I am exceptionally blessed. Really. I thank God everyday for the life I've lived to date, young as it may be, and the people He's put in it. All of my friends and family are truly spectacular people. And all of my adventures to date make me ecstatic to recall. I've traveled quite a lot, learned a lot of random lessons, made a lot of beautiful things, cooked, baked, and burnt a lot of exceptionally great food, and been stupid enough to have jumped off of my fair share of mountains, cliffs, and "perfectly good" airplanes. I've lived in Chicago, Washington DC, Dublin, Ireland, and the very exotic Oxford, Ohio. Oh, and Florence. Which is the point, really. One particularly amazing time of my life was the 7 months I spent living as a student in Florence, Italy.
During my time in Firenze, I studied cooking, photography, film editing, writing, and of course, brushed up on my Italian. While the Italian never really took, (I am awful at picking up languages), the others were all a natural fit, and suddenly I couldn't get enough.
I took several cooking classes and seminars whilst in Firenze, and I had another blog, (a travel blog), that listed all of my favorite recipes. Due to requests, I've now posted them here too. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did! Posted at the bottom of the recipes, I've also put some of the stories from my first classes. If you thought I was clumsy here, you should have seen me when I was lost in translation ;)
|Making Pan di Ramerino|
|My First Experience as a Butcher! I didn't cut myself or anything!|
(Pictured at top of Page)
this cake is simple and beyond delicious, it's an ideal lemon cake and the pine nuts add so much awesome flavor, yum, you can easily make this so please try it out!
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 egg yolks
cream the butter (leave some to grease the pan) and sugar together until soft and fluffy; add the flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt along with the zest of one lemon and mix well. pour into buttered/floured pan and pour the pine nuts on top of batter, pressing lightly. cook at 350 for around 40 minutes, when cool, top with powdered sugar.
SO EASY! you can make this in a cinch and they are stellar!
These are little almond and citrus cookies and by far one of my favorite things I think I’ve ever eaten. They are soooo easy too, unlike some of the other recipes on here, like the roasted boar perhaps, haha. Loosely translated, the name means "ugly and good" because of the rough, ball like shape the cookies have when finished.
450 grams (aprox. 16 ounces or 2 and ¼ cups) finely chopped/powdered almonds
375 grams (aprox. 13.5 ounces or 1 and ¾ cups) sugar
6 egg whites
Butter for baking pan
Lemon and/or orange zest
Mix the powdered almonds with the sugar. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and mix with the almond mixture, adding the zests. Butter baking pan. Place on it small balls of the batter, taking with a spoon. Keep size small, one big bite size, not 2. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar BEFORE baking. Bake until golden. (There was no temp given and he changed our oven settings a couple of times and it was Celsius to boot but, I’d imagine 15 to 20 minutes at 350 would do the trick).
Mantovana di Prato
This is a simple, nutty, cake and I very much recommend it. As I said, it's pretty simple, but it's very stellar.
150 grams butter
150 grams flour
100 grams almonds, finely chopped/powdered
150 grams sugar
2 carrots (optional)
Melt the butter. Beat two eggs plus one yolk in a bowl with the sugar. The resulting mixture should be soft and well combined. Add the tepid butter a little a t time and the lemon zest. Add the sifted flour and 2/3 of the powdered almonds. Butter and flour the 8/9 inch round cake pan. Pour out batter and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top. Place in preheated 350 degree oven, cook 30 to 35 minutes.
Pan di Ramerino (Dough Pictured at Top of Page)
it almost, ALMOST, reminds me of irish scones, but more savory and roll like, not as dense. it's a raisin and rosemary roll with a bit of sugar, not exceptionally sweet but a nice treat at the end of the meal or as a breakfast roll.
3/4 cup once risen bread dough (recipe at end if needed)
3 cups flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rosemary leaves
when the dough has already risen once, mix with flour and knead again. once it has risen for this second time, add the raisins, oil, about half the sugar, and the rosemary. form into small, dome shaped rolls (about one generous spoonful in size), and make a cross shape incision on each top with a knife. brush the surface of each with beaten egg. leave them to rise again. sprinkle tops with remaining sugar, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden. ha, my chef wrote randomly at the end of this recipe "at one time this sweet was used to be very popular with the young people from both town and country" which is good to know :)
for the bread dough:
3/4 cup flour (.01)
1 1/4 tbsp yeast
1 tablespoon & 1/3 cup water
mix the yeast and water. let it "wake up" and then add to the flour. knead, let rise 1-2 hours.
Petto di Pollo All'Arancia
italian orange chicken! :D
2 lbs chicken pieces
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white wine
zest of one orange, cut into strips
2 oranges, sliced
1 spoonful sugar
1/3 cup flour
mix flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. dredge the chicken pieces in the mixture. heat some oil in a pot and brown the chicken over a high flame. add the wine and let evaporate. lower the heat and add the orange juice, cover and let cook for 20 minutes. uncover and let cook another 20. in the meantime, caramelize the orange zest and slices.
take the chicken out of the pot. add the orange zest and slices to the cooking juices and let the flavors blend a few minutes. return the chicken to the pot and continue cooking 2 more minutes before serving.
Crespelle Alla Fiorentina
these are crepes stuffed with spinach/ricotta cheese, placed in a small pan and covered in a creamy cheese filling, topped with tomato sauce, and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese. it's so rich and decadent and each bite is amazingly good. a lot of work, especially cooking the crepes which, you have to have a hand for and i clearly do not, but, this dish is worth the elbow grease.
For the Pancakes:
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tbls salt
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups boiled spinach
1 cup ricotta
salt, pepper, nutmeg
3 tbls parmesan
1 garlic clove
3 tbls olive oil
For the sauce:
3 1/2 tbsp flour
3 1/2 tbsp butter
2 cups milk
3 tbls parmesan
salt, pepper, nutmeg
1 jar tomato sauce (we made our own but, i don't have the recipe anymore)
to make the batter, gradually add milk to the flour, beating vigorously, then add the eggs, salt, and 4 tbls water and beat up until smooth. leave to rest for half an hour.
into a greased heavy bottom or non-stick pan on medium heat, pour out half a ladle of the batter and move the pan so that the batter runs thinly all over the bottom. as soon as the pancake sets, it is easily detached, so turn it over and do the other side. repeat process, placing crepes in a pancake pile.
for the filling, saute the garlic in olive oil, add the boiled/drained/chopped spinach, salt, pepper, and nut meg. mix with parmesan and ricotta.
for the sauce, head the butter, add the flour, stirring constantly. add the hot milk and cook the mixture until it thickens. add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parmesan cheese.
put a generous line of filling on each pancake then roll up (or fold as a triangle) and arrange in an oven dish. put the sauce first on the bottom of the dish and then on top of the arranged crepes so it is over and under the crespelle. then top dish with tomato sauce and finally with the parmesan.
bake at 400 until the top is golden.
Risotto ai Carciofi
i personally love risotto and this risotto is a bit difficult but no more then most things and it is well worth the work.
1 garlic clove
1 3/4 pints broth/stock
grated parmesan cheese
2 oz lean pancetta (italian spiced lean bacon)
11 oz refined rice
take away the hard leaves on the artichokes, cutting off the points and the stalk. cut in hald, eliminate the hay-like bits from the middle, cut into segments and leave to soak in water with lemon juice so they do not become discolored. in a casserole, brown 5 spoonfuls of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic. add the drained artichokes, a good handful of chopped parsley, and the bacon cut into cubes. cook all over a low flame, adding if necessary, some spoonfuls of the stock. add salt and pepper to taste. after 20 minutes, when the sauce has evaporated a little, add the rice, leave to cook together for awhile, and then add the stock and mix, leaving the stock to be absorbed by the rice, stirring every now and again. as soon as the rice is cooked "al dente" and the stock is absorbed, take off the heat and add a generous amount of parmesan cheese. perfume with the remaining parsley and serve straight away.
*for even more awesome flavor, saute mushrooms in olive oil and garlic and serve on top of risotto*
a pull apart, fruit, nut, honey cake that is served in
at the holiday season. very sweet but very good italy
1/2 cup almonds (pre peeled and halved)
2 1/2 cups honey
3 1/2 tbsp mixed candy fruit
a few dessert liqueurs
in a bowl, beat up the eggs, add two spoons of olive oil, 2 spoons of the liqueur, and some lemon zest. mix well adn then add the flour, however much is needed to make a pretty soft dough. knead well by hand, then roll sticks with the thickness of a finger. cut into tiny pieces, bite size, with a knife, roll them between hands to make balls.
put a large frying pan with frying oil on the heat. cook the little balls, replacing them on paper towels (to absorb grease) as done.
in a saucepan, cook the honey until lightly browned. to understand when it is done, take up a drop with a toothpick and put it immediately in cold water; it'll get hard.
take the pan with honey out of heat, put the fried dough balls, the candy fruit cut in cubes, and the almond halves into mix, stir and coat.
grease a round mould, brushing it with olive oil; put the mixture inside and allow it to cool for several hours. remove it upside down (it should retain its shape) and serve with a good white wine ;)
Zuppa di Indivia Belga
soup with noodles! very good and unique considering soup is usually pretty run of the mill
3 indivia heads
6 cherry tomatoes
1 white onion
1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lt. vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup short durum wheat pasta (maltagliati, conchiglie, etc)
saute' the onion with olive oil and butter. wash and cut 2 of the 3 indivia heads in strips and add to the sauted onion. cut 3 tomatoes and the potatoes into cubes and combine with the other ingredients. cover the vegetables with broth and adjust with salt and pepper. cook at least 15-20 minutes. then blend and reduce with a mixer. pour the vegetable puree' to cook again, adding at this time, the last indivia head cut already in strips and the remaining tomatoes cut into cubes. stir well, cook further for 5 minutes, add pasta, cook til noodles are soft, and serve hot.
Calamari in Zimino
Calamari, for those of you who don't know, is squid. it's prepared in this dish with veggies and spinach and olive oil/garlic sauce before pairing it with a tomato paste and is delicious and actually extremely amusing to make. you'd think they'd be impossible to clean but, it's actually a cinch. i can explain it to anyone who wants to, the trick is avoiding eye squashing or ink sac squirting ;)
2.5 lbs calamari (squids)
2.5 lbs fresh spinach
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 spoons parsley
2 crumbled dried chili peppers
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup white win
14 oz/2 cups canned tomatoes
clean the squids, wash them well and cut into strips. saute' the chopped vegetables in olive oil in a large pan, together with the hot chili pepper. add the squids and garlic, cook for a few minutes, stirring to taste. add the white wine and let it evaporate. while this is happening, wash and coarsely cut the spinach. if the spinach leaves are new and tender, they do not need to be boiled first, so you can cook them directly in the sauce pan, (after the squids are done being cooked through). if the leaves are big and not tender, steam them a few minutes and then drain and cut them before adding to the squid. add salt and pepper to taste and then add spinach. let stew for 10-15 minutes, serve.
Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinaci
Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli. this was the first dish we prepared and it always has stood out in my mind as the best meal i've had here. we made calamari with it which is another recipe but, it was all soooo great and these ravioli made the meal.
Ingredients for filling:
4 cups (27 oz) fresh spinach
2 1/2 cups (17 oz) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (3 oz) grated grana padano (parmesan) cheese
salt and pepper
wash and drain the spinach, toss them in a salted boiling water for a few minutes. drain and allow to cool to room temperature. take the spinach between your hands and squeeze out the excess water. place the spinach in a food processor or vegetable mill and reduce to a homogeneous pulp. mix with ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. mix well.
Ingredients for pasta:
2 cups (13 oz flour)
on a flat surface prepare a "fountain" of flour, then add the eggs, salt, olive oil, and knead the paste for about 10 minutes until the mixture is smooth and elastic: round into a ball, wrap completely with a plastic film. set aside for 30 minutes.
use a little dough at a time to roll out flat and stuff ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese mixture inside. let the ravioli dry out slightly (2-3 minutes) on a flat surface, sprinkled with some flour.
cook in salted boiling water for three minutes.
for dressing/sauce: melted butter with sage leaves and parmesan cheese
Manzo alla Vecchia Trento
this meat was soooo good, it's roasted in milk which, again unusual, but i promise, it's exceptional and worth a try!
1 glass vinegar
2.5 lbs beef meat
salt meat broth
2 cups milk
make holes in the whole piece of meat and fill them with lard. tie it with a cotton thread, putting some rosemary sprigs between the meat and the cotton. flour the meat, put salt and pepper and roast it on all sides with butter at high heat. when it is well roasted outside, pour out the vinegar, stir and flip the meat, let the vinegar evaporate. lower the heat. add milk and cook slowly for about 2 hours adding hot broth if necessary. slice and serve with polenta as a side dish. (polenta: boil 1 part cormeal, 4 parts water, until cooked through)
Canederli alla Tirolese
Essentially, boiled ham and bread/herb dumplings, very comforting and delicious.
1 cup stale white bread
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup speck, sliced (smoked, shoulder ham)
1 bunch fresh parsley
4 tbsp salame
6 spoons wheat flour
salt and pepper
dice the bread and put it in a bowl. beat up the milk and eggs, pour out the batter on the bread and leave it for 20 minutes, mixing occassionally. chop the speck, onion, and parsley finely. roast the speck slowly in a pan (non stick) then add the onion and half of the parsley- cook for two minutes. dice the salame. add it to the speck mixture with the rest of the parsley. amalgamate everything in the soaked bread. incorporate the flour; season with salt, pepper, and nut meg. bring the meat broth to a boil. damp your hand and make round dumplings with the mixture. toss them in the water and simmer until done.
Risotto Gorgonzola e Mele
An apple risotto with gorgonzola and pancetta. while a lot of people were tenative about this, it was a class favorite. we made our own vegetable broth but, canned works just as well i'd imagine ;)
3 oz pancetta
2 large, tart, apples
4 tbsp butter
1 lb risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups hot veggie broth (aprx)
2 parsley sprigs
5 oz sharp gorgonzola
salt and pepper
cut the pancetta into small cubes. peel and mince the onion. core and chop 1 of the apples. melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, making sure that the butter does not brown. saute the pancetta and onion until golden and translucent. add the chopped apple and the rice and stir until everything is coated with fat. pour in the wine and stir constantly while the liquid is absorbed. add the broth, 1/2-1 cup at a time; cook, stirring constantly, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. the risotto will simmer for about 20-30 minutes to become creamy yet cooked through. rinse and pat dry the parsley, mince the leaves. crumble the gorgonzola. peel, core, and slice the remaining apple. fold 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter, the remaining gorgonzola, and parsley into the risotto and stir until the butter has melted. melt the remaining butter in the skillet, saute the apple slices until golden brown; season with salt and pepper. season the risotto as well with salt and pepper and then garnish with the apple slices and serve.
Crostatina di Mele
An apple puff pastry cake from the italian region
. i feel like it's self explanatorarily amazing. i haven't HAD this myself though, my teacher gave me the recipe and it's straightforward, easy, and sounds awesome. plus, yet another where i don't have to convert the amounts which is AWESOME. Liguria
Flour, for dusting
2 premade rectangular pieces of puff pastry (about 5 oz), thawed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
small strawberries and whipped cream to garnish
on a floured work surgace, roll out the puff pastry and cut them in halves. with a knife or very large cookie cutter, cut the puff pastry into 6-in rounds. place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. preheat the oven to 400. peel and core the apples then cut them into thin slices. drizzle them with lemon juice. mix the brown sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the puff pastry rounds, layer each with apple slices, arranging them in overlapping circles. sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. cut the butter into small pieces and dot the apple rounds. bake on the middle oven rack for about 20 minutes or until the pastry borders are golden brown and the top sugar layer has slightly caramelized. serve them still warm with strawberries and whipped cream.
Funghi alla Paesana
This is described as a wild mushroom and potato casserole, "peasant style" which just means amazingly easy to make, and i think that's a pretty perfect summary. good if a tiny bit bland, it's a great side dish. bonus- this one is in the
cooking system! yay cups and no conversions!! US
1 1/2 lb red potatoes
1 lb fresh porcini mushrooms (ce'pes)
5 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for baking dish
2 sprigs parsley and oregano
peel the potatoes and slice them 1/3 inch thick. preheat the oven to 400, (if convection, 350). lightly oil a baking dish or casserole pan. bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the potatoes for about 5 minutes. drain them and then layer them in the baking dish. wipe the mushrooms clean and trim them, rinsing only if necessary. cut in half, slice if larger, and layer them over the potatoes. season with salt and drizzle with the olive oil. bake in the middle oven rack for about 20-25 minutes. rinse and pat dry the herbs and mince the leaves. sprinkle them over the mushrooms/potatoes.
Insalata di Pollo
This is like a warm chicken salad with veggies served in mashed potatoes. Semi odd sounding but, amazingly delicious once you make yourself try it J
1 medium chicken
2 celery stalks
3 spoons (typical, cereal eating sized spoon) milk
1 spoon chopped pickles
½ spoon capers
1 handful mixed nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios)
2 egg yolks
1 spoon vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 little truffle (diced) or a couple of spoons of truffle cream
1 little glass (shot) cognac
Halve and boil the chicken. Pull out, pat dry, debone. Gather all the flesh in a bowl and cut it coarsely, however you define coarsely as you would like to eat it without a fork but still be able to know that you’re eating chicken. Dice the vegetables, boil til soft. Drain and set aside. Boil the potatoes, mash, and mix in the milk. Chop the capers, pickles, and truffle finely. In a bowl, mix together the chicken flesh, the cut veggies, the potatoes, the capers, and the pickles. Beat up the egg yolks with a pinch of salt and pepper and then the vinegar. Mix it in the chicken mixture together with the truffle. Add cognac. The mixture should get pretty “soft” and well amalgamated (I have no idea what that word means but it is in the recipe so, if you know that descriptor, it may help you out). Give it an oval shape and garnish with pickles.
Cinghiale in Argo Dolce
This dish is Boar roasted and served with a “sweet” sauce which is good but rather strange. It’s savory and still sweet and among the ingredients for the sauce are pine nuts, cherries, and dark chocolate. I liked it but, it was an experience.
For the marinade:
5 spoons olive oil
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves
parsley, thyme, bay leaves (to taste)
1 glass vinegar
2 glasses white wine
a pinch black pepper
extra vinegar you use to “wash” the meat
1 kg (2.2 pounds, I would say to just go with 3) whole piece of boar meat
Chop the vegetables and sauté them in olive oil. When they are soft, add the vinegar first and then the wine. Add pepper and cloves. Simmer 10 minutes and cool before use. Pound the meat with a tenderizer and then wash it with PLENTY of vinegar before soaking it in the above mixture. Keep the flesh in the marinade (in the refrigerator) for three days, turning it occasionally. (Our teacher did this for us). After three days, drain it and dry it. Tie the whole piece of flesh with threat like a roast beef in order to maintain the shape. Roll it in a mixture of pepper and sauce. Filter the liquid of the marinade out and save it.
For the sauce:
100 grams “rigatino” (about ½ cup) Rigatino is like an unsmoked bacon
20 grams (about ¾ ounces or 1 ½ tbsp) butter
20 grams flower
50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
50 grams grated dark chocolate
20 grams raisins, soaked in warm water
20 grams pine nuts
50 grams candied orange zest
2 dried, diced, plums
5-6 candied cherries
Chop the onion and finely sauté it with the diced “rigatino”. Put inside the whole piece of boar and roll it to roast all around. Turn down the heat and add the marinade liquid. Cook slowly, about 2 hours, adding extra wine or hot broth as necessary. At the end of the cooking, filter the sauce to make it homogenous. Make a roux mixing the butter with the flour and toss in the sauce on the heat to make it creamy. In another pan, cook the sugar with the crushed garlic and chopped bay leaf, along with half of the little glass of vinegar. As the sugar will be melted, add the grated chocolate, the remaining vinegar, the raisins, the pine nuts, the diced candied oranges, the cherries, and the chopped dry plums.
Finish the cooking by adding extra broth and serve on a try with extra candied cherries as a garnish.
"...monday night is when i have my cooking class which made probably my week, it was that awesome.
we made three dishes in "regional italian cooking". ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinach in a butter age sauce, calamari cooked with spinach and vegetables, and then a pine nut cake with lemon zest and powder sugar.
it was all amazingly delicious by the way but- the best thing by far to cook was the calamari. which is- for those of you who do not know- squid.
while i love to bake so the cake was fun, and making the pasta from scratch, kneading it, flattening to fill it and squashing the spinach to drain it and stuff it was also very fun... cleaning the squid to cook it was the most disgusting and entertaining thing i've ever ever cooked.
we are making squid at home too now because, it is so easy, it's amazing.
this may be descriptive for some so, skip a paragraph if your stomach turns at the idea of preparing a dead, tentacley animal. we had to rip off the "head" which is where the eyes are and then pull out of the "base" it's organs, single bone, and ink sac (which is what they use to make black pastas) and throw them all away. from the lower part of the head, we also ripped off the tentacles which leaves us with the hollow base and tentacles for our dish which we then prepare as rings and little piles of tentacles in a garlic olive oil.
i probably should have been grossed out by the experience and i am sure a lot of you read that and are cringing. but it was amazingly sick and fun to do. like biology but no yucky chemical smell or my feeling bad that it pointlessly died for science.
these creatures pointlessly died to be delicious which is allowed.
haha, anyway, so after we made all the food, we set the tables and got to eat it all and i cannot say enough how AMAZING it was. so fresh and just...good. everything was. and the best part of the class? someone else does the dishes! not us nor our teacher has to deal with them. cooking and eating and no mess! best class ever.
other then perhaps "tuscany's regional cooking" which i have tonight. though i think they'll have a tough time topping the squid..."
"...good morning! so, right before last journal wrapped up, i was going to go to my cooking in tuscany class which was also rather enjoyable although... different.
when we walked into the kitchen this time there was this very large, very muscled, jamaican man who told us in a deep baritone to wash our hands and that he was "chef daisy".
as in the flower.
we made this really cool wrapped meat with hardboiled eggs and herbs and olive oil wrapped around and inside of it, a very rich and amazing soup, and then an ultra stellar almond cake for dessert.
i got to zest the lemon for that and it made me way happy to know how to do it amazingly from my last class.
the thing of it was, he kind of gave us these huge histories on how florentine and tuscan food came to be and then was like "here your recipes. cook."
i'm so very afraid. i am not able to cook without measurements, the correct language, and under pressure. this class should be interesting..."
That class and Chef Daisy were also some big blessings in my life. Without his "learn on your own" approach, I'd probably be even more of a mess in the kitchen then I am now. He taught me to use my instincts in the kitchen and cook outside of the recipe, to my own tastes. Plus, I learned not to judge books by their covers. Chef Daisy was the ultimate softie in the APICIUS Faculty. Among my other Italian friends and teachers, he and his class are exceptionally missed by this American gal.