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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

a tavola - a tuscan feast

A Brief History of Tuscan Cuisine

see also...
*Tuscany Region
*Tuscany Guide
*Rub Shoulders With the Rich & Famous
*Discovering Monte Argentario
*Villa San Michele
*A Restaurant Discovery
*Tuscan Women Cook
*Battle of the Bridge
*Michelangelo: Graffiti Artist
*City Girl Meets Tuscan Farm
*Leaving Lucca
*The horseshoe adventure in Pinocchio's Hometown
*How to flirt: Lucchese Style
*A Tuscan Feast
*Traveling to Italy Forum

In the 1300s, Florence became one of the most important centers of world culture international city that attracted tourists and merchants with its boundless beauty and endless possibilities. Fresh fish and seafood, meat and poultry, vegetables, cheese, and freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil were sold in the town markets. At this early time, there were already some exquisite convenience foods ready to be purchased: cooked spinach and Swiss chard could be bought alongside herb sauces in the city's shops and on street corners. Fridays and Saturdays were both meatless days, giving rise to a wealth of typically Tuscan fish specialties that are prepared to this day: baccal� in zimino, cacciucco, and a number of grilled, fried, and braised dishes that made the most of the offerings of the Arno river and the Mediterranean.

A particular feature of fourteenth century Tuscan cuisine was the combination of sweet and savory flavors (dolceforte) in one dish: there was meat cooked with chestnuts; poultry with raisins; fish with plums, apples, and other sweet fruits. Unlike today, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger were used abundantly, and made their way into many sweet and savory dishes. With the exception of the heavily spiced pan pepato and panforte and a few other sweets, contemporary Tuscan food has been divested of this culinary legacy.

In 1434, Cosimo de' Medici became the Signore of the city and did much to make his beloved Florence powerful and prestigious. Two of the dishes that have made Tuscany famous reflect Florence's prominence as an international city. Florentines had long been cooking a perfectly roasted pork loin when Cosimo de' Medici persuaded the Pope to move the Ecumenical Council of the Greek and Roman Churches to Florence in 1440. When the Council met in Florence, this treasure of Tuscan cooking was baptized by visiting Greek priests who exclaimed "aristos!" (magnificent, splendid) upon biting into the crisp, moist meat. Thus was born the name arista, a name still used after five centuries.

A similar story can be told about Florence's famous grilled steak, made from the prized Val di Chiana beef. The year was 1500, the day of the feast of San Lorenzo; the streets of Florence were crowded with tourists and celebrants. Beef was grilling in the Square of San Lorenzo. Some English tourists had the fortune of savoring the succulent grilled meat, and upon finishing their portion demanded more "beef steak, beef steak, beef steak." Over the years the Florentines transformed the words beef steak into bistecca, and their bistecca alla fiorentina is still renowned throughout Italy.

Potatoes, beans, tomatoes, turkey, corn, and chocolate appeared as a result of contact with the New World, forever changing the Tuscan cook's palette. Beans in particular were welcomed with great fervor, almost like they had been sorely missed; the countless bean dishes of Tuscany are a testament to the region's love of this versatile legume. Fagioli all'uccelletto, white beans flavored with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and sage, are one of many Tuscan bean specialties. While the rest of Italy was planting potatoes and tomatoes purely for ornamental purposes, Florentine cooks set about incorporating them into their ever-widening repertoire. Tomatoes and potatoes were stirred into soup pots, turkey reigned supreme at banquet tables, and chocolate became a fashionable drink.

In 1533 Caterina de' Medici married the future King of France and moved to Paris, followed by her troop of chefs. A lover of fine food and drink, Caterina revolutionized the essentially medieval cooking of France and transformed it into a refined cuisine. France owes many of its basic ingredients and signature dishes to Caterina's Florentine cooks: olive oil, beans, peas, spinach, artichokes, and ricotta were unknown in France until Caterina introduced them. B�chamel, one of the sauces the French are usually credited with inventing (called colla in Caterina's time, meaning glue, since it binds a dish) is Italy's besciamella. Caterina's cooks also taught the French the art of frying and were the first to pair the now-classic poultry with oranges. Crespelle (cr�pes) filled with spinach and ricotta were served at Caterina's court, and this dish - new to sixteenth -century France - gave rise to the term � la Florentine (after France's detested Florentine Queen), a term now mistakenly used to describe anything that contains spinach. Caterina was known to eat impressive quantities of food, and at a banquet in 1576 guests were astounded by the amount of cibreo that she ate.

Banquets were a feature of court life, a chance for the wealthy to display their fortune and good taste, and the opportunity to showcase extravagant or delicious dishes that took days for talented chefs to prepare. The most famous banquet was organized by the Florentine architect, Bernardo Buontalenti, for the marriage of Maria de' Medici to Henry IV, King of France, in 1600. Three hundred guests gathered in the splendor Salone dei Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where they were served at least fifty dishes, each more stunning than the previous. When the guests sat and unfolded their napkins, a small songbird flew out of each, heralding a meal of unprecedented artistry. Sherbets of milk and honey, a new creation of Buontalenti's, were presented to the guests; the secret of their preparation was brought to France by Maria, where they were called cherberts. The ice cream we all lick on hot summer evenings is Buontalenti's Renaissance wonder, as miraculous today as it was nearly four hundred years ago to Florentine monarchs. Settled in France, Maria's chefs taught locals to make custards, shortcrust pastry, and batter for fritters (bignos).

In 1860, Florence joined the new Kingdom of Italy. Italy as a country was born under King Vittorio Emanuele II, bringing together the varied history and colorful past of its many regions. Pellegrino Artusi - born in Rome but raised in Tuscany - published La Scienza in Cucina e l'Arte di Mangiar Bene in 1891, when he was seventy-one years old. This highly personal work was a veritable love story with the food of Italy and has become a classic; Artusi can be considered the founder of Italian cuisine, for he unified the disparate cooking traditions of the farmers and the bourgeoisie.

Tuscan cooking has not changed very much since Artusi's time. The differences are superficial: less fat is used, vegetables are cooked for less time, meat is eaten more often, fish perhaps less often. But olive oil, freshly pressed and fruity, is still its foundation, and unsalted bread its very soul. The happy balance between peasant food and elegant cuisine can still be found in the restaurants and trattorie of Tuscany for the pleasure of the spirit and the palate.

If you would like more Tuscan recipes, please do not hesitate to request them by sending me an e-mail. Buon Appetito!


Mixed Vegetable Antipasto (Spring and Summer Recipe)
For the marinade:
1 large garlic clove, minced,
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar,
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar,
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary,
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled,
1 teaspoon dried origano, crumbled,
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste,
1/2 cup olive oil.

Vegetables for the Antipasto
3 large carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices,
2 small fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick,
slices (about 3 cups),
2 red bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips,
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips,
a 12-ounce jar peperoncini (pickled Tuscan peppers), rinsed and drained well,
3/4 pound black or green brine-cured olives or a combination,
1/4 pound sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and cut into strips,
3/4 pound marinated or plain bocconcini (small mozzarella balls, available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets),
1/2 pound pepperoni or soppressata (hard Italian sausage, available at Italian markets, some butcher shops, and, some specialty foods shops), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and the slices quartered,
two 7-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves plus, if desired, parsley sprigs for garnish.

Make the marinade: In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, the vinegars, the rosemary, the basil, the origano, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the marinade until it is emulsified.

In a large saucepan of boiling water blanch the carrots and the fennel for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender, drain them, and plunge them into a bowl of ice and cold water. Let the vegetables cool and drain them well. In a large bowl toss together the carrots, the fennel, the roasted peppers, the peperoncini, the olives, the sun-dried tomatoes, the bocconcini, the pepperoni, the artichoke hearts, the marinade, the minced parsley until the antipasto is combined well and chill the antipasto, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Transfer the antipasto to a platter, garnish it with the parsley sprigs, and serve it at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8.

Tortino di Ricotta e Verdure - Ricotta and Vegetable Tarts (Fall & Winter Recipe)
The green tops of 20 asparagus spears,
2 medium-sized carrots,
An 8-inch stick of celery,
3/4 pound fresh ricotta,
2 eggs,
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano,
3 tablespoons minced parsley,
2 tablespoons butter,
1/2 pound fresh spinach,
Salt and pepper to taste,
Olive oil,
Lemon juice,
6 muffin molds.

Preheat the oven to 360 �F, 180 �C

Work the eggs, ricotta, parsley, and Parmigiano until smooth, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Finely chop the asparagus, carrots and celery, and boil them for four minutes. Drain them and saut� them briefly with the butter, seasoning them to taste with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool and work it into ricotta mixture.

Butter the muffin molds, fill them with the vegetable-ricotta mixture, and bake them for about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the spinach well and julienne the leaves. Toss them with olive oil and lemon juice, and use them as a garnish with the tarts.

Serves 6


Gnocchetti di Spinaci - Small Spinach Gnocchi(Fall & Winter Recipe)
Prepare a mixture with:
1.5 kilos of spinach cooked until it is just wilted, drained and chopped,
2 eggs and an egg yolk,
2 spoons of flour,
3 spoons of grated Parmesan cheese,
some nutmeg,
sage leaves fresh or dried for the sauce (optional),
sweet butter, barely melted.

If the mixture is too soft, add some flour. Make little balls as big as a nut and let them stand for half an hour. Then cook these little balls in salted boiled water. Dress with melted butter, sage (optional) and grated Parmesan cheese.

Minestra d'Uova - Lemon and Egg Soup (Spring & Summer Recipe)
Delicate yet substantial, its thickening is bread crumbs and eggs.

1 quart chicken stock [1 L], preferably homemade,
l/4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves [1/4 ounce, 7g],
1 medium Lemon [about 4 ounces, 110g],
11/2 ounces Parmesan cheese [45g], cut into 1 -inch [2.5 cm] pieces,
1 slice dry Italian bread, 1-inch [2.5 cm] thick [about 1 1/2 ounces, 45g ], crust removed, quartered,
4 large eggs,
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice,
Salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan.

Process the parsley with the metal blade of a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 seconds. Reserve.

Remove the peel of the lemon with a zester or grater. Process the lemon peel, Parmesan and bread with the metal blade until finely chopped. Pulse 4 times then process continuously for I minute. Add the eggs and lemon juice and process 5 seconds to combine.

With the motor running, pour 1 cup [240 ml] of the boiling stock through the feed tube. Whisk the contents of the work bowl into the remaining stock in the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly until the soup is hot but not boiling. Season to taste and serve immediately, garnished with the reserved parsley.

Makes 4-3/4 cups [1.2L].

Lorenza de Medici The Pleasures of Cooking Volume 8

Tuscan cuisine is famous for giving new life to leftovers. This dish is a perfect example. An icon of Tuscan cuisine, ribollita literally means "reboiled." It's difficult to find an authentic ribolitta because it takes 3 days to prepare. Minestrone is made the first day and eaten as is. The second day the leftover soup is layered with thin slices of bread (or toasted bread rubbed with garlic) and baked with thin slices of red onion on top. The third day the leftovers are reboiled.

Recipes for minestrone vary from region to region, restaurant to restaurant, and household to household. Most recipes are based upon regional produce. The most important ingredient is Tuscan minestrone is cavolo nero, or a winter black cabbage. Its leaves range in color from dark green to almost black. Once grown only in Tuscany, enterprising farmers in California's Salinas Valley are now growing it along with Royal Rose radicchio. If you cannot find black cabbage, substitute kale, chard, or use only Savoy cabbage.

Ribollita (Fall & Winter Recipe)
4 tablespoons olive oil,
1 red onion, chopped,
1 leek, white part only, chopped,
1 garlic clove, chopped,
4 carrots, sliced into half-inch rounds,
4 zucchini, sliced into half-inch rounds,
One-quarter whole Savoy cabbage, shredded and chopped,
1 bunch cavolo nero or kale,
1 small bunch spinach, shredded and chopped,
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into one-half inch cubes,
1 cup green beans, cut into bite-size pieces,
2 cups Tuscan white beans, one-half cup pureed and one-half cup whole,
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt,
4 tablespoons tomato paste,
1 pound stale Italian bread, sliced.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saut, the onion and leek together over low heat until they begin to burn slightly. Add the garlic and saut� for 1 minute. Add all the remaining vegetables. Season with sea salt and stir to mix in the onions and leeks evenly. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have reduced in volume by half. Stir again and cover with water to the top of the pot. The more water you add, the more broth you will have with the soup. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Add the tomato paste and stir to dissolve. Cover and cook the soup for 1 hour. Add the Tuscan beans.

The next day layer the soup in a deep baking dish with the stale bread and bake. Top with thinly sliced red onions before baking.

The next day, if there's any soup left over, reboil the soup, stirring well to break up the bread slices. The soup should be thick enough to eat with a fork! It's served with the traditional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.

Penne con Le Bietole - Penne with Swiss Chard (Anytime Recipe)
A robust and highly Flavored pasta for those who like garlic.
6 quarts water [6L]
l slice dry Italian bread, 2 inches [5 cm] thick, [about 3 ounces, 85g], quartered
2 large garlic cloves [about 1/3 ounce total, 10g], peeled
5 flat anchovies [about I ounce total, 30g], rinsed and patted dry
1/4 teaspoon dry hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil [120 ml]
8 ounces Penne pasta [230g]
1 pound Swiss chard, including stems [450g 1, washed, dried and cut to fit the feed tube, vertically
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 T olive oil

Bring the water and 2 teaspoons salt to the boil.

Meanwhile, process the bread with the metal blade of a food processor until finely chopped; pulse 4 times then process continuously for 45 seconds. Reserve.

With the motor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube and process until finely chopped, about 5 seconds. Add the anchovies and red pepper flakes and pulse 5 times to chop.

Heat 1/4 cup [60 ml] of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Heat the remaining oil, add the garlic mixture and cook over low heat, stirring, until the garlic is soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Add the Penne (and 1 tablespoon of olive oil for San Francisco residents) to the boiling water and cook until not quite tender, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, pack the Swiss chard in the feed tube and process with the ultra-thick [8 mm] slicing disc.

When the Penne has cooked for 8 minutes, stir in the Swiss chard and cook until the pasta and chard are tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss the pasta and Swiss chard with the garlic mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Serve sprinkled with the bread crumbs. Makes 6 servings [5 ounces each, 140g]

Lorenza de Medici The Pleasures of Italian Cooking Volume 8

Tagliatelle con Ricotta e menta - Pasta with Ricotta and mint (Spring & Summer Recipe)
16 oz of tagliatelle, fresh or packaged
chopped Mint or Nepitella
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese
one T olive oil

Cook tagliatelle in boiling salted water (to which one tablespoon of oil has been added if you live in San Francisco). Then dress the pasta with a sort of cream made with Ricotta and finely chopped mint, both beaten with salt and pepper. Instead of mint it is possible to use a fresh herb called "nipitella". It seems that originally this course was prepared with this aromatic herb. Serve with Parmesan cheese.



Bistecca alla Fiorentina - Florentine Steak (Anytime Recipe)
It's a porterhouse steak grilled on the coals, and difficult in that the meat must be well aged Chianina beef (the white Tuscan oxen of the Val di Chiana, near Arezzo). The animals, which grow to tremendous size, are also being raised in North America, and the American Chianina Association (Tel.(816) 431-2808) should be able to direct you to a supplier. Once you have found a source, you will need a porterhouse cut (about 1.5-2 inches thick), which will weigh at least 2 pounds (I have seen Chianina steaks that weigh 6). Pat the meat dry and grill it (exactly how long depends upon the fire and your taste), seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste once it's done. Artusi suggests it be served with a pat of butter, but now one is more likely to find a wedge of lemon instead.

Source: Italian Food Arista alla Fiorentina - Pork Loin Florentine Style (Fall & Winter Recipe)
1 lb boned carre` of pork
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
2 sprigs rosemary chopped fine
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Mix the rosemary and garlic with two pinches of salt and abundant pepper. Insert whole cloves into the meat and spread the rosemary and garlic mixture on the surface. Pour the oil over the meat and bake it in a preheated oven at 360 degrees F. Turn the meat occasionally, basting it with the pan juices.

When done, cut the meat into thin slices. It is usually served with potatoes baked in the pan juices or with boiled, chopped turnip greens tossed in the pan juices.

Source: Italian Food

Baccala` in Zimino (Anytime Recipe)
In Zimino is a Tuscan term that means cooked with greens; this is one of the recipes from my translation of Artusi that my editor and I decided to omit for want of space.

Mince all the standard herbs, in other words:
a tablespoon each of onion,
two teaspoons of parsley,
one of garlic,

Saute` the mixture in oil. When the onion has lightly browned, add a pound and a half of baccala`, skinned, deboned and cut into pieces. Season the fish with pepper and salt (if necessary), sprinkle it with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce or some tomato paste diluted with water, and simmer it until done, about 20 minutes, turning it once. You can eat the baccala` as it is with a side dish, and it will be excellent. However, a true zimino must be accompanied by a vegetable, either beet greens or spinach, which, after being boiled and drained (the volume should be about a packed cup), is reheated through with the sauce. Peas can be used as well."

Artusi also suggests grilling baccala`:
"Soak, skin, debone, and cut a pound and a half of baccala` into 4 pieces. Rub them with oil, pepper, and, if you like it, a few leaves of minced rosemary. Season it with oil, pepper, and, if you like it, a few sprigs of rosemary. Cook the fish over a hot grill, for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, turning it carefully to keep from breaking it."

Source: Italian Food

Cacciucco (Anytime Recipe)
Cacciucco is a fish stew made in the Tuscan port of Livorno, from whatever the fishmonger has that's fresh and inexpensive. It should have a healthy jolt of red pepper, and will sell you on fish if you don't like fish already.

11/2 to 2 pounds of mixed fish, whatever is in season (it needn't be expensive), for example, sole, mullet, catfish, dogfish, goby, squid, octopus, fresh shellfish (see The Joy of Cooking for treatment instructions), and shrimp.
Chop the large fish, but leave the small ones whole.
A half a medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic
A bunch of parsley, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound sliced fresh or canned plum tomatoes (if they're fresh, blanch and peel them)
2 tablespoons vinegar diluted in 3/4 cup of water
Salt and crumbled or minced hot red pepper to taste
Toasted Italian bread rubbed with garlic

Saute` the onion, parsley, and garlic in the oil in a deep bottomed pot. Once the onion has turned translucent, stir in the chopped tomatoes and season the mixture to taste. This is one of the few hot North Italian dishes, so don't feel you must be sparing with the red pepper. When the tomatoes are done, stir in the water and vinegar. Simmer the for a few more minutes and remove the garlic. Blend the sauce and return it to the fire with the fish, and, if you wish, sprinkle another tablespoon or two of olive oil into the pot. Simmer the cacciucco until the fish is done, 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast several slices of bread and rub them with a crushed clove of garlic. Once the fish is done, line the bottoms of your bowls with the toasted bread, ladle the cacciucco over them, and serve.

Serves four.

Sogliola alla Fiorentina - Florentine Sole (Anytime Recipe)
800g fillets of sole.
Plain white flour.
80g butter.
One glass white wine.
1.2 kg. spinach, washed, steamed and chopped

Wash, boil, chop and toss the spinach in the remaining butter; Warm gently to allow all the flavors to mingle and place on a warmed platter.

Coat the sole fillets with flour. Melt half the butter in a casserole and add the sole. Fry on both sides until golden and add the wine; allow to evaporate. Fish is always better moistened with a little sauce, so if it reduces too much, simply add a little wine and melted butter. Place the fish on paper towels for a minute and then on top of the spinach and serve.


Pollo al Pepe - Peppered Chicken (Anytime Recipe)
Plenty of black pepper is what makes this simple chicken dish so good. It's also terrific cooked on a grill. Pour your favorite Chianti.

2 3 1/2-pound chickens, halved, backbones removed, excess fat trimmed
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Lemon wedges
Rub each chicken half all over with 2 tablespoons oil, then 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat broiler. Arrange chicken, skin-side down, on broiler pan. Watching closely to avoid burning, broil chicken 5 to 6 inches from heat source until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove broiler pan from oven. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate. Pour off any pan drippings. Return chicken, skin-side up, to broiler pan. Broil until skin is crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over, skin-side down again, and broil until cooked through, about 8 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to platter; let stand 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4.

Fritto Misto di Verdura - Mixed Vegetable Fry (Spring & Summer Recipe)
300 gr. of cauliflower,
4 artichokes,
2 tomatoes,
2 eggplants,
2 zucchini,
100 gr. of flour,
1 egg,
bread crumbs,
vegetable oil,

Wash and chop the cauliflower and the artichokes, being careful to remove the stems and the hard outer leaves. Cook the vegetables in boiling salted water. Slice the tomatoes and the egg-plants , salt them and leave them to drain. Dry with a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper. Wash the zucchini and cut them into small disks. Prepare three plates: one with flour, one with salted beaten eggs and the last one with dried breadcrumbs. Now, handle each piece of vegetable singularly: dip it in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil Fry each single piece until brown and, when crisp, drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Torta di Patate - Potato Casserole (Anytime Recipe)
7 oz. starchy potatoes
1 1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 oz. Mozzarella cheese
2 t. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
1 demitasse spoon oregano
fresh tomato slices
extra-vergine olive oil.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 475� F. Boil, peel and mash the potatoes. Work in the flour along with a generous pinch of salt. Spread the potato mixture in a layer 1/4 in. thick in a baking pan rubbed with butter, oil or lard. Cut the Mozzarella in small cubes and arrange them atop the potato dough. Sprinkle over grated Parmesan, a pinch of pepper and the oregano. In the summer, slices of a fresh tomato that has been peeled and seeded can be put atop the torta.. At the end, pour over a bit of olive oil. Bake in a 475� oven until the surface of the torta has browned lightly and the potato dough is crunchy

Serves 6

Crepes (Anytime Recipe)
1/2 cup milk,
1/3 cup flour,
1 egg,
a tiny pinch of salt,
11/2 - 2 tablespoons butter,
8 inch skillet,

Put milk in bowl - add the flour, shaking it in with wire strainer - Beat with whisk until milk and flour are well blended. Break egg into bowl, add salt. Beat thoroughly until well mix .Put 1/2 teaspoon butter in skillet - heat medium low. Pour 2 tablespoons batter into center of pan. Lift pan and tip in several directions in a see saw motion to spread evenly on bottom of pan.

Cook until set - light brown. Cook only on 1 side.

Serves 4

Fagioli all'Ucelletto (Anytime Recipe)
Florentines eat lots of beans. Here is one classic recipe. 1 pound dried white beans (Great Northern or navy), picked over
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
a 1-pound can whole peeled tomatoes including juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
In a large saucepan soak beans in enough cold water to cover by 2 inches at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drain beans in a colander and return to saucepan with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer beans, covered, until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid and drain beans in colander.

In a heavy kettle cook garlic in oil over moderate heat, stirring until softened. Add reserved cooking liquid, beans, tomatoes with juice, sage, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Serves 6.

Here is a Tuscan family recipe which my late husband used to make:

Vittorio's Recipe (Anytime Recipe)
2 15 oz. cans of large cannellini beans, drained
1 can of tuna packed in oil or in water, drained
a small handful of Italian parsley chopped
2 T. of virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Zucchini Saltate - Sauted Zucchini
l/2 cup parsley leaves [1/2 ounce, 15g]
8 medium fresh mint leaves or l/2 teaspoon dried
3 medium zucchini [About 11/4 pounds total, 560g], ends trimmed, cut into 1 -inch [2.5 cm] pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Process the parsley and mint with the metal blade of a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 seconds. Reserve.

Process the zucchini in batches with the metal blade. Use about 1 cup for each batch and pulse until coarsely chopped, about 4 times for each batch.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until very hot, 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and toss with the reserved herbs. Season to taste.

Makes 4 servings [4 1/2 ounces each, 130g].

Lorenza deMedici The Pleasures of Italian Cooking Volume 8

Cauliflower, Olive and Caper Salad (Fall & Winter Recipe)
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch flowerets (about 6 cups)
a 3-ounce jar pimiento-stuffed olives, drained and chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 celery ribs, sliced thin diagonally
1/4 cup chopped drained peperoncini (pickled Tuscan peppers)
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 cup drained caper berries

For vinaigrette
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 flat anchovy fillets, or to taste

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water cook cauliflower until just tender, about 4 minutes. In a colander drain cauliflower and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain cauliflower well and in a large bowl toss with olives, celery, peperoncini, capers, and caper berries.

Make vinaigrette:
In a blender blend vinaigrette ingredients until combined well.

Add vinaigrette to salad, tossing well, and season with salt and pepper. Salad will improve in flavor if kept, covered and chilled, at least 1 day and up to 3. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Serves 12.

Pane Toscano alla Griglia con fagioli in Insalata - Grilled Bread and White Bean Salad (Anytime Recipe)
This salad could be a meal in itself
4 3/4-inch-thick slices Italian bread (each about 3 x 5 inches)
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered
1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 1 1/2-inch-thick onion slices (preferable sweet onion, such as Vidalia)
6 tablespoons bottled olive oil vinaigrette
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Fresh basil sprigs (optional)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Arrange bread and vegetables on baking sheet. Brush bread and vegetables lightly with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Grill pepper and onion 6 minutes, turning occasionally. Place bread and tomato slices on barbecue. Continue to grill until pepper and onion are slightly charred, bread is toasted and tomatoes are heated-through, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables and bread to work surface; cut into bite-size pieces.

Place cannellini, sliced basil and remaining 3 tablespoons vinaigrette in large bowl; toss to coat. Mix in grilled vegetable and bread. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper; garnish with basil sprigs, if desired.

2 Servings

Fagiolini alla Griglia, Cipolle Rosse e Pomodori - Grilled Green Bean Salad with Red Onions and Tomatoes (Spring & Summer Recipe)
16 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pound haricots verts or other thin green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onions
3 plum tomatoes, seeded, cut into matchstick-size strips (about 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350�F. Place garlic cloves in small baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over. Cover and bake garlic until tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover; bake until garlic is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Cool. Peel garlic. Transfer garlic and oil to processor. Process until smooth paste forms. Add vinegar; process until well blended. Transfer to medium bowl. Gradually add 1/4 cup oil, whisking until dressing is thick and smooth. Stir in basil. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain; transfer beans to large bowl of ice water. Drain; pat dry with paper towels. Toss beans in large bowl with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing and beans can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Grill or broil beans until beginning to brown, turning frequently, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Add onions and tomatoes. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve salad at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Biscottini di Prato - Biscottini from Prato (Anytime Recipe)
Makes about 30:
1 cup blanched almonds
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Toast the almonds in a preheated 375� oven until golden; chop coarsely. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and almonds in a bowl; in another bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Stir into the flour and work with your hands until the batter comes together (add a little more flour if needed). Shape into three 1 1/2" thick logs; place on a buttered and floured baking sheet; bake 30 minutes. Slice the logs diagonally into 1" thick slices, spread out on the baking sheet, and bake 10 more minutes, turning after 5 minutes. The biscotti should be firm and golden. Cool on a rack. Serve with Vin Santo.

Delicious Peaches (Summer Recipe)
As a summer dessert, nothing can beat a large, ripe, luscious, juicy white peach. However, if you are expecting friends for an informal dinner, you can prepare ahead a large bowl of pesche al limone or pesche al vino bianco. (peaches with lemon or peaches with white wine.

The peaches must be ripe so the peel comes away easily. Just slice the peeled peaches into a large bowl, add a little sugar plus the juice of 2 lemons, give them a gentle stir and leave in the fridge. As a more inebriating alternative, you can substitute the lemon with some sparkling white wine. A few leaves of wild mint are fine final touch.

Torta Rustica di Farina Gialla - Rustic Corn flour Cake (Fall & Winter Recipe)
160 gr. of corn flour,
160 gr. of plain flour,
160 gr. of sugar,
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil,
1 cup of milk,
1 egg,
1 lemon,
1 packet of yeast,
Oven temperature: 180� C,
Baking time: 40 minutes.

Mix in a bowl the maize flour, the plain flour, and the sugar. Slowly add the oil and the milk. Work the ingredients together, adding the egg and the lemon peel. At the last moment add the yeast, making sure that there are no lumps. In the meantime light the oven. Grease the baking-sheet with olive oil, and then dust it with flour. Pour the prepared mixture and bake it in the oven.

Serves 4


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