What a summer it has been, end of July we went to Mexico and had a wonderful time. It was E’s first time going and my fifth time, so I was so happy to enjoy it with Elia this time. We went deep sea fishing, snorkeled, laid around the pool, drank margaritas and enjoyed the Mexican beaches. I love Mexican cuisine when done right and I had a great time introducing E to what a real taco tastes like and relaxed with our friends, margartitas in hand. We had an absolute blast with our friends, a vacation never to be forgotten.
One could say I’m easily amused but there are many things that I see and learn everyday living under the Tuscan sun that make my heart sing. The grey doves that travel in pairs and chirp a beautiful song together. The wild poppies growing alongside an abandoned villa. The group of men who sit outside the cafe every evening looking out to the road together. The elderly lady who lives across the way who is outside feeding her chickens or hanging her sheets outside to dry. It seems as though I’m living in a picture book at times.
Sitting here listening to the Beatles having an espresso after lunch and I’m feeling really guilty I haven’t posted on here in months. I have no excuse except for the fact I can sometimes be a perfectionist and pick at all the things I think I should fix until I just don’t do it anymore. This ends today! I have been making several delicious meals and I promise they will make their way on here.
Ciao everyone! I am back here to tell you all how well the event went Friday. The morning was busy making all eight cheesecakes, six small for the judges and two large ones for the guests who will arrive after the judging takes place. It was such a wonderful day watching the rest of the finalist prepare their dolci and meeting everyone. It was an honor to be a finalist and I still can’t believe how lucky I was to be involved in such an important event. There were journalists, photographers and not to mention the guest of honor, Loretta Fanella. Loretta is a well known pastry chef here in Italy who has worked with the Italian Master Chef, Carlo Cracco, who is a judge on Master Chef Italia and a very highly rated chef in Europe.
This morning I am sitting here with my cup of tea while E sleeps away his jet lag from his two week business trip to the United States. As I walked down the street to go get some fresh bread from the panificio it seemed as if it would be another beautiful Spring day again. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think Spring is here to stay and I couldn’t be happier. As my succulents and cactus sun bath outside I decided I should start to think about what I will prepare for lunch. First thought was risotto. Risotto! “Why on earth have I not yet posted a recipe for risotto on my blog yet?!”, I thought.
Isn’t spring time just wonderful? It’s as if the world wakes up again. Flowers begin to bloom, the temperature begins to rise and of course the spring produce. I was a little too excited when I saw that asparagus was making an appearance in the grocery stores again. Believe it or not, I would pick some green veggies over a dessert any day. I’m crazy, I know.
One thing I do love almost as equally as vegetables is citrus. I love the way it looks, I love the way it smells and obviously I love the taste. We were over at E’s grandparents house for a special Sunday lunch where she made a delicious shrimp pasta and I had noticed a gorgeous kumquat tree in her front yard. I just go crazy when I spot a citrus tree, I am absolutely obsessed, maybe it’s because I grew up in Portland where it would literally be impossible to grow any form of citrus tree there. Anyway, I managed to tell her how beautiful I thought the tree was (in Italian, mind you) and two days later she came knocking on my door with a huge bag full of them. Oh happy day!
Living near the sea is a dream come true of mine. But we do lack snow topped mountains and sometimes you need a good dose of snow. Fortunately we are able to drive up North a few hours and enter a winter wonderland. Our friend’s family member has a cabin up at Canazei, Italy and we were lucky enough to be invited to join him and his girlfriend in a wintery weekend up in the Italian Alps. We had a late start driving so when we arrived I wasn’t able to see anything except black shadows caused by the moon’s brightness. I didn’t know what to except but I never doubt Italy’s ability to constantly surprise me with it’s beauty.
I woke the next morning, quickly opened the drapes and my jaw dropped…
I cannot believe it is already November because it sure hasn’t felt like autumn around here with 70 degree weather and humid temperatures. Wednesday was a beautiful day and I had taken a trip earlier to a nearby beach to collect some white sand for a project I had in mind. The beach inspired me to make something fresh and easy to prepare for lunch that day and tuna seemed to be the perfect answer. I grabbed a freshly baked loaf of pane (bread) on the way home and began preparing lunch.
A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to a bakery in town to have cappuccinos and pastries one Saturday morning. A few minutes later after sitting down a couple friend of ours came strolling in. They were dressed in very casual clothes that I had never seen them in before. We asked them what they were up to and they replied with telling us they had plans to go into the belora forest to find some porcini mushrooms. I had no idea people did this, especially our friends! I was very intrigued. We changed our clothes and joined them for the fun.
Because it was the middle of October the floor was covered in leaves which made it quite difficult to spot the brown-rounded tops of the funghi porcini on the forest floor. Our two friends were much more experienced than us but we got the hang of it just fine. After about three hours frolicking through the trees with our walking sticks in hand, we finally called it quits. The result was fantastic because we all had incredible luck! Our basket was full of delizioso porcini mushrooms and our friend Federico even found a couple of bubbole mushrooms. (the thin stemmed white mushroom pictured) I had no prior knowledge of mushrooms and what kind are okay to eat and what are not but luckily our friends did.
Conversation came up about how we would enjoy these beauties; I would make gnocchi with a porcini and sausage cream sauce gnocchi alla boscaiola for dinner that night and we would make an impromptu dinner party. People that know me well know that I am a major fan of entertaining so I was thrilled with the decision and also very flattered that they would trust me (the American girl) with making the meal!
Serving size; 6
6 small potatoes boiled and riced potate novelle
2 cups flour
3 Italian sausages
2 + 1/2 cups chopped porcini mushrooms
200 ml Chef Panna cream sauce ( my favorite brand to use because it’s very creamy and smooth)
salt and pepper
Fill a large pot of water, large pinch of salt and add your potatoes. Bring potatoes to a boil for 10-12 minutes until tender. Rice the potatoes and place on a well floured working surface. Add the two eggs and flour (a little at a time) to the riced potatoes and start handling it enough so that it becomes less sticky to handle. You might have to add a little more flour as you go but the less flour, the better texture. In the end it should feel semi firm to the touch. Try not work with it too much or your gnocchi will be hard. Cut the dough in eight sections and start to roll each piece into a long strip, about 1/2 inch wide. Cut them evenly into 1/4-1/2 pieces. Heat a large pot of water.
For the sauce lightly oil a large saucepan with olive oil and break the Italian sausage into bite-sized pieces. Add the chopped porcini pieces and sauté for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat. Last but definitely not least, add the cream sauce. If you don’t have access to Chef Panna then you can use any plain cream based sauce. Season with salt and cracked pepper.
Once your large pot of water is boiling add a good pinch of salt and add your gnocchi pieces. Fresh gnocchi only takes a few minutes to cook and when they float to the top they are finished. Take a slotted spoon and place them in the porcini and sausage cream sauce. Coat all the gnocchi and serve. As for the bubbole mushrooms Federico found, I sautéed them with a little olive oil and sage and seasoned with salt and pepper. My mouth is watering just thinking about how wonderful this meal was.