The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

NATALIA Ravida’s Sea­son­sofSi­cily (New Hol­land, $39.95) ful­fils the first re­quire­ment of the best cook­books. It’s a 200-page hard­back yet not heavy and, cru­cially, it opens and lies flat at ev­ery page.

As for the food, the recipes cover the un­ex­pected as well as pas­tas and seafood. Zuc­chini flow­ers are cooked in broth un­til ‘‘ soft and mushy’’ rather than fried or baked, and sea­soned with oil and saf­fron and served with pasta.

A ri­cotta and salami pie in a sweet crust re­flects the sugar-lov­ing tastes of Si­cily.

Among the seafood dishes, there is a recipe for rolled sar­dines with pine nuts and raisins and, an­other au­tumn dish, ‘‘ baked den­tex’’ (den­tice al forno), which sounds like a tooth con­di­tion but refers to what we in Aus­tralia call sil­ver trevally.

Desserts in­clude a moulded quince paste and white grape pud­ding with toasted al­monds. And be­side the un­ex­pected dishes are the time­less favourites such as can­noli, al­mond and choco­late cake and iced Christ­mas bis­cuits.

Pro­duce pic­tures are of lemons, ar­ti­chokes, olives and broad beans. Most im­por­tant, the book is di­vided into sea­sonal food, ripe apri­cots herald­ing sum­mer, turn­ing leaves and per­sim­mons the au­tumn. The book is a hymn to Si­cily and the foods of the south, writ­ten by an au­thor with solid south­ern cre­den­tials. Pic­tures in deep rich colours show some­one’s grand­mother mak­ing al­mond-paste Easter sheep, at­mo­spheric scenery, peel­ing walls and an olive tree in the heat of a Si­cil­ian af­ter­noon. Ju­dith Elen

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