Of all the special treats that Christmas time brings, my grandmothers fig cookie recipe is one that, no matter what, my home will never go without. A typical sicilian holiday tradition, these cookies are far from the usual festive, iced sugar cookie. Sicilian Fig Cookies, or Cucidati, somewhat resemble what most might think of as a fig newton… but like ten times better ;)
Peperoni – not to be confused with pepperoni. As we know it, pepperoni is a pork or beef variety of a cured sausage or salami most commonly put on top of a pizza. But the english word pepperoni is actually a corruption of the italian word peperoni, which is the plural of peperone and refers to what we call bell peppers. I don’t know how this odd confusion in terminology came about, but it’s a good thing to remember if you are a lover of italian cuisine. And if you ever travel to Italy or eat at a restaurant where the menu is in italian know that the peperoni pizza is actually a vegetarian friendly option :)
My little brother recently returned from a trip to Illinois after visiting family and came home with some of the most wonderful gifts. A big basket of fresh produce from our grandparents’ garden perfected our kitchen counter with the distinct scent of homegrown, freshly picked vegetables. These robust peperoni are just a couple of the great treasures from the bunch. Other than taking a big bite out of one and eating it raw like an apple I could only think of one other thing I wanted to do with them.
Although there’s not a whole lot that goes into this pasta, I’ve gotten a lot out of it over the years. It sounds soft and mushy (blah, blah), but I really do make this penne for the people I love the most. I FIRST cooked this pasta when I lived in Florence for my four Dutch roommates. It was one of our first home-cooked meals together and I was nervous to feed them for the first time. But I figured it’s simple, spicy, and very sicilian. Kinda like me I guess ;) Long story short they really liked it! Not long after moving back to Kansas I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from one of the girls asking exactly how it is made. It made me so happy to think that those that I love and adore so much were sharing part of me with the people they love, too! Occasionally I get a message from one of them letting me know they made my pasta again. Very heart warming!
There’s a lot of things that I miss about Italy and I won’t name them mainly because 1) there’s too many to name and 2) if I think about it for too it makes me sad that I don’t know the next time I’ll be lucky enough to visit again. However, I will say that one of the things I find myself longing for is the focaccia. No matter how simple of a desire this may seem to be, if you have experienced real Italian focaccia made with real Italian love and real Italian passion, then you know this is no joking matter. Italians aren’t big on breakfast, but when they do THIS is what they go for!