May 20, 2007

A Perfect Spring Outing

I always dreamed of living in Europe after my first visit in 1973.
My grandfather was born in Paris, my grandmother in Russia,
My mom raised in Shanghai.
I was not happy in the suburbs.

I dreamed of all my friends marrying airline pilots
and each of us living in a different European Capital
so we would always fly free and have a place to stay.

Well that didn't work out, but here I am anyway.

What is nice about living somewhere fabulous like Tuscany is when friends come to visit.
Yesterday my friend Don Genova came down from Parma where he is studying at the new Slow Food campus

We toured the Central Market with another student from the program Betsy and interviewed some of the artisans for Don's radio show which you can download and listen to.
We tasted our way through the market, Parmesan Reggiano,Traditional Balsamic Vinegars, Mostarda... in jelly form, tripe sandwiches, cookies from Sardegna and of course wine!

Tough job but someone has to do it!

Trying out my new program on them, which includes touring the market in the morning with a light lunch followed by a day in Chianti and dinner at Dario's new SoloCiccia.
Is there too much of a perfect thing?


wine at Casa del Vino





view from the 222 road from Siena to Panzano

Driving the backroads in the wine country is so incredibly beautiful, we had to stop.
When Don and Betsy went into the field to take foto's of the new grapes forming on the vine,
they found some wild peas.



from our chianti drive fresh tiny wild peas, tasting of almonds...or arsenic?




work, work, work




A stop at Dario Cecchini's shop before dinner feasting our eyes
with Kim as our hostess

Dante, of course, at Dario's



Commerative plaques to the demise of the TuscanT-bone during Mad Cow
and then it's return.

Dario will soon be opening a Steak School




After a day like that I need to recuperate.
Lunch a panzanella salad.. without the bread
(ok just a slice to soak up the juices given off)

I used tiny tomatoes from Naples called datteri, dates,
raw red Tropea onions from Calabria
Peeled cucumber
basil
red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
and
salt from Trapani, Sicily

Spring is in the air... but summer is just around the corner!


May 18, 2007

Zab- BAYLON


May 17th- San Pasquale Baylon


Every picture tells a story and every story....... has a start.

Yesterday I recieved a gift from a winemaker Mario Zanobini, a clay plaque of Saint Pasquale Baylon, saying that he was the patron saint of cooks.

Others say that San Lorenzo is the patron saint of cooks.

But, there are cooks and there are cooks.
In looking a little closer, Saint Baylon, according to Wikipedia, is patron saint of pastry chefs, said to have invented Zabaione!

I like that version!

So much so I think we should all whip some up to have on fruit!

The basic recipe for Zabaione is to whip one egg yolk per person with one tablespoon of sugar and one tsp of liquore, I prefer a little less liquore.

Whisk the yolk and sugar in a bowl over a pot of hot water
when it has tripled in volume, whisk in the liquore
Most people use Marsala, a sweet wine from Sicily.
I prefer the drier Vin Santo, a dry Tuscan Sherry.

I remember Zabaione being served over cold berries and fruit in all the Italian restaurants in San Francisco, hearing the clanging of the whisk in a copper bowl.

Today I have some of the first cherries and peaches

Buon San Baylon!



Funny, egg yolks and sugar whisked together are often added to coffee in
northern Italy as a Pick -me- up, the first tiramisu???

tiramisu is egg yolks and sugar whisked until tripled, then mascarpone cheese is added and the whites whipped and folded in to create more volume.
Cold zabaione also has the whites folded back in.


May 14, 2007

Playing with Fire! Light 'em up!

What happens when two transplanted American cooks meet at a wood-fired oven in Tuscany? Sparks fly and the heat is on! A week of wood-fired ovens, artisan pork, and the best butchers in Tuscany inspired by two cooks who love meat and the artisans who produce it.

Kate Hill (The French Kitchen) and Judy Witts (Divina Cucina) grill, roast, stuff and bake in a wood-fired Tuscan oven celebration in Chianti.

Join us at the grill and wood-burning oven in creating some fabulous Tuscan & Gascon specialties.





Carnivorous grill girls, butcher babes and BBQ boys are welcome!

June 18, 19, 20, 21,& 22- 2007; One-day workshops & 5 day program. 290€-1200€

For more information: kate@thefrenchkitchen.com or divinacucina@gmail.com

May 13, 2007

Food Glorious Food

Spring is one of the most exciting seasons to cook, as we all look forward to coming out of the dark winter to bright spring.. more light and gifts from the garden!


A mild winter is bringing early gifts from the fields, we even have our first evening fireflies.

Green and purple are my colors in spring and nature answers out with it's own pairings in the Asparagus and Artichokes
Here's what we've been doing!


oven-roasted violet asparagus


baby artichokes


my own FIRST homegrown artichoke!


my neighbors cherries are almost ready!!!


Baby milk-fed lambchops, to be oven roasted
simply with my Tuscan Herb Rub



Crostoni with rich buffalo mozzarella and roasted peppers



Germana's green beans are in season too


our first Ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms
ready to batter fry


Crisp tart almost red tomatoes, perfect for frying or making green tomato sauce.


my persian version of panna cotta, infused with saffron and topped with Sicilian pistacchio's



from our break at the Casa del Vino, stuffed cherry tomatoes and Chianti



This memory from Diamante in Calabria inspired a class recipe,
homemade gnocchi with a seafood sauce!




summer heat, cool summer dinners
raw beef carpaccio topped with raw artichokes
and shaved parmesan cheese.



Join me in June or September for my Chianti programs
and
Be Italian once a year with Divina Cucina!


May 6, 2007

Addio Minuccio



Chianti lost one of it's great men this week,

I considered him to be the James Beard of Tuscany, wine-maker, restauranteur, bonvivant and the ultimate Oste.

Sig. Cappelli ran the Fattoria Montagliari until the a few years ago when he sold, to supposedly retire. His family had had this property for centuries.

When he moved to Villa Collegalle just down the road, and discovered the abbandoned vineyards on the property he began again. Wine and of course his famous Balsamic Vinegar.


Minuccio in his Balsameria at Villa Collegalle

His big heart and sense of humor gave many a fabulous memory of Chianti. One of the first families of Chianti, the Cappelli family has been in the business since 1730 and hopefully Sig Cappelli's sons and grandson's will continue in his style!


Thank you Minuccio for the memories!



















From all of us that have sat at your table! Grazie Mille

May 2, 2007

SWEET FOUR LETTER WORDS- GROM


Grom's May Gelato menu in Florence


It is in the news... GROM is coming to NY!

Originally from Torino, GROM has shops all over Italy.
Our FLorence shop opened about 4 years ago, and it is hard to stay away!

Wonderfully rich, but not too sweet ice creams and sorbets only made from the BEST!
  • Organic Eggs
  • bottled water for the sorbets
  • sicilian pistacchios
  • chocolate from master Guido Gobino in Torino, from Venezuala and Equador
  • and more!

It's all about the ingredients.
They use milk from small local farms and are going to be growing their own organic fruit!
What will they think of next!

Many of the ingredients are Slow Food Presidium items, meaning that they have been selected as something special that is to be protected. What better place than in ice cream?

Yes this means it costs more... But you deserve the best!




I hope that they have success!!!
Auguri!

GROM IS DIVINA!

GODI.... enjoy!

Grom New York
opens Saturday May 5th 2007
Broadway and 76th