Sunday, October 26

{Video} Garden Update, End of Summer, Early Autumn in Italy

a few homegrown heirloom pumpkins picked from the garden
Due to a rainy summer, blight has set in on our 400 tomato plants in the garden but some things like the rain! Jason explains what's coming out of the garden from August to early October! From the peppers to heirloom pumpkins (12 plants created hundreds of kilos of squash), onions and chard the garden still has plenty its producing even if the tomatoes were a bust.


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Garden photos from my instagram feed!

Sunday, October 12

Happy Apple Season! Recipes & Photos from our Apple Harvest

This years apple harvest has been our best yet! With a dozen or so apple trees (green, red & pink) we've got a great mix of varieties for both eating fresh & cooking/preserving. In a few short minutes kilos of apples are picked, there are baskets at the doors filled with apples, a crate in the kitchen and each guest room has a bowl of fresh picked apples to welcome them! The fallen fruit is left for our hens to peck at, they don't last long as the boar and porcupines hoover up the leftovers late each night.


Thanks to the Indian summer we are having the trees that usually don't mature past tart green apples have all become heavy with ruby colored fruit.


It's no surprise I love apples, a girl homegrown in Washington State they make me nostalgic. My favorite holiday memories as a child include rainy days with hot apple cider, dinners with fried pork chops and baked apples,  a fancy fizzling glass of Martinelli's sparkling cider and of course apple pie for breakfast lunch and dinner!  I'd kill for a homemade apple fritter.


  I now live in a country that does not have the same affinity to this beloved fruit. Sure wild apple trees line our country road and locals arrive to fill their Fiat Pandas, but mainly to eat as hand fruit.  Apple juice is almost nonexistent. So, I have been scouring the web for an apple mill - the only problem is the ones I like are HUGE and too big to ship...I'd love to make our own cider and happily make myself sick from too much unpasteurized apple juice! But for now we'll bake cakes, make jam and apple sauces, add paper thin slices to salads for a nice crunch...or just eat'em with a spoonful of peanut butter!

A photo I took while picking one afternoon & posted on instagram ended up being featured on Food & Wine and Coastal Living #thisisfall!

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Our #Appleharvest this year makes me think we should revive #countrybaby #applesauce!Yes that's an 80s classic-Baby Boom reference, I've related to Diane Keaton's character on many occasions since leaving NYC for the deep Italian countryside...#homegrown

If you think there's just Granny Smith & Red Delicious you are missing out. Here are two great articles on how diverse apple varieties can be:
 
A Few Favorite Apple Recipes:
photo: the meaning of pie
A friend/guest/photographer/writer, Kelly Yandell has a gorgeous blog The Meaning of Pie, she delved deep into apples with an extensive post on "The quentessial apple pie" that is worth the read & recipe!  

Pear (Apple) & Pine Nut Salad with Honey Vinegarette
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 pairing them with our wild apples and tossing with homegrown lettuce, toasted pine nuts, ribbons of parmesan and a sweet honey lemon vinaigrette - creating an irresistible salad!


If you like to cook/bake with wine, olive oil & sambuca - this is the dessert for you! An autumn dessert served at our farmhouse is la rocciata - a rustic apple roll stuffed with pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon & golden raisins.

And finally, our go-to, super simple, moist & delicious Grandma's Apple Cinnamon Cake - and yes, it's actually Jason's grandmother's recipe! Serve it for breakfast, dessert or alongside an afternoon tea. Not only is it a no-fail recipe, but it is guaranteed to make your kitchen smell warm & cozy like grandma's house...I guess that's what makes apples so great - the childhood memories that come with each slice.



~ Happy Apple Season! ~


Thursday, October 9

No Rolling Pin Needed: Homemade Cavatelli Pasta


This is one of the easiest pasta dough's to make and it doesn't need a machine or any fancy equipment - just your thumb or a pairing knife. Cavatelli pasta (or little caves) is traditionally from Molise & parts of Puglia.  It is very similar to orecchietti (little ears), another pasta made with semolina (ground durum wheat or grano duro). In southern Italy is where you will find most of these types of pasta made with semolina and no egg in the dough. 

The recipe for cavatelli varies greatly from region to region, village to village. Below is the recipe that has yielded the most consistent results for us - a soft delicate pasta that's not gummy.  After all your work in making fresh pasta you'll be happy to know that it freezes wonderfully! Now on a random Wednesday night just pull out your homemade fresh cavatelli, make a quick sauce and dinner is ready!


This pasta pairs perfectly in the Spring with peas, borlotti, sage & tomatoes in the Fall and norcina (sausage & cream) in the Winter!

You can find videos on youtube all day on the technique for cutting & forming the pasta. Below is a simple explanation. Stay tuned as we'll film our own demo soon!!

Cavatelli Pasta Dough
serves 4

200 grams/ 1.5 cups of semolina or ground durum wheat/ grano duro
25 grams / 1/4 cup of regular flour or soft wheat flour
pinch of salt
125 grams or 3/4 cup warm water

In a bowl mix the salt & both flours together, add in warm water and mix with a fork. Dump onto a board and begin kneading. Adjust the consistency as needed. The dough should have a firmness to it, not mushy, however not as hard as a ball. Continue kneading, until you have a nice smooth springy dough (8-10 minutes by hand). Wrap it in plastic and allow to rest at least an hour.

Make a snake about the width of a pencil.
Cut into segments as long as your thumb is wide. …..
Now you can either use your thumb or a knife for this next step.

To begin shaping cavatelli, stick your right thumb up and then turn hand so thumb is pointing left. Maintaining even pressure, use thumb to push a piece of dough forward and up, like an airplane taking off. The dough should spring up and form around the curve of your thumb.

Use a bench scraper or knife to transfer cavatelli to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and sprinkled with semolina, making sure no pieces of pasta touch. Continue until all dough is used. Let pasta dry slightly, 30-45 minutes. (You can then freeze in a single layer. Once frozen place in plastic freezer bag and will keep about a month.)

In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil and drop in cavatelli. Boil the pasta. It should take about 4-6 min depending on the size of your cavatelli. Just keep taking one out and testing!  Serve with the sauce of your choice.

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