Saturday, February 18

Winter Stews


Outside, away from the warmth of the fire, beyond the steam covered widows, our valley was blanketed with a solid meter deep of snow for over a week (we've just thawed out!) We were prepared with plenty of wood and enough provisions to feed most of the village just in case… Yet Ashley was terrified that we would starve. This wa a perfect time to have something rich, hardy, and stewy on the stove fitting the weather outside ideally.

Most cultures have a staple version of stewed meat and vegetables. These are versatile comfort foods that take advantage of tougher cuts of meat, seasonal vegetables, and typical seasonings cooked slowly to tenderize and bring all the flavors together.

The same simple ingredients with slight variations produce totally different versions of the same dish. Add a bit of cinnamon, cardamon, and coriander and take the dish to North Africa. Rosemary, Juniper white wine and olives brings me back to Italy. Lets’ go to Greece by incorporating instead a squeeze of lemon, dill, and parsley- Its really that simple.
Stewed recipes here in Italy are referred to generally as ‘In Umido’ or that are cooked and served in a sauce usually of their own juices.


Some useful tips for stewed dishes:
1.  Bones! They have marrow and will provide the richness for your stew. If you like a more hands on experience, use meaty bones and serve them. If the bones are not your thing, use boneless stew meat along with stew bones during cooking and then remove the bones before service.

2. Stock. Use good quality or better yet make it yourself!

3. Beware of too many sweet vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, butternut squash etc. are sweet veggies and can overpower everything! Keep this in mind when composing your stew. Love the parsnips and rutabagas; perhaps leave out the carrots…..

4. Grandma was correct in that stews always taste better the next day! Make it over the weekend for dinner during the week.

Here is one of my favorites Sepzzatino di Vitello:

Spezzatino
Stewed Veal

1 lb/500 gr of beef for stew (or a mix of both beef & pork)
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
handful of olives
2-3 spoonfuls of capers, drained
1/2 glass of white wine
salt & pepper
flour for dusting
olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
aromatics/herbs - thyme, sage, rosemary
stock, enough to cover the meat
optional: mushrooms

Dredge meat in flour.
In a heavy bottomed pot on medium/high heat, brown meat on all sides.
Remove meat from the pan.
Reduce heat to low, add in vegetables, season with salt & pepper and sweat for 10 minutes.
Add meat back to the pot (as well as the optional mushrooms) with your aromatics.
Deglaze with white wine and lemon juice.
Cover meat with stock.
Toss in capers & olives.
Simmer very slowly for 1.5 - 2 hours until meat is very tender.
Check your seasoning.
Serve over polenta or boiled potatoes.

Sunday, February 12

Podcast from Italy #96: An Excerpt from The Book


After catching you all up on the latest happenings: from ladri in Piobbico to carnevale & citrus season we swtich it up and read an excerpt from the unpublished book Ashley started years ago...

Thanks for listening and send us your comments & quetions to read on an upcoming episode!

Podcast from Italy: #96 - An Excerpt from The Book - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean


Friday, February 10

Introducing...the VLOG from ITALY: Episode 001


After 10 years of living in Italy and sharing with you stories and struggles of life, recipes, festivals and everything in-between thru the blog & podcast we are ready to take it to the next level. Introducing the vlog, the video version of the blog! "Vlog from Italy" is the name & we will be posting new videos every Thursday (until we get too busy...)  Here's the first episode (available on Youtube) VLOG from ITALY: 001 Welcome to the Vlog





MUSIC
Wild & Loud (Instrumental) by WILD
Start this Fire by The Royal Foundry
Hipster Licensed from IB Audio www.ibaudio.com

We will keep posting here on the blog as well but be sure to subscribe to our YouTube page to keep up to date with the vlog!

Friday, January 20

Join us as we start the season!

Cooking with Spring's Wild Edibles & Bottling Wine  
24 - 29 April 2017 (5 Nights) = 600 Euro/person

Fields of wild radicchio ready to be sauteed, young nettle perfect for tongue tingling ravioli, rich & creamy artichoke risotto - the flavors of Spring in Le Marche, Italy. In our farm to fork cooking classes we will collect wild edibles for both a pasta class and a five course Italian dinner party! Learn to make pasta (both cut & stuffed) with two seasonal sauces as well a complete menu of antipasti, primo (first course), secondo (main course), contorno (side dish) and dolce (dessert).  Plus this is the time of year that we refill our cantina with local wines and we need your help bottling, corking & labeling the hundreds of liters of red, white & rosato!
 

Includes: 4 nights, guided wild edible walk, 2 half day cooking class with a custom hand-made apron, wine bottling, two meals with wine, five course dinner and breakfast daily, price based on double occupancy.


Friday, January 13

Podcast from Italy: Home for Winter Making 50 Kilos of Salami


Back from France for the holidays we share the differences of spending Christmas in the French countryside vs the Italian countryside. While we were away busy making gingerbread houses, flying & filming, Gaggi stayed busy with yard work at our house!




Arriving home to frozen pipes, a quickly dwindling wood pile and a forecast of snow quickly brings us out of vacation mode and back to reality.  First on the to-do list: 50 kilos of salami with Dr. Gaggi & Vittorio...
Thanks for listening to our latest podcast!!

Podcast from Italy: #95 - Home for Winter & Salami Making - Dowload/Stream on iTunesStitcher or Podbean



Friday, December 30

Panettone French Toast



What to do with all the extra boxes of panettone stacking up after the Christmas onslaught? Make French Toast! Now we are talking. Soft sweet buttery panettone (especially the ones with chocolate chips or raisins) makes perfect french toast to be drowned in Grade A maple syrup on a cold frosty December morning....save the diet for after Befana (January 6th)!

Panettone French Toast
eggs
vanilla
cinnamon
nutmeg
milk
panettone
maple syrup
(powdered/icing sugar optional)


Beat eggs, adding in vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg in shallow dish. Stir in milk.
Dip thick slices of the panettone into the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides evenly.
Cook panettone slices on lightly greased nonstick griddle or skillet on medium heat until browned on both sides.

To really go wild - you can add a layer of powdered sugar to one side, flip it back onto the heat and let it form a sweet crust!
Drizzle heavily in good maple syrup & serve!



Wednesday, December 28

Creative Tourism Award: Best Creative Residency 2016

What a wonderful surprise! Our farm, inn & cooking school La Tavola Marche has just been honoured & recognized by the Creative Tourism Awards for Best Creative Residency 2016 for our innovative & sustainable tourism efforts. We are blushing a bit & stammering for words...how did they ever hear of our little farmhouse?! 

I'll share with you what they sent:
The Jury highlighted the quality, originality and sustainability of La Tavola Marche as well as its engagement for the experiential tourism.

The Jury of the Creative Tourism Awards particularly appreciated the authentic and elegant experiences designed by La Tavola Marche though which the travellers can enjoy the art of living and the uniqueness of Le Marche area.
With its wide array of activities aimed to very diverse targets, La Tavola Marche contributes to the development of a sustainable tourism offer.
The Jury underlined the balance between the quality based on a strong professional background, and the human generosity brought by the owners’ personal involvement in this project.

Created by the Creative Tourism Network, the Creative Tourism Awards  aim to reward companies, projects and destinations worldwide that foster the creative tourism, a new generation of tourism, characterized by the active participation of the tourists in artistic and creative activities.

Internationally recognized for its action in favor of a more innovative and sustainable tourism, the Creative Tourism Network® works with a panel of prestigious experts headed by the Professor Greg Richards, co-inventor of the creative tourism concept, in order to determine and guarantee respect of the Best Practices of the Creative Tourism.


Hence, the international jury of the Creative Tourism Awards selected five, among more than hundreds of initiatives and destinations from twenty-eight countries, that highlight for their commitment to this emerging sector. The Jury particularly appreciated the authenticity and creativity of the proposals, as well as their promoters’ interest in involving the locals and the tourists in the production of the experiences.


Based on the criteria of quality, originality, innovation and sustainability, the prizes were awarded to:

Best Strategy for Creative Tourism Development 2016: VisitEstonia   (Estonia)
Best Creative Destination 2016: Pafos Region - (Cyprus)
Best Creative Travel Agency 2016: Human Connections (Mexico)
Best Creative Residency 2016: La Tavola Marche (Italy)
Best Creative Experience 2016: The Place  (Cyprus)



WOW! Like I said, we are a bit speechless... A very sincere thank you to this fantastic international organisation (based in Barcelona) led by the amazing Caroline Couret in there endless efforts of fostering & promoting creative tourism around the world. We share similar ideas of sustainable tourism - in the simplicity of connecting travellers to the local life, food & culture in a honest authentic way. Well, we couldn't be prouder - Grazie Mille, Thank you Creative Tourism Network!

Tuesday, December 20

Cappelletti: An Italian Christmas Story



Last year I recorded a short timelapse video of making kilos of this handmade pasta but the best part is it's narrated by Dr. Gaggi!


  

Christmas celebrated in Le Marche, Italy is not complete without a heart-warming bowl of cappelletti in brodo or little stuffed hats in broth. I was once told is a dish served for only those you love because it takes so much time & patience to make!  In our area this dish is traditionally served on Christmas day for lunch and New Year's Eve for dinner.

Take the time and make it from scratch, buy the freshest eggs (it will make the color of the dough nice & golden) and enjoy this homemade pasta the way it was meant to be eaten - surrounded by family. (Plus they freeze well so you can have them on-hand, at the ready all winter long!)
  


Cappelletti in Brodo
Broth:
 1 whole chicken in pieces
1 beef bone
1 tomato
2 stalks of celery, chunked up
2 carrots, chopped in chunks
2 large onions, chopped in chunks
sprig of parsley
water
healthy pinch of salt
In a large stock pot add all ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil, skim the fat and impurities that come to the top.
Then lower to a very low simmer.
Simmer for 3-4 hours.
Strain stock - discard vegetables.
Now you have a delicious stock to be used in an array of dishes & soups.

Pick the meat off the bone & use in the soup, chicken salad or any other dish. 
(Stock will last a week in the fridge or you can freeze in usable portions.)

Pasta Dough Recipe:
(serves 4)
400 grams of flour (type 0)
pinch of salt
4 eggs
To make the dough - follow our recipe - click here
Filling:
6 oz. lean beef cubed
4 oz. pork loin, cubed
half a chicken breast, cubed
1 sausage, without casing, cubed
1 carrot, diced finely
salt & pepper
a healthy pinch Nutmeg
handful of grated parmesean cheese
1 egg
pad of butter
glug of olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pot, melt the butter & toss in all the meat & carrot.  
Cook over medium heat, until meat is cooked & 2/3 of the liquid is reduced.
Set aside & let cool.
When the meat is cool toss it into the food processor & pulse until it resembles ground beef - not a paste.
Add the egg, salt & pepper, nutmeg & cheese - mix with your hands.  (It will hold a ball when squeezed together, but not wet)
Roll out pasta dough into about 2mm thick sheets.

It may help at this point to watch this clip on youtube (fast forward to about 6 minutes in): How to close your cappelletti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYUR8KSY8hI)
Cut into 1 inch squares.  Place a pea size amount of filling in each square.
 Fold the square into a triangle - making sure to seal the edges very well! (Super important)
This is when it gets difficult to explain...Then take legs of the triangle & pinch them together. 
Make sure not to over-stuff your cappelleti & to seal them properly - otherwise they will burst when you boil them.
Boil in brodo (broth) until they float - if they are fresh about 2-4 minutes. Jason suggests that when they start floating - try one.
To freeze for later: Let the pasta sit & dry overnight in a cool dry room in a single layer with parchment paper underneath.


  BUON NATALE!!

Friday, December 16

New Episode of Podcast from Italy: Memories of our 1st Christmas in Italy 10 Years Ago...



After a month of work at the house and visiting family in the States, we are back reminiscing about our first Christmas in Italy, 10 years ago! Jason runs down his top list of Christmas gifts for the cook and we compare Christmas in the States vs Italy.

Podcast from Italy #94: Christmas Gift List & 10 Year Anniversary in Italy
Listen/Download/Subscribe via iTunesStitcher or Podbean!

Happy Holidays!!
From then to now...
10 years ago...our first night in the house -
last years festivities in Urbania


Thursday, December 15

Recipe Video: Poached Pears in Red Wine & Rosemary



Continuing my collection of #slowlivedmoments in Italy - one of my favourite autumn/winter dessert recipes Pears Poached in Red Wine, Rosemary & Juniper. The sweet pears, spicy aromatics and boldness of the wine round out this dessert perfectly. Use any red or rose you like or that bottle of wine that's been collecting dust in the back of your cupboard (you know the one) - it will work great in this classic dish! A wonderful addition to your Christmas or Holiday dinner!

The key to this dish: Cooking the wine and herbs slowly will create a beautiful rich flavorful syrup.





Poached Pears in Red Wine

Serves 4
4 pears, peeled and left whole
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle of wine - red or rose' - whichever you prefer or have in your cupboard
herbs you like: we use sprig of rosemary, sprig of thyme and lemon zest or you can use cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

Place pears in a pot that fits snugly. Add sugar and herbs to the pot with pears. Cover the pears 3/4 with wine.

Place the pot on the stove with the lid on and bring up to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-18 minutes depending on the size of your pears. You'll know when they are done when a knife slips easily in (just like when boiling potatoes).

Once cooked through remove the pears from the liquid & place in the fridge. Return the pot to the stove and reduce the wine, on a simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it forms a syrup. Be careful not to burn it by reducing too much.

About a minute or two before before the wine syrup is ready give it a taste checking to make sure its not too tart. You may need a little more sugar depending on the sweetness of the wine.

To serve, strain a ladle full of the syrup through a fine mesh strainer directly onto each plate. Top with your pear - either serve whole or sliced in half. Finish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or mascarpone cream.

Find a pot that fits the pears snuggly!


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