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Speaking of Languages…Menu 3.

IMG_5709The Duchess’s Cooking Classes are on the list as the 5th most popular activity to do while in Sicily. You stay in the magnificent old apartments, you shop at the freshest of markets, you pick herbs & lemons straight form her garden, you cook Sicilian fare & make new friends along the way.

We often see guests sitting at the long table, laden with white linen, crockery imprinted with the royal insignia, silver ware, sparkling crystal & fresh flowers, overlooking the sea.IMG_5835

In the grand dining room of the Palazzo, in easy company, they shake their heads in awe at their experience. The Duke & the Duchess at each end, white gloved stewards serving the meal the students had just prepared…

Here, with kind permission from Nicoletta herself, we share just a few of these dishes.

Feast your senses of this site

And for more stories from the inside, check out a couple of these…

Menu 3:

Gnocchi with Roast Pumpkin & Brown Sage Butter

Beef Carpaccio with Red Onion Jam



Gnocchi with Roast Pumpkin & Brown Sage Butter:

  • 1/2 small butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 500g. fresh gnocchi
  • 175g. butter
  • 1/3 cup sage leaves
  • parmesan to serve
Preheat oven 190°C. Place pumpkin on a baking tray lined with baking paper and spray with olive oil spray. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside, cover & keep warm.
Cook gnocchi in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, place butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook for few mins or until butter just melts. Add sage & cook for 1-2 mins or until crisp.
Remove sage from pan with a slotted spoon & drain on paper towel. Reduce heat to low & continue to cook butter until golden brown if needed.
Drain gnocchi & put in large bowl. Add pumpkin. Season & gently toss to combine. Divide gnocchi between serving bowls & pour over butter sauce. Scatter with sage leaves & serve with shaved parmesan.IMG_8061
We could also do some fried sage leaves for garnish, flour, egg, breadcrumbs, shallow fry, which they love in Sicily. And they are scrumptious!!!IMG_8074
Beef Carpaccio with Red Onion Jam:
  • Sear fillet in very hot pan, with splash of oil, for 1 minute only, turning often.
  • Slice the seared fillet thinly with a very sharp knife.
  • Lay each slice on a board & flatten by pressing down with the side of knife – it works well.
However today, because of class time (& lack of sharp knives :)) we are going to use some shaved quality cured meat like Bresaola. 
  • Add rocket, shaved parmesan & a dash good olive oil (or truffle oil.)IMG_5826
Red Onion Jam:
  • splash veggie oil (or small nob butter)
  • 2-3 red onions, halved, thinly sliced lengthways
  • big pinch salt
  • 50g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 90ml (about 1/3 cup) red wine vinegar
Heat oil, add onion & salt. Cook, stirring, for 10 mins.
Add sugar & cook, stirring, for 5-10 mins or until sugar dissolves. Add red wine vinegar & bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer, uncovered, for 20 mins or until mixture thickens slightly & onion is soft & glossy.
  • Handy in potato salad, on antipasto platters, on meats, with sautéed cabbage, on sandwich, very versatile….IMG_8066


Caponata can be served on bruschetta, with salad, perfect as a side with roast meats. Serve warm as side dish or cold with antipasto.

The sweet and sour flavours of caponata lends itself to other vegetables: like fennel, artichoke, zucchini or any combination of them.

  • 1/4 cup oil (60 mls)
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 large eggplant, diced 
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • stick celery, chopped
  • heaped tspn. dried oregano
  • 1/4 flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tblspns. salted capers, rinsed & dried
  • handful green olives, pitted
  • 2-3 tblspns. good vinegar
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes (or tin)IMG_8078

In a large pan, fry off eggplant first in hot oil 4-5 mins, shake pan to cook evenly. Toss in other veggies (except tomatoes) & cook for another few mins.

Throw in capers & olives, drizzle over with herb vinegar. When vinegar has evaporated, add tomatoes & simmer for around 15 mins or until tender.

Season.Drizzle with good olive oil.IMG_8084

The basic formula to serve four generously is 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup wine (or a combination of wine and spirits), & 1/4 cup sugar. Add a tiny pinch of salt to enhance flavour. (No dairy!)
  • 4-5 egg yolks
  • 100g. caster sugar
  • 125 ml(½ cup) marsala
  • 125 ml(½ cup) white wine

Whisk the ingredients together till frothy & creamy in a large bowl (glass is best.)

Place the bowl over a saucepan of gentle simmering water and continue to whisk (emulsify) for about 10 minutes or until warm, expanded in volume and forming soft peaks.
Don’t make scrambled eggs :)) Pour into glasses and serve with toasted almond flakes (or fresh berries) & biscotti.IMG_7678
Buon Appetito!
  1. Roni, this cooking with the Duchess thing is a MUST.

    What a fantastic experience and the photos make me HUNGRY. Good on you and thanks for sharing. I’m off to read your story – a day with the duke. Great to catch up with your writing again,
    Kylie x

    • So happy to see you back SC food lady :)) Yes it is a must! Bloody awesome…& you don’t have to cook at all to be involved!!!
      Anyone can contact me if you are interested in connection details.
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Kylie, & we MUST catch up sometime soon too :))
      cheers & love from Roni xx

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