Sunday, October 28

Festival Photos & Podcast from Italy is BACK! {How to Cook with Truffles}

After a summer hiatus, we are back chatting about life in Le Marche on their farm. This week: "What Grows Together Goes Together" Jason talks about cooking seasonally and shares a seasonal truffle recipe, answering the question: "How do you cook truffles?" We talk about local festivals like the "Sturgis of Italy" and the truffle festivals in Le Marche throughout November, making fresh sausages for the hunters and beginning to prepare for winter. 
THANKS for listening!

Here are a few photos from the Sant'Angelo in Vado White Truffle Festivals & Motoraduna (Motorcycle Fest) -roasted chestnuts, revving engines, a mug for wine tied around your neck, singing Harley riders and the smell of truffles in the air! For more pics visit our Facebook page.

Friday, October 26

How to Tour Italy Radio Show Interview

I just had my first radio interview!! It was on The How to Tour Italy Radio show and all about this beautiful region of Le Marche and recent fall festivals. The program is a dedicated resource where you can meet the people that will make your next trip to Italy amazing. The host of the show, Anthony Capozzoli is energetic and simply put "a guy that loves Italy."  He shares his passion of the culture, food, cities, history and people of Italy in his weekly radio show packed with great diverse guests. 

Here's what Anthony said about the interview:  

"If you are in the mood for authentic Italy, a farm to table cooking experience, truffles, clear as water honey, a vintage farmhouse, an executive chef from Manhattan turned Marchigiano, the hosts of their very own podcasts, making sausage & pizza & ravioli &...the list goes on and on. Ashley was an amazing guest on the show today so if you want a soul-warming Italian experience you must visit La Tavola Marche."

 Download the show from iTunes and enjoy. Stay tuned for our return interview for the series "There Is No Such Thing as Italian Food!" Each segment will bring you insider tips, words of wisdom from experienced travelers, insight from the experts, and you'll get to know your guides, chefs, hotel operators, drivers, and people that will make Italy even more amazing.

Sunday, October 21

Hock the Family Silver for a Plate of Tagliatelle with White Truffles

The illusive white truffle is in season, found shaved over dishes all across the "Truffle Valley" we live in.  Travelers are enamored with truffles when they visit Le Marche in the fall and rightfully so with a price tag of 3,000 Euro a kilo. We recently served a truffle themed dinner with white truffles foraged from the woods behind our farmhouse. The aroma was so pungent the earthly smell filled our house, the guests were all curious how to cook this strange mushroom. But here's the secret you don't actually cook with them, instead shaving hundreds of euro over a finished dish like a paper thin fritatta, fresh pasta, risotto or a beautiful steak.  The truffle should never touch the heat of the pan or it will kill the flavor immediately. 

So go on and hock the family silver for a plate of irresistible homemade tagliatelle and white truffles!

Tagliatelle with Truffles
Tagliatelle con Tartufi

Serves 4

400 grams fresh pasta
 white truffles - as much as you can afford
2 egg yolks
1-2 sages leaves
salt and pepper
1 pad of butter
olive oil
3-4 spoonfuls of beef broth

In a pan melt butter with olive oil on low heat. Add in sage leaves and gently cook for a minute or two.

In a pot with plenty of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al'dente. Once cooked, scoop out the pasta and place directly in the pan with sage.

Remove from heat and toss the pasta gently. Add broth and egg yolks constantly tossing the pasta in the pan to coat the past in the egg without is scrambling.  Season with salt & pepper, remove the sage.

Transfer pasta to the plates and shave truffle on-top. The truffle should never touch the heat of the pan.

Sunday, October 14

Luscious Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Soup with Steamed Mussels

pumpkin-butternut squash soup made at La Tavola Marche photo by
Fall in a bowl - pumpkin or squash soup would make a perfect dish to add to your Thanksgiving dinner or lunch on a rainy day. Since you can cook it off a day or 2 before, it makes for one less thing to do on turkey day! This soup has become a tradition in our house - it's so creamy & delicious. If you want to make this simple soup extra fancy add a few steamed mussels just before you serve.

This recipe may not from Le Marche, but is from the garden & delcious!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash - peeled, diced, seeded (or any hard squash/pumpkin)
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 ribs celery diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
vegetable stock
olive oil
bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt & pepper

In a soup pot heat 2 glugs of olive oil over med low heat, add carrots, celery, onions & garlic - until translucent - about 15-20 minutes.

Then add your squash, bay leaf & a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and salt & pepper. Sautée for another 15-20 min. on med-low heat until the squash starts to fall apart & gets soft.

Cover with vegetable stock & cook another 20 min. until the squash is now totally soft. You may need to adjust the amount - if it looks like it is getting too thick, add a little water.

Blend with a hand blender & then add in about half a cup of heavy cream. (I know the cream sounds heavy, but it really rounds out the vegetables.) Adjust the seasonings to your liking: you can add in cinnamon, nutmeg &/or a clove to make it a bit more spicy & festive!

Toast a piece of bread & float it on top and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.


Thursday, October 11

Absolute Perfection: Poached Pears in Wine

A beautiful simple dessert absolutely perfect for a dinner party incorporating the flavors of fall. Use any red or rose you like or that bottle of wine that's been collecting dust in the back of your cupboard (you know the one) - it will work great in this classic dish! A gorgeous oven-free dessert. In the summer, we will use beautiful stone fruit instead of the pears. 

Cooking the wine and herbs down slowly will create a beautiful rich flavorful syrup.

Poached Pears in Red Wine

Serves 4
4 pears, peeled and left whole
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle of wine - red or rose' - whichever you prefer or have in your cupboard
herbs you like: we use sprig of rosemary, sprig of thyme and lemon zest or you can use cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

Place pears in a pot that fits snugly. Add sugar and herbs to the pot with pears. Cover the pears 3/4 with wine.

Place the pot on the stove with the lid on and bring up to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer for 10-18 minutes depending on the size of your pears. You'll know when they are done when a knife slips easily in (just like when boiling potatoes).

Once cooked through remove the pears from the liquid & place in the fridge. Return the pot to the stove and reduce the wine, on a simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it forms a syrup. Be careful not to burn it by reducing too much.

About a minute or two before before the wine syrup is ready give it a taste checking to make sure its not too tart. You may need a little more sugar depending on the sweetness of the wine.

To serve, strain a ladle full of the syrup through a fine mesh strainer directly onto each plate. Top with your pear - either serve whole or sliced in half. Finish with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or mascarpone cream.

photo by Leah DeGraaf

Tuesday, October 9

Preserving the Harvest: Braided Onions

Once you've picked your onions a great way to store them is by braiding them in clusters and hanging them in a cool dry dark place making them easily accessible. Just cut one or two down as needed for cooking during the winter. Onions are by far one of my favorite plants we grow, I plant them in the Spring with Gaggi as Jason teaches cooking classes. He always makes sure to mention that if I do it wrong, we'll know come the fall! Well we've got great soil and a green thumb because they always come up huge & sweet - better than anything you can buy! (This may sound like we're crazy but when we travel in Northern Europe in the winter, we always bring our own onions & home jarred tomatoes if we'll have a kitchen - they are just that good, we don't leave home without 'em!)

Harvesting Onions: 
Once onion tops turn yellow or brown, pull or dig the bulbs on a sunny day, and leave them to dry in the sun. When the outer skins are thoroughly dry, wipe off any soil and remove the tops—unless you intend to braid them. Store in a cool, dry place; hang braided onions or those kept in mesh bags in an airy spot. Such dried bulbs will keep for about 4 months to 1 year.

Step by Step How to Braid Onions & Garlic from

Monday, October 8

Mushroom Hunting in the Hills of Le Marche + 3 Fall Funghi Recipes

A favorite fall pastime in Le Marche is mushroom hunting! It' a peaceful way to explore the woods and forest floor while foraging for dinner! This years conditions have been ideal for funghi and we have brought home kilos of porcini, russola, biette and even huge portabello mushrooms! Our resident expert on everything, Dott. Gaggi leads the way, off the trail, passing over the toxic breeds and directing us to exactly where the delicious edibles can be found. After a long walk in the woods, we return for an aperitivo and reinspect our baskets of booty! So, what to do with these fragrent plump mushrooms? Eat them!

Favorite Fall Mushroom Recipes:

Friday, October 5

Savory Radicchio and Prosciutto Crostini Topped with Sweet Syrupy Sapa

A fall favorite is the savory radicchio and prosciutto crostini topped with sweet syrupy sapa. This is a great example of balancing flavors: the fat of the prosciutto will cut the bitterness of the radicchio, while the sweet component, sapa will round out the flavor. To achieve a balanced result - all three ingredients should be in balance not tasting one single ingredient but a rich flavorful bite. Sapa is a has been used since Ancient Roman cuisine and is made by slowly reducing grape must in large kettles until it had been reduced by one-third. Sapa is common used in Italy, especially in Le Marche, Emilia Romagna and Sardinia, where it's considered among the traditional flavors of fall. 

Our friend Marco has a vineyard and make his own wine (lacrima). He recently gave us a bottle of his homemade sapa - its dark syrupy sweetness is topping everything from crositini to fish, fruit and gelato!

Crostini of Radicchio, Prosciutto and Sapa

Serves 4-6
Head of radicchio
clove of garlic
2-3 slices of pancetta, prosciutto, bacon, speck - whatever fatty component you want.
spoonful of sapa - grape must or if unavailable, you can you balsamic vinegar with a tiny bit of honey
toasty bread
salt & pepper
1-2 glugs of olive oil
optional - few slices of soft cheese - we use sheep's milk (pecorino)

In a pan, heat the olive oil on low heat, add in the clove of garlic. Cook until lightly brown on all sides.

Turn up the heat, rough chop your head of radicchio, removing the core and cook down for a couple of minutes until the radicchio wilts.

Turn the heat down, chop up your prosciutto or bacon and add to the pan. You want to render the fat of this slowly - if you have the heat too high, the pork will crisp up & become chewy - you don’t want this with the soft radicchio.

Allow to cook until most of the moisture in the pan has cooked out. The radicchio & pork should still be soft. Season with salt & pepper. Remove the clove of garlic and drizzle over the sapa or balsamic & honey mixture. Check your seasonings.

Toast the bread, top with a slice of pecorino then a spoonful of the mixture and serve immediately. Goes great with a glass of red wine.
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