you already know, Pantelleria is famous for their capers Capperi di Pantelleria. They are considered the best capers in the world and are quality marked IGP, which stands for Indicazione Geografica Protetta, meaning Protected Geographical Indication. It’s a quality mark that is given to food and agricultural products for which a particular property, its reputation, or other characteristic is due to the geographical origin and whose production and processing takes place in a limited geographic area. Whoever does IGP products must follow strict rules of production, determined by the Disciplinary Board for production. I am totally addicted to the capers from Pantelleria, and as a result, so are many of my friends who have visited me and got introduced to them. If you are curious to try them and determine that they are the world’s greatest or you finished your stock, you don’t have to make the journey to Pantelleria anymore, just go to the shop and order http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/capers

These capers are organically grown and are handpicked one by one. They are cured and conserved in sea salt by the local farmers of Pantelleria. When you are cooking with this capers, you first rinse them in cold water to get rid of excessive salt using a colander, strainer or your hand. When cooking you will notice that this capers are incredibly rich in flavor. You will have a part of the essence of the island Pantelleria in your meal!

This year has been so much fun cooking, photographing, receiving responds and cheering from You readers. This really inspires me to go on. I’m very lucky to have great and talented people to back me up, without them I would probably just posted far too many photos with confusing text and nonsensical recipes.

I want to thank Amy Burke and Peter Lambert for contributing their knowledge and time helping me out and editing the text and the recipes.
Will Macdonald my technical savior, what would I do without you?!
Ines Lommatzsch for all our excursions and adventures out there on the field.
Mari Strenghielm Nord for always reading my mind and packaging everything beautifully.
Carlo and Igor for being who you are.

All of You readers out there who cooked the recipes, wrote to me and shared your enthusiasm and support, without you this would be meaningless.

A Big Hurray for You all!

/ Anna

caper harvest-CF079811



blog caper 3

capperi di pantelleria-CF043279Photographs taken summer 2013 during the caper harvest in Pantelleria Sicily.
Buy your Capperi di Pantelleria here  http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/capers

Pear and walnut salad with gorgonzola

October 21, 2013

I got these really sweet pears from Giovanni, a farmer from Rekhale. When he’s not working his land, on Saturdays you can find him selling his fruit and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market In Pantelleria. With these lovely Pantescan pears I made a yummy salad. The sweetness of the pears blend so very well with the toasted walnuts and the saltiness of the gorgonzola.


Style: "Neutral"

Pear and walnut salad with gorgonzola cheese
Serves 4
1 garlic clove
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T honey
24 walnuts
4 sweet pears
1 T olive oil for the pan
7 oz (200 grams) of gorgonzola
4 oz (110 gram) arugula or any other lettuce of your choice.


Press and chop the garlic very finely
Mix with the other dressing ingredients
Dry toast walnuts in a dry pan
Slice the pears, add a splash of olive oil in the frying pan and fry them briefly to soften a little bit and sprinkle some sea salt on top.
Crumble the gorgonzola cheese in pieces.
Organize the plates with tossed salad and sprinkle some dressing over, add the gorgonzola pieces, toasted walnuts, pears and serve.


Beautiful Borlotti!

October 2, 2013

The season has arrived for borlotti beans. I found theese colorful fresh borlotti beans at the market the other day. I’m a big fan of beans in general, often I just cook them with tomatoes, garlic, white wine and sage. Delicious.
This week I made a variation with couscous and vegetables in the oven. Super delicious. The weather is still summery hot in Pantelleria so this recipe proved to be a perfect light lunch in the shadow under the almond trees.



Borlotti bean couscous with vegetables
3 lb (1.5 kilo) unpeeled fresh borlotti beans that will make about 22 oz ( 625 grams)
without the shell.(If you are using the dried beens you have to put them in water a day before using, see the instructions on the package).
1 Tablespoon olive oil
sea salt

For the oven baked vegetables
2 medium sized zucchinis
6 small red onions or shallots
1 lb (450 gram) cherry tomatoes
16 olives
6 sage leaves
1/4 cup (56 ml) olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

For the couscous
1 large sprig of garlic
1 fresh chili fruit
5 large sage leaves
1 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) dry white wine
1 Tablespoon balsamic
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup (2.4 dl) of canned tomato sauce
1 3/4 cups (4.2 dl) cous cous

Peel the borlotti beans.
Cook the beans for about 12 minutes, this time of cooking will leave an “al dente” feeling, if you want the beans more soft just ad a couple of minutes.
Use a colander to get rid of the water, set a side in a bowl, dash some olive oil and sea salt with the beens in the bowl.

Cut the garlic, chili and sage finely.
In a sauce pan, saute garlic, chili and sage in a dash of olive oil shortly, just until the garlic is golden.
Ad white wine, balsamic vinegar, honey, bayleaf and stir .
Ad the tomato sauce and let simmer together for 5-8minutes taste with salt and black pepper.

In a large bowl place the couscous and pour the sauce over to cook the couscous.
Let sit for 5 -10 minutes.

Oven baked vegetables
Set the oven at 400 F degrees (200 C)
Chop the garlic finely
Clean and cut the zucchini i large pieces
Clean the cherry tomatoes and onions
In a smal bowl, mix garlic olive oil, sage , salt and pepper
Rub the vegetables and olives with the oil mix
Place on an oven tray and let cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Mix the borlotti beans, couscous and vegetables



Blackberries for Igor

September 23, 2013

1-blackberries ghirlanda-CF048840

The season for blackberries in Pantelleria is long. It begins in early July and ends in early September. The berries ripen, dry up and are then scorched by August’s heat. As soon as the weather begins to cool a bit, after the middle of August, the bushes bloom again and in come new berries. During my morning walks in Ghirlanda I pick them and eat them as a breakfast on the go. Sometimes I bring a basket to fill because Igor, the dog who usually refuses both fruits and vegetables, ADORES blackberries. He munches them up in seconds wagging his tail the whole time. Then he looks up at me as if to say, “Thanks! Can I have some more?” and his mustache is all purple. Watching him so happy fills my heart. I just love this guy!

Igorlove 1 blackberries IgorCF074547

Once in a while I make a cobbler that’s not too bad either. Served with vanilla ice cream, it is basically heaven on a plate.

Blackberry Cobbler
Serves 8
The recipe fits a baking pan of 9.5 in (24 cm) in diameter.
Grease the baking pan with butter.

9 oz (250 grams) room temperature soft butter
1 Tablespoon bourbon vanilla sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup (1.2 dl) almonds roughly chopped
1 cup (2.4 dl) caster sugar
1.5 cup ( 3.6 dl) of flour
4 cups (1 lit) of black berries

Mix all the ingredients for the dough using your hands.
Pour in the black berries in the baking pan and add the dough in dots or lumps around the berries
Bake at 400 degrees F (200C) for about 15 minutes.
Serve the cobbler with a good vanilla ice cream

3-blackberry crumbler-CF048502

Fennel bites with almond and cheese crust

September 11, 2013

There are four huge almond trees in the garden, and they provide us with an abundance of almonds. Beginning at the end of August into the first weeks of September this is the time to harvest. The following recipe is for a popular snack served Under the Almond Trees that includes ingredients that I could solely live on for a long time. Fennel, almonds, oregano and cheese! Treat yourself, family and friends by trying this simple recipe serve with a nice glass of red.



Fennel with almond and cheese crust
8-10 bites

1 pound (450 grams) fennel bulb slices
1/2 cup (1,2 dl) raw almonds
9 (oz) 250 gram of cheese that melts and browns well, I used a 50/50 combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
Olive oil to saute fennel
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of Origano di Pantelleria (dried oregano)

Set the oven at broil 530 F degrees (275 C).
Rinse and clean the fennel, cut slices about 0.3 inches (0.75 cm) thick.
In a saucepan saute the fennel in olive oil, salt and pepper.
They are cooked enough when the slices softens and produces a slightly golden.
Since the pieces will be different in size, they will have different cooking time, pay attention to remove the smaller pieces from the pan first.

Coarsely chop the almonds, in a bowl grate the cheeses and combine together with the almonds. Arrange fennel pieces on the baking sheet, give the portions enough space on the tray cover with cheese and almond mixture then into the oven fennel portions. Place baking pan in the oven 3/4 of the way not quite directly under the broiler in the oven for about 3-5 minutes. When golden brown remove tray from oven and sprinkle oregano on top allow to cool slightly to let the cheese set before serving.


4-Almond crusted fennel-CF024588

Gorgonzola filled figs

August 30, 2013

Figs are at their best at this moment! I picked them early in the morning and served some under almond tree the other evening, the fig variety is named Ottata and at the moment you can see them all over the island of Pantelleria. This recipe is a great starter or serve it as a part of an antipasto.
Happy weekend everyone!


Gorgonzola filled figs
Serves 6

12 figs
7 oz (200 gram) of Gorgonzola cheese
12  walnuts
12 large slices of Prosciutto crudo

If you want to use a piping bag for the cheese, remove the cheese from the fridge a good hour prior as to let it to soften, then it’s easier to handle in the piping bag.
In a sauce pan over medium heat dry toast the walnuts gently.
Cut a cross on the top of the figs, spoon or pipe the figs with the Gorgonzola.
Wrap each fig with a  slice of prosciutto and top with a walnut.
Arrange on a nice platter serve immediately or place in the fridge and serve when you desiree


gorgonzola filled figs-CF084643

Eggplant Pantesca

August 26, 2013


One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant, especially Pantescan eggplant harvested from our garden. This year we also had loads of tomatoes, so some of them are now sun dried. They are an explosion of flavor! We eat them like candy. Now and then I use them in cooking, as in this eggplant dish.


Eggplant  Pantesca
Serves 4
24 oz (700 grams) of eggplant
10 pitted olives
6 sun dried tomato halves
20 almonds
7 oz (200 grams) mozzarella
1 cup olive oil
Salt and fresh grounded pepper
Cut the eggplant lengthwise about 4 pieces or into pieces that are a half inch (1.5 cm) thick.
Sprinkle a little salt on both sides and set aside for about 20 minutes to draw out the fluid.
Chop the olives, tomatoes, and almonds coarsely. Cut the mozzarella into small pieces.
Wipe the eggplant patties using a paper towel (so it becomes dry and excess salt disappears). Heat up a frying pan with plenty of olive oil.
Sauté the patties on both sides until golden and soft but without falling into pieces.
Pour more oil in the skillet when needed and season with black pepper.
Remove the patties and place them on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the olives, sun dried tomatoes and almonds on top of the eggplant. Top with the mozzarella cheese and bake at 440 F (225 C) on the broiler setting for about 2-3 minutes.


Summer fruits

August 11, 2013

Summer is here with it’s all variety of delicious fruits like different types of plums, nectarines and peaches. Juicy and sweet straight from the trees in Favarotta, an area of agriculture here in Pantelleria. We eat the fruit for breakfast and make them into a juicy snack, to enjoy on the hot afternoons by the sea. I can not resist using these fruits in baking. One of may favorite desserts is the following delicious Peach and Almond blondie cake. Serve this cake with coffee and if you want, add a scoop of really good vanilla ice-cream and you have a scrumptious dessert.

Peach tree 1

peachtree 3-CF036891
Peach and Almond blondie

Makes 8-10 blondies
Cake tin size about 9 x 13 inches (25×35 cm)

9 oz (250 grams) of butter melted
4 eggs
2 1/3 cups (5.5 dl) granulated sugar
2 cup (256 grams) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 ripe peaches or nectarines
1 ounces (25 grams) almond paste
2 ounces (55 grams) coarsely chopped sweet almonds
1 Tablespoon sugar to sprinkle over at last moment

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees ( 200 C)
Wash the fruit, cut in slices and remove the stone.

In a large bowl mix and whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice into a batter.

Line the bottom of the baking tin with parchment paper, pour in the batter. Next place slices of the peaches/nectarines in on the batter, sprinkle sugar over, grate almond paste grossly and finally sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 400 degrees (200 C) for about 25-30 minutes.
Let cool down and cut in squares.
peachblondie 2CF041767

This recipe is also published in the Swedish magazine icakuriren summer issue 33/34

Spaghetti con Ricci di Mare, spaghetti with sea urchins

August 7, 2013

Few things that one can place on you tongue that are more delicious than sea urchins. It’s the eggs in the female sea urchin that you eat and they are at it’s best and plump when harvested at the time of the full moon. A small island such as Pantelleria being so removed from the mainland urban centers and their unnatural disturbing city lights, it’s no doubt this makes our sea urchins all the more special when it’s time to collect some . When we harvest a lot I make this really luxurious pasta dish, Spaghetti con Ricci di Mare!


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Spaghetti con Ricci di Mare
Serves 4

One large pot with lid filled with water and placed on the stove to boil for pasta
1/2 pound (500 grams) dry spaghetti
The eggs from 60 fresh sea urchins, about 1/2 cup (1.2 dl)
2 Tablespoons of sea water which you save from the inside of the sea urchins when you clean them (have it in a cup beside the time for cooking)
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 shalots minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil for frying
1/2  cup (1.2 dl) white wine
5 Tablespoons (75 ml) of milk
4 sprigs parsley chopped.
2 Tablespoons (25 grams) of butter
Salt and to taste for pasta water and ricci sauce

Bring pasta water and salt to the boil in a saucepan.

In  a large saute pan heat olive oil and cook the shallots and garlic soft and golden. Lower the heat slightly, add the sea water and 2 tablespoons of sea urchin eggs, stir and simmer together with the onions for a minute or two. Add wine, milk and half of the parsley let simmer. Place the pasta into boiling water to cook the pasta. Take about 1/4 cup (6 Tablespoons) of the boiling pasta water in a cup and add the butter to melt. Mix this into the sauce, taste if you need to add salt, this might vary depending on how salty the seawater from the sea urchins.

When the pasta has 30 seconds left on the recommended cooking time drain in colander, mix with the sauce, rest of the sea urchins and the rest of the parsley, serve immediately!