Food

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Posted 03/18/2015

Rosticciana alle Olive

When I am in Tuscany I always cook this recipe on the fireplace or in the pizza oven. There is just something so special about cooking with live fire, I simply cannot resist. This wonderful stew though can be easily prepared in a traditional oven at home, and no special accessories or hardware is needed. Give this one a try, and you will be amazed by how your family and guests will end up ripping the meat off the bone like Flinstones! Continue Reading…

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Posted 03/04/2015

Penne al Pesto Rosso

One of my very favorite kitchen tools is my marble mortar!

This past summer Debi and I did some hard core kitchen shopping for our farm in Fiesole; we were able to track down a marble mortar from the late 1500s’ with an original pestle from the 1600s’, kind of sick uh?! Working with  ingredients the way it was done centuries ago (and still) it is a fantastic way for me to channel the energy of my old kitchen; I light the fireplace even if it’s the middle of summer, open all doors and windows, and enjoy the 20 minutes that it takes to prepare a recipe like this one while completely connected with my land. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/10/2015

Baked Pasta with Tomato and Chard Sauce

Debi and I were truly impressed with our girls eating attitude when we started traveling to Italy to visit family. In their early years, Evelina and Giulia were absolutely fantastic eaters, they would try everything without showing any sign of fear… but things have changed. My daughters are growing older and have discovered soon enough that food emancipation is a wonderful conquest, and that debating (and refusing) their parents’ taste of certain foods is actually a battle they can sometimes win. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/10/2015

Budino al Cioccolato

My grandmother never did anything special to “buy” my love. Well, I actually persuaded her once to buy me a new bicycle, but that is another story (of childhood and hustle). She always knew she could touch people with her food, and she always played it cool… She has always been super strict and had her set of rules me and my brother had to go by, but at end the reward has always been appropriate and delicious! Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/04/2015

Beef Cutlets “Alla Pizzaiola”

I used to be served this dish for lunch at my school when I was a kid. I always thought that adding sauce and cheese to our beef cutlets was a way for the school to have kids finish their meat… Now as a father I do understand the simplicity and efficiency of hiding healthy ingredients in the recipes I prepare for my daughters. In all honesty I prefer adding spinach to a frittata than sauce and cheese to a meat cutlet as I believe it makes for a somewhat heavy dish but….

Since I arrived in the US I have noticed a quite considerable amount of recipes that for some strange reason all go under the name “Parmigiana”; Meatballs, Beef Cutlets and Chicken are often available drowned in a red sauce, asphyxiated with a slab of cheese and finally snowed in with a few generous tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/02/2015

Spinach and Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Cheese Sauce

I remember a Sunday, long long time ago. I was about 8 years old, standing on a chair in my Nonna Lola’s kitchen, I don’t really remember what we were getting ready to celebrate, but all the farmers’ wives were in the kitchen as well.

All counters had been cleaned properly and then dusted with some flour, next thing I knew my grandmother placed a ball of green marbleized dough in front of me and went straight to the point :”Make me some Gnocchi!”.  It took me a few moments to process her request, then the obvious response  just poured out of my mouth: “Gnocchi? Nonna, I have no idea!”

“You don’t need to know much about it, all I need is your little hands, just start rolling!”  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/27/2015

Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana

Today’s recipe is a classic of Roman cooking: the name comes from Amatrice, a town in Lazio; from here the farmers that travelled down to Rome with their produce, including fresh ewe’s milk cheese (pecorino) and mountain pigs, also imported this way of cooking maccheroni and bucatini. In our house this is in absolute our favorite sauce! Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/21/2015

Beets, Cucumber and Bottarga Salad

In Italy salad is one of those food items that makes it into your stomach just because “Mom has told you so!” You will rarely encounter a list of salads on our restaurant menus and in fact a handful of greens and a few chopped (or grated) carrots are all you can hope for to be served as a side dish to your steak or “rosticciana” ribs. Tuscans favor sautéed greens, roasted potatoes or vegetable stews like “Peperonata” to accompany their proteins.

Then I met Deb, and moved to Los Angeles where “People really eat salad before pasta???” The whole notion of considering salad as a stand alone dish still quite does not resonate with me, but as you can see I am adapting and making progress. However, don’t u dare ask me for salad to start your meal, you will rub me the wrong way! Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/20/2015

Branzino alla Vernaccia

I am the product of Tuscany’s inland, red wine runs through my veins. Along with Olive Oil it has been part of our family business for many decades, until severe weather damaged our vineyard twenty years ago. It really never mattered what kind of food was going to show up at the table, unsalted bread and red wine always arrived first. Well, actually the open flask of wine never, ever left the dining room table; always available to quench somebody’s thirst.

But my grandmother was born in Venice and in her repertoire she had some glorious fish recipes and yes, she used white wine.  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/19/2015

Seared Scallops with Fava Bean Puree

I have created this recipe a few years back when developing the menus for The Montauk Yacht Club in Long Island NY. It was my very first culinary consulting job for a hospitality establishment,  I wanted to feature dishes that could be interpreted as elegant (if people really wanted to) but that retained the essence of my peasant roots.

I do believe that simplicity is elegance. I never mix too many ingredients together and actually enjoy the thinking process that for me is the first step in cooking new recipes: I cook in my head, every step, from the ingredients list to the plating. Never, ever, I have gotten into the kitchen asking myself “What do I have in my pantry? What can I cook tonight?”.  Continue Reading…

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