Thursday, December 22, 2016

They Wont Sell Them

The biggest part of the life spent together. 
Raimonda & Nicola. 
Chest to chest,, toe to toe, as Rihanna  sings. 
Doing everything together.
"He cooks as well" she says.
"We cook together" , he adds.

What is the "everything together" they do?
Working in the field.
Working with animals 
Making food.

Like Prosciutto, which is now aging slowly in the dark, cold, and dry...: delice!

Then: Salami, Soppressata, fresh Sausages, Rigatino, Spalla, Culatello....
The Culatello.... Yumm! what an.... aroma!
I asked them to buy one.
No way.
They wont sell any.
It is all for the family: one son, two daughters with their respective families.

Val di Chiana is still a place like this: it is a true place.
With true people.
With true food.

Happiness sometimes has to do with the simplicity of the real things.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Home Made Sausages: Photo Recipe

First Step: buy the whole shoulder of a pig, happily breeded and healthy fed. 

Bone it.

Cut the meat,...

 ..... eliminating also the strongest tendons.

At this point you have to choose which kind of sausage or salami you want to make: with ground  meat .........

or with meat cut by knife, like the typical Soppressata.

This is Cinghiale - Wild Boar -. Max is showing to Leigh how to pick the right pieces for the sausage and the best ones to cure whole and then to hung for drying. 

The meat, either ground or cut, just pork or a mixture of pork and wild boar, must be kneaded like a dough, mixing in it the right amount of salt: 26 grams for Kilogram in case of fresh sausages, 28 grams in case of aged salamis.
Spices can be added: hot chili pepper, pepper, fennel seeds, garlic and wine as well.

Another choice that requires experience, is the bowel: with a thinner or thicker membrane depending the aging duration of the salami. To facilitate the operation, the bowel must be first inflated. 

The bowel is completely inserted in the "funnel" applied to the grinder machine.

... and... VOILA'!

Friday, December 16, 2016


I wanted to write this post since a long ago.
But  I wanted to write it without rush.
I wanted to write the right words.
Because Camerino is one of the (too) many hystorical towns destroyed by the earthquakes of the last months.
I wanted to find the right and respectful way to express my sorrow.
I wont write about the sad part of the recent happenings in Camerino.
I want to write about the vitality and the beauty of this town.
I want to write how much I miss it, althoug I have never lived there.

I went to Camerino at the end of January 2016.

I was expecting to find a beautiful and empy old town, as many others in Italy. Many of the Italian villages ad towns have preserved their beauty and they are.... empty. This is another story I cannot tell now.

Anyways, I was expecting the sad loneliness of a few men sitting in the Coffee Bar.

What I found: young people walking in the streets. 

Students from Greece, United States, Spain.... from all over the world. 9.000 students.
We entered the Information Office and started to talk with the kinds lady working there. Her name is Nancy Biraschi. She recently posted on FB photos of the disaster in her own town.
I feel close to her, although we have had only one, not planned, meeting.
She took us inside the majestic building to show us pretty frescoes at the ceiling, arazzi, emblems of noble ancient families; she expained us that the University is an excellence in Italy for the research in many fields of knowledge: biology, chemistry, medicine.

I want to believe that Camerino will be again and soon the brilliant town I saw, full of students, languages, words, ideas........... 

The long terrace of the main building of the University, with the view on the valley

The other side of the view

Camerino is  a place full of peace, not just silence.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


We met over 7 year ago.
We haven't seen since them, but we have been keeping the contact with FB.
Laura: when I saw her outside the door, I hardly recognized in the beautiful lady in front of me the same young - a little shy - girl with glasses.
I saw an elegant and nonchalant butterfly.
Changes happen.... I must be different too.....

Laura "grabbed" the occasion to come as her sister was in Florence too.

We chatted and chatted and chatted: work, love, travels, life. 

She left with her sister and brother in law, at the end of cooking, eating and chatting. 
She went through and toward her life, leaving in me a little emotion of  gratitude for her return, an "extra" awarness of the passing time.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Super easy: Recipe of the Savarin


260 gr ( 4 ½ Oz) 00 flour
4 eggs
2 dl ( 4/5 cup) milk
50 gr ( 1 ½ Oz) sugar
80 gr ( 2 ½ Oz) butter
20 gr ( 2/3 Oz) brewer yeast
grated zest of one lemon
for the garnish:
50 gr ( 1 ½ Oz) powder sugar
 juice of one orange
2 tbs Vodka or Rhum
200 gr ( 7 Oz) strawberries or other red fruits
1 mango or /and mixed seasonal fruit

Smash the butter with two spatulas.
Melt the brewer yeast in lukewarm milk.

Sift 250 gr ( 4 Oz) flour in a bowl.
Mix in the milk with yeast, the smashed butter, the sugar, the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at the time working vigorously until the dough gets smooth and soft.
Cover with a cloth and let it rest until it doubles in bulk.

Knead the dough further and transfer it in a ring mould, previously greased and floured. Let it rise 15 more minutes. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° ( 350 F) for 30’.

Clean and cut the strawberries in halves. Mix them with the powder sugar, the orange juice and the Vodka. Let them marinate in the refrigerator.

Take off the Savarin from the oven, let it cool down and remove from the mould. Soak with the marinade.
Fill the hole with the strawberries and the other fruit fancily cut.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Castel dell'Ovo in Napoli: Another Dimension of the Space

This post has the pretension to be part of a series of posts that do not regard strictly the cuisine. They start as "astonishment" and "wonder" any time I discover my Country, Italy. Yes, although I am Italian, "to discover" is the appropriate verb.

In these posts I write the emotions and the sensations I feel - often suddenly and in a not espected way - when I travel through Italy. So, nothing really hystorical or geographycal or of culinary interest. Just my own feelings.

Below yo see the links of  some similar posts:

At the end, all this has to do with cooking, as well.

Although in a very little part, with my posts I want to show how Italy is  different in any corner and to (partially) make comprehensible the reasons why Italy has the widest variety of foods and foods techniques in the world. 

This is Castel dell 'Ovo: it looks like an irregular cube on a rock right off the Promenade of Mergellina.  It does not look particularly actractive , nor big: it looks rather little military fortification, a sightseeing tower, the first defense line with cannons looking  out from the embrasures. 

This is me, on the large stairs going up and inside the castle. The stairs, I notice, are pretty wide.

Walking in, I found that there are houses......

.............. a church, ....

...... arches with a view on the city.

It is a village inside a town.

You may wonder whether the buildings, streets and  piazzas magically grow as you walk inside.....  you are in another dimension of the space.

At the end of the visit, i took the last brief choc, leaning out on the breath-taking vertical on the sea shore.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Easy Recipe of the Christmas Log



A cake with the shape of a snow-ed fir-log.

For the pastry dough:
4 egg, separated
75 gr ( 2 ½ Oz) sugar
a few drop of vanilla extract or a pinch of vanilla powder
a pinch of salt
75 gr ( 2 ½ Oz ) flour
For the filling:
1 egg
2 tbs ( 30 gr – 1 Oz) sugar
2 tbs Brandy
400 gr ( 13 Oz) chestnut jam
1 tbs bitter cocoa
For the topping:
300 gr ( 10 Oz) bitter chocolate
For garnish:
Powdered sugar
Candy fruits

1)    Put 4 egg yolks in a bowl (keeping the whites apart) with 75 grams sugar and beat up with a whisk. Add the vanilla powder (1 envelope) and a pinch of salt.
2)    In one other bowl, beat up the egg whites until stiff
3)    Add 75 gr flour to the yolk mixture, a bit a time, passing it through a sieve; then add the whites carefully.
4)    Pour out the batter in a large baking pan and cook at 200° for 10-12 minutes. Wet a large cloth and lay it on the table; remove the cake over it. Roll the cake with the cloth and put in the fridge for 1 hour. Take care the cake is still hot as you roll it.
5)    Prepare the cream. Put 1 whole egg in a bowl, add 2 spoons of sugar and beat up until foamy ( to prevent eventual salmonella diseases, heat this batter in double boiling until 70°). Aromatise with 2 spoons of brandy, add 400 grams chestnut jam, a spoon of bitter cocoa and mix well.
6)    Take off the rolled pastry from the fridge; un-wrap with care; lay the cream upon it. Roll again. Wrap in the cloth, or in plastic film, and put in the fridge again for 3 hours
7)    Remove from the fridge, take off the plastic film, cut the two ends and joint them to the sides, as a tree log.
8)    With a spatula, lay melted chocolate, making strips with a fork
9)    Sprinkle with powdered sugar (the snow) and decorate with candy fruits.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chick Peas & Baccalà - Recipe

The Baccalà is Cod Fish preserved in salt.

Thus the first thing to do is to soak it in cold water for a couple of days, changing water often.

The finger food of the photo above is composed by two traditional Italian recipes: 
Baccalà Mantecato alla Veneziana
Panissa Ligure

Plus a cracker made with puree of boiled chicke peas and starch.


Ingredients for 6 :

1 kg (2.2 Lb) salted codfish
20ml ( 1 cup) milk
2 garlic cloves
2 spoons chopped fresh parsley
Extra virgin olive oil as much needed
salt and pepper

Put the codfish into a casserole dish, cover with water and milk  and put over heat. As soon as it starts to boil, skim and remove the froth, turn off the heat and leave the codfish for 15/20 minutes in the covered pot, and then drain. In case the fish is not tender, boil it for 10 minutes more minutes. As ready, remove its skin, open it up, remove the bones and then crumble the meat, putting it in a bowl-like container. Mix and beat the fish hard with a wooden spoon and pour in a thin thread of olive oil ( you can use an immersion mixer) . Continue to beat always in the same direction (as for the maionaise) until the fish has all been well combined. It should become white and creamy. At this point, add as much oil as the fish absorb. Add salt, pepper, finely chopped garlic. Serve cold.

Optionally you can add a mashed boiled potato, or some milk/cream  to the fish "dough or/and cream " to have a suitable consistence.

Once the Baccalà Mantecato is ready, put it in a pastry bag to pipe it out on the Panissa.


300  gr ( 10 oz) chick peas flour
1 Lt ( 4 cups) water
30 gr ( 1oz) extra virgin oliv oil

Put the chick peas flour in a large bowl and start to “temper” it pouring lukewarn water whilemixing with a wisk, avoiding lumps. At the end, pass the mixture through a thin sifter.
Mix in the estra virgin olive oil and let it rest for 2 hours.
After this time, add the salt. Pour it in a casserole and cook on low heat for  60 - 80 minutes, like a Polenta.
Pour the mixture in a greased flat container, level the surface with a spatula and let it sit at room temperature until firm and compact ( better to the next day).
Un-mould the Panissa and cut it.

For this finger food, cut the Panissa in squares, brush slightly with extra virgin olive oil and bake at 180° - 350 F for about 15 minutes, until a crispy crust forms.


100 gr ( 3 oz)) boiled chick peas with 100 ml ( 3 oz) of their cooking water
15 gr ( 1/2 oz) corn starch
Super fine chopped rosemary

Put the corn starch in a large bowl and pour slowly some the chickpeas water avoiding lumps.
Put the boiled chickpeas in a blender with the remaining water and mix until thin and smooth.
Mix the two preparations.
Add salt and a little chopped rosemary.
With a spatula, brush the mixture on a silicon sheet, giving to it irregular shapes.
Bake at 200° c - 400 F for about 8 minutes or until golden and crispy.


Pipe some Baccalà Mantecato on each squared Panissa.
Garnish with one boiled chick pea and a chick pea cracker.