October 24, 2010

The Most Splendid of Seasons- Fall

We were blessed with incredible weather this week in Chianti for our session, even the full moon did it's part as we enjoyed it in San Gimignano sitting in the main square having pizza and gelato.

Most of the grape harvest is done now and the olive harvest is beginning. I live next door to one of the villages olive oil presses, and can walk over and bring a large 5 liter bottle and buy fresh from the press. Can't wait!

In my garden I am thrilled with my saffron- we have harvested the first of the blossoms last week and this week there were just as many again. There are more blossoms to open still. I will show you a foto of the final amount when it is all done.

We have brought out the down comforter and the electric mattress warmer and in the kitchen I have also started to cook some of my favorite dishes, soups, risotto  and stews. White truffles are starting to show up on menus everywhere and the last of the porcini mushrooms.

What I really love about winter coming are the wonderful salad greens and citrus. Salads with new oil and a touch of sea salt are my vitamins for the season. Last night we added raw fennel and radishes along with some arugula from our garden. We have planted some lettuces in the winter garden and will look for more varieties to add, as Andrea adored his salads.

Our chili pepper plant is still giving us chili and I am so glad we planted it, the peppers have a great kick and not just heat, but a fabulous flavor. This will keep summer in my kitchen all winter.

Another recipe which is a symbol of the season are cipolline in agro dolce, sweet and sour boiling onions.

 We can buy the onions already peeled which is a real treat, but you can also just slice the onions and make what we would call onion jam.

This would be fabulous for Thanksgiving, you can also add some dried cranberries and toasted pinenuts to dress it up.

Cipolline Agro Dolce
Sweet and Sour Onions

1 1/2 lbs peeled boiling onions
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
water and/or white wine
1 dry red chili pepper (optional)

Place onions in a single layer in a large flat saute pan.
They should be covered with the white wine, diluted with water.
Add olive oil, salt, sugar, dry red chili pepper, vinegar and tomato paste.
Stir to mix.

Cover and boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Boil until the water is gone and the onions begin to glaze.
Stir to prevent burning or sticking.
Remove red chili before serving.
Taste to balance the sweet and sour flavors.

These are best the next day.
Try balsamic vinegar and honey for a really special version.
For simple onions, just cook in white wine, olive oil, salt and a bay leaf.


  1. Great post! How luck to grow your own saffron! Now do you just let it air dry & store it away? Are those the tiny onions like pearl onions or something else? I think I've eaten these before and would love to make 'em!

  2. amy, yes I am drying the saffron and will store in a glass jar.
    The onions are called cipolline, even in America- and are flatter than the pearl onions, but can be made with pearly onions too-
    I would buy the frozen ones and cook without defrosting.

  3. I'm so jealous of your homegrown saffron!

    I'm not sure if I've ever seen those onions at my mercato, but I'll keep my eyes out so that I can try the recipe.

    PS- The full moon looks beautiful over the piazza.

  4. Fantastic photos. A treat for the eye as well as the stomach. Thank you and welcome back!

  5. Will definitely try these; love onions! I was in Tuscany 5 years ago in September - just beautiful...I think it is time for me to return..my dream.

  6. Hi Judy! I've discovered your blog trough Juls twitter!! I love it.. Are you staying in Certaldo? I'm living in the countryside not far from Siena.. I think we will meet tomorrow at Voiello's event.
    Come and take a look at the blog that I write together with two friend of mine. http://whitedarkmilkchocolate.blogspot.com/
    Nice to meet you virtually! :)

  7. Reading this makes me look forward to winter

  8. Great Posting, Judy!!
    This is my favorite time of year there... I miss it.