September 18, 2011

Back in the Culinary Saddle

Am finally sleeping all the way through the night and have started classes again.

Friday we did a market class which got me back to my kitchen habits. Being inspired by what is in season is one of the most exciting ways to cook.

I like to teach cooking techniques, not so much recipes, as learning to cook is more important that learning to read recipes and shopping the market inspires me so much. Ingredients at the market remind me of places I have visited and people I have met that have passed on their recipes to me.

Each region of Italy has their own way to prepare foods and even in the same town, 10 women will have 10 different versions of the same recipe.

I arrived here in 1984 and started to learn to cook Tuscan food from scratch. Part of the fun was gathering the recipes and trying them all and then creating my own version.

Right now, the grape harvest has begun and our traffic jams are caused by trucks filled with grapes heading down to have them crushed at the local cooperative.

Driving around the air is filled with the fragrance of fermenting wine and  distilling of grappa which is made from the skin and seeds, left over from the pressing of the grapes.

You can almost get drunk just breathing.

One of the most traditional recipes during the vendemmia is the Schiacchiata con l'uva, a simple recipe using bread dough enriched with olive oil and sugar.

As for any other recipe, there are many versions. Here is the basic recipe I use.

One of my favorite bakeries in Florence, makes a schiacchiata with fresh figs. I am going to try to make that next. I adore figs anyway I can get them.  Having a huge tree behind my house where I can gather as many as I like for free is also an incentive to create more and more recipes with figs.

This week we also made some of Francesca's Figs and ate them with a lovely creamy Gorgonzola Dolce.

Friday is market day in Colle Val D'Elsa and I have a fabulous fish monger that I adore going to.
He always has the freshest fish and great recipes.

This week we did a recipe from Naples called Pesce in Acqua Pazza.
One of my chef friends from Naples in Chianti, Mimmo gave me his recipe for my website. Often the fish filets are served as a main course and the sauce is used on pasta. You can also add mussels and clams to the roasting fish and make it an even richer dish.

Buon appetito. We are expecting some rain this afternoon and I can't wait to start cooking fall foods.


  1. This sound wonderful—and so pretty, too. Glad to see you're back and blogging again!

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  3. this is so delicious and very mouth watering, recipes are awesome

  4. paolina3:18 PM

    Made this "crushed grapes", Wonderful,the dough was soft and tasty and with the grapes,which were very sweet, it was a hit. Going to try the 'Poppa tomato soup', sounds delicious and my husband loves soups .
    We won't be back there til next year but can enjoy visits through your writings, Thanks.Paolina,

  5. talking about classes, I think I will seriously take a cook course of any kind, maybe a course in Italian food and not because I'm not learning on your blog but because I do love Italian food!