Wednesday, April 27

Podcast from Italy: Food, Farm & Feasts with Easter Menu & Local Traditions

Rossana & her chocolate Easter egg

This all about food & the farm with an Easter wrap-up. We chat about our Easter menu & the local traditions with an interview with friends Giorgio & Michele. A gift of fresh ricotta means Jason is using it for sweet & savory dishes - Jason shares simple ways to use this delicious creamy cheese. Plus bread baking tips from focaccia to whole wheat with raisins & nuts. We are back to chicken wrangling, training our newest hens where to lay & to come home at night.
Thanks for listening - Ashley & Jason

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Monday, April 25

Rome in a Whirlwind, Guide to 6 Hours in the Eternal City

It is entirely possible to see almost everything in under 6 hours in Rome. Ok, not everything but enough to fill your photo album and Facebook your friends!

For those of you that are art enthusiasts, church lovers, architecture buffs & Da Vinci  code-breakers this is not the grand tour for you. However there are many of you out there with only a night or two booked in Rome and your wondering if you'll have enough time or see it all....Well you won't see it all but you can get a picture of yourself in front almost every major site in a few hours. We recently jumped in the car at 7am for a day trip to Rome from our farmhouse in Le Marche with a friend in tow that had never seen the Eternal city.

This is the exact "tour" we did last week in under 6 hours:

Saturday, April 23

Easter Menu - Hardboiled Eggs with Salsa Verde

Everything sounds better in Italian: ouva sode con salsa verde sounds a lot better than boiled eggs with green sauce.  Don't let the name fool you it is simple yet delicate and an Easter tradition. With 19 hens, laying daily we make this all year around!
Salsa verde has anchovies & capers in it and pairs wonderfully with hard boiled eggs, poached beef, veggies - whatever you like! 

Thursday, April 21

Easter in Italy: Festivals, Feasts & Slow Food

In Central Italy's region of Le Marche we are all abuzz for Easter! The butchers began taking orders for lamb days ago,  our neighbor Pia has made dozens of the traditional Easter bread slowly cooked in a wood burning oven and the villagers are ready for the festivals of Holy Week.

Friday, April 15

Recommended: Car Rental in Italy

The best way to see Italy and Europe for that matter is with your own set of wheels. I was once told by our friend Vicenzo in his deepest Italian accent speaking perfectly broken English, "Italians like the curve on their roads and their women" and from the voluptuous Sophia Loren to the hair pin turns of the Alpe di Siusi in the Dolomites there has never been a more true statement.

 Renting a car in Italy is easier, cheaper & more fun than you may have thought.

Wednesday, April 13

Podcast from Italy: 10 Ways to Save Money in Italy and How to Order/Shop at the Market

Jason slowly watering the young onions
 This week after a whirlwind trip to Rome, Jason & Ashley share their Top 10 Ways to Save Money on your next trip to Italy including cheap car rental. The word of the week will come in handy at the market: un mazzo - a bunch. Plus updates from the garden & off to a good start with over 700 onions in the ground!
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Thanks for listening, Ashley & Jason
Please leave comments/feedback/rating on iTunes to show your support.

Sunday, April 10

Tongue Tingling Pasta ~ Stinging Nettle Ravioli with Butter & Sage

Stinging nettle or ortica
Eat your weeds!
 We like to eat wild out here in Italy & by that I mean forage for our food. In the spring the fields are full of wild edibles ready to be eaten. (Read our story on Eating Wild: Spring Bitter Greens) Stinging nettle or ortica is perfect for pasta when it is young. Plus its great for you & super high in antioxidants. Remember to use gloves when picking this prickly/stinging plant as even when young & tiny they will get'cha!  Nettles are best when a foot or less off the ground; later in the season you can harvest the tops, but eventually they become too fibrous & woody. Here's a  little fun fact & tip on nettle - I grew up in the Northwest & where nettle grows so do ferns. If you get grazed by those pesky plants as your picking them, rub the underside of a fern plant over the area. Fern plants are a natural remedy for stinging nettle! 

Eating seasonally like this means this dish only comes around for a short while - use the best ingredients and make your dough from scratch! Check out our down & dirty recipe guide to making homemade pasta from scratch.

Stinging Nettle Filled Ravioli Recipe with Butter & Sage
Ravioli d'Ortica

Make your own pasta using our Homemade Pasta Dough or buy fresh sheets of pasta.
Make this filling as your dough is resting.

When nettle is young, clip it, wash 
1 cup cooked nettle (boiled in salted water, drained, squeezed well)
salt in the 1/2 cup of sheep’s milk ricotta (you can try other cheeses you like as well.)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
squeeze of lemon juice
salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Remember above all: the mixture/filling must not be wet -with a moist filling you will have difficulties closing the ravioli, with too much moisture inbetween the pasta sheets.

To stuff your ravioli ~
  • Roll out a sheet of pasta to about an 1/8 of an inch thickness -the thinner the better.
  • Evenly space out small mounds of filling.
  • Lay another sheet of pasta over the top.
  • With your fingers gently smooth out any air bubbles.
  • Cut out ravioli - either squares with a pizza knife or ravioli cutter or a shot glass for circular ravioli. Most importantly making sure the sides are closed.
Circles or squares you make the choice! We do both - but I've gotta say there is something about the circles I love.

Ravioli with Butter & Sage
  • Once pasta is filled, throw into salted boiling water until they float to the top. Test one.
  • In a pan slowly melt a couple of tablespoons of butter & gently fry a handful of sage leaves for 1 - 2 minutes.
  • Raise the heat, toss in your cooked pasta with a bit of pasta water.
  • Season with salt & pepper & serve.
Ravioli freezes well: place in a single layer on a sheet pan, then transfer into zip lock bag.

Another great article on cooking with nettle is found here How to Cook Stinging Nettle on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook 
Cooking Class at La Tavola Marche

Friday, April 8

Heavenly Artichoke Risotto

Jason made this for dinner last night so I just had to re-post and share this delicious spring recipe!

Crates of artichokes at the Saturday market in Fano
Overflowing crates of artichokes fill the market streets - a sure sign that Spring is on its way! So what to do with these edible flowers - try one of my favs - artichoke risotto. We love to serve this for Easter feasts as well! If artichokes seem a bit overwhelming & you wonder where to begin?! Look no further: The Art of the 'Choke (Cleaning Artichokes)
This recipe takes about an hour total time & yes - you've gotta stir the risotto constantly. It's a labor of love & your work won't go unnoticed (hence the clean bowls!) You'll find some recipes with short-cuts however to really get the creamy chewy consistency you must work the starch from the rice & that means good old fashion elbow-grease!

Artichoke Risotto Recipe
Risotto di Carciofi
Serves 6

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
8 fresh artichoke
5 cups or so fresh vegetable stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
scant 2 cups risotto rice - Arborio or Carnaroli are best
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Start by cleaning your artichokes (click here for help) and soaking them in lemon water.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion & garlic and cook for 10 minutes or so over med-low heat with out browning. Chop up your artichokes and saute them slowly until tender - so you could mush with a fork. Add a couple of spoonfuls of vegetable stock to help the process along and keep from browning the 'chokes. Now raise the heat, add the rice and saute for a minute or two. Add in the wine and let it cook out a bit. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in another pan. Add a ladle-full of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed into the rice. Continue adding the stock, a ladle-full at a time, constantly stirring until each addition has been absorbed. This will take 18-20 minutes.

When the rice is al'dente, turn off the heat, add in a handful or two of graded cheese and give the rice one more stir, check seasoning. Rice should be thick & creamy but not runny. Cover the pot and allow the rice to sit for a couple of minutes.

To serve, spoon the rice into the bowls and sprinkle with parmesan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately. Buy a couple of extra chokes’ and top the dish with a couple of the hearts steamed or boiled separately.

Now MANGIA!! Serve immediately.

This recipe was chosen to be featured in  Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook: 100 Great Recipes available on

Wednesday, April 6

Podcast from Italy: Top 10 Day Trips in Tuscany, Umbria & Le Marche Plus A Funny Frog Festival

Field of wild daffodils along around road
 Ciao tutti-  Spring is in full swing & its hard work being an organic farmer! Fields are full of wild poppies & daffodils, the salami are done curing and we just got a delivery of manure for the orto! The Palio della Rana (Frog Race) of Fermignano is coming up & we chat about how they 'celebrate' the frog.
Palio della Rana, Fermignano (Le Marche) Italy
Plus this week we list our Top 10 Day Trips from our farmhouse in Le Marche, Umbria, Tuscany & San Marino!   This week's phrase that pays is a spring proverb: Quando canta il cucolo la primareva e' imminente.

Thanks for listening - Ashley & Jason

Sunday, April 3

The Italian Man Who Went To Malta

This short animated film is an irreverent & hysterical look at the subtle language difference and accent in English for an Italian man. Watch it, seriously its funny & spot on!

The Man Who Went To Malta by Bruno Bozzetto

Saturday, April 2

Eating Wild: Bitter Spring Greens

wild greens in the field
'Tis the season for fields full of ladies carefully picking bags full of wild bitter greens.
In the Candigliano Valley (Le Marche, Italy) our fields are peppered with wild radicchio, erbe di campo, dandelion greens, wild lettuces, strighi & much more ready to be picked & eaten.

 A few days ago we took a cooking class  into the field to forage for dinner. We filled sacks of these bitter greens just begging to be added to a frittata, topped on crostini, sauteed or eaten raw.

At first glance you will pass right over thinking it is just a plain ol' field full of weeds, but look a little closer & you'll find dinner. I am always amazed at the fact that greens that are prized & eaten here are mowed over in the States without thinking twice. In the States they are pesky weeds, in Italy a delicious antipasto!
Once you know what to look for its easy:

wild lettuces & wild radicchio

 So what to do with these bitter wild greens? 
First wash well they came from a muddy field.
  • Wild lettuces - a bit bitter, can be eaten raw mixed with sweet lettuces.
  • Wild radicchio - very bitter. Blanch in boiling water, saute & pair with stracchino soft cheese and top on crostini
  • Erbe di campo (field herbs) - boil, saute with olive oil, garlic & a squeeze of lemon

How to cut the bitterness:
To mellow the bitter flavor of wild spring greens it is best to pair them with fats that cut the flavor for example: olive oil and/or cheeses (ricotta, stracchino or soft creamy cheeses). You can also go sweet - toss the greens with a reduce balsamic or honey and you will create a completely different taste.

Don't miss the delicious & delicate recipe of Frittata of Spring Greens in our monthly column "Field to Fork" in Taste Italia Magazine.

Friday, April 1

Podcast from Italy: Interview with Giorgio and Michele from the ProLoco and The Three Stages Of Drunkenness

 Download & Subscribe to our Podcast from Italy on iTunes

Join us this week in part 1 as we interview our friends and members of the ProLoco of Piobbico Giorgio and Michele.  They give us a little lesson in dialect and take us through the three stages of drinking on a Saturday night. (We will post part 2 closer to Easter.) 
During the podcast we mention a youtube clip: To watch Bruno Bozzetto's funny take on the subtle differences in English & Italian-Click Here!

Thanks for Listening!  Please leave comments or ratings on itunes.
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