Monday, 19 November 2012

The De Rigeur Winter Warmer Is New Year in Sicily on a Flavours Short Break

The easiest response to the clocks going back is to put on the slow cooker and knock up a winter stew. That’s great of course and winter soups, dumplings, gnocchi and so on are just what’s needed after trudging home through dark, chilly streets.

Yet there is a different philosophy with regards to warding off winter and I guess that’s probably inspired by a week spent in Sicily cooking on a Flavours holiday.

I have changed many of my cooking habits as a consequence of a little experimentation, a lot more confidence and also wanting something zingy and light rather than heavy or stodgy.

Picking at a variety of flavours, during the winter months is appealing. I like to create platters that look bejewelled and perhaps fuse aspects of Italian cooking with other inspiration from nearby countries. Antipasti also fulfil my desire for variety, colour and wanderlust.

Pomegranate syrup must be my latest passion and it makes a tingling difference when used to make salad marinade. I often dress my pasta salads hot and the heat really lifts the flavour in my opinion.

My winter salads often combine dates and walnuts, or unsulphured apricots and almonds; you know, the kind of beautiful things that are plentiful in the shops at this time of the year. Pomegranates are wonderful in a green salad and I thank Nigella for the tip of bashing the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon to extract the jewels easily.

A mozzarella salad filled with nuts and other good things served with warm, tasty Foccaccia bread is a neat lunch but I guess my winter dish of choice might have to be a spicy lemon chicken where you flatten a chicken by cutting down the breast bone and pressing down with the heel of your palm. Make a dressing by whisking lemon juice, olive oil, a little sea salt and maybe three or four red chillies. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and add the dressing, leave in the fridge for a few hours and roast for just under an hour at 200 degrees C. Cook for a little while longer at 180 if required and then leave to rest.

Well, served with a green salad and some Italian bread to mop up the juices, it hits the spot. I reckon some orange slices soaked in Drambuie topped with a little whipped cream for dessert is enough of a sensation to forget the howling wind outside. Sometimes I find myself in the kitchen thinking back to my Sicilian cooking holiday and how much it enthused me. I really miss Italy, especially as winter approaches; I have been smitten, you see. So was delighted to see there is a New Year Sicilian break beginning on 29th December. The break itself is 4 days and 3 nights and it will give me the opportunity to enjoy a day visiting Modica and Ragusa while soaking up that specific Sicilian festive atmosphere.

I didn’t have to convince my partner that celebrating the New Year in style at Flavours beautiful villa was the right thing to do this new year, as I haven’t stopped wittering on about my summer jaunt.

So why not join us and do something different to ring in the New Year? Go on, treat yourself and renew your Sicilian vows!

For more detailed information on Flavours Sicily New Year, click here.

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