10 Things You Must Eat at Your Tuscan Villa

Last week I wrote about staying at a Tuscan Villa in Italy where I enjoyed very authentic meals using ingredients that were grown on the farm or sourced from nearby villages. I enjoyed my trip so much and got the most out of my visit by going on one of the Tours of Tuscany. It let me see all the best parts of Tuscany in just one day! During the one week stay, I was able to get a glimpse of what Italians eat and the proper etiquettes to eat them. I was also dining with the locals during all of the meals, so it was easy to verify the technique of cooking and eating these dishes. Some of the recipes are available on Go Eat Give.

1. Prosciutto and Cheese: A Tuscan meal starts with Salumi and cheese platter. An appertivo cocktail, prosecco or Rose wine accompanies it. Besides your table cheese, you can also serve rich cream of pecorino and sheep cheese from Sardinia.

cheese tasting Italy

2. Raw Fava: Whole raw Fava beans are generally stacked in the middle of the table for everyone to share. You are suppose to grab a few strings, peel them, dip the beans in a little salt, and eat with bread and cheese. The beans are hard and dry so much of the flavor comes from the salt.

fava beans with salt

3. Olive Oil: We always had generous portions of salad, generally served toward the end of the meal. This simple salad of rugola (arugula), black olives, chopped tomatoes, red bell peppers and shaved pecorino cheese is dressed with Montestigliano brand olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. All the olives are grown and pressed at the farm, and has a spicy sharp flavor. I highly recommend doing an olive oil tasting so you can distinguish the color, fragrance and taste of different kinds of olive oil.

Mediterranean salad

4. Spianata: Hearty foccacia is cooked in the oven with a hint of salt, rosemary and olive oil. I especially liked Spianata al forno a legna con ciccioli di maiale (flat bread with pork fat made in a wood oven) which had a flaky buttery texture.

Spianata al forno

5. Farro Salad: Grains are a big part of the Italian diet. The farms grow and harvest wheat, faro, arborio and store them for year round consumption. Farro salad with roasted red peppers, chopped parsley and olive oil served on a baby bib lettuce makes for a visually appealing yet healthy side dish.

farro

6. Conchiglie al Forno: During one of the al fresco lunches, I had baked conchilie pasta al forno, pasta shells cooked with zucchini and benchémel sauce, sprinkled with pecorino cheese and baked in the oven till light brown. It was garnished with fresh basil leaves and tasted divine!

Conchiglie

7. Pinolata Senesce: For Easter dinner, the family prepared a special treat – pinolata senesce or Tuscan pine nut cake from Siena. The creamy cake had a light flaky crust and soft jam center. It was dusted with powdered sugar and lots of toasted pine nuts.

Pinolata Senesce

8. Torta Budino al Cioccolato: This was not your ordinary chocolate cake, as the bottom was a little soggy and bursted with strong dark chocolate and orange flavors. I pleaded the chef to tell me what was her secret ingredient – vanilla, orange liquor, rum? Find out for yourself as she grudgingly shared her recipe.

Torta Budino al Cioccolato

9. Crostata: I ate a lot of crostatas during my week in Tuscany. A crostata is an Italian cross between a tart and a pie. It is a rustic pastry made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs and filled with whatever fruits that are available in the season. Apricot jams, apples, plums, elderberries, tomatoes and nuts are some of the inspiring flavors for the crostata. It was served for breakfast, dessert and snacks, but I’m not complaining!

Crostata

10. Cantucci: Otherwise know as almond biscotti or Italian cookies, the only way to eat them is by dipping in Vin Santo dessert wine. The hard biscotti become moist and sweet after a few seconds in the late-harvest wine. It melts in your mouth with a delicious alcohol kick to it. Please do not dip cantucci in coffee or order a cappuccino after a meal as this is a no-no in Italian culture!

CantucciI went for a food tour of Tuscany as a guest of the Donati family. You can book a similar trip directly through Luisa Donati. Rent one of the villas located on the family farm, Montestigliano. During your stay, visit the bio gas station, do a blind olive oil tasting, talk to local producers, go Truffle hunting, learn to make pasta, have a home cook prepare your meals, and dine with the locals.

Read more about my travels in Italy.

Asian Heritage Month at The Coca Cola Company

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month at The Coca Cola Company with our first major event – with Sucheta Rawal
founder of nonprofit organization Go Eat Give
image001

Recipes from today:

Gado Gado – Gado-Gado is famous green beans dish from the island of Bali, Indonesia.

Copyright Go Eat Give

Aloo Papri Chat – Potatoes and Dough Chips mixed with Tamarind and Yogurt sauce. Popular snack food in India and Nepal.

papdi-chaat

Nepali Chicken Chhoila – Grilled Meat Marinated with Nepalese Spices and Garnished with Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Cilantro. Popular Snack with Beer/Wine

chicken choiliya

Some of the food was sponsored by Himalayan Spice Restaurant

Blackberry Farm Guinea and Dumplings Recipe

After you taste the Chicken and Dumplings at the Blackberry Farm, you won’t want to eat your mom’s recipe again. Hand made pasta, shaved black truffles and melt into your mouth roasted guinea are just few of the ingredients that make this recipe so special. It is served at The Barn restaurant located at the resort, which is run by award winning chefs.

chicken dumplings

Here’s the recipe for guinea (or chicken) and dumplings…You will want to eat this all winter long!

  • 2lbs Guinea Hen Leg quarters
  • 1C salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 2qt chicken fat (can substitute duck fat)

Combine salt, sugar and thyme sprigs. Coat chicken leg quarters in mixture and place on a wire rack and allow to cure overnight.  Next, rinse mixture off of chicken and pat dry. Place chicken into a half 4-inch hotel pan and cover with chicken fat. Place in a 250 F oven and cook until tender (approximately 2-3 hours). Remove chicken from pan, and when cool enough to handle pick the meat from the bone and discard skin and bones. Reserve chicken.

  • 1 lb. Idaho Potatoes
  • 2 Eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup Flour (approximately)
  • 2T Salt
  • 2qt +1C Chicken Stock
  • 1T Chicken fat (can substitute duck fat)
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to 148 F and poach eggs in their shell for 55 minutes and reserve.

Bake potatoes in 350 degree oven until tender. Rice potatoes through a food mill and allow potatoes to cool slightly, but still warm. Fold in egg, 2 teaspoons of salt, and truffle. Add flour gradually until mixture comes together and is not wet. Roll mixture into cylindrical shapes and cut desired length.

In a sauce pot over medium high heat bring 2 quarts of salted water and to a simmer. Blanch gnocchi in until they float. Next, shock in ice water and reserve.

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat chicken fat until shimmering. Place gnocchi in pan and toast until golden brown, add reserved chicken and 1 cup of chicken stock. Finish by adding chives and seasoning with salt and black pepper. Crack egg over the top.

~ Courtesy of The Barn at The Blackberry Farm

How to Cook Pears Properly

This December, the growers of USA Pears are spotlighting a trio of clever pear preparations by top Pacific Northwest chefs. December has again been proclaimed National Pear Month by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), thanks to the abundance and variety of fresh pears in season and available nationwide.

“We’re so inspired by the thoughtful pear preparations popping up on top menus,” says Cristie Mather, communications director for USA Pears/Pear Bureau Northwest. “Even though these dishes originated in the kitchens of popular restaurants, home cooks of all skill levels can learn to pickle or dehydrate a pear.”

This National Pear Month, take a cue from the pros and experiment with these pear preparations:

Poach and Dehydrate

At Ox Restaurant in Portland, Ore., chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton take a patient approach. Their pear “prosciutto” is made by poaching halved pears in a savory mixture of sage, rosemary, red wine, salt and pepper – then dehydrating the pears for 18 hours at 125 degrees and slicing them. Served with foie gras terrine, pickled chanterelles, malted white chocolate and salted pear reduction, this Ox dish has locals lining up to indulge.

Pear Proscuitto
Pear Proscuitto

Pickle and Grill

Seattle restaurateur and chef Ethan Stowell’s take on pears will make you rethink your next pear salad. At Tavolàta, his double-treatment of pears – first pickling, then grilling – lends a sharp and satisfying flavor to a bed of healthy endive and frisée. Served atop a base of creamy goat cheese with a walnut vinaigrette, it’s clear this salad needs no entrée. (See recipe below.)

Mortar and Pestle

Pok Pok Restaurants owner and chef Andy Ricker uses a mortar and pestle to gently bruise slightly under-ripe pears in his version of Son Tam Phonlamai. One of Pok Pok’s signature recipes, this savory fruit salad aims to strike a balance between sweet and tart. Pick up Andy’s newly released book for the full recipe, or try it at Pok Pok’s Portland, Ore. and Brooklyn, NY restaurants throughout the fall.

Son Tam Phonlamai with Crisp Bosc Pears POK POK photo credit Austin Bush © 2013
Son Tam Phonlamai with Crisp Bosc Pears POK POK photo credit Austin Bush © 2013

For additional pear recipes and inspiration, including tips on selecting pear varieties, culinary applications, or how to tell when a pear is ripe, visit www.usapears.org, and follow USA Pears on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usapears and Twitter @USApears.

About Pear Bureau Northwest/USA Pears

The Pear Bureau Northwest was established in 1931 as a nonprofit marketing organization to promote the fresh pears grown in Oregon and Washington. Today, the United States is the third largest pear-producing country in the world, and Oregon and Washington comprise the nation’s largest pear growing region with 1,600 growers producing 84% of all fresh pears grown in the United States. Pears grown in these two Pacific Northwest states are distributed under the “USA Pears” brand. Pears are an excellent source of fiber (24% DV) and a good source of vitamin C (10% DV) for only 100 calories per medium sized pear. Sweet and juicy with no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol, pears are a perfect choice for a snack as well as for any course of any meal of the day. Visit www.usapears.org for more pear facts and recipes.

 

Pickled and Grilled Bosc Pears with Endive, Frisée and Walnut Salad Recipe

By Chef Ethan Stowell (Seattle, Washington)

(Serves 4)

Pickled and Grilled Pears Salad
Pickled and Grilled Pears Salad

For the pickled pears:

4 Bosc pears, cored and cut in 8 pieces
3 cups water
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 T sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 T pickling spice

For the walnut dressing:

1 cup walnut oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

For the endive, frisée and walnut salad:

32 pieces pickled Bosc pears
2 each Belgian endive, cut into bite sized pieces
2 heads of frisée, green leaves removed, cut into bite sized pieces and washed
1 cup toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced chives
½ cup fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
Walnut dressing (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper

Pickled Pears:

In a medium sized stainless steel pot add the water, vinegar, salt, sugar and pickling spices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for about 15 minutes to let the spices infuse. Add the pears and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and place the entire pot in the refrigerator to cool overnight.

Walnut Dressing:

Place all of the ingredients in a small clean glass bottle. Screw the cap back on the bottle or stuff a wine cork in the opening. Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds or until all of the ingredients are perfectly combined. Set aside until ready to use. Shake vigorously before every use.

To make the salad:

Preheat a grill for the pears, preferably a grill that is heated by natural wood. Drain the pickled pears. Working in batches, grill all of the pear pieces for about one minute per side or until nice grill marks are seared into the fruit. Set aside at room temperature while you make the rest of the salad.
 
Lay out four entrée size plates to build the salads on. With the back of a spoon, smear the goat cheese across the bottom of the plate in a circle. It should be about a 4 inch across circle of goat cheese. Arrange the pickled pear pieces around the outside of the goat cheese to act as a border and a well to set the salad.
 
In a large metal bowl, toss the endive, frisée, walnuts, shallots and chives. Season to taste with salt, pepper and walnut dressing. Divide the salad between the four salad plates and serve immediately, preferably with a warm baguette.
 

~ Courtesy of Pear Bureau Northwest/USA Pears

Fried Tempeh in Sweet Sauce

Tempeh is a soy based product, similar to tofu, that originated in Indonesia. Traditionally used as an alternate to meat by vegetarians, tempeh has a firm grainy taste that takes some getting use to. It is made from whole soybeans and has different nutritional and textural characteristics from tofu. Tempeh is a rich source of protein, fiber and vitamins. It can be found at health and speciality grocery stores, such as Whole Foods in the US.  

Before cooking tempeh, you need to slice it and soak it in salt water or brine for a few minutes. Then use it for any recipe from tempeh pizza, burger, stew, chili, sandwich, stir fry, chips…the possibilities are endless!

Photo courtesy dessertcomesfirst.com
Photo courtesy dessertcomesfirst.com

Here is a recipe for an Indonesian style deep fried tempeh Go Eat Give volunteers learned to make at the Paon Bali Cooking School in Bali.

fried tempeh
Deep Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce

Deep Fried Tempeh in Sweet Soy Sauce

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of tempeh
  • 10 red chilies
  • 5 tablespoons Indonesian sweet soy sauce, Kecap Manis
  • 4 shallots
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 spring of onion
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • ¼ liter coconut oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Slice the tempeh into thin strips. Boil the coconut oil in pan, add the tempeh and deep fry until golden brown then remove and set aside.
  2. Slice the red chilies and remove their seeds. Slice the garlic, shallots, spring onion and red chilies; heat about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in another pan and sauté then until they are light brown.
  3.  Add the deep fried tempeh to the pan of garlic, shallots, spring onions and chili and mix, adding the Kecap Manis and broken kaffir lime leaves. Stir well to coat tempeh in the sauce.
  4. Serve hot as a main course.

 

Variations of the Thanksgiving Turkey

What started as a traditional North American holiday is now also celebrated by millions of immigrants and ethnic groups who call the United States home. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists (English) and Wampanoag Indians (Native Americans) shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Given that the United States has become a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities over the last two centuries, it is only reasonable to expect that preparation of the Morton’s Traditional Taste Thanksgiving turkey is somewhat influenced by cultural palates.

Most households prepare a whole roasted turkey rubbed with butter and herbs, but here are some other variations of the Thanksgiving turkey reflecting the cultural diversity of the country.

Chinese Glaze Turkey – The American-Chinese substituted turkey in their popular duck recipe. This delicious creation has a glaze of soy sauce, honey, sesame and ginger. We recommend a side of steamed dumplings, sautéed green beans and fried rice.

Asian Thanksgiving Turkey. Photo courtesy Food and Wine
Asian Thanksgiving Turkey. Photo courtesy Food and Wine

Tandoori Turkey – Indians love grilled meats (usually chicken, goat, fish) basted with tandoori marinade (a sauce blend of coriander, cumin, cloves, chili, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, fenugreek, salt and pepper). Whole turkey can be cooked on an open grill or slow broiled in the oven. Serve with mint chutney, yogurt relish and rice pilaf.

Tandoori Turkey. Photo courtesy gearpatrol.com
Tandoori Turkey. Photo courtesy gearpatrol.com

Raw Vegetarian Turkey – Non meat eaters enjoy a raw turkey look-alike spread made entirely of vegetables. Lettuce, celery, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers layered in a creative display also makes a good starter for a Thanksgiving party. Show up at a potluck party with this and wow your coworkers!

Turkey of raw vegetables . Photo from Pintrest
Turkey of raw vegetables. Photo from Pinterest

Extreme Mexican Turkey – Mexican cook and writer Pati Jinich, of Pati’s Mexican Table uses citrus and achiote paste in her turkey recipe, then wraps it in banana leaves and bakes it in aluminum foil to emulate the ancient technique of cooking food in underground pits. Melissa Trimmer of Le Cordon Bleu Chicago also suggests a Turkey mole served with rice and beans, and flan for dessert.

Mexican Turkey. Photo by Penny De Los Santos
Mexican Turkey. Photo by Penny De Los Santos

Peruvian Turkey – The slow cooked Peruvian spice rubbed turkey is a close cousin of popular Peruvian grilled chicken dish. Chef John of Food Wishes serves it with chile verde instead of brown gravy.

Peruvian rubbed turkey. Photo by FoodWishes
Peruvian rubbed turkey. Photo by FoodWishes

Italian Thanksgiving Turkey – Many Americans are Italian decedents so its only natural to have Italian inspired dishes at the Thanksgiving table. Nonna Carolina Marino, originally from Calabria, stuffs her turkey with layers of delicious Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and Porcini Risotto. Watch the full recipe on YouTube.

African Roast Turkey – African Birdseye Chillies paired with brown sugar give the turkey is sweet and spicy flavor. Another good option is to rub Nigerian Suya (grilled meat) spice on the turkey for some smokiness and stuff it with Jollof rice.

If you have an ethnic inspired turkey recipe to share, please feel free to share it in the comments box below. Happy Thanksgiving!

Italian Thanksgiving Turkey. Photo from Cooking with Nonna
Italian Thanksgiving Turkey. Photo from Cooking with Nonna

Tuna in Banana Leaf

A popular dish from the island of Bali is PEPESAN BE PASIH or PEPES IKA, in other words STEAMED FISH IN BANANA LEAVES. This is a great recipe for grilling during a backyard party or a cookout. It is healthy and caters to the palates of non meat eaters. Fresh banana leaves are available at farmers markets and Asian grocery stores. Enjoy it this Labor day or throughout the year! Continue reading “Tuna in Banana Leaf”

Go Eat Give “What’s Your Flavor” Recipe Contest

Enter our “What’s Your Flavor” Recipe Contest! Do you know of a speciality dish that is only found in your city or community? Maybe you visited a country and discovered an unusual dish? We are looking for the most unique recipe that captures the flavor of your city. Send us an original authentic recipe and you could be featured on Go Eat Give + win prizes!

Continue reading “Go Eat Give “What’s Your Flavor” Recipe Contest”

Indonesian Chicken Satay

The Indonesia style of Chicken Satay is slightly different than the Thai ones, that most are familiar with. Only minced chicken is used for the recipe and the seasoned mix is draped over bamboo sticks. The meat barely covers the bamboo, making it look almost like a lollipop chicken. Sate Lilit Ayam or Chicken Satay is a popular street food found all over Indonesia. You can find vendors squatting on the road, grilling the satay over tiny charcoal grills. It is not served with peanut sauce as you may have found in restaurants. Continue reading “Indonesian Chicken Satay”

Chicken in Coconut Curry

A popular dish in Balinese cuisine is Kare Ayam (translates to Chicken Curry), also known as Be Siam Mesanten. It is similar to other Asian curry dishes that use onions, bay leaves and coconut milk. Similar to a yellow Thai curry, you will need a basic yellow sauce to make the base for the curry. The yellow sauce can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for unto two weeks. Served the Kare Ayam with steamed rice and a side salad.

Continue reading “Chicken in Coconut Curry”