July 26, 2009

Market Day Recipes

I am really blessed. I lived in front of Florence's Central Market for 20 years while running my cooking school Divina Cucina and since closing the school in Florence and moving out to the countryside while I finally got my book published, I now have 2 market days in my village of Certaldo.

I first began cooking in the late 70's after travelling to Europe several times, I was thinking about a way to travel abroad and work and a hotel career seemed the most possible. After a year or two of front of the house, cashiering, waitressing and taking some management classes, I chose to go behind the house and into the kitchen.

Back then, it was a male dominated kitchen, and French was the predominent cuisine. Testerone all over the place! I chose to seek out a corner of the kitchen job and found my calling in pastry.

I was lucky enough to be trained on site as well as a class I took at Tante Marie's Cooking School in SF- I found my place in the kitchen.

Pastry may be the hardest way to start cooking, but I loved it. Watching the rest of the kitchen while working, I knew I made the right choice. But as I watched, I also learned.

With my pastry skills, I could also cook! You can fix mistakes when you cook, but not with pastry. I basically taught myself the basics of classic French cuisine with Jacque Pepin's La Techinique, a bible, still today, for the basics.

I find it all comes in handy when I hit the market. For me it is like living Iron Chef every time I shop. When I see a bell pepper I think, stuffed with meat? stuffed with rice?, cooked with red onions and vinegar for a peperonata?, or just roasted and served in strips.

Then I continue shopping and building on what is in season.

I knew I wanted to make Pollo al Mattone, chicken cooked under a brick- and the rest would happen to create a menu for the weekend at the market.

This weeks market menu:

Bell peppers and new red onions: peperonata

zucchini blossoms: fiori fritti- stuffed fried blossoms with sheeps milk ricotta

Watermelon: watermelon/chili jelly ( I am on a jelly and jam kick!)

Fresh fruit: cobbler with the peaches, and peaches marinated in wine and sugar, roasted apricots with amaretto cookie chocolate filling

Cantelope: prosciutto and melon and more melon jelly.

Then after shopping my vendor Francesca, GAVE ME, a whole case of eggplant and zucchini, knowing I love to "put things up". Now to research more recipes to use for those.

Zucchini bread for sure...and possibly jams!!!
I am quite tempted to make an antique recipe for a Napolitano chocolate eggplant dessert!
It is fabulous!

Maybe if you all leave a comment and beg me!!! will do.


I have some unadvertised tours coming up if you would like to join in:

Sept 30-October 4th Florence Chianti Tour ( 1 day shorter than usual)
October 25-30th Florence -Chianti Tour
November 1-6th with Jet's cooking school from Kansas City
Jan 17th -23rd in San Miquel D'Allende in Mexico ( will post next with details) at Casa Luna

My book is being reprinted as we speak! Thanks to those that have already gotten their copies!
What I love about the book are the extra pages to add recipes from my site and my blog to double the collection!

Don't forget to follow my recipes on FoodConnect where I also write 8 times a month!
Also I am on facebook and twitter- Divinacucina

Love to hear from you!

Buon Estate- have a nice summer!


  1. I like your blog. I am an online teacher of Italian, living in Italy ;-)

  2. I need a copy of your book! Please put me on your list for this printing. :)

  3. Ciao Judy! Okay, I'll beg! Th antique chocolate eggplant dessert sounds great and if it's from you, I know it will be! And yes, watermelon/chili jam? Please?
    Con l'amore e con la fame, ~Giuseppe

  4. Judy: I am enjoying your book. It has such classic recipes in it, I love it. I can't even imagine a chocolate eggplant dessert? Yes, I would sure love to see that!

  5. I will check out the Jacques Pepin book! Thanks for the heads up. All looks marvelous. Yes, you are in the heart of things and I love the reports! (Even if I am a wee bit tinged with green as I read them) Congrats on the reprinting of the new book.

  6. You had me at watermelon/chili jam! :D

    My husband loves your blog as well, he's first generation American, his father was born in Florence.

  7. Will have to publish some Florence foto's!!!

  8. I adored Florence when I visited Italy- I am so jealous! I am fortunate living in New York to be near to farmer's markets, and great places to shop, but my heart sings when I recall the food of Italy.

  9. I like your blog because I like collecting various kinds of recipes.And I think your blog will help me.Please keep sharing.