Tag Archives: Italian

What’s in a name? Cucidati and X cookies

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What prompts you to try a recipe? Is it the ingredients? A technique to learn? The photo?

Or the name?

I am attracted to names that have culture or history behind them, especially if they evoke the smells and flavours of places long ago and far away. Why have pinwheels when there is rugelache, sweet bread when there is krantz or babka, meat loaf when we can have farsumagru, pasties instead of borek or saltenas, or chocolate scrolls when there is kakaós csiga?

(Then, I am also fascinated by recipes with unusual ingredients and techniques. Like turduken, or the Tabrizi kofteh, or 90% hydration bread, or making Ratatouille’s ratatouille.)

Reading about these recipes, their origins and histories, and each step involved, is almost as good as tasting the food itself. I suppose, I studied literature at university and have always been susceptible to the magic of a well-turned phrase. Also as the saying goes: “This is what recipes are, stories of pretend meals.”  

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Cucidati is one of these recipes that got my attention with an intriguing name. A spiced Italian fig cookie that is made at Christmas, the name means ‘little bracelets’. Italians, especially Sicilians, still call these “mum’s cookies” and for them, it wouldn’t be Christmas without cucidati.

While the cookies might be like a version of fig newtons or other filled cookies, the name cucidati and the distinctive crescent shape made the recipe intriguing. I’ve read different versions of the recipe and wondered about who made the first batch of cucidati (and is the singular form of the noun cucidato?), whether it came from Sicily and shows the influence of Arabic cuisine in the spiced fig filling, and whether anyone ever tried to wear it as a bracelet.

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Summer holidays, with a bare kitchen

We have been back at work for two weeks. Coming back from a holiday on the south coast of NSW, we slowly settle back into life in the city, our sun tans fade and I finally get that bit of sand out of the beach towel.

There was a ‘quiet gladness’ that comes from being immersed in the sea, sand and surrounding bushland. Here are some photos (some taken with our p+s camera, often with a phone), and two recipes at the end of the post.

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La pizza française? Pizza and onion confit

No, this post is not about pissaladière.

I have been looking at blogging projects that would prompt me to learn new baking skills and to bake on a regular basis – I’m conditioned by uni and work to meet external deadlines, however arbitrary. Tuesdays with Dorie, which is working through the book Baking with Julia, seemed a fun project to join. Et me voila.

This Tuesday’s recipe is pizza with onion confit. It seemed the perfect way to start with the TWD group. I have been fascinated by Julia Child even before the movie, Julie and Julia. For almost as long, I have been fascinated by the magic of yeast.

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I loved the dough, as did Mr Gander and his mother, and it worked well as both thick and thin pizza bases. The onion confit was a tasty though different take on pizza topping. Next time I would use a different (softer) style of red wine, or tweak the recipe a little. My notes on the recipes and tweaks are below, for full recipe please go to The Boy Can Bake or see page 159 of Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  

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