Tuesday, April 30

Bottling Over 500 Liters of Wine {Podcast & Photos}

This has been another busy week - from cleaning & bottling over 600 bottles of wine to cooking classes and prepping the garden/farm for summer's crops. After we recap the week Jason interviews our first stage (Chef apprentice) about his new discoveries on Italian food.

Watch for our upcoming video on visiting the vineyards, filling up our 54 liter demijohn jugs and bringing home 'loose' or sfuso wine to bottle, cork & label at home!

Listen to our Podcast from Italy #51 - Bottling Wine 

 We wrangle our guests to help with the dirty work - no one seems to mind...especially since we drink along the way -

 Our wines are all from Le Marche:
Antica Cantina Sant Amico
Terra Cruda

And finally...3 days later, 12 demijohns, over 600 bottles washed, filled, corked & labeled - we are ready to start drinking!!

The final product - a nice dark glass of vino rosso!

Sunday, April 28

{VIDEO} A Tale of 3 Tractors, A Slice of Life in Italy

 A glimpse of our life in Le Marche, Italy as we run our (agriturismo) farm, inn & cooking school DEEP in the Italian countryside! Without a tractor of our own, it takes a village or at least the help of a handful of neighbors and three tractors, to help us prepare the soil for our huge orto (fruit & vegetable garden)! Enjoy a slice of life at La Tavola Marche!!

A Film by La Tavola Marche (Ashley Bartner)
Music: "Tamacun" Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Starring: a few friendly farmers from Piobbico

Saturday, April 27

Coffee Break - Italian Farmer Style

Buon giorno! Good morning, on this sunny Spring day in Le Marche! We are busy preparing the field for our summer crops and just wanted to share this slice of life photo of the good Dr. Gaggi. 
Our neighbor Pierangelo is in the tractor plowing the field so we can start our veg & fruit garden!
(A short video is on it's way....)

Thursday, April 25

Italian Butchery Course: The Whole Hog (Cinta Senese)

Join Chef Jason and Master Butcher Carlo for an afternoon butchering a whole hog! The day starts with a tour of the farm and their 60+ antique breed of pig (cinta senese) that live a great happy life grazing in fields of fava and then move under the old oak and chestnut trees as they get older. 

After a caffè we head into the 'laboratory' where Carlo will demonstrate on half a pig how to butcher the beast while explaining how to use the meat he's carving in local dishes.  He is a master at the art of butchery and charcuterie. 

Now it's your turn to take the knife and begin butchering the other half! Carlo and Jason will guide you through each step. 

Depending on the day and your interests we can also dive into charcuterie and curing techniques making a rolled pancetta (see video below) or sausages, salami, etc. 

After we've finished our work we'll head into the kitchen for a lovely lunch prepared by Carlo's wife Gigia. On the menu...of course a few choice cuts!

Join us for our Italian Butchery Course with Master Butcher Carlo & Jason. Email info@latavolamarche.com for more details or to schedule a private lesson & lunch!

There are still a few spaces left in our Annual Forage Slaughter & Butchery Course:
 22-27 October 2013 from 885 Euro/person.  (Includes welcome dinner, 2 full day cooking classes, wine tour (with lunch), mushroom hunt, butchering class, breakfast daily, 3 lunches, 4 dinners, evening snack, wine with meals & accommodations.)

...just in case you missed it - here is Jason & Carlo butchering a pig and making rolled pancetta  - 
From Pig to Pancetta a Film by La Tavola Marche: 

Monday, April 22

Recipe: Savory Rustic Tart with Wild Greens

This is hands-down delicious and one of my favorite ways to use spring greens!
Rustic Tart of Wild Greens
Torta di Erbe Selvatiche

Pastry Dough
2 3/4 Cups (250 gr) all purpose flour
3/4 Cup (150 gr.) butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
2-3 Tablespoons ice water
pinch of salt

Sift flour into a mound, add the butter & pinch of salt. Rub together with your fingers or food processor. When mixture resembles crumbly coarse sand incorporate the egg & water. Knead 2-3 times.
Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2 Cups (400 gr) of cooked, drained and squeezed dry greens (mix of wild greens or chard, spinach, escarole, etc.)
1 Cup (250 gr.) sheep’s milk ricotta cheese
zest of half a lemon
generous handful of Parmesan
2-3 slices of prosciutto, chopped
salt & pepper
1 egg, separated

Cook your greens in boiling, salted water depending on the toughness (spinach may only need 20-30 seconds, chard needs 3-4 minutes).  Drain and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the greens. Combine the greens in a bowl with the ricotta, parmesan, lemon, prosciutto, salt & pepper. Taste & check your seasonings.

To Assemble the Tart:
Preheat oven to 350 F/ 185 C

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and split in half. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch or 1/2 cm thickness and line the bottom of a tart or pie pan. (We use 9-inch or 25 cm but you can make individual tarts as well.) Make sure to have enough dough to fold the edges back over the the top.

Once pastry is lined in pan, brush with egg white then fill with a generous amount of the chard mixture (filling in evenly).

Brush folded over part on the top with egg yolk as well.

Place in oven, bake 45 minutes - 1 hour until pastry is golden brown & filling is bubbly. Serve warm or room temperature.

Sunday, April 21

The Week in Review: Chickens, Tractors, Butchering & a Surprise TV Interview

It's been a whirlwind of a week with the sound of diesel engine tractors echoing through the valley as all the farmers prepare their land for summer crops. Jason 'got the memo' it was time as well and called up our friends with tractors since we don't have our own. Neighbors from town, Vicenzo and Severino arrived to help plow our orto (fruit/veg garden) once they were finished with their field. This year Jason and Gaggi decided the garden needed to be bigger to help in rotating the crops, so  J and I removed all the posts, fencing & barb wire just in time as the tractor pulled up to the house.

Our chickens arrived (well only half of the order)  - our coop has 10 red hens and 5 small black Marchigianni hens - everyone is getting along swimmingly - we'll see how it goes next week when another 5-10 hens arrive, a rooster and...our first turkey!

The Spring cooking classes are in full-swing and we've been cooking everything from wild greens to pasta from scratch and even took students butchering at our friends pig farm yesterday! (A full report to come, as well as a recipe for the amazing fresh ricotta we had for breakfast.)

Oh and how could I forget - last night I did a surprise interview with RAI (Marche) for a special segment all about Piobbico! It was hysterical because I had no idea what I was walking into and then realized in sudden horror that I would be interviewed LIVE in Italiano! If you'd like to watch the broadcast you can here: RAI Tg Marche (If you want to skip ahead to me bumbling through the interview go to 11 min. 30 seconds)

I'm sure we'll record a podcast this weekend and go into detail about everything (including the amazing lunch we had at the pig farm!) - stay tuned!

I wonder what next week will have in-store for us...

Friday, April 19

{VIDEO} How to Transplant Seedlings, Spring in the Garden

Our "Spring in the Garden" series continues! A short & pretty gardening video on how to easily transplant seedlings starring our lovely friend & neighbor Caroline. In the video we are transplanting tomato seedlings for our organic farm where we grow 12 varieties and over 500 tomatoes alone!

A Film by La Tavola Marche (Farm, Inn & Cooking School)
Music By: Spencer Dahl

More Gardening Videos?!
Get started in garden with our short video on How to Start Tomato Seeds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltrmpx...

Don't miss our next video - SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel!

Wednesday, April 17

{Podcast} #49 - A Thanksgiving Turkey in April for Italians

Ahhh Spring has finally sprung! This week we answer your listener questions about what we do in our down-time and off-season. We're picking wild spring greens almost daily from the fields surrounding our farm and making risotto, stuffed pasta, crostini and simply sauteed! And Jason has some exciting chicken news to share!! Plus we recap the weekend festivities of hosting a large group of Italians for a by-request, American Turkey/Thanksgiving lunch!
Thanks for listening! 

Saturday, April 13

{Video} From Pig to Pancetta

A short film on butchery & charcuterie in Italy. A visit to Carlo & Gigia's cinta senese (antique breed) pig farm outside Urbino (Le Marche) we butcher a pig and make cured pancetta.

Music by Fats Waller "All that Meat and No Potatoes"

For information on our Annual Forage Slaughter & Butchery Program every October or taking a butchery course with Carlo & Jason email us at info@latavolamarche.com

Thanks for watching!

rolled pancetta with salt & laurel (bay leaves)

Friday, April 12

Identifying & Eating Wild Greens

Eat your wild greens! 
In America we would mow over most of these edible greens without a second thought thinking they are pesky weeds instead of seeing delicious frittatas, stuffed pasta, crostini and more growing in our front yard! I've picked six different wild herbs or erbe selvatiche to identify today (obviously there are tons more like strighi, liscaro, wild radicchios, nettle, etc.)

With the help of our neighbors they have taught us what to eat and what to leave behind, I only know the names of most of these wild greens in Italian:
1. Papavero or Papatine (poppy greens) - sweet
2. Giransole (wild chicory) - bitter
3. Grispigno/Cicerbita (when you cut it 'milk' with weep from its stalk) - bitter
4. Orecchie di Lepre/Piantaggine (rabbits ear) - very soft
5. Cima di Rapa (brocoletti/broccoli rabé) - cut off the stalks and eat just the top
6. Tarassco (dandelion green)

Many of our neighbors (including Dott Gaggi & his wife Rossana) pick overflowing baskets of greens in the early spring, blanch them (then once cool, squeeze all the water out) and freeze in balls - then they have lovely Spring greens to eat all summer long!

A few of my favorite recipes with Wild Spring Greens:

Papavero or Papatine (poppy greens)

Grispigno/Cicerbita (wild chicory)
Orecchie di Lepre/Piantaggine
Cima di Rapa
Tarassco (dandelion green)
Join us for our Spring cooking classes, we take to the fields with wellies and a keen eye to collect bitter and sweet (and sometimes stinging) greens!

Here's a great site (in Italian) on identify wild herbs and recipes to go along: Piante Spontanee

Tuesday, April 9

Pizza 101: Pizza Dough Recipe & Podcast on Making Pizza in a Wood Burning Oven

The pizza dough recipe from our weekly pizza nights & cooking classes! 
It's super easy and comes out perfect every time. The addition of milk, beer and olive oil in the recipe makes a soft dough with a crispy crust.  This recipe was shared with us by friends from Pesaro (Le Marche). 
On this week's podcast we answer your burning questions about pizza making - the dough, the sauce, the wood burning oven - all of it!! Listen to our podcast on iTunes: #48 - Pizza 101

Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes 4 personal pizzas 

25g of fresh active yeast or 1/4 oz. packet/envelope of dry yeast
1 glass of milk 
1 glass of water
1 finger of extra virgin olive oil 
1 finger of beer 
1 glass of high gluten flour
enough all-purpose flour to make a smooth dough

Note: The ‘glass’ size is a typical juice glass (about 6 oz). Exact amounts are not important as long as the same glass is used throughout the recipe. A 'finger' of olive oil means measuring the width of your finger across the glass.

Heat liquid ingredients to tepid.
Add yeast & dissolve completely. Wait 2-3 minutes for yeast to activate.

Add high gluten flour & mix in. Begin adding all-purpose flour cup by cup & incorporating until a dough suitable for turning on a board is achieved.
Turn dough out on board, knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth & elastic, adding flour as needed.
Return dough to original bowl, cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to double to triple in size in a warm draft-free place (normally about 3 hours.) 
Punch dough down & allow to rise again (usually about 1.5-2 hours).
Cut & shape into baseball size balls of dough for individual pizzas.(225g-250g/8oz weight dough balls). Allow dough balls to proof about 1 hour before rolling out.

Thanks Kyle Johnson & Patrick Richardson Wright for the pizza pics!

Thursday, April 4

Baking with Wine: Rustic Apple & Pine Nut Roll ~ La Rocciata

If you like to cook/bake with wine, olive oil & sambuca - this is the dessert for you!

A favorite dessert at our farmhouse is la rocciata - a rustic apple roll stuffed with pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon & golden raisins. Don't me mislead - the translation (the rock) has little to do with the consistency of the dough (as it is actually very light & flaky) but more to do with the word for 'round' in dialect. It is very similar to a strudel (and may even originate from it)-but better!

La rocciata may be most well known as a dish from our neighbors in Umbria. (Here's a fun fact- if you look across the 'street' from our farmhouse there is literally an island of Umbria in our front yard & castle ruins from a thousand years ago!) And since we love to share the little known recipes of our area, we'll let it slide this isn't traditionally known as Marchigiano - because it's just so delicious & simple! (Don't let the long ingredient list turn you off - half of it you just toss into the food processor.)

To really enjoy this spicy flaky treat buy a bottle of nocino (walnut liquor) or vin santo (wine of the saints or holy wine) & dunk your pieces in this woody-smokey dessert wine.

La Rocciata
Rustic Apple Roll with Pine Nuts

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 green apples, peeled, cored & chopped (cut to about the same size as the raisins)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cut pine nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons Sambuca, anisette or brandy
1 egg, beaten

Mix oil & wine in a bowl
Pulse the flour, sugar & salt in a food processor. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time. Pulse. Add butter. pulse until in tiny pieces.
With motor on, add oil & mix until dough forms.
Turn out dough & kneed for about 2 minutes until smooth, adding a little flour if needed.
Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for 1 hour
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit or 185 Celsius

Toss apples, nuts, sugar, raisins, spices & liquor in a bowl.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.
Roll dough between parchment to form 4 12x8 rectangles. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Return the dough to a lightly floured surface. Spoon a cup of the apple filling onto each rectagnle in a thick stripe about 1/2 inch up from along the edge. Roll up the pastry to enclose the filling, pressing the seams to seal. Transfer the rolls to a large cookie sheet, seam sides down & brush the tops with the beaten egg.
Bake until golden brown - about 35 - 40 minutes.
Serve warm & cut in half or into chunks.

Wednesday, April 3

{Podcast from Italy} Interview with Dr. Rakotz on the Mediterranean Diet & Italy's Secret to Longevity

This week we foraged for wild radicchio with our guests & made crostini, pasta and risotto with the greens we picked in the fields surrounding our farmhouse. Hopefully it will dry out a bit and next week snip young stinging nettle to fill ravioli.
In our latest podcast we recap Easter festivities including the menu from a traditional Pasquetta breakfast we attended at our friends pig farm. Then Move over Dr. Drew- Ashley interviews Dr. Mike Rakotz from Northwestern University, an energetic Family Practitioner passionate about the recipe for healthy living. Plus find out which region in Italy has the highest rate for longevity and why!

Thanks for listening!! Ashley & Jason

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