Wednesday, December 31

Cappelletti in Brodo - Ohhh Delizioso!

If you are looking for a slam-bang dish - look no further!
Cappelletti in brodo or little 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!  This dish is traditionally served on Christmas day for lunch and New Year's Eve for dinner- special occasions.  Just yesterday we gathered a group of friends to help us make over 6 kilos (about 13.5 pounds) of pasta! We used 30 eggs in the dough, 4.5 pounds of meat & a ton of parmesan!

Take the time, buy the freshest eggs (it will make the color of the dough nice & golden) & enjoy homemade pasta the way it was meant to be eaten - it is TOTALLY worth the time!

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
6 oz. lean beef cubbed
4 oz. pork loin, cubbed
half a chicken breast, cubbed
1 sausage, without casing, cubbed
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.

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 -(take a look at the picture to help explain)

Make sure not to overstuff 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.

Next up - New Year's Eve Festivities!!

Tuesday, December 30

Get Down & Dirty - Make Pasta from Scratch!

Have you ever wondered what's the difference between Barilla's pasta & mamma's pasta? Well it's HUGE! Dry, store bought pasta is just fine if you've never tasted the real homemade kind. 
So try out the Cappelletti in Brodo recipe or just pasta & sauce - this will blow your mind - the color - soooo yellow, the texture - soooo soft and the taste - soooooo good!
So here's how to make pasta dough at home -

Standard Pasta Recipe

1 egg & 100 grams of flour = 150 grams of pasta

100 grams of tipo 0 flour for every egg

pinch of salt

Pour flour onto the table in a mound.  

Make a well in the center & crack the eggs into the well.

Slowly incorporate the eggs into the dough using a fork - pulling in the flour to the center of the well.

Form into a nice dough, knead for 5-10 minutes until you have worked the dough well & it has a nice shiny outside. 

Let stand for half hour to hour & then roll out.

1mm thick by 3mm wide - Tagliatelle

After you cut your pasta allow to dry for about 1-2 hours, depending on room temperature.

Boil for 1-2 minutes in plenty of salted boiling water.

Tuesday, December 23

Christmas in Italy

Every year Piobbico (like hundreds of other small towns in Italy) celebrates Christmas with a living presepe or nativity scene. It is beautiful! The town gathers at the base of the hill to the castle & after passing through the Roman guards, we make our way together through the old part of town visiting different scenes. The town is bathed in torch light. We stop in old cantina's and vacant houses where townspeople in costume recreate the story of Jesus' birth and the times they lived in. It's fun to see the plumber, pasta maker & our neighbors in costume.It was a great reminder of the meaning of Christmas, away from the commercialism & crowded shops.

We immediately signed up to be part of the festivities for next year!
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!!

Tuesday, December 16

Little Bunny Foo-Foo Went Hoppin' ...Onto My Plate (Coniglio alla Cacciatora)

I slightly hesitate even adding this recipe & topic (so I won't even think about a suggestive photo)....but here we go:

Rabbit is sooo good for you & incredibly lean meat. (In fact, I remember hearing that if you only had rabbit to eat to survive, you would probably die because there is not enough fat!) I know many of you have strong feelings on eating a little bunny - but isn't it the same as eating lamb, pig or any other meat for that matter.  (And for the record I had a pet rabbit as a kid & have no qualms eating rabbit for dinner.) Now it seems that rabbit is more associated with French cuisine than Italian, but we are here to set the record straight! Coniglio or rabbit is on many many Italian menus all across the country - from roasted, stewed, sauces & even in the style of porchetta!

I know it can be hard to find in many grocery stores in the States, here it is readily available at every SMA, Conad & butcher! Just ask your butcher & order a whole rabbit - it will be worth it!

We offer a no-choice, "you'll eat what you're fed dinner" at our Agriturismo and we have served this dish many many times - always with happy guests thanking us for giving them the opportunity to try something new & different that they probably would not have picked off a menu on their own. So the next time you see rabbit or coniglio - give it a shot!

This recipes like many many many in Italy, varies from region to region & house to house.

Coniglio alla Cacciatora (Rabbit in the style of the Hunter)- La Tavola Marche Agriturismo

Rabbit 3-3.5 lbs

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2-3 sprigs of sage

salt & pepper

2 cups wine vinegar

3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

2-3 tablespoons capers

Clean the rabbit & cut into serving pieces. Wash is carefully & wipe dry.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan & sauté the rabbit pieces with garlic & sage until brown all over.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.  Dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water & pour half of it into the pan.  

Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, adding most of the remaining vinegar, a little at a time, as the rabbit dries out.

When the rabbit is tender, transfer the pieces to a deep heated serving dish.  Keep hot.  Discard the garlic cloves. Stir the anchovies and capers into the sauces, and continue cooking & stirring until the anchovies are reduced to a paste.  

Bring to a simmer and stir over a moderate heat until the sauces has thickened.  Pour over the rabbit & serve immediately.

NOTE: Best served with roasted potatoes - patate al forno!

Monday, December 15

Fix Our Strada!

A full media blitz is underway to fix our road! Anyone who has stayed with us knows that our road - via Candigliano is full of holes! It's horrible & with the bad rainy weather it just keeps getting worse. This weekend we participated in our first Prostesta in Italia! We blocked the entrance of the street & gathered signatures for a petition to fix the road ASAP!
The locale newspaper & newstation were on-hand covering the protest!

Now, this must be noted- only in Italy will you find a protest complete with a table full of jugs of homemade wine, a little pecorino cheese, some salumi & bread. It was more like a picnic & social gathering among neighbors, friends & hunters.Jason was in the paper in 2 different pictures for the protest! He is the crazy American with a bright red Canada sweatshirt! The story made the 7:30 Sunday evening news on TV last night! The local police showed up as well as the caribineri (military police) to see what the fuss was about. Nothing in Italy gets done quickly when it comes to government so if the road is repaired in 2009 sometime, we'll be happy.

Wednesday, December 3

Thanksgiving Leftovers

We celebrated Thanksgiving twice this year - one with Italians & one with Americans.
Last Sunday we threw "A Real American Thanksgiving" for our Italian friends (the closest translation to thanksgiving is ringraziamente). Italians obviously don't celebrate Thanksgiving & they are not accustomed to eating/cooking a turkey whole. So this was a spectacle for them, for sure! We ordered our turkey a week ahead from our butcher, when we came to pick it up - their eyes lite up with excitment - "ohhhh....we've only seen a whole roasted turkey in the movies! You always see them open the oven & out comes the turkey - whole!"

We decided to go all out for our Italian friends & neighbors - but that also meant no pasta! We made all the fixin's - from Butternut squash soup, cornbread stuffing (my fav!), mashed potatoes (again the Italians thought it was hysterical to see 'American potatoes done up like that!"), green beans & more - of course pies -pumpkin pie from scratch (no canned pumpkin can even be found) & good old apple pie!
(Jason modeling his sexy Italian housewife coat/apron)

The bird was fantastic - Jason was up at 4am - cooking it low & slow in the oven & then finishing it off at Gaggi's house in his brand new wood oven (with temperature gages to regulate the heat). Everyone stuffed themselves, it was great! I heard a few whispers - that this must be why American's are fatter because they eat like this EVERYday! Not true, not true ...
They cheered when the turkey was presented, took pictures with my grade school drawing of a turkey (you know when you trace your hand!) and lined up to take pictures with the real turkey!

After a few days of leftovers - we headed up north past Venice to Aviano and the American AirForce Base to celebrate Thanksgiving with Tina, Ryan & Wyatt as well as other Americans...but more importantly to watch football! It was fun to speak English, hang out with friends & go shopping on the base. It was great to veg out in sweats, play with the baby & this time Jason didn't have to cook!

Tuesday, December 2

Eating Your Way Through Le Marche! December 2008

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go!" (I sing that verse all the time, this time of year!) Well, this months festivities are more directed to the
lovers of Christmas, Santa, Babbo Natale, La Befana & holiday markets than just food ...'cause it's the holiday season!

December 2008

Candele dal mondo - 6th, 7th & 8th
Candles from the world - Christmas market of candles & crafts, exhibitions, musical entertainment, living nativity scene and local food & wine - all day. Free shuttle form 10am - 9:30pm. During the festivities they shut down all the lights of the town - only to be lite by candle-light!

Eventi natalizi - all month
Christmas events all month with entertainment in the old center, Christmas markets, concerts & more.

Mercatino di Natale - 1st Sunday
Christmas market all day at the cloister di San Marco

Montemaggiore al Metauro
Mercatino di Natale - 1st Sunday, 8th of December & 2nd Sunday
Christmas market from 2:00pm in the old center

Christmas market with gift ideas, artists & chestnuts for everyone!

Christmas events on Sunday afternoons with typical products of the season, tastings, music, entertainment for children & more in the old center.

Nel castello di Babbo Natale - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday & 8th of December
Christmas market in the castle.

Sant'Agata Feltria
Il paese del Natale - 1st, 2nd, 3rd Sunday & 8th of December
Christmas goodies, live entertainment with a visit from Santa Clause and pipers, special menus for Advent in the restaurants of town.

Borgo Pace
Mercatino natalizio - first 2 weeks
Christmas market all day in the old center

Il vecchio mercato a Mercato Vecchio
Opening of wine cantinas (Saturday evening). Christmas market and refreshments on Sunday all day. +39.0722.75110

Fiera di Santa Lucia - Sunday after December 13th
Christmas market, antiques, local products, refreshments & more -in the old center.

Mercatino di Natale - Sunday before Christmas
Christmas market all day

Traditional festival of Christmas events, with "father Christmas" descending from the bell tower. Holiday markets & much more.
Santa Clause arrives in town with little presents for the girls & boys

After midnight Mass, children are presented with candies & gifts

Festival under the tree - chestnuts, wine & music under the Christmas tree

San Leo
Spettacolo pirotecnico dalla fortezza - December 31st
Firework display from the fortress

There are MANY more festivites in the area to celebrate Christmas -if you would like more information just email me - info AT

Sunday, November 30

Snow - Yippie!

Monday we got snowed in & loved it!
It started the holiday season white - how perfectly festive!

our agriturismo nestled into the woods & snow

Sunday, November 23

Just in Time for Thanksgiving - Butternut Squash Soup

Fall in a bowl - this would make a perfect dish to add to your Thanksgiving lunch or dinner! It can be served day of or is even better the next day! Which makes it great for Thanksgiving since you can cook it off a day or 2 before, one less thing to do on turkey day! This soup has become a tradition in our house - it's so creamy & delicious.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash - peeled, diced, seeded
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 ribs celery diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
vegetable stock
olive oil
bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt & pepper

In a soup pot heat 2 glugs of olive oil over med low heat, add carrots, celery, onions & garlic - until translucent - about 15-20 minutes.

Then add your squash, bay leaf & a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and salt & pepper. Sautée for another 15-20 min. on med-low heat until the squash starts to fall apart & gets soft.

Cover with vegetable stock & cook another 20 min. until the squash is now totally soft.

You may need to adjust the amount - if it looks like it is getting too thick, add a little water.

Blend with a hand blender & then add in about half a cup of heavy cream.

Adjust the seasonings to your liking: you can add in cinnamon, nutmeg &/or a clove to make it a bit more spicy & festive!

Toast a piece of bread & float it on top - garnish if you like with a little parsley

I know the cream sounds heavy, but it really rounds out the vegetables. Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 20

Nutella - Finger Lickin' Good!

First off, I must say, I am a peanut butter lover, through & through - I'm always looking for another vehicle for good ol' p.b. - but Italians don't seem to dig on the peanuts as much as Americans - and don't sell peanut butter (or its a single serving size of Skippy for 5 Euro! - So I've been making my own.)

Italians opt for its cousin-nut, the hazelnut - and combining it with chocolate is just divine! Thus Nutella was born! Thank the lord - it's finger lickin' good! I had never really gotten into Nutella in the States, but after my first taste here, I was in love! Creamy, chocolately & nutty! (The recipe is different here than in the States, less sweet, more nut.) It's great on bread, for baking or just eating a spoonfull! We've even made a nutella pizza!! I would suggest, if you have a fireplace to place it on the hearth to warm for about a half hour before you consume - I know that waiting is generally frowned upon - but it's worth it & makes it extra good & extra creamy! Trust me here!

Here is our favorite Nutella recipe (first translated & tested by my lovely sister Meagan)- it is ridiculously simple! Think of it like a nutella brownie!

Torta con Nutella e Nocci
Nutella & Walnut Torte
4 eggs

125 g sugar

125 g chopped walnuts

125 g Nutella

125 g butter

60 g flour

.5 teaspoon yeast

pinch of salt

Beat the eggs with the sugar.  

Melt the butter & chocolate together.

Combine all ingredients.

Butter & flour a spring form pan.  Add mixture to pan.

Cook at 375 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

(Since this recipe is Italian, it is in grams - click here for a conversion table.)

(notice how tightly she is clutching "the goods" to her chest!)

Monday, November 17

Sample Heaven!

We ventured into Umbria a little over a week ago to celebrate the white truffle in Citta di Castello only 35-40 minutes drive over the appennine hills into the valley & the region of Umbria. It is was a perfect day for a fall drive! Il Tartufo Bianco, the 29th annual festival for the white truffle & market was in full swing -

The festival was spread all over Citta di Castello & ended up to be a sample heaven! I don't now about you, but I just can't pass up good tasty bit size samples!

First stop: the freshly pressed olive oil tasting hall - yes please! Fresh bread, drizzled heavily in peppery olive oil - the freshest you've ever tasted with just a barely there sprinkle of salt on top!
Let's just say that we came back to sample the goods many times - oh I made my rounds - I was just trying to become a connoisseur if you will, really get to know each bottle...oh who am I kidding, I love the stuff, it was free, I was hungry & technically speaking, it's freakn delicious!

Next into the meat, cheese & olive tent -
There were many other artisan vendors from chocolates to bread (the biggest loaf I've ever seen actually - which just makes you think - what size oven are they using....), candies, spices & more! But one of my favorite things was watching a young cheese man, cut open his first wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano under the close watch of his mentor!
I had never seen this done before & requires much more concentration & technique than I expected - lots of repositioning the little cheese knives to change the pressure on the wheel, some wiggling of the knives & lots of patience - these things cannot be rushed!
But once it popped open & the smell of nutty parm took hold - uh! it's all worth the wait! Of course, after being such a good audience we again, sampled the goods!

Slow Food was involved with the festivities as well, offering "Showcooking" - a cooking demonstration with lunch. We opted to find lunch from a vendor & I was looking for polenta.. or just more samples!
We enjoyed rambling from one place to the next, weaving our way around the city, popping into old palaces for a grappa & chocolate tasting, watching an artisan woodworker, chatting with the locals about the rough truffle season & more-especially after we hit up the wine tastings...

For 6Euro each, we bought a wine glass with a specially made necklace/cup holder & a pass to 2 different 'cantina's' for wine tastings - not a bad deal! One cantina was dedicated to vino novello - which is the new wine, freshly made, unfermented and the other cantina was full of the best vino from Umbria. We bellied up to the bar - chatting it up with each different vendor, looking for another wine to add to our wine list at the house - what a rough job!

All in all I must say, it was a great day! A true sample heaven! We contemplated switching jackets or taking off a top sweater - essentially altering our appearences a bit if needed to take a another taste at the olive oils before we left - but as luck would have it - no one cared, no quick change needed or a shoddy story about how I wanted to give this sample to a 'friend...or that was my twin sister...'
We left with a bit of a buzz, a full belly, a bottle of artisan vin santo (wine of the saints) and a plan to buy 20+ litres of fresh olive oil from a local grower!
...this beats 'Sample Sunday's' at Costco by a long shot!!

Friday, November 14

Fav Fall Fotos

It's a cold, blustery morning, we've got the stufa (potbelly stove) burning & we've had our morning capuccino. Here are a few of our favorite fall photos from just around the neighborhood!
We came upon these horses up on Monte Nerone. They appeared through the was incredible, we got out of the car lured by the jingle of the bells worn by the horses...

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