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 !!!!!!!!!!!!

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 !!!