Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who says i eat better when I'm working?

I spent yesterday at home, working on the website amongst other things.

While gallavating around the countryside usually means wonderful, rich seasonal lunches based on truffle or wild boar, a quiet day at home is usually my respite from all of that delicious Tuscan food.

I wanted to share my lunch with you, because it was delicious, italian, homemade and simple- homemade pesto!


The last of the basil from the garden
A small handful of pine nuts
Our own fresh pressed olive oil
A small clove of garlic
Grated parmasean cheese

Take all ingredients, pop them in a mini blender, blend until it has an attractive consistency, adding oil to thin the sauce.
Cook your favourite pasta in salted water until al dente, stir through pesto.

Find a spot of sunlight somewhere and enjoy!

Bon Appetito!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter Panzanella

First of all, I have to thank Fabio, great chef and fantastic friend for letting me share with you all this fantastic autumn-winter treat. I am sure that many of you, while traveling around Tuscany would have, at least once, heard of Panzanella, a very simple and typical summer dish made up of bread,vinegar, basil, onion and tomatoes, all mixed up in a very fresh salad.

Chef Fabio in the kitchen
It is one of the best example of our cuisine, honest, frugal and simple, but full of flavors and motivated by the practice of never throwing out any left overs from the pantry.

Fabio has taken this simple recipe to a new level, more sophisticated and suited to cooler times of the year, making the best of what an autumn veggie patch can offer. I know that outside of Tuscany kale, or as we say “ cavolo nero” (black cabbage) could be hard to be found, still it is possible, still, in the worst case, it can be replaced with some large leaves vegetables such as spinach.

The quail eggs touch... I would recommend not to miss that, because it gives a completely different look to the dish and enhances all the flavors!

When you pick the bread, remember to look for something closer as much as you can to our Tuscan unsalted bread, a sourdough would do nicely. For the pancetta: if you can, try to avoid bacon, Italian pancetta is very common at any deli counter!!

I do hope that you will try to put together this dish. Despite being a recipe from the “high cuisine world”it is fairly simple to make and I can assure that the result will be fantastic, and maybe will take you back to the fun days of your trip!

Buon appetito!!

Bread salad with kale , quail eggs and pancetta

Bread salad

Ingredients (4 pax)

  • 160 g stole Tuscan bread
  • 250 g kale
  • 50 g carrots
  • 50 g fresh onion
  • 50 g green celery
  • 120 g Tuscan pancetta
  • 50 g extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red wine vinegar
  • 8 quail eggs
    • Take out the crust from bread and dice it
    • Toast the bread dices with olive oil until gently brown , cool
    • Clean the kale, cut it in julienne, sautè in a pan with garlic and oil until cooked
    • Dice carrot, celery, fresh onion and sautè them in a pan with oil
    • Dice 60 g of pancetta and brown them in a pan
    • Slice the rest of pancetta and dry it in an oven
    • Cook poached 4 quail eggs in water and vinegar
    • Fry 4 quail eggs sunny side up
    • Mix the vegetables, dress with salt, pepper, vinegar and e.v.o.o.
    • Add the dices of crispy bread

Kale sauce

Ingredients (4 pax)

  • 400 g kale leaves
  • q.b. extra virgin olive oil
  • q.b. salt
  • q.b. vegetable stock
  • cook the kale in salty boiling water
  • drain, mix finely with oil
  • cool it

Egg foam (if you really want to impress someone!!!)

Ingredients(4 pax)

  • 1 n° egg
  • 1 n° egg yolks
  • 30 g cream
  • 20 g milk
  • q.b. salt e pepper
  • 5 g butter
  • Beat the eggs and pan fry with butter, whisking
  • Add cream, salt, pepper
  • Blend with cold milk
  • Use the foam on the surface

Garnish and presentation

  • Put the bread salad in a ring mould and turn out
  • Put on top a quail egg sunny side up and a crunchy slice of pancetta
  • Place in a dish the kale cream and the salad
  • Put aside the poached quail egg and garnish with egg foam
  • Finish with black pepper


Friday, November 12, 2010

Go AWAY rain!

I can accept that rain is a part of Autumn, even an important part. And coming from Australia where cursing the rain is likely to get you arrested for crimes of 'un-australianism', i do feel very guilty as I shake my fist at the sky.

But the rain is ruining the most important time of the year for an olive farmer, and my personal favorite month. With little rakes in hand and large nets bundled in the courtyard we watch as the rain keeps falling through prime olive picking weather.

This year has been a bumper year for olive yields, and a neighbour very kindly gave us 700 trees of his to harvest. So we've been planning, and anticipating, this harvest for months.
We have managed to get over 200 litres pressed and bottled, but thats not yet the half of whats sitting on the trees. At least we started early, we can tell ourselves, and were at the frantoio- the olive press- on it's first day of operation. To catch up on lost picking days we have a mechanical olive shaker (note- not a tree shaker) booked for tomorrow, but the weather reports are mixed. Tomorrow at eight we'll be heading out, and if the weather holds we'll be working until the light gives out. If only it doesn't rain.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn cycling

The colours! The smells! It's the most beautiful time of year to be cycling in the Tuscan hills. A light breeze keeps you cool, the sun warms your face, all of the men out in the fields, harvesting grapes or pruning olives take the time to lean on the fenceposts and ladders and laugh at us cycling up the hill. "e dura" they all say. Yes, I agree, its a hard climb. But then I'm coasting down the other side, grinning, with pockets full of wild herbs for a pumpkin soup.