Peach Jam for a lazy day!

Saturn Peach Jam

Two weeks ago i suggested to Marissa a co-post about summer jam. Cooking jam is my way to take some relaxing time … doing nothing complicated, just peeling fruits, adding sugar and stirring. Maybe while reading a book and … stirring !!! I’ve really needed a day off after months of works at home remodelling it: fixing, covering, painting, moving from a place to place all furniture, choosing parquet floor, placing it and then scrubbing, cleaning and finally set all the furniture back. Now our home starts looking comfortable and in our “home sweet home” way!!!

my feet and our new wooden floor

There is still a lot work to do , but we start to see the end!!!

To celebrate this special moment we’ve decided to have a picnic in our living room, sitted on our new wooden floor ( it still smell wood!!!). And having my peach jam as a special guest  … with crepes !!!

Yesterday i went to Pisa, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, a nice square , few minutes from Piazza dei Miracoli, where everyday there is a big market. It is possible to buy delicious fruits and vegetables but also bread, cheese, ham, fresh pasta and sweeties!

Piazza delle Vettovaglie - Pisa  Mercato di frutta in Piazza delle Vettovaglie

Thinking about my jam, I bought some nectarines, lemons and Saturn Peaches, my favorite variety of peaches. In Italy they are called Pesca Tabacchiera. The fruits are flat, strange to see but really sweet and crunchy. Mmmmm

And then back home to cook !!!

Saturn Peach and Lemon Jam

marmellata di pesche pronta!

1kg Saturn Peaches
400gr of sugar
1 lemon

pesche tabacchiera  pesca tabacchiera  a pezzi!!!

le pesche stanno cuocendo  schiuma durante la cottura  schiumata

Wash peaches, then chop and weigh. In a pot add 400gr of sugar each 1kg of fruit (without stones) weight, mix well, cover and leave the mixture for a night. The morning after set the pot on fire, low heat. During the night syrup comes out from fruits, in this way the cooking time will be shorter! Add the lemon juice. Peeled the lemon and cut the skin in squares and then add to the fruit mixture. Stir constantly. Skim off foam. Cook untill the jam is thick. It is not necessary taking out the lemon skin because it becomes tender! When jam is thick enough, put hot mixture into hot sterilized jars and turn them up side down to cool down.

I use the same recipe to prepare the traditional peach jam !!!

Buon Appetito!!!

 

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Spring, Rain, Asparagus and Frittata

The calendar says the spring it’s here, but the weather says something different … rain and always rain !!! What a crazy  season: rain and cold in the morning, sun and warmth in the afternoon and the day after? who knows! We have to go out in the morning with jackets and sweater, and come back home in a sweat …

Are you going to come to Tuscany now? Would you like to know what kind of clothes put in your luggage? Everything! Jackets and tops,  sweater and light t-shirts, boots and flip flop, jeans and shorts … everything! You have to be ready for all kind of weather !!!  Last week in the morning, around 9am,  i was going to the lab crossing Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, i was wearing a jacket because it was raining and for me it was cold, some tourists were wearing shorts and t-shirt.  In the afternoon it was sunny and so hot that i sweated to death … it is hard to give a good advice!!!

asparagi

Rain or not, it’s spring and i love this season and i love the asparagus that grow in this season. Usually in April, every sunday morning, we go around  fields looking for wild asparagus. They are fantastic and very tasty, more than the normal ones. Pasta, Risotto, soups, fried eggs, frittata  ( and more recipes) are fantastic prepared with wild asparagus. Every sunday i was ready for my “asparagus hunt” with basket and knife but, as i said, this crazy season hasn’t given me the possibility to look for them: it was raining for all April and now i cannot find them anymore. Fortunately markets are full of “traditional” asparagus.

For our co-post about spring, Marissa and i have decided to share a recipe with asparagus. She has prepared Polenta Huevos Rancheros with Asparagus (yummi !!!), i have prepared my asparagus&gorgonzola frittata:

frittata asparagi&gorgonzola

Asparagus&Gongorzola Frittata

5 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
a small piece of butter
a big piece of gorgonzola
500gr asparagus, trimmed
olive oil
a clove of garlic
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper

asparagi  asparagi in padella  frittata

gorgonzola  frittata con gorgonzola  asparagi saltati in padella

In a saucepan saute the clove of garlic in extravergine olive oil, then add the asparagus. Cover and cook them untill they become tender.
In a bowl, beat eggs, add milk, salt and pepper. In a pan (not the one with asparagus!) melt the butter. Then pour the egg mixture, cover and cook over medium-low heat until eggs are nearly set, about 10 minutes. Cut thin slices of gorgonzola. When the frittata is almost ready ( still liquid on top), put the slices of cheese on the frittata. When the cheese is melted, add the asparagus. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more.

Buon Appetito !!!

Ski days, VOV Recipe and … Bombardino !!!!!!!!!!

It is winter, it means cold weather, heavy jackets, snow and winter sports. While i was thinking with Marissa, my american friend, about our next co-post, we ended talking about how much we love skiing and our habits in this sport. So we have decided to dedicate this co-post about ski days and energizing and restorative recipes. Marissa wrote about a delicious white bean and garlic soup, the perfect food after a cold ski day … her photos are beautiful, and it’s incredible the place where they took them!!!

Ski is one of my passion. I have extra energy when I go skiing, just the idea to be on a ski slope ready to slide down on the snow, make me feel really happy!!!

Valtellina Valtellina
For me skiing has its own habits: a big and nourishing breakfast with coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam or honey, eggs and ham (not usual for us!) and everything with tons of calories, four or five layers of clothes so I can survive both in a snow storm or in a hot bikini ski day, ski wax the night before, wake up very early to take the first ski lift …. maybe the second one!!!

But there is one habit I adore: drinking a “bombardino” ( a small bomb!!!) for breakfast before the first ski slope, it makes me feel strong enough for skiing all the day!!! I tasted it for the first time more than twenty years ago (long time ago) when I started to go skiing with my friends. They brought me to a small cafè close to the ski slopes where they ordered a bombardino. When a creamy and yellowish drink arrived i was hesitant but then i tasted it … I felt in love with it !!! So it become my favorite, sweet ski habit!!!

Bombardino is a more alcoholic and energetic version of VOV.
Vov is a liquor made with yolks, sugar and Marsala wine. It is a kind of alcoholic zabajone. It is very rich in calories for the yolks and it is perfect if you need extra energy. It was created in Veneto, precisely in Padova in 1845. Gian Battista Pezziol, a great confectioner, used to prepare his speciality, the torrone sweet, adding only egg whites. He invented a recipe to use all the yolks remained and …. voila’ the VOV!

It can be served hot in winter time or cold on ice cream in summertime … and a nice, well decorated bottle of Vov  can be a special homemade gift !!!

VOV

VOV Recipe

400ml milk
400gr sugar
4 yolks
100ml Marsala wine
100ml alcohol 90*
1 Vanilla Bean

Combine milk and half of the sugar. Add vanilla bean. Heat the milk, it has to boil. Remove from the heat and make it cool down. Beat the yolks with the rest of the sugar, fluffy and soft. When the milk is cold, take out the vanilla bean. Pour the milk in the beaten yolks, stir really well. Add the Marsala wine and stir. Add the alcohol and stir again.
Seep it through a strainer and bottle it. Leave it for 10 days, shaking the bottle everyday. Then …  taste it!!!
It possible to conserve it for about 8 months in the refrigerator.

Now it is time to prepare the bombardino!

Bombardino

2/3  VOV
1/3 Brandy, Rhum or Whisky ( the original recipe is with Whisky, but i love it with Brandy)
Whipped Cream

Heat the VOV and mix it with Brandy. Pour into small cups. Top with whipped cream  and taste it!!!

Try all the recipes (soup, vov and bombardino) and let us know your favorite ski day habits !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Buon Appetito!!!!

Polenta&Brasato … A special dinner

I love Tuscany and i adore MY life here… but MY roots …
I was born in Como and i lived over there for 25 years. I’m definetively a northern Italy person: sociabile but not too much, expansive but not too much, reserved too much. For the rest of Italy we are too unsociable to deal with !!! I do not care about what people think but at the same time, it bothers me because i’m tired to listen to people complaining about how awfull is going to live in a northern Italy: the weather is horrible ( most of them think there is only fog and rain all the time), the cities are too big and crazy ( Milan is a little bit crazy but it offers a lot of things), people are unpleasant (it’s not true and also it’s possible to find unpleasant persons everywhere!!!) and too reserved (we just think about our friends and family life), the food is always good but not in northern Italy ( we have delicious recipes but simply not known!!!) … Northern Italy has a lot of beautiful qualities and things to show off.
I’m telling all this because last night i’ve invited some tuscan friends for dinner and i’ve prepared some typical dishes from Lombardia (my “birth region”) to show them it was possibile to find something good in Northern Italy!

For dinner i’ve prepared polenta&brasato. This dish really remind me MY chilhood, when we used to spend sunday meals with parents&relatives…  Beautiful memories in a beautiful place!!!

Polenta&Brasato

Brasato (Braised Meat) is an easy recipe but very tasty, it’s perferct for wintertime!!! You just need a lot of time (preparation + 4 hours cooking) because the meat has to cook slowly in the sauce made with tomatoes sauce or red wine. A good cut of meat for braising is the shoulder of the animal (we call it “cappello da prete“).
The “Brasato meat” is perfect served with polenta or mashed potatoes.

Here the recipe from My grandmother cookboook!!!

Brasato al Vino Rosso … recipe for 6 persons

2kg  Beef Meat … the entire piece
1lt  good Red Wine ( i used Chianti but also Barolo … i love mixing italian products and recipes)
a big Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Celery ribs, chopped
a Garlic clove
a can of Diced Tomatoes
a tsp of Clove
a tsp of Nutmeg
extravergine olive oil
a tbs of rocky salt

cappello da prete  soffritto

In a heavy-bottomed pan, add olive oil, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Using a mixer, mince all the vegetables together. Saute the vegetable mixture, then add the piece of meat. Brown the meat on both side for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the red wine, the diced tomatoes, nutmeg, clove and rocky salt; cover the pan and simmer. Every 45minutes turn the piece of meat and check the level of the braising liquid. The liquid should just barely cover the meat. If you need more liquid (usually a liter of wine is enough) add half of a glass of red wine a time. When ready (the meat has to be tender), cut into slices the meat and serve it with the sauce on.

Buon Appetito!!!

PS. My friends all enjoyed the dinner !!!!!!!!!!!!

Linguine with Arselle … without Linguine

Last night my dinner was smelling like sea breeze, how poetic i am!!!, but it was true! We had a big plate full of arselle, small edible mollusks, fished long the Tuscan coast close to Livorno. I don’t know the english name of these mollusks,  the name should be Truncate Donax, but i know for sure the latin name is Donax trunculus … maybe it can help!!!

These mollusks are really small but they are delicious and a typical recipe  prepared with these mollusks is Linguine with arselle.

Yesterday night my husband and i came back home late, no dinner was ready and we were tired and hungry. Fortunately he arrived with a big basket full of arselle he bought from a local fisherman. When i saw the arselle i ran in the kitchen thinking to prepare the linguine with arselle, but as soon as we finished to cook the arselle, they looked so good that we decided to eat them without the pasta … also my son Marco appreciated them ! Very good dinner !!!!!

Here the complete recipe … very easy !!!!!!

Linguini con le Arselle

Leave the arselle for a day in clean salt water. Saute 2 cutted garlic cloves in extravergine olive oil. Add Arselle and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Add chopped parsley and stir. Boil some salty water and cook the linguine. When the pasta is ready, drain it and transfer in the pan with the arselle. Toss to coat, heating  just a little bit and serve.

Buon Appetito … with or without linguine !!!

Stew Escarole

Thursday i went to the farmer’s market close to home. Looking around I found my favorite lettuce, the escarole or endive!!!!!! I was very happy when I saw it on the stall for 2 reasons:  finding the escarole at the market means autumn is arriving  and i adore the autumn, and, in second place, with the escarole i prepare a very tasty dish:  Stew Escarole.

I use Escarole, a salad green of the chicory family, in many winter recipes like soups and stew meats, because it has a  particular taste: a little bit bitter but it is perfect with something sweeter. I’ve tried this recipe the first time i met my mother in law( that time she was just my probable future mother in law!!!) and i liked it very much, ever since she prepares it all the time we go visiting her for Christmas.

Scarola Stufata

2 bunches of Escarole, trimmed and torn
3-4 anchovy fillets in olive oil or a tablespoon of anchovy paste
a garlic clove, minced
a small cup of black olives, called “olive taggiasche”, without stones
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
1/3 cup of raisins
extravergine olive oil
rocky salt

Wash each leaf well and pat dry really well. Turn on the heat, put the escarole in a pan with olive oil, cover and stew it for a couple of minutes,  the escarole has to lose water. Remove the water, take aside the escarole and, in the same pan, sautè olive oil,  garlic and anchovies. Breaking up anchovies, put the escarole, add salt and stir a little bit, cover and stew for 2 minutes. Then add olives, raisins and pine nuts and let it cook for 10 minutes. Ready !

Usually i serve it with meat, but i love it on a vegetarian pizza!!!

Buon Appetito !!!

Red Peppers&Green Capers

I like peppers and i like capers … and i love them together in a very easy recipe!!!

 

Red Peppers with Green Capers

3 red peppers
200gr of capers in brine ( keep the brine!!!)
a small onion – sliced
a clove of garlic
extravergine olive oil
salt

Cut the peppers in small cubes. In a pan saute garlic – finely chopped – onion in olive oil . Add peppers, salt and stir. Cook for 5 minutes and then add capers and the brine. Stir and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. The peppers have to cook in the brine and they have to remain crunchy.

Buon Appetito!!!

“My Personal” Caponata

The summer is almost over and i’m happy …. here in Tuscany, and in all Italy, the weather has been really really hot and staying in a kitchen could be very unpleasant ! Now the air is fresher, and I’m glad to be back in front of my pans. Yesterday I ran to the market and I bought some big eggplant and some “San Marzano” tomatoes to prepare a dish that I love! Here my personal way to cook Caponata, a typical italian dish from Sicily. My recipe is much easier and lighter than the original, but very tasty!

“My Personal” Caponata

2 big eggplants
4 “San Marzano” tomatoes, cutted in small pieces
A red onion (cipolla di Tropea), sliced
A garlic, finely chopped
Some leaves of basil, chopped
Rocky salt
Extravergine olive oil

Peeled the eggplants and cut them in small cubes. Saute’ the garlic and onion in olive oil in a pan. Add the eggplant cubes and stir, let them cook for 15 minutes. Add cutted tomatoes, rocky salt and stir. Add the basil  and mix all together 30 minutes more. My personal caponata is ready! It is good served hot or cold … and the day  after is better !  A little tip : if you eat it cold, drop some balsamic vinegar on it … Taste really good!!!

Buon appetito!

Pesto alle Zucchine

Summer is an “easy and handy” season: few clothes to wear, few staff to wash and to iron, suitcases fast to pack, no expensive heater, if you have a garden, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs and also easy and quick recipes to prepare. Pasta with Pesto sauce is one of the typical summer dishes, quick and tasty !!!

I love Pesto sauce and sometimes i like to try new version of it, like this one. I hope you appreciate it as we did last night !!!!

Pesto alle Zucchine

2 zucchini, cut in small pieces
a onion
10 leaves of Basil
30gr of Pine nuts
20gr Almonds
50gr Parmesan Cheese
Extravergine olive Oil q.b.
Salt

Sautè the zucchini with onion in extravergine olive oil, until the zucchini are tender. Add rocky salt as you like. When ready put them in a mixer with pine nuts, almonds, basil and extravergine olive oil. Mix for a minute and then add parmesan cheese. Mix again.

 

Cook the pasta ( i prefer spaghetti or linguini with pesto sauce). When it’s cooked “al dente”, drain it. In a pan , put  the pesto sauce and the pasta. Mix all together, heating for a couple of minutes and serve.

Buon Appetito!!!

PS i’m sorry for the photos, but there wasn’t a good light … but the pasta was delicious !!!