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Showing posts from January, 2014

Quince & Cotognata (Quince Paste)

The quince, also known as mela cotogna is a fruit related to the apple and pear and ripens in mid to late autumn.  It was highly prized by ancient civilizations and known as the ancient apple - introduced in Italy by the Romans and Greeks who enjoyed eating it raw with honey.   The quince featured prominently on many of the Pompeii frescoeswhich date back to (circa) 80 BC.  It is also believed that the apple that Adam ate when he visited Eve in the forbidden garden was the quince.

The fruit is high in vitamins and minerals and considered an antioxidant. I have come across two varies - one shaped like an apple and the other more like a pear.  They vary slightly in texture and flavour when cooked.  Due to its astringent and hard flesh, it is usually cooked with sugar.  The flesh of the fruit turns a deep orange after a long cooking time and breaks down to a pulp. It is high in pectin and great for making jams and jellies. It is also used in savoury dishes and makes a great accompaniment …

Sweet Sicilian Morsels - La Giuggiulena

La giuggiulena or cubbaita in the Sicilian dialect, takes its name from the sesame seeds that are added to these sweet morsels.  It is the perfect sweet treat for Epiphany gifts, but traditionally in my family it is made and eaten leading up to Christmas time. Through this handmade delicacy, we see the Arabic influences on Sicilian cuisine in the use of sugar, sesame seeds, the orange peel and honey. We traditionally add almonds to this sweet, but if you have a preference for other nuts, I am sure that they would be just as delicious.  In fact when lagiuggiulena is made in various parts of Sicily, rest assured that there are variations in how it is prepared.  Some like to use all sugar, while others like to add some honey. The honey makes it less jaw breaking when biting into it.  Other spices such as cinnamon or cumin have also been known to be added reflecting again the Arab influence.

This year I asked my sister in law Maria, to teach me how to make la giuggiulena.  I had watched my…