Wednesday, November 30

Eating Your Way Through the Holidays in Le Marche

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go..." (I can't help it!) This month's festivities are directed to the lovers of Christmas, St. Nick, Babbo Natale, La Befana & holiday markets than just food ...'cause it's the holiday season! (cue the music!)
Below is a list of annual events in Le Marche, if you have a favorite of your own - please add them below!

December 2011 Events in Le Marche

Tuesday, November 29

Podcast from Italy: Stinky Cheese, Meat Grinders, Lost Dogs & Holiday Eats

Podcast #28 - this weeks episode: We visit Cartoceto to celebrate the unearthing of formaggio di fossa - a unique local cheese that has been buried in a pit for months. The Doctor has a bad day, we make an offer on a meat grinder and readying the house for winter (things we never thought of before living in the country). And, its official, the holiday season has started, bringing with it endless eating & cooking....break out the fat pants!
Thanks for listening! 


Saturday, November 26

Irresistibly Sweet: Pear & Pine Nut Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Rosy cheeked, angelica pears, native to the Metauro Valley are found in the markets throughout autumn in our area of Le Marche. One of my favorite ways to use these sweet small pears is tossing them with pine nuts, parmesan and a sweet honey lemon vinaigrette - creating an irresistible salad!

1 small head of soft leafed lettuce, cut, washed & dry
2  small pears, cubed
100 gr pine nuts, toasted
juice of half a lemon
extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, juice the lemon with a spoonful of good honey. As you stir drizzle in olive oil approximately twice the olive oil than lemon juice.
Give it a taste - if its too olive oily- give it a squeeze of lemon, like wise in the reverse order. Set aside.  Toss lettuce with half the pears and pine nuts and the dressing add a crack of pepper and sprinkle of salt. Once in serving bowl, top with the rest of the pine nuts and pears and shaved parmesan.

Tuesday, November 22

Podcast from Italy: Preparing for Thanksgiving in Italy

We're back at it again!
Thanks for your patience as its been a few months since we posted a podcast! 

Join us, Ashley & Jason in the kitchen as we crack walnuts prepping for our annual Thanksgiving Pranzo (lunch). Menu ideas for your Thanksgiving are shared. We catch you up on the what's been going on around the farm since the summer and we chat about what I call "the year the fox got fat!" Stay tuned at the end for a bit of bonus footage.

Hope you enjoy -
Happy Holidays, Ashley & Jason Bartner 

Monday, November 21

The Best Way to Remove Pomegranate Seeds

This super hip - super fruit can be found in loads of recipes for the fall & winter, packing your plate with antioxidants. But how do you get to those tasty tangy ruby colored seeds?! It was seemed like too much of a to-do for the price tag. That is until now!

How to: The Super Simple Way to Remove Pomegranate Seeds by Jason:

I’ve seen everything from soaking them in water to picking each seed individually by hand - nonsense! 
There is an incredibly easy way to clean them and all you need are 2 kitchen items: a bowl & a wooden spoon. (Please don’t cut it & soak in water - it washes out the taste of this beautiful bright fruit)

1. Cut the pomegranate in half or if its very large into quarters.
2. Place the pom in your hand - skin side up, seeds down with your fingers spread so the seeds can fall through.
3. Now beat the skin with the pomegranate with the wooden spoon.  Seeds & juice will fall into the bowl - a bit of the white pith might drop out as well - just pick it out & discard.
Now that you know its that simple - test it out with this fabulous fall recipe with pomegranates:

Friday, November 18

Thanksgiving Must: Fall Farro Salad with Pomegranate, Walnut & Truffles

  A lovely fall take on a farro salad using local walnuts, pomegranates & shaved truffles atop - making it a delicious & decadent side-dish for the holidays!

 Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants and delivers amazing health benefits, combined with the off the charts nutrients in farro and the protein packed walnuts - this isn't just a Superfood but a Supersalad!

Insalata di farro con melagrane, noci e tartufi
Author: Jason Bartner at La Tavola Marche

serves 4-6

8 ounces (250 gr) farro or spelt
vegetable scraps to cook the farro in (piece of carrot, onion, celery, etc.)
1 small head of radicchio sliced thinly
4 ounces (100gr) toasted walnuts
seeds and juice of one pomegranate
shaved truffle or truffle oil to taste
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons (30ml) vinegar
parmesan  shaved into ribbons
1/4 -1/3cup(100-150ml) extra virgin olive oil

In plenty of cold water boil farro with your vegetable scraps until al dente (cooked but with a bite) - about 20-35 minutes.
Drain the farro in a colander & remove vegetable scraps.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.
In a large seperate bowl combine the farro with radicchio, nuts & pomegranate seeds. Give it a good mix and season with salt & pepper.

For the dressing:
Drizzle over the salad a couple tablesspoons of vinegar followed by three times the amount of extra virigin olive oil. Do it in your minds eye, just remember the 3 to 1 ratio. You can always adjust later.
Give it another good mix.
To finish, give it a good shave of fresh truffles, if not available truffle salt or oil works well too. Top with a few pulls of a potato peeler across a wedge of parmesan.

Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes up to a day - it needs a little time for it to all come together.
Before serving - give it one last good stir, taste & adjust the seasoning - making sure the dressing is balanced (not too vinegary or oily). Serve as an antipasto or side dish.

Monday, November 14

Fall Cooking Class: Truffles & Mushrooms

Mushroom Foraging & Cooking Class
What better way to spend a autumn afternoon but foraging for wild mushrooms in the woods, returning to a warm kitchen, cooking local recipes with a glass of Montepulciano and sharing a meal at the end of the day.  During a recent cooking class at the slow-food inspired La Tavola Marche, students hunted for mushrooms, topped their plates with truffles & made pasta from scratch all in a half-day hands-on cooking class in Le Marche, Italy.

We started the day with a walking sticks in hand, determined to find plump beautiful funghi, we headed into woods behind our farmhouse and the search was on! Almost immediately we could tell this was going to be futile - the conditions just weren't right: too much sun, not enough rain = no mushrooms in our woods. The leave-covered floor of the woods were plum dry!  We kept at it - under trees, in the dry river beds, near the creek, under the leaves - but still nothing! Not even the ones considered 'toxico.' (Which can still be fun to find & at least you know you're on the right track.)

Luckily Jason was prepared and we were able to use mushrooms for the class we had previously preserved (by freezing). So we may have come home empty handed but we'd still have a full belly!

Cooking Class with Truffles & Mushrooms
The rest of the afternoon is spent in the kitchen - eating, drinking, laughing & somehow within a few hours we have created a full meal and sit to enjoy the fruits of labor together! Jason shares invaluable tips along the way from the origins of the recipes, the importance of befriending your butcher to knife skills & food preservation.  As the class comes to an end, we pop a bottle of Prosecco and gather around the table. A few courses in I am already stuffed, the conversation flows like the wine. I hear a guest proudly proclaim, "Well, I learned today that I knew nothing about cooking!" The room erupts with laughter & assuring nods of the head. I teach them how to say to "I am full" in local dialect. The room is abuzz everyone is excited to return home & share their new recipes & stories ... and then arrives the most perfectly giggly panna cotta drizzled in chocolate and the room is silenced. At least no one has to go far and can just roll on up to bed!

Fall Menu
(Example of a typical Fall Half-Day Cooking Class)

Veal Carpaccio with Truffles
Fall Farro Salad with Pomegranate, Walnuts & Truffles

Homemade Tagliatelle Pasta with Wild Mushrooms

Braised Bone-In Veal Breast with Tomatoes & Potatoes

Panna Cotta with Chocolate Gen ache'
At La Tavola Marche you know where your food comes from; vegetables fresh picked from the garden, eggs from the hens, mushrooms foraged from the hills and fresh meat from our free-range fowl or the neighbor Pierangelo's farm. The eco-friendly 300 year old stone farmhouse overlooking medieval ruins & rollings hills is an idyllic foodie getaway!
Half Day, Full Day & Custom Cooking Classes in Italy
Read the TripAdvisor Reviews! # 2 "Things to Do in Marche, Italy"
Students celebrating a job well done after their cooking class, enjoy a glass of bubbly!

Wednesday, November 9

Taste Italia!

Pick up a copy of Taste Italia Magazine today! The November issue is on newsstands with our monthly column & recipes: Notes from Le Marche, From Field to Fork. This month's autumn recipes include: Pasta with Wild Mushrooms, Braised Lamb Shank and Italian Jam Tart

Friday, November 4

Slow Blogging

Slow Food, Slow Living and Slow Blogging.
Sorry for how slow things have been around here ... it's been a busy end to the season, lots of new posts, recipes & photos are coming!
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