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Posted 03/02/2014

Ossobuco alla Fiorentina

Ossobuco is a classic of Milanese cuisine that made its way to Florence simply because of its deliciousness. Nobody really knows how and when that happened (people travel, duh!), and the recipe by the way does not even appear to be that old. This great dish, that was probably created in a random Osteria in or around Milan, does not appear in the Anonymous “La Vera Cucina Lombarda” cookbook published in 1890 and Pellegrino Artusi waited until his 14th edition of “Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene” in 1920 to mention it. Continue Reading…

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Posted 07/16/2013

Wood Fired Leg of Lamb

I Love to Play With Fire!

There is something very special that happens to me when I decide to diss the kitchen stove in favor of my Pizza Oven or even just an improvised simple fire-pit. My father taught me at a very young age that cooking on a live wood flame is one of the best ways to respect your food, to connect with it and celebrate it with due diligence. Continue Reading…

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Posted 12/30/2011

Saltimbocca alla Romana

It is true indeed, Tuscans for the most part are obnoxiously fixated with their own regional cuisine! We come from a small region, with small villages and many grandmothers: each one of us has a family recipe for anything that you can find on a traditional Tuscan menu. We are good eaters and hungry people by default, we enjoy our traditions on a plate and we always need a full glass of red wine to accompany our meals…. but what happens when we encounter foods that do not belong to our region? We just incorporate what we like in our menus, we stop talking about our traditions and we simply add the name of the region to whatever recipe we are preparing. Continue Reading…

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Posted 05/23/2011

Grilled Leg of Lamb and Salsa Verde (by Michael Schwartz)

Debi and I are creatures of habit: we are young parents always on a schedule, always on the run and basically always tired!

When it comes to our meals we usually tend to plan ahead what’s going to happen at the dinner table; we do it daily, it is almost a ritual where everybody is involved. I have to say, proposing my girls new recipes I want to tackle while they are having breakfast is not the easiest thing to do… it seems I am the only one in this house that is able to sip a morning coffee while already drooling at the idea of a Pork Loin dinner, or while flipping through a cookbook.

As much as we enjoy our home cooked meals we always try to make time at least once a week to eat someone else’s’ food, as a way of looking for inspiration and widen our culinary horizons… so to speak.  I personally enjoy a lot the process by which new recipes become part of my repertoire: I always take pictures of dishes I like when dining out, I am an avid food magazine reader and a collector of all cookbooks that are in line with my family’s Tuscan style. However even if I try new recipes constantly and obsessively, I never follow directions to the letter; I try to understand the “backbone” of whatever I am eating or reading about and then I hit the stove and try to make it. It is not the easiest process as it obviously it exposes me to possible failure (which does not happen often… but it happens) and it also usually translates in longer time spent trying to finesse each recipe. Continue Reading…

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Posted 09/27/2010

Italian-Style Burger

In Italy, we don’t eat burgers. When we think of burgers, we think of the constant fight that local politicians have to keep McDonalds out of our historical centers of the cities. However, since I moved to the States, I got to appreciate it just because it’s easy, and your kitchen stays clean! Here in California it’s just glorious because I have so many chances to stay outside in the garden, with my kids, barbecuing. I get pissed when I look at the American “patty.” I don’t understand. Where is the flavor in a chopped piece of meat that is so flat it looks like a coaster for a glass? My friends tell me that my hamburger is more like meatball, but the difference is I squish it and I grill it.

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Posted 09/13/2010

Turkey Meatballs on a Bed of Leeks

This is the perfect comfort food. This dish makes Debi very happy, she says that this sauce is probably the closest thing that I prepare that actually deserves to be called gravy. This is what the girls demand when they’re sick or overly tired. It’s quick and makes great leftovers (if I have leftovers, both my daughters expect it in their lunchbox the next day.) Continue Reading…

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Posted 06/28/2010

Roasted Pheasant (Pheasant Alla Fiorentina)

Pheasant is one of those animals you always see crossing little dirt streets in Tuscany. You can hear their noise in the morning, but they’re super, super cute. The male is full of color, has a nice green head with a red beak and wonderful feathers. The female looks more like a quail, more of a sandy color, and they’re adorable when they cross the streets. Hunters love to hunt them. They’re dumb and they taste delicious.

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Posted 10/16/2009

Chicken Cacciatora with Pan Roasted Potatoes

“Pollo alla Cacciatora” (Chicken Cacciatora) is a very common, almost ubiquitous dish throughout Italy. Like other recipes that are present in almost all regions of our country, you can come across many variations on the theme, almost like it happens with basic red or meat sauces… Every grandma has her own way of doing things, and this is abundantly reflected on the plate that will be served to the table.
The basic ingredients however do not change; by definition, Chicken Cacciatora, is cooked in a red sauce with Black Olives, Red Wine, Tomatoes and country herbs. It is a rich peasant dish that everyone in the family will enjoy, it holds cooked in the fridge for two or three days and makes great leftovers. Continue Reading…

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Posted 12/26/2008

Pork Loin “Alla Focettina”, Roasted Potatoes and some Veggies

Debi and I use this menu when we want to entertain without being strapped to the stove while cooking.
The Pork Loin just needs to get started, then it will cook for a couple of hours, before some touch ups and a few minutes of cooling off. Wash the vegetables and chop the potatoes far in advance, and when it comes time to feed your tribe, you will already be way ahead of your game.
About an hour and a half after you start cooking the meat, heat the oven and start the potatoes.
Then at the end, while the Loin and the Potatoes are cooling off, boil the vegetables.
You are ready to serve your meal. Continue Reading…

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Posted 08/29/2008

Sangria, Polenta and Mushroom Appetizer, Tagliata with Rucola and Grilled Vegetables

Today’s menu is very much typical of an Italian Summer Backyard Barbeque…
Fun Drink: Sangria
Appetizer: Mushrooms “Trifolati” with Nipitella over Grilled Polenta
Main Course: Tagliata with Rucola Salad
Side: Grilled Mixed Vegetables
Wine: Conte Bregonzo, Amarone della Valpolicella (not a great bottle to tell you the truth, but it did the trick)

To be on a good schedule…since it is good not to let cool off your delicious new Tuscan achievement…make the Polenta the night before, the Sangria the morning after or early afternoon, then chop the vegetables, slice the polenta, cook the Mushrooms and just heat them when needed, taste the Sangria. Sorry about the jumping around…but multitasking is necessary. Continue Reading…

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