Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs

I’ve been back to Italy since a few days and just started having some lunches at home, to greet friends and relatives during the Easter holidays.
I asked Silvia and Donatalella, the owners of the cooking school “Fabrica del Gusto” of Fabriano (http://www.fabricadelgusto.it) to advise a couple of recipes to surprise my guests.
And, not only they suggested me some really tasty dishes to make, but they’ll also come with me for picking up together the best ingredients.
The main course I will make (following the directions of my teachers:-), is the so called:

“Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs”
This is a dish that enhances the quality of the ingredients and therefore, when it came to choose the main ingredient, I had no doubts: the “Tonnarelli” by Antica Pasta, made in the Marcozzi’s pasta factory in Campofilone (http://www.anticapasta.it)I’ll disclose with you the tasty recipe, the two most sought after chefs in town just shared with me:

Tonnarelli with fava beans, bread crumbs and wild fennel herbs
Ingredients for 4 people
250 gr of tonnarelli pasta by Antica Pasta
250 gr of fresh fava beans
3 tablespoons of grated stale bread crumbs
Wild herbs fennel
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt and pepper
Chilli (optional)

Parboil the fava beans in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Drain them and dip into a bath of iced water in order to preserve their consistency and color. Once cold, remove the outer skins by hand.Blend the bread crumb with fennel.

The amazing scent of the wild fennel herbs

 In a skillet brown the garlic with the oil (add some chili pepper to your taste), add the fava beans and let cook for few minutes.In another pan with a little olive oil toast the crumbs flavored with fennel.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for about 4-5 minutes. Season with the fava beans, toasted bread crumbs and serve.

Buon Appetito!!!

The”crescia sfojata” …and it’s finally Christmas!

It’s almost Christmas and we are ready to bake a traditional delicious dessert from Le Marche: the “crescia sfojata”

CRESCIA SFOJATA

For the dough:

2/3 cups all-purpose flour or grano tenero “00”

3/8 cups warm water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon fine salt

For the filling:

2 green apples (about 1 lb)

15 walnuts

60-70 raisins

5 oz organic apple juice (or as an alternaitve: rhum, brandy, sherry)

2 spoons cane sugar

1 spoon cinnamon powder

some organic lemon peel

crescia-sfojata-1Start making the dough:

Warm up the water (it has to be warm enough, but not too hot). Sift the flour and add some salt and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and keep stirring the mixture. Using your hands, work the ingredients until it comes together. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add more flour (sparingly) to the work surface only if it is absolutely necessary. Shape the dough into a ball; cover with a wet towel or a wrap and let rest on the work surface for about half an hour.

Making the filling:

Warm up the apple juice and pour it on the raisins in a bowl. Let the raisins absorb the moisture until they return to room temperature and turn soft (about 20 minutes). Peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Place them in a bowl and cover with cane sugar and roughly chop walnuts, well drained raisins. Add the cinnamon and lemon peels. Preheat oven at 390F.

Roll out the dough:

Spread a clean lined or cotton tablecloth (preferably washed with mild soap and rinsed well), flax or cotton, on the table. Spread some flour on top of it, take the dough and start flattening it by hands and then by a rolling pin. When the dough is thin enough start stretching and pulling it- outside with your fingers and making sure not break it. The dough should become almost transparent.

Place it back on the tablecloth (the dough should be about 19 inches in size). Since the edges will be a bit thicker, use your fingers along the edge to make it thin. Spread out the filling on the dough, but make sure not to cover the the edge. With the help of the tablecloth, start rolling the dough on itself. Made a couple of turns and fold towards the inside the two outer edges and continue to roll until the end.

Gently transfer the dough on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Brush it with melted butter and bake. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Let cool and cut into slices.crescia-sfojata-2

“Buon Appetito” and Merry Xmas!

Thanks to our dear friends Silvia and Donatella from Fabrica del Gusto for sharing this sweet collaboration!

 

Olives Ascolana: the queens of deep-fried dish!

18.Olive_lowA crispy golden ball, a juicy filling… today our post is all about one of the dishes most loved from Le Marche culinary tradition: the ‘Olives Ascolana’.
These stuffed olives owe their name to the town of Ascoli Piceno. They are made of in brine green olives, stuffed inside with a tender mix of meat.

zoom_48818529_grecheThe history of ‘Olives Ascolane’ is long…Even in ancient times, pickled olives (green and black) were considered as a very nutritious meal. In fact, the Roman soldiers always carried some in their saddlebags for the toughest moments.

Rich people in Rome, however, were looking for something more exclusive and loved the  taste of olives imported from Ascoli Piceno.
The quality of ‘Olives Ascolana’ was also appreciated by the Benedictines-Olivetan monks, while even the Pope Sixtus V had them sent to the Vatican.

Olives Ascolana has gained success and been loved in Italy and abroad, in the past as of today: in short, a dish worth of some attention!

OLIVES ASCOLANA...

OLIVES ASCOLANA…

The recipe of the “Olives Ascolane” is dated back to the 1800. It’s a starter made of fried green olives, stuffed with minced meat and spices. Here is our favourite recipe for you today…
Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
a small celery stalk, chopped
60 green pickled olives
100 grams ground pork
100 grams ground beef
100 grams ground chicken
1 cup of white wine
3 eggs beaten (one for the stuffing, 2 for the breading)
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp of grated parimsan cheese
1 rind of half lemon
pinch of nutmeg
breadcrumbs
salt
flour
vegetable oil for frying

Procedure:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion over medium heat until soft
and translucent. Add the carrot and celery and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the meat and brown thoroughly on all sides. Add salt to taste. Pour the wine in and reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In the mean time, remove the pits from the olives as described above.

olive-ascolane.4DSC_8385Once the meat has cooled off, add it to a food processor and grind to a very fine
paste. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, parsley, lemon rind, cloves, nutmeg and meat paste to a consistent, smooth stuffing.

Stuff every olive with a tiny ball of meat paste and put it back in its original shape.

Stuffed olive

How the stuffed olive looks like

For the breading, dust every olive in flour, then dunk it into the egg mixture and
finish with a layer of breadcrumbs. For a thicker crust, you can repeat this process.

IMG_2960

IMG_2958

Add 5-7 centimeters of vegetable oil to a small frying pan and heat to 175-180 °C. Deep-fry the olives in small batches until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towels and serve, preferably piping hot. olive-300x261

“Buon Appetito!”

Offida: the Carnival and the delicious “small mushrooms”!

Carnival is the most joyful festival of the year, celebrated with masks, parades and above all, tasty deserts. In fact, the Carnival precedes the time of abstinence of the Lent.

The funny and colorful Carnival parades

The funny and colorful Carnival parades

Literally, the word ‘Carnevale’ comes from the Latin expression ‘carne levare’ , which means “farewell to meat”, signifying the approaching of the Lent, a period of abstinence and fasting in which meat was forbidden after the banquet held on the last day of Carnival (Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras).

'Frappe', 'bugie' or 'chiacchiere'...different names for the same delicious temptationduring the Carnival!

‘Frappe’, ‘bugie’ or ‘chiacchiere’…different names for the same delicious temptations during the Carnival!

The ‘transgression’ of this period is reflected in the culinary traditions of the various Italian regions, where the Carnival fried treats are everywhere, even if named differently.

The tasty Frittelle: a special friter and a Carnival must-have!

The tasty Frittelle: a special friter and a Carnival must-have!

In Italy, every region has its own recipes linked to their local traditions. Also in Le Marche there are many traditional carnival desserts often related to folk tales.

Among them there are also the “Funghetti di Offida”, whereas ‘funghetti’ in Italian means ‘small mushrooms’…no, not mushrooms but small cookies of that shape made with anise, flour and sugar.

The 'funghetti di Offida' cookies

The ‘funghetti di Offida’ cookies

According to a tale the recipe was born during a siege in the fourteenth century. The women in Offida had nothing to cook and they did not even had the wood to light the fire (because it was used for barricades). On that occasion, they mixed the only ingredients available: honey (later replaced with sugar), flour and water (anise was added later). A simple and long-lasting product, energy and tasty: the Offida ‘small mushrooms’!

Let’s bake them by following the original recipe…

Ingredients:

700g (1 ½ lb) all-purpose flour

600kg (1 ¼ lb) sugar

1 pinch anice seeds

water to taste

Preparation:

Work together the flour, the sugar and the anise seed using a mixer, adding a little water until you have a smooth dough. Form the dough into 1-inch balls, then allow them to dry for 30 minutes on parchment paper. Place the balls in a mini tin, one ball in each mold. The molds should be small enough, with the dough touching the edge. Bake the cookies at 350°F (180°C) for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.imagesThe heat melts the sugar that fills the spaces between the round molds, taking a nice golden color, while the remaining part inside the circles retains the color white. Remove the anisette cookies from the oven and serve hot. These Le Marche typical sweets get very hard when cold, so, reheat them before serving. These cookies perfectly match with coffee and anisette or try them with a good glass of Passerina Passito wine.

The original recipe of the "Funghetto di Offida" got has obtained the De.C.O.: a registered municipal designation of origin for traditional/original local products and recipes

The “Funghetto di Offida” has been registered with the De.C.O. certification: a municipal designation of origin for traditional/original local products and recipes

The ‘Funghetti di Offida’ are not only delicious cookies, but they are another clear example of how traditions and folk legends handed down over the years are able to preserve foods and recipes, as well as being a delight for the palate, they are also able to tell something about us, our ancestors and our ancient culture.

Christmas cookies

It’s only one week until Christmas and so today I’m going to share with you a classic recipe good for the holidays and that you can make with your family, especially with the help of your children!6788602-fantastic-christmas-cookies-wallpaper

The Christmas cookies are one of the most delicious and beautiful DYI decorations: all you need is some shortcrust pastry, a touch of icing and a ribbon to hang them wherever you like.

Here are the ingredients you need to make the shortcrust pastry:

500 gr. ’00’ flour

125 gr. of butter

8 gr. baking powder

1 pinch of salt

125gr. caster sugar

15 gr. cocoa powder

250 gr. wildflower honey

1 egg

15 gr. of ground spices (star anise, cinnamon, mace, cardamom, ginger, cloves …)

…for the icing:

1 egg white

200 gr. icing sugar

…for decorations:

…give free rein to your imagination! Anything like meringues, chocolate, sugar, dried fruit, dried fruit, cinnamon sticks, candy will work!

Preparation:

In a saucepan melt the butter, sugar, honey and ground spices over low heat. When the sugar is completely melted add the sifted cocoa and let cool before adding the egg and mix well. In a large bowl put the sifted flour, the baking powder and salt. Once the mixture has cooled, it is ready to be added to the flour. Knead until the dough is very smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in refrigerator for 3-4 hours.dbb1c7319438d1f712f1e29a7ae31961 (1)

Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 8 mm and with the help of the molds make the biscuits.1aa31eb3da602ec10e412e61ffd0652b (1)

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes.ac0b612440fee788d2acb6aeef4b4738 (1)

Icing:glassa_acqua_450ingr (1)Prepare the frosting by mounting the egg whites until stiff; incorporate the sugar, a full spoon at a time, and with a whisk at the same. Now let’s start decorating…

Tommy and Aurora: our little chefs!:-)

Tommy and Aurora: our little chefs!:-)

With a bit of imagination you can give life to a world of objects, and Christmas characters that will warm up your home.
These cookies are not only delicious, but you can also use them to decorate your Christmas tree. Just make a little hole on top of the cookies and pass a colored thread and…your frosted cookies are ready to hang!

You can also use the cookies as placeholders…your guests will love them!862577fd1ea61ecfde7eb622a5aa89c7

Happy Holidays!

Fried eggs with turnip greens and … black truffles!

10382272_900950216650733_5919627831778522017_oDuring our visit to the Truffle Fair in Acqualagna I could not resist and got real truffles!

Right away, I called our dear friends from Fabrica del Gusto, Silvia and Donatella, to advice an easy recipe to bring out the flavor of my truffles!tmainTruffles (1)

This is a very simple recipe, each of you can make at home once you’ll get the most precious ingredient…truffles!2015-11-13 12.45.51

So let’s get started! Put some sliced toasted bread in a ramakin and add the turnips tops boiled to perfection, then salted and seasoned with a little extra virgin olive oil from Le Marche. Soak some vegetable broth on the bread and then set the turnip greens with a fried egg on top. Simply grate plenty of fresh black truffle and…enjoy!tgrating-black-truffle---luxirare-(X2) (1)

A tip: eat immediately so that the heat will bring out the most of the flavor of your truffles!

"Buon Appetito!"

With few ingredients and in short time, you’ll be able to serve a very special meal!

Don’t forget truffles can be used to enrich any dish: from appetizer and main dishes, especially meat. Before going back to New York I really have to find out more recipes like this!

Luckly, nature gives us treasures of immense value and…taste!

“Buon Appetito!”

The Italian ritual of “fare la scarpetta” and the “Senigallia style brodetto”

We Italians are famous abroad for some customs that distinguish us immediately. A typical example are the gestures of hands while talking. 571192CNN talked about this attitude, even trying to explain the meaning of the most common ones.

Another typical and pretty unique Italian ritual is “fare la scarpetta”, a colloquial expression that in the Italian language is close to the heart of everyone who has enjoyed a delicious plate of pasta with sauce.
Scarpetta means “little shoe” in Italian. Most Italian families’ have their own stories about the practice – but, first, let’s clarify what it is. “Fare la scarpetta” means when you find yourself in the situation you’ve just finished the last forkful of your favorite spaghetti, and now you’re dying to relish that last little bit of sauce still left on your plate? You’ve exhausted all efforts to scoop it up with your cutlery, and you’ve completely ruled out the possibility of sneaking the plate up to your mouth for a quick swipe, unnoticed. So now what? You assure yourself, it’s not just gluttony – it’s truly a pity to waste such a gift of God! You look at that plate – still warm and irresistible – and you know that your relationship with it is not over! If you’re Italian – anywhere from very young to more senior age – the answer is obvious: bread! Bread is the solution and there is a method – there’s even a word for it: “scarpetta!”

"Fare la scarpetta"...aka:"making the little shoe"

“Fare la scarpetta”…aka:”making the little shoe”

So, you simply take a piece of bread from the basket – which part of the bread you choose is important and strategic – and propel it into the sauce. At this very moment, that piece of bread transforms into a tiny shoe – and the sauce is the soft ground, if you will, in which your little shoe is sinking. La-scarpetta-blog (1)Italy could be divided into two groups: those who do the scarpetta, and those (few) who don’t. Some people do so only furtively – just enough to show solidarity; more brazen food lovers just dig in with no regrets. A good scarpettaro – that is, the doer of the deed – will leave the plate with nearly no trace of sauce – which is of great help, as we all know, for the dishwasher. This is not only an essential part of an Italian meal, but it is seen as a way to extend the pleasure of the repast.

During my stay in Senigallia, I got to taste a unique dish: the Brodetto of Senigallia, a true specialty of the local cuisine.
Needless to say, I could not resist and I finally dipped my fingers in the sauce!

The 'brodetto Senigalliese"

The traditional “Brodetto of Senigallia”

I asked our friends Silvia and Donatella, owners of Fabrica del Gusto, the famous cooking school of Fabriano, to teach me the secrets of this unique dish, to be able to cook it to my friends in New York and also teach them how to celebrate the tradition of “scarpetta”. Here’s what they’ve recommended…

“As for all fish recipes the most important secret is to use freshest fish as possible. Trationally fishermen used to use the unsold remaining catch of the day, which was often the least valuable. Today at the market we bought: clams, sea cicadas, cuttlefish, squid, dogfish, sole, red mullet and ‘moletti’ (a variety of oily fish).

The freshet caught of the day...

The freshet caught of the day…

Let parsley, garlic, and a bit of onion and chilli fry in a pot with olive oil. Then add the cuttlefish cut into chunks and fade with some white wine vinegar and a lot of tomato sauce watered down with some fish broth. The sauce should be abundant, since it then will be used to cook all the fish.

Cooking the fish in a pot

Cooking the fish in a pot with the sauce

Let it cook for about two hours (you can avoid cooking all this time simply scalding the cuttlefish on a grill for about ten minutes and then adding them to the sauce) adding squids at the end (the last fifteen minutes).

Brow

Scalding the cuttlefish to shorten the cooking time

Then take a pot to serve, preferably cast iron or earthenware, and prepare the base with oil, garlic and parsley. Then add a first layer of shellfish (mussels and clams) and add the fish that needs more time to cook (dogfish). Add a little sauce and then the cuttlefish and squids.

Nice detail on the edge of this beautiful plate, stating: "The plate of the Brodetto"

Nice detail on the edge of this beautiful plate, stating: “The plate of the Brodetto”

Finally, make a layer with the sole, mullet and ‘moletti’ and you end up with shellfish. Cover evenly with the sauce and cook for a few more minutes until the crustaceans turn pink.

Toasted bread

Toasted bread

Before serving, sprinkle with parsley and accompain with toasted homemade bread”…the ones you will need to “make the scarpetta”!
Enjoy!!!

brodetto (6)

Buon Appetito!!!

A special thanks to our friends from Fabrica del Gusto in Fabriano and to Silvia Rovinelli, the author of this delicious recipe!

Please note to make this delicious recipe, our friends recommend “Olio Clara”: a very special olive oil blend made with 100% local olives from Le Marche! To find out more about it, please click here