Saturday, May 28

Summer Soup Recipe - Ribollita

This is a fantastic spring or summer soup, light enough for a sunny day! Ribollita literally translates to reboiled and is a classic example of cucina povera, Italian peasant cooking, using stale bread, beans & seasonal vegetables.

Ribollita Recipe

serves 4

2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup of peas (if available)
small bunch of asparagus (if available)
1/2 cup of beans of your choice (we use & grow borlotti or cranberry beans), soaked over night, drained or fresh
1 bunch greens of your choice, washed well & chopped into manageable pieces (we use & grow bietola): cavolo nero, kale, chard, etc
5-7 cups of chicken stalk (vegetarian alternative: vegetable stalk or water)
1 tomato
bay leaf
chili flakes
couple cloves of garlic
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 small can of chopped tomatoes/couple of fresh tomatoes
2 handfuls of the inside (guts) of stale bread, broken into pieces, crust removed
good extra virgin olive oil for topping

In a pot, add beans, bay leaf, and your vegetable scraps -carrot peals, celery tops, onion skins, squished tomato, etc. Cover the beans with plenty of water (a few inches above the beans).

Bring to a boil, lower to simmer for 30-40 minutes until tender (time varies depending on your beans).  Strain beans, saving the cooking water for later.  Remove the aromatics from the beans.

Next in a soup pot, add carrots, celery, onion and slowly sauteed in a few glugs of olive oil for 10-15 minutes with OUT color.

Season with salt & pepper.
Add your canned tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat.  Add stock with some of the bean water. Bring up to a simmer. Add greens to your pot, wilting into the soup. Cook for 5-10 minutes, depending the toughness of your greens.

Once greens are soft, add in your beans & bread, one handful at a time.
Season with salt & pepper. Bread should dissolve, creating a velvety texture. Not a thick bread soup. Allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Taste check & adjust your seasonings.

Serve with a healthy drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil you have and a ribbon of parmesan.

Wednesday, May 25

All Coop'd Up - Raising Free Range Chickens

Raising free-range chickens isn't always easy, the wood are filled with hungry animals licking their chops for a taste of our plump fowl.  We had been warned, and it finally happened - a full blown, five-alarm fox attack in the middle of the day, for 3 days straight!

We started the season with 19 hens & 3 roosters. But after we 'lost' 4 chickens in 3 days to a sly fox - the whole gaggle was cooped up for about 2 weeks until we were able to build them 'play pen.'  We noticed almost immediatly the color of the yolks faded from bright rich orange to more mellow yellow. Munching on bugs & grubs all day really does make a differnce in the flavor of the eggs & the color - which is so important for home made pasta!  Not only that but the young slightly skittish roosters (see in the photo below) need a bit more space from the old rooster, Foghorn Leghorn (whose days are numbered). There really is a pecking order!

Now they are free again to roam, chase bugs, bathe in the dirt, squawk about and do whatever it is happy chickens do...without worry of being eaten by a predator.

Friday, May 20

Cleanest Beaches in Italy: Along the Adriatic in Le Marche

The Adriatic Coast in Le Marche
 Just another reason to visit lovely Le Marche - its pristine eco friendly beaches!
Sixteen beaches along the Adriatic Sea in Le Marche have been awarded the Blue Flag, second to Liguria with 17 Blue Flags along the Ligurian Sea.  The prestigious Blue Flag awards given annually to well-kept beaches and marinas across Europe by the Foundation for Environmental Education

Sunday, May 15

Recipes from Italy: Artichoke Hearts with Fresh Pasta

As artichoke season is winding to an end in our area, it is only fitting to honor this edible flower with a lovely light spring pasta! Whether you’ve eaten artichokes for years or you’re about to try your first one, this is an easy recipe full of flavor.

Tagliatelle con Carciofi

Wednesday, May 11

Stuffed Eggplant: Bake until golden & bubbling...

Need I say more?! Even if you are not a huge fan of eggplant this will keep you coming back for more. Just like a mini quiche tucked into nice tidy eggplant shell, just beggin' to be eaten!  This is a great go-to recipe for a delicious antipasto for your next dinner party as it can be made earlier in the day & served at room temperature. Also a hearty fill for vegetarians and can be served as a main dish.
On our farm & for our cooking classes we serve it stuffed with veggies, but you can fill them with meat & mushroom, shrimp or whatever you like!

Stuffed Eggplant
Melanzane Ripieno

Serves 8

4 long Italian eggplants
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 red or green bell peppers, halved, seeded & chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt & pepper
chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
 Halve the eggplants lengthwise & scoop out the flesh without piercing the ‘shells’. Chop the flesh & save the shells. Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until soft.  Add the chopped eggplant flesh, celery, bell peppers and tomatoes, season with salt & pepper and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Toss in parsley at end.

Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil.  Remove the pan from the heat & stir in the eggs.  Fill the eggplant shells with the mixture and place in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until golden & bubbling!

Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve cold/at room temperature.

Sunday, May 8

Italy Spring Fever Sale: 20% Off Organic Farm Holiday in June

From the Adriatic Sea to the Apennine Mountains - Le Marche, Italy
  Spring Fever? Book Your Italian Getaway Now!

Warm sunny days, markets streets overflowing with fresh fruits & vegetables and with hardly any crowds - June is the perfect time of year to visit Italy. Traveling to Le Marche in June is favorable as the prices are still low, the European beach goers have not yet arrived and the weekends are full of fabulous markets & festivals! How can you pass up a sale to Italy with 20% OFF 2 nights or more in JUNE 2011 at La Tavola Marche Agriturismo & Cooking School (featured in Food & Wine  and Budget Travel Magazines)

Sunday, May 1

Organic Living: The Benefits of Compost

Dark Rich Compost
  Over three years ago we built our compost bin and we have finally broken it open & reaping its dirty benefits! (Read our original post on Composting) Hundreds of pounds of food & garden scraps/waste have been piled up slowly decomposing into rich soil filled with millions of wiggling worms. Compost is plant matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment and a a key ingredient in organic farming.

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