I grew up in the kitchen. The kitchen was the house's room where I spent most of my childhood, doing my homework, reading or watching my favourite tv series, while my mothers was cooking our supper, a "crostata" or a cake.
When I started cooking, first as a simple passionate, my family recipes, my family food was simple.. and a little bit boring for me at that time. I spent hours studying and testing new recipes, and when I say "new" I mean absolutely far from my tradition.
I can still see my father's face watching doubtfully one of my asian dish!
While I moved to Tuscany, far from my island, after few years, something new is happen; and ingredient or a smell brings back a memory, a specific moment in my life.
So I stocked my pantry with cinnamon, almonds, pine nuts, dried oregano and any sort of typical sicilian ingredients.
I love use them in my daily family food, it's not easy to explain how doing this little thing is so important and comforting for me.
Agira is a small town near Enna, famous for these little pastries. The rich filling of almond, cocoa powder, lemon zest is held together by the chickpea flour, a poor ingredient used in this recipe as a thickner.
The dought must be rolled in a thin layer, in order to taste the richness of the filling.
I like to prepare the "cassatelle" on Christmas time, as one of my edible gifts.
You can put them in airtight container for several days, the taste is always better and better, and they are just perfect with an espresso.
600g of plain flour- 200g of sugar - 250g of suet, or butter - 1 egg - 2 tbsp of water
300g of almonds- 250g of sugar - 370ml of water - 60g of cocoa powder
30g of unsweetened cocoa powder - 1 orange, zest only, grated - 1 lemon, zest only, grated - 40g of chickpea flour, sifted -1 tsp cinnamon
a couple of spoons of full fat milk
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, suet, egg and a couple of tablespoons of water (add more if the dough is dry), until you obtain a smooth dough. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest for 1 hour
For the filling put all the ingredients, except the chickpea flour in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the chickpea flour and stir with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps. Cook the mixture until thick enough to hold a wooden spoon vertically when stuck in the middle of the pan
Preheat the oven at 170°C/gas mark 3.5
Roll the dough into thin sheet and cut into rounds with a 8.5cm pastry cutter. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of each pastry round and fold like a little mezzaluna or turnover (make sure that all the edges are well-sealed)
Brush with milk and transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper
Cook for 25 minutes, then allow to cool for 15 minutes or so. Dust with icing sugar and serve.