My Christmas recipe for this year is my version of a classic dish they prepare in Ragusa for special occasions like San Giovanni, Christmas or New Year's Eve: Jaddina China, stuffed hen.
As always with Sicilian recipes, there are various versions and each family has a secret ingredient or process to make it.
Every year I like to prepare some Christmas foodie gifts for my friends, homemade biscuits, Modica's chocolate, jam, preserves...it makes me happy to do something for the people I love and hope they like it too. This year I prepared some citrus flavoured salt, last saturday my kitchen smelt like an orangerie.....just wonderful!
I prepared three different kinds, lemon, orange and kumquats. I then placed them in some recycled soda bottles I had saved during the year.
We are now used to going from short sleeves strait to winter coats in Sicily. Like last year, until the end of November we were still sitting outside for a coffee or a meal and now we are facing "polar temperatures" with snow in Messina and other parts of Sicily. This drastic change of temperature calls for drastic diet adjustments, so people started cooking traditional winter soups. I made a simple "pasta che ciciri". Sometimes I prefer a creamy chickpea soup, but this time I went for an even more earthy "pasta e ceci".
I love artichokes in every possible way, simply marinated, in a salad, cooked in charcoal, in risotti and other primi piatti, as a side dish, in batter and many other recipes. The one below is a traditional Sicilian recipes which turns them into a fantastic full vegetarian main course, "carciufili ca' muddica" (breadcrumbs stuffed artichokes). In Sicily you can find them with various names as "cacocciuli", "cacuoccili", "carciuofili", in Italian they are simply "carciofi". This is my grandmother Elvira's version.
On the 11th of November, we celebrate San Martino, St Martin, a soldier of the Roman Empire who became a Saint for his great humility and generosity.