Tuesday, May 29

Elderflowers, Pretty Enough to Drink

Elderflowers or fiori di sambuco are in bloom in Italy! This flower from the elderberry tree makes a lovely light floral lemonade-like flavored syrup to be added to drinks (sparking water, vodka, gin or grappa), desserts or sorbets - depending on your mood. It makes an amazing vinegerette over salad as well! This can be served along breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner - perfect a for hot summer's day!

Syrup of Elderflower 
Sciroppo di fiori di sambuco:

20 elderflowers (nice big heads), gently shake off any insects & trim any excess branches/leaves
4 lemons, sliced
1.5 kg  sugar
1.8 liters water
60 gr  citric acid

Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve. 
Once cooled, pour the the sugar-water and all ingredients into a big jar & cover, leave for 36-48 hours, stirring occasionally. (Some recipes say up to 3 days).
 Then remove lemons & elderflowers and strain the water a few times (if you have a cheese cloth it will help). 
Pour the syrup into a pot and cook for about 3-5 minutes minutes.
Then pour the liquid into clean sterilized glass bottles. Close them. Let them cool before placing in the refrigerator. If using a secure seal, they will keep for almost a year in the refrigerator.

To serve, pour 1-3 tablespoons of the syrup into a pint glass and add water or seltzer. Or you can add a tablespoon to a couple shots of vodka or gin.

Monday, May 28

Radish, Cucumber & Chive Salad: Fresh, Crunchy, Peppery & Picnic Perfect!

 Radish & cucumber salad a is simple 5-minute spring or summer salad! Fresh from the garden, our radishes are crisp & peppery, perfectly complimenting the cool cucumbers. We added a little chive because they were ready to be picked, with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper -you're ready to eat!

Radish, Cucumber & Chive Salad Recipe
radishes, thinly sliced
cucumbers, thinly sliced
chopped chive
drizzle of olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
Toss all ingredients together & serve!

Saturday, May 26

Sausage Making 101: Cooking in Italy

 Have you ever wondered what is in the sausages your eating & how they are made? Many times I get the response - "I don't want to know what's in it." Well at La Tavola Marche it's really very simple & delicious: fresh pork shoulder, salt, pepper & white wine with a clove of garlic soaking in it - basta! So how to make it - well take one of our sausage making classes & learn first hand! Jason teaches you how to de-bone the meat, grind it in our restored meat-machine, hand mix the meat with the salt, pepper & wine. Then using a sausage-stuffer, we fill & twist the sausages in the casings - that's it!  After the class, we fire up the grill for the best, freshly made, grilled sausages!

The class is about 4 hours in total, meat's not the only thing on the menu - the class also makes a few side dishes like local lentils with spicy tomatoes, salad & of course dessert and plenty of red wine! (125 Euro/person)

Here are photos from our most recent sausage making adventure where we made 15 kilos of sausages!

Here are a few stories from our sausage, salami & charcuterie past:

For more information on our sausage class visit our web site: www.latavolamarche.com or email info@latavolamarche.com

Wednesday, May 23

Creating Balanced Flavors: Stuffed Lemons in the Oven

Stuffed lemons with tomatoes, anchovies, basil & mozzarella is a delicious antipasto and perfect example of balancing flavors. We first tried this mouthwatering two-bite bit of heaven on the Amalfi Coast and have been recreating it ever since. Even though it is not a traditional dish of Le Marche, Jason likes to use it in his cooking classes to teach how to balance flavors in the kitchen: fat, acid, sweet, salty & aromatic. The creamy mozzarella subdues the tartness of the lemon; sweet cherry tomatoes go perfectly with the aromatic basil; and salty anchovies round out the dish.  All five of these ingredients work together harmoniously so that none of them are overpowering creating a balanced flavor.

This dish is also fantastic because you can make it your own very simply. Don't like anchovies? Try some capers or olives instead,  better yet go meaty and throw in a little prosciutto to get that salty component that is needed.  In Autumn, when the basil is gone and the frost have taken the tomatoes use the ingredients of that season to substitute (Gorgonzola, pear and walnuts sound good to me).   Be creative!  Keep this philosophy in mind and you can adapt any recipe to fit the season.

Lemons Cooked in the Oven
Limoni Cotti al Forno

Sunday, May 20

Farm Update: Fresh Eggs & Frosty Nights

 It's time for an update from the farm & what a few weeks it's been! First the good news, I am happy to announce 2 (out of 18) hens have begun laying eggs! (That's their handy-work in the photo above.) And what a hoopla it is in the hen-house with the birds squawking about, proud & somewhat shocked of their new production. I think the ladies got Jason's memo: "start laying or you'll be broth soon...."

Friday, May 18

How to Make Lick-Your-Plate Amazing Tiramisu

This is one recipe worth recreating, a rich & creamy classic, tiramisu!

 I am not a big fan of Tiramisu in the States, it can be a boozy, mushy mess and nothing I would ever want to order.  So when I was given a heaping plate for dessert at a friends house when we first arrived, I was a little nervous about how I was going to finish it all to be polite- well it didn't seem to be a problem at all because it was lick-your-plate amazing! So what's the difference in the dish served at restaurants State-side vs. that of Italy? First off the eggs - this recipe calls for fresh egg yolks not whipped cream or imitation eggs making it much richer and secondly it's all in the lady-fingers! When Jason first asked for a lady-finger recipe to make this dish, our friend Daniella balked - "No, why would you do that? You buy Pavisini."  And she was right! They perfectly hold up after being soaked in coffee & layered with cream.

 Tiramisu literally translates to "pick me up" and it sure does with all the coffee, eggs & sugar. Great for dessert and devilishly delicious for breakfast, what with coffee & eggs, why not?!
 We serve this every Thursday at our Pizza Night Parties and if there is any left-over for breakfast the next morning! (Not to mention it's one of the only dessert I make, so if I can do it - anyone can! 

Tuesday, May 15

Italian Spring Greens: Looks like Grass, Tastes like Spinach - but Better!

Liscaro has more aliases than an escaped convict - in our neck of the woods it is called liscaro, but travel outside our valley and it goes by agretto, lischi, roscano, baciccio, barba del negus. Just another example of how regional & local the cooking (& language) is in Italy! If you like spinach then you will love liscaro (or whatever you prefer to call it) - the flavor is a bit more subtle than spinach & not as irony. Even though it looks like blades of grass, I assure it tastes nothing like it (and yes, I've eaten grass!) 

Sauteed liscaro makes a delicious healthy side-dish, filling for an omelet or fritatta, tossed into salad - basically anywhere you'd add a leafy green veg, you can add liscaro - but nothing is better than simply sauteed with olive oil & garlic!

Sauteed Liscaro

Sunday, May 13

Going Hog-Wild in Urbino, Supporting Local Pig Farmers

Urbino, a city renowned for its art, is also full of pigs!
 I was recently invited to breakfast at the organic farm of Carlo & Gigia at Cal Bianchino outside Urbino on a spectacularly sunny day with my friends Paola & Antonio from Gelateria Maki. We were greeted by a herd of geese marching past as we enjoyed the lovely meal prepared by Gigia & Carolina, including of course their mouthwatering home-cured charcuterie. 

They are locally famous for their passion of breeding cinta senese pigs. With over 75 pigs, 14 cows & a whole gaggle of fowl from peacocks to hens & roosters, geese & more, there is always work to do. The farm offers modest accommodations, work for WWOOFers (World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers - exchanging room & board for work), serve lunch & dinner by request as well as sell an array of cured meats, lardo, strutto & more.

just a week old

The tour of the reserve was a great chance to catch up with friends as well as do a bit of research and get a whole lot of inspiration! We are planning on building a pig stall next to the orto to begin raising pigs ourselves! I grilled Carlo & Carolina on how to raise pigs - the best stall to build, what they eat (everything), the conditions of the land (trees are a must, so is a mud pit). They are surprisingly clean animals & incredibly friendly. I am so excited, we'll purchase our piglets from this idyllic farm & these proud farmers!!

Thursday, May 10

For the Brownie Lovers: Chocolate Nutella Walnut Cake

If you're a fan of brownies - then this one is for you, big boys & girls! A rich chocolatey Nutella walnut cake that is ridiculously simple to make. (All it's missing is a scoop of vanilla gelato or a handful of fresh strawberries on the side.)

Torta con Nutella e Nocci
Chocolate Nutella & Walnut Cake
4 eggs
125 g sugar
125 g chopped walnuts
75 g Nutella
75 g dark chocolate
125 g butter
75 g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Beat the eggs with the sugar.  
Melt the butter, chocolate & nutella together.
Combine the chocolate mixture with the eggs & stir in the dry ingredients.
Butter & flour a spring form pan.  Add mixture to pan.
Cook at 350 F / 185 C  for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

( click here for a conversion table.)

Saturday, May 5

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution: Farm to Fork Cooking Class

Join Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day on May 19th at La Tavola Marche for a very special farm to fork cooking class in Italy.  The focus of this class will be the importance of eating seasonally, with food sourced locally as well as how to start a garden at home.

So what is the Food Revolution?

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