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7 Sicilian Christmas Dishes

Patty collects various recipes from past generations and is interested in early American history, the Civil War, and the 19th century.

National flag of Sicily

National flag of Sicily

The Island of Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is bordered also by the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian seas. All of it is beautiful. Even though it is an island, it still has room for Europe's largest active volcano, Mt. Etna.

Sicily offers an abundance of different food crops that include citrus fruits, grapes, olives, artichokes, pistachios, mulberries, and others. These are used year-round, but they feature prominently during the Christmas season in the dishes below. Christmas is celebrated by much of the island, where the traditions of the Catholic and Orthodox churches are prevalent. However, Sicily has been a land of many faiths over the centuries, and in the 21st century, it is recognized as multicultural and multi-faith, with many different holidays in the winter season.

At the Toe of the Italian Boot

1. Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies

These are fried cookies often called cuddureddi.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1.5 cups ricotta cheese, drained
  • Grated zest of 1 whole orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon rum flavoring
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine and mix flour, sugar, egg yolks, ricotta, orange zest, cinnamon, and rum flavoring to form a sticky dough.
  2. For the Sicilian method, break off a piece the size of one tablespoon of dough and and roll it between the palms of your hands until it look like a finger.
  3. Continue until all dough is used.
  4. Fry the cookies in hot oil, a few at a time.
  5. Turn each cookie once in the oil.
  6. Remove cookies with slotted spoon and drain on paper toweling.
  7. Serve immediately with honey to coat.

2. Traditional "S" Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together well in a large bowl.
  3. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch diameter roll.
  4. Cut pieces 3" long and make "S" shapes out of them. Place on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven to cooling raks to cool.
  7. Dust cookies with powdered sugar.

3. Tuna and Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 8 oz zucchini, sliced thin
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup green pesto sauce
  • 2 cans tuna in spring water, drained
  • 2 cubes of chicken or vegetable stock/bouillon
  • 10 oz fusilli (or your favorite pasta)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the onion, zucchini, and mushrooms for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the beans, pesto, and tuna and mix well.
  3. Crumble the cubes of stock into the pan, add the pasta and stir all ingredients.
  4. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients and simmer for 7-8 minutes to cook the pasta. The liquid will have thicked to a delightful sauce.

4. Christmas Eve Fish Dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cod, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 1/2 pound calamari/squid
  • 1/2 pound prawns
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped coarse
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2" cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil for sauté
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarse
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 standard can black olives, pitted
  • Salt, pepper, fresh basil, oregano, and parsley to taste

Instructions

  1. Saute the onions and potatoes until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes and mushrooms.
  3. Add garlic, sitr, and then add all the spices.
  4. Simmer on low until reduced to the desired thickness, form 1-2 hours. Slow cooking melds the flavors.
  5. Add the olives and cubed fish and cook 10 minutes more until the fish flakes.

5. Roasted Chestnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the chestnuts.
  3. Take a paring knive and make a moderately deep X in each one of them.
  4. On a baking sheet, place aluminum foil and arrange the chestnuts with the slits facing up.
  5. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and serve.
  7. As you eat the chestnuts, peel off the outer shell and then the thin inner lining first.

6. Sicilian Fig Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried figs
  • 1 pound raisins, light or dark
  • 1 jar honey
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup almonds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 bottle of your favorite sherry (or 1/2 cup orange juice)

Instructions

  1. Soak figs in water to reconstitute and then stew for 5 minutes.
  2. Chop nuts fine and set aside.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup sherry and all the other ingredients into a food proccessor gradually and grin.
  4. Remove food from processor and place mixture into large bowl.
  5. Add the chopped nuts and mix well.
  6. Add additional sherry if the mixture becomes dry. It should be slightly moist.
  7. Place mixture into a covered container in the refrigerator.

This is a filling can be stored for up to 12 months. Add a teaspoon of sherry monthly to maintain fermentation.

Use the filling with any standard cookie dough recipe. Place a teaspoon of filling in each round of flattened cookie dough, fold it over, seal and bake.

7. Sicilian Eggnog (Zabaglione)

I have not tried this eggnog, but I have eaten Zabaglione ice cream, which was very good. The eggnog itself should be tasty as well. For those who do not prefer alcohol, this recipe does use it, but it can be left out.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks (save the whites for something else)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet marsala wine
  • Nutmeg, to taste (I like ground cloves instead)

Instructions

  1. Beat sugar into the all the eggs together.
  2. Adding milk and cream alternately, a little of each at a time and whisk constantly.
  3. Whisk sweet marsala in and add a pinch of nutmeg.
  4. Heat in a pan for 5 minutes on very low heat, whisking constantly. Do not cook the eggs.
  5. Keep beating the eggnog until cream and serve immediately.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 10, 2011:

Thanks - I posted a recipe.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 10, 2011:

I'll look through my recipes and ask a friend!

Cosma on December 10, 2011:

this is really not a comment.

I would like a recepie for mostaccioli cookies

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 30, 2008:

simona - I think bakers and restauranteurs might sell the fig cookies in bakeries in Little Italy in Toronto, which centers on College Street -- see this links: http://www.showmetoronto.com/toronto_tour_little_i...

http://www.where.ca/toronto/article_feature~listin...

simona on December 29, 2008:

I love the cuddureddi they are my favorite. Do they sell them in toronto?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 13, 2008:

Hi Triplet Mom - I love recipes so much because 1) I never saw any international foods (even a taco or a pizza)until I was in college and 2) I worked so many hours for so many years that I didn't eat very well. So I'm glad you will like these dishes!

Triplet Mom from West Coast on December 12, 2008:

Patty, those cookies and eggnog sound simply delicious. I might try to make them they sound so yummy. Thanks for the yummy hub!!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 12, 2008:

Past AND a ham. That sounds like fun to me.

Netters from Land of Enchantment - NM on December 12, 2008:

My ex-mother-in-law is Sicilian. Christmas dinner included pasta with spaghetti sauce, tossed salad, ham and the other fixins. But there was always a pasta dish. It was great.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 12, 2008:

You know, eggnog can be medicinal. I don't usually drink alcohol, but two years ago I had a stuffed up head and was given a tiny glass of a strong bourbon based eggnog and it cleared my head.

laringo from From Berkeley, California. on December 12, 2008:

Patty, these recipes sound very good. I always like to try new recipes or a different twist on a recipe I already make. The Christmas Eve fish recipe I think I will try. The Egg Nog was always a New Years Eve tradition in my family when My mother would make her own. I just might have to give yours a try. Thanks.