Thursday, October 31

Celebrating Halloween with 4 Pumpkin Recipes

Happy Halloween!! This festive ghoulish holiday is not really celebrated much in Italy (instead they go all out for Carnevale). But at our farmhouse in Le Marche we are still American expats at heart and love to grow tons of varieties of pumpkins for roasting, soups & pastas. We even grow a few "big yellow American pumpkins" as our neighbors call it for carving (even though Dr. Gaggi thinks its a waist to grow something we're not going to eat!)

Here are a few of our favorite fall pumpkin/squash recipes:

Monday, October 28

Pumpkin Stuffed Ravioli with Sage Butter & Pine Nuts

Fall on a plate - creamy sweet pumpkin with a hint of nutmeg stuffed into delicate handmade pasta tossed with rich butter and sage. It doesn't get much better than that!  This years pumpkin harvest was our best yet so Jason has been using a mix of different colors and sized pumpkins for his ravioli. (Be careful which pumpkin you use for filling ravioli. A dryer pumpkin is better than one where the meat is filled with water.)

Crisp cool nights with the fireplace ablaze in an old stone farmhouse, leaves colored red and burnt orange, fresh pressed olive oil and hearty root vegetables from the garden - Autumn in Italy! With Halloween just days away this will make the perfect festive dinner on the 31st of October and all throughout fall!

Pumpkin Ravioli Filling 
1 hard squash -we grow ugly or Turkish squash. You can also use butternut, sweet pumpkin, etc. the firmer the flesh the better.
sheep’s milk ricotta
olive oil
parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Slice the pumpkin in half, clean out the center, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and crack of pepper.  Roast at 350 /175 degrees until pumpkin is soft.
Allow to cool.
Scoop pumpkin out of its shell into a bowl. Add a spoonful or two of ricotta, a handful of grated parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper. (If you like you can add ground cloves or ginger - any spice you like to give it that fall feel.)

Mix it all up - use to stuff cappelletti, tortellini or ravioli.
Can also be served as a side dish without the pasta.

The Pasta
You can either buy pre-made pasta sheets or better yet, make your own pasta using our "Down & Dirty Pasta Dough Recipe" - Click here!.

To stuff your ravioli ~
  • Roll out a sheet of pasta to about an 1/8 of an inch thickness -the thinner the better.
  • Evenly space out small mounds of filling.
  • Lay another sheet of pasta over the top.
  • With your fingers gently smooth out any air bubbles.
  • Cut out ravioli - either squares with a pizza knife or ravioli cutter or a shot glass for circular ravioli. Most importantly making sure the sides are closed.
  • Freezes well: place in a single layer on a sheet pan, then transfer into zip lock bag.

Once pasta is filled, throw into salted boiling water until they float to the top.

Ravioli with Sage Butter
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
couple sage leaves
salt & pepper
handful of toasted pine nuts

Melt the butter and olive oil together in the pan. Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the sage leaves. Do NOT allow the sage leaves to fry.

Once the pasta is cooked, return the pan to the heat. Toss with pasta and a spoonful of pasta water. Sprinkle with a small handful of parmesan if you like and the pine nuts. I also like to add a handful of arugula/ruccola/rocket over the top for color and bite of pepperyness!

Happy Halloween and Buon Appetito!

Sunday, October 20

Nothing goes better with truffles & bikers!

This year marks the 35th anniversary of what seems like an unlikely pair: truffles and motorcycles.   Every October in the village of Sant' Angelo in Vado (Le Marche) Italy they marry perfectly!  The cobblestone streets fill with hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of motorcycles from around the world, all converging on this tiny town to celebrate two things: bikes and white truffles!

Sure the truffle festival lasts all month in Sant'Angelo, but the night to go is the night of the 'Motoraduno' when Italians dress in their leathers, firing up their engines and indulge in the finer things in life - wine served to you in a ceramic mug on a string and fragrant rare white truffles.  The bikes range from old classics to Moto Guzzi's & Ducati's...and of course outrageous showstoppers.

Last night I pulled on my black jeans and boots (trying my best to blend) and we headed into town. The weather couldn't have been better - a warm October evening meant the streets were packed with revelers.

Put away the stereotypes of the big bellies and aggressive behavior - young & old, everyone is here to have fun, and most end up singing in the streets arm in arm!

the next generation of Italian bikers

The old cantina's in town open their doors to serve cheap wine, homemade goods and pump house music.  We ducked down an alley and made our way to the roasted chestnuts and spiced wine (an annual tradition of ours!) and enjoyed the sounds of the river and revving engines as the sun set and the full moon was rising!

...until next year!

Saturday, October 12

Gathering Walnuts in Le Marche - 3 Fall Recipes

It's that time of year when via Candigliano is filled with fall foragers looking mushrooms, truffles and fallen walnuts. Dr. Gaggi arrived at our door with a basket full of fresh walnuts ready to dry. (You can see in the photo below there are a few still green. However most of the walnuts split open on their own.) They won't last long in our house! As you can see though, this years trees yielded small nuts so we've got a lot of crackn' to do!

Here are three of my favorite walnut recipes:

We love le noci delle Marche!

Tuesday, October 8

Baked Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto, Stuffed with Aged Sheep's Milk Cheese

Baked sweet figs wrapped in salty prosciutto, stuffed with stinky sheep's milk cheese is a sweet andsavory way to start your meal. This is also a perfect example of balancing flavors - (if any of you has taken one of our cooking classes, this is what Jason refers to as FASSA: fat, acid, sweet, salt & aromatic). Instead of a soft sweet cheese that many recipes call for when stuffing in figs, we went the opposite direction - using the sharpest, stinkiest cheese we can find, which means formaggio di fossa (sheep's milk cheese aged in a pit from Le Marche, Italy). Read a past post about unearthing this unique cheese.
Formaggio di Fossa from Beltrami in Le Marche, Italy

Baked Figs with Prosciutto and Formaggio di Fossa

serves 4
4 figs
2 slices of prosciutto, cut lengthwise in half
1 slice of stinky aged cheese, cut into four little pieces

Slice off the tip-top of the fig. Cut a shallow X into the top of the fig. 
Squeeze slightly from the bottom and the fig will open slightly like a flower.
Wrap a half piece of prosciutto around the fig.
Stuff a piece of cheese into the open 'fig flower.'
Place snugly in a baking dish with a drop of olive oil.
Bake in a hot oven of 225C for 10-12 minutes until the cheese melts, prosciutto is crispy and the fig is soft.
Serve and eat immediately.

Sunday, October 6

La Città di Birra: Beer + Gastronomy + Truffles in Apecchio

Alogastronomia is a word recently invented in Apecchio - it is the combination of beer (alo) and gastronomy (gastronomia).  In a tiny village of just over 2,000 they have put themselves on the map as La Città di Birra, "The city of Beer" and rightfully so! Italy is a country know for it's production of wine, leaving the beer brewing to our Belgium and German neighbors to the North. 
Well it just so happens that there were a few creative minds, mineral rich water and fields of barely ready to be harvested. It is the perfect blend for creating outstanding, award-winning craft beer.

Last weekend Apecchio celebrated the Festival Nazionale Alogastronomia and hosted a FoodCamp in Social Media. Foodbloggers from around Italy were invited to speak and shockingly, so was I! The panel discussed their experiences in food blogging and why social media in integral in promoting the Region of Le Marche. When it was my turn to speak, all my notes were forgotten and I totally blanked, instead of the witty charming antidotes I had planned to share and ideas for working together in the future, I rambled on about nothing in particular.  I feel like I have so much more to say!! (Shocking, I know.)

The Mayor of Apecchio

The American of Apecchio

After the panel discussions, "the beer flowed like wine" and the barbeque was smoking with grilled fish, Fanese-style! The Pennabilli Social Club played on as the moon rose above the city.
Even the owner of Collesi, Giuseppe is pouring beer for the guests!

Thank you to Massimo Cardellini (Presidente Associazione Apecchio Città della Birra e CEO Founder) and Gian Luca Ranno CEO e Co-Founder di GNAMMO for all your hard work!
Here's the who's who:

Orazio Ioni – Mayor di Apecchio
Massimo Cardellini – Presidente Associazione Apecchio Città della Birra, CEO & Co-Founder
Livia Baldelli – Nuovo arredo. Nuova fonte di Turismo.
Laura Di Pietrantonio – Food & Beer
Gian Luca Ranno – CEO & Co-Founder di GNAMMO
Ilaria Barbotti - Presidente Instagramers Italia, creatrice di “aroundconero”
Sandro Giorgetti
– Responsabile Social Media Team Marche “Il caso Marche Tourism
Renato Claudio Minardi – Ass. Turismo, Eno-Alogastronomia Provincia di Pesaro e Urbino 
Luca Marcelli – Consulente Turistico Locale

And the foodbloggers:
Gian Luca
Beatrice di Tomizio e Chiara
Giovanna Scibona - 
Tamara Giorgetti -
Laura Di
Sabrina Tocchio -

Join us tonight for the 31st Annual White Truffle Festival in Apecchio!
(Thanks to Jason & Jamie for taking some great pics!!)
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