Sunday, February 28

A Shot of Deliciousness to Start Your Day: Sicilian Blood Oranges

Ohhh the winter- long, cold & snowy ....except for the brightest flavored oranges of the year - the Sicilian blood oranges (or the 'cheap' oranges as they are referred to around here) arrive in the markets & you can buy them by the box for next to nothing at .50 for 2.2lbs - we buy them by the case!

They vary in color from bright magenta to a tie-dye of oranges & reds.

The colors are so bright, the flavor so sweet - every morning we take turns squeezing these incredibly juicy suckers into a glass & savor it, because before long - they will be gone!

Friday, February 19

Celebrating Carnival in the Countryside of Italy

Towns big & small across Italy dress in crazy costumes, eat sweets, dance the night away & drink barrels of vino in celebration of carnival - or carnevale. Here in Le Marche we visit the sea-side town of Fano for it outlandish floats & then head in-land for a real community fest!
Huge colorful floats pulled by Lamborghini tractors- but the cops on motor-bikes are always our fav!

Notice the teeth!

Now into the foothills of the Apennines to Apecchio for some 'down-home' fun! This guy in particular was hysterical offering up homemade vin santo & rambling on & on, cracking himself up - we had no idea what he was saying & neither did anyone else (since he spoke in dialect from Naples) - but one thing is for sure, he was having a great time and he kept us all laughing!

We were at one particular party during all the carnevale festivities posted up at the food table - Jason was convinced they were asking one another" who are the fat American's who wouldn't stop eating?" Ummm.. that would us! But isn't that why it's called fat Tuesday?!

Speaking of of my favorite traditions we've heard about is that the kids would go door to door (halloween style) and instead of filling their bags with sweets they filled them with meats! Seriously! Kids would be given pieces of fat or pork lard, an egg or a piece of sausage! Now that's a tradition I could really get on board with!

Lots of great costumes from the cute little princesses to the spooky & silly and almost all homemade!

The parade made its way through town & every few 'blocks' would stop & party in the street with the music pumpin (random 90's tunes - especially Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much" was on loop!), candy would be thrown from the floats for the kids & glasses of red wine passed around for us big kids! (Some towns toss flowers, oranges or even truffles into the crowd.)

And of course it wouldn't be a proper festival in Apecchio without the self-proclaimed drunk band!

Now we've just gotta plan our costumes for next year....

Sunday, February 7

Sauce of the Month: Norcina ~ Rich & Creamy

For a richly flavored creamy sauce with sausage - it can't get much easier than this! Plus it pairs perfectly with store bought dry pasta (we recommend rigatoni or penne). If you have access to fresh truffles, you can shave a few ribbons over the top to transform this rustic dish to something exquisite!

Most of you know this sauce as Norcina - but at our house we affectionately call it - pasta di Rossana in honor of our dear friend who first taught Jason this simple winter sauce! We'd arrive for dinner with a hungry look in our eyes begging for 'pasta di Rossana' and its meaty creamy goodness. She would laugh & say "Dear it is not MY sauce but the sauce of Norcia." We nod understandingly, smile back & ask for another serving of pasta di Rossana!

Pasta di Rossana
Serves 4

6 oz. of sausage meat
1 carrot, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, peeled
olive oil
ladle of bechamel (panna per la cucina)
parmesan cheese
1 lb. pasta of your choice (penne or rigatoni work wonderful)
(Optional: Truffle shavings)

With a little olive oil in a pan, throw in the garlic clove whole & brown. Then discard garlic.

Add chopped carrot & saute over medium heat for a minute or two.

Add in sausage meat & crack of pepper. Cook sausage until brown, mashing & breaking up into little pieces.

Lower heat & add in ladle full of bechamel & some parmesan cheese.

Cook for a minute or two. Add a little pasta water if it gets too thick.

Toss with cooked pasta & serve.
(If you are able to find truffles, shave a few ribbons over the top.)

Ashley & La Rossana!

Saturday, February 6

Foodie Giveaway

Thought you may be interested in some free kitchen/foodie favs!

This February, is cleaning out their pantries for the second annual SAVEUR Foodie Giveaway! They are giving away tons of fantastic kitchen products and foodie favorites. Each prize will be open for 24 hours, so check back often to enter to win each one!
The next giveaway is on Monday the 8th:

Gourmet entertainment for any occasion. Cooking that's fun for all as everyone's a chef with this versatile raclette party grill - a Swiss tradition you'll love!

But I've got my eye on this foodie favorite for Monday the 15th:
Le Creuset Pan
Le Creuset pans and skillets yield impeccable results time after time. The inner cooking surface is satin black enamel which seals in juices creating a succulent and tender meal.

Good Luck!

Thursday, February 4

Rustic Umbrian Apple Roll: Best Served with Vin Santo

If you like to cook/bake with wine, olive oil & sambuca - this is the dessert for you!

A favorite fall/winter dessert at our farmhouse is la rocciata - a rustic apple roll stuffed with pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon & golden raisins. Don't me mislead - the translation (the rock) has little to do with the consistency of the dough (as it is actually very light & flaky) but more to do with the word for 'round' in dialect. It is very similar to a strudel (and may even originate from it)-but better!

La rocciata may be most well known as a dish from our neighbors in Umbria. (Here's a fun fact- if you look across the 'street' from our farmhouse there is literally an island of Umbria in our front yard!) And since we love to share the little know recipes of our area, we'll let it slide this isn't traditionally known as Marchigiano - because it's just so delicious & simple! (Don't let the long ingredient list turn you off - half of it you just toss into the food processor.)

To really enjoy this spicy flaky treat buy a bottle of vin santo (wine of the saints or holy wine) & dunk your pieces in this rich woody-smokey dessert wine.
La Rocciata
Rustic Apple Roll with Pine Nuts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 green apples, peeled, cored & chopped (cut to about the same size as the raisins)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cut pine nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons Sambuca, anisette or brandy
1 egg, beaten

Mix oil & wine in a bowl
Pulse the flour, sugar & salt in a food processor. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time. Pulse. Add butter. pulse until in tiny pieces.
With motor on, add oil & mix until dough forms.
Turn out dough & kneed for about 2 minutes until smooth, adding a little flour if needed.
Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for 1 hour
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit or 185 Celsius

Toss apples, nuts, sugar, raisins, spices & liquor in a bowl.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.
Roll dough between parchment to form 4 12x8 rectangles. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Return the dough to a lightly floured surface. Spoon a cup of the apple filling onto each rectagnle in a thick stripe about 1/2 inch up from along the edge. Roll up the pastry to enclose the filling, pressing the seams to seal. Transfer the rolls to a large cookie sheet, seam sides down & brush the tops with the beaten egg.
Bake until golden brown - about 35 - 40 minutes.
Serve warm & cut in half or into chunks.

Wednesday, February 3

Winter Wonderland ~ Snow Covered Le Marche

When you think of central Italy visions of sunflowers, cypress trees & lush green rolling hills come to mind...but what about in the dead of winter? Yes - it snows in Tuscany too!
We've had a wet & snowy winter this year in Northern Le Marche. Our friend Pieter snapped these fabulous shots of Monte Nerone, Piobbico & our farmhouse with over a foot of snow!
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