Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

Food Blog

Recipe of the Week (August 21, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on August 21, 2015 at 2:25 PM


Giuggiulena (Sesame and Pumpkin Seed Brittle)     


        This week's recipe takes us to the region of SICILIA. On summer nights, Italians take to the streets for a stroll or “passagiata”. They walk off an evening meal, meet up with friend, or head to a gelateria. It is a wonderful tradition. The best place for a "passagiata" is on the “lungomare”, which is a seaside promenade. All seaside towns have a "lungomare".  Here, you will find plenty of cafes, gelaterias and street vendors displaying piles of roasted nuts, candies, dried fruits and nougat. Sesame brittle is my favorite snack to munch on while strolling the “lungomare” with friends. It’s a crunchy honey flavored candy you will surely enjoy. When I make it at home, I always throw in some pumpkin seeds too! 




Hulled Sesame Seeds (1 lb)

Shelled Pumpkin Seeds (1/3 lb)

Sugar (3 ½ cups)

Honey (2/3 cup)

Salt (½ tsp)



        Toast the sesame and pumpkin seeds in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 minutes, then give them a stir and continue roasting for another 2 minutes or until golden. Spray an 11 ½ by 17 ½ inch non-stick baking tray with cooking spray and set it to the side. Place the sugar, salt and honey in a large saucepan and thoroughly incorporate them together. Place the saucepan on a medium burner, and stir the sugar mixture constantly with a stainless-steel spoon, scraping it from the bottom of the saucepan.



        After 10 minutes, the sugar mixture will turn to syrup. Continue simmering and stirring constantly for another 3 minutes or until the syrup turns a medium amber color. Next, remove the saucepan from the burner and gently stir the syrup to remove the air bubbles. Then, quickly stir in the sesame and pumpkin seeds while the syrup is piping hot. Transfer the mixture to the baking tray and spread it to an even ¼ inch thickness. While the giuggiulena is still hot, score it with a knife into 1 ½ inch squares. Allow it to cool completely and then break the squares apart. Makes 50 to 60 squares.

Categories: Desserts + Liqueurs

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Reply mariabella
8:19 PM on September 1, 2015 
P.S. Will definitely throw in the Pumpkin Seeds, I love them.
Reply mariabellaj
8:17 PM on September 1, 2015 
These look so delicious Bill. I think these would be a nice Fall Treat to make. Will definitely try and make them.

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Bill's Cooking Tip of the Month

Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients

 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

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My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

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