No Bake Dessert: Poached Peaches with Rosemary in White Wine with Mascarpone Cream


A gorgeous oven-free, gluten-free, no-bake dessert perfect for those hot summer nights!  This dessert has become a classic in our kitchen and cooking classes throughout stone fruit season. It's light & fresh, and even after a long Italian meal, everyone has room for a little peaches & cream! 

It's not only easy to make, but the ingredients are flexible; use white, rosè or red wine (finish off that bottle of white that's been sitting in the fridge for the last 2 nights...) The same with aromatics - rosemary, thyme, lemon, lavender...whatever you've got on hand. (This is why its so important to have an herb garden!)






Poached Peaches in White Wine
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 firm peaches or nectarines (mature fruit will fall apart)
2-3 spoons of sugar
white or rosè wine
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
zest of ½ lemon (use ANY aromatics you like)
homemade whipped cream or mascarpone cream if you like

With a paring knife cut the fruit in half and remove the stone. If the stone will not come away easily, make a shallow incision around the stone and it will fall away once cooked.

Place the fruit cut side down in a pan or pot that fits the fruit snugly. Add in the aromatics with the sugar and top with wine until halfway up the fruit. Cover with baking paper (parchment) and bring the pan up to a medium simmer for 8-12 minutes total depending on the size of the fruit. Give the peaches a turn on their backs after about 5 minutes and they are done when a knife slips easily into the thickest part of the fruit.

Once the peaches are cooked, remove from the pan and place on a plate to cool. Return the pan to a low flame and reduce the wine until it becomes a syrup. Give it a taste - if its a little tart, add a spoonful of sugar. Be careful not to let this burn. Strain the syrup into a bowl and allow to cool.

To serve: Quarter the peaches and carefully remove the skins. Arrange on the plate and drizzle atop the white wine syrup and a dollop of cream.





Homemade Nocino: Spicy Walnut Liqueur with Cloves & Vanilla


A booze that's damn near biblical - not only because of its rich smooth spicy flavor of walnuts, clove, vanilla and cinnamon but it must sit in the sun for 40 days and 40 nights as the first step in making it! Pour a glass and serve alongside creamy vanilla panna cotta or topped on gelato for a decadent end to the meal.

A thriving local tradition is making homemade liquor - from grappa infused with fruits & herbs, to visner & visciolino (cherry liquors), nocino (walnuts) & many more! Whenever offered a homemade digestivo (after dinner drink) you must oblige! It is homemade & thus a gift from the house....sometimes a wonderfully delicious drink that you are beggin for more and other times...WOW! absolute firewater! In Italy it's easy to find 95%-97% pure alcohol at any where from the hardware store to the "Costco" surplus shopping stores. And with a walnut grove a kilometer down the road from our farmhouse, this has become a classic in our house.
Picking walnuts with my cousin


I 've told the story before but many of my homemade liquors are recipes from the wonderful Mamma Mochi teaching me her age old recipes of making digestivi. She is my mentor of sorts when it comes to all things 'spirits'! As usual, the recipe varies depending on where you live. 
This Nocino recipe for example uses whole green nuts and MUST sit in the sun & stirred for 40 days, then brought in to sit in the dark for another 30 days before you filter. After that, the first pour is traditionally on Christmas Eve! ...maybe I'll leave a little out for Babbo Natale this year!


Nocino
Walnut Liqueur
25 green young walnuts
1 kilo (or just a bit less) of sugar
1 liter of pure alcohol (grappa, everclear or vodka)
250 grams of water
stick of vanilla
stick of cinnamon
5 -7 cloves

Mix together well.
Let sit in sun for 40 days - stirring & mixing the sugar each day.
Then let sit for another month in cool dark storage.
Filter & bottle.
You can let the nocino age if you would like - some prefer to drink immediately & those shelf the bottle for 2 years or more! Traditionally, the first glass should be poured on Christmas Eve.

There is also a recipe for the 'used nuts' with Marsala ...coming soon!

Maria Mochi, my mentor

Video Recipe: Crostata - Rustic Tart


Rustic Tart or Crostata: Traditionally made with marmalade, this rustic tart is found kept under a kitchen towel in most homes in our area. With strawberries in abundance this time of year, we use fresh fruit instead of jam.
This recipe is enough to make two 9-in/22cm tarts with lattice. Use what you have for the tart pans, we use round pizza pans.

Full Recipe can be found here: http://latavolamarcherecipebox.blogsp...

"Taste of Italy" is our webseries of shorts (under 2 min.) of life on our farm in Italy, the food, cooking classes, garden and more! 


Make this Sauce in the time it takes for your water to boil: "Sauce of the Moment"


Sauce of the Moment
Sugo al Momento
This is literally one you use with whatever you have - and/or the vegetable that looks good/in season at the moment.  Change it up with the season - you can add pine nuts, leave out the tomatoes, leave out the white wine and use a different acidic ingredient. Use this as an outline and make it your own.

For this recipe, we will use peas as our ‘veg of the moment.'

2 handfuls of fresh peas, shelled
small handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of white wine
4 tablespoons of chicken stock or pasta water
handful of parmesan cheese
clove of garlic, kept whole
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pan, over low heat, warm about 4 glugs of olive oil and gently brown the garlic on all sides. In the bowling salted water you have going for your pasta, blanch your peas until they are half cooked. Remove from water and add to the pan with garlic & olive oil.

Raise the heat to med-high, add in your handful of cherry tomatoes. Give a stir, season with salt & pepper. Once your tomatoes start to cook down and slough the skin, add in 2 tablespoons of white wine. Allow the wine to cook out for 1-2 minutes, add in the chicken stock and allow to cook down. Shut off the heat. Give the sauce a taste and adjust your salt & pepper. Its now ready for your pasta.

Once the pasta is near cooked, return the pan to med heat. Drain the pasta directly from the bowling water into the pan with the sauce. With a spoonful of pasta water, incorporate the pasta into the sauce. Remove from the heat, make sure there is a little bit of moisture in the pan, adjust with pasta water. Now add a handful of parmesan cheese and incorporate into the pasta. Serve.


Change it up with the season - you can add pine nuts, leave out the tomatoes, leave out the white wine and use a different acidic ingredient. Use this as an outline and make it your own.

Sauce of the Moment - A Pasta Sauce in the Time it Takes the Water to Boil


Sauce of the Moment
Sugo al Momento
This is literally one you use with whatever you have - and/or the vegetable that looks good/in season at the moment.  Change it up with the season - you can add pine nuts, leave out the tomatoes, leave out the white wine and use a different acidic ingredient. Use this as an outline and make it your own.

For this recipe, we will use peas as our ‘veg of the moment’ since it’s Spring.

2 handfuls of fresh peas, shelled
small handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of white wine
4 tablespoons of chicken stock or pasta water
handful of parmesan cheese
clove of garlic, kept whole
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pan, over low heat, warm about 4 glugs of olive oil and gently brown the garlic on all sides. In the bowling salted water you have going for your pasta, blanch your peas until they are half cooked. Remove from water and add to the pan with garlic & olive oil.

Raise the heat to med-high, add in your handful of cherry tomatoes. Give a stir, season with salt & pepper. Once your tomatoes start to cook down and slough the skin, add in 2 tablespoons of white wine. Allow the wine to cook out for 1-2 minutes, add in the chicken stock and allow to cook down. Shut off the heat. Give the sauce a taste and adjust your salt & pepper. Its now ready for your pasta.

Once the pasta is near cooked, return the pan to med heat. Drain the pasta directly from the bowling water into the pan with the sauce. With a spoonful of pasta water, incorporate the pasta into the sauce. Remove from the heat, make sure there is a little bit of moisture in the pan, adjust with pasta water. Now add a handful of parmesan cheese and incorporate into the pasta. Serve.


Change it up with the season - you can add pine nuts, leave out the tomatoes, leave out the white wine and use a different acidic ingredient. Use this as an outline and make it your own.

Radish & Strawberry Salad


This radish & strawberry salad certainly strays from the traditional dishes of Le Marche however is a perfect example of the philosophy "if it grows together, it goes together." The crunchy peppery radishes compliment the sweet juicy strawberries, add a bit of young spring onion (and if we were in the States, cilantro!) for a surprising and delicious spring salad. The recipe is inspired by our friends from Perennial Plate!



Radish & Strawberry Salad
equal parts of radish & strawberries, sliced as thin as possible (you can do this with a mandoline or knife)
a pinch of spring onions, sliced thinly
salt & crack of pepper to taste
olive oil
the best balsamic you’ve got: aceto balsamic tradizionale di modena

In a bowl combine radishes, strawberry & onion. Season with salt & pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil. Very gently (with your hands) toss the salad to incorporate all the ingredients.
To serve: plate and drizzle a few drops of balsamic over the top, serve immediately.

Note: Anything from spring will work in this dish, fresh fava beans or peas, chive, etc - if it grows together it goes together.

Homemade Spirits: Wild Cherry Liquor - Visciolino Digestivo

 A thriving local tradition in Le Marche is making homemade liquors/liqueurs to be served after dinner as a digestivo.  Using pure alcohol or grappa infused with fruits & herbs such as visciolino (wild cherry), nocino (walnut vanilla), brugnolino (wild plum/sloe) & many more!

Visciole is a tart wild cherry found in abundance in the Candigliano Valley of Northern Le Marche and its leaves make the most delicious & delicate after dinner cherry digestivo. Visciolino is made with 100 leaves of the cherry tree + 10 leaves from a peach tree along with red wine, sugar & pure alcohol. The recipe below is simple & passed to me by our dear neighbor Mama Mochi, traditionally made at the end of May/early June.

Wild Cherry Liqueur
Visciolino


1 liter of red wine
100 leaves of visciole (wild cherry tree)
10 leaves of a peach tree

Let soak for 10 days & filter.

Add 600 grams of sugar
1/2 liter of grappa or pure alcohol

Mix well, incorporating the sugar.

Bottle & enjoy! You can let it continue to season or age as well - keep in cool dark storage.

Fried Elderflowers & Squash Blossoms in Beer Batter: Light, Crispy & Delicate



Fried Elderflowers in Beer Batter

 On a warm Spring afternoon we added Fried Elderflowers or fiori di sambuco fritti  to the menu - these edible flowers when fried in a beer batter create a light, crunchy, aromatic antipasti/appetizer!
Serve with the same beer you used in the batter, in our case, local craft beer from Apecchio's Collessi Brewery. The flowers have a floral-lemony flavor that pair perfect with Prosecco as well.

The key to this recipe is keeping all the ingredients - including the bowl & whisk in the fridge!! It is a very light/loose batter that becomes nice & crispy!

Elderflowers or Sambuco from the tree in our front yard
Here is a short 2 minute video taken during a May Cooking Class just the other day - on the menu: Fried Elderflowers, Homemade Ravioli stuffed with Greens & Ricotta in a 'Sugo al Momento' or Sauce of the Moment and 2 Crostata's: Fresh Strawberries and Fig Jam with Pine Nuts. It was a lovely lunch but the elderflowers stole the show!


Beer Batter for Elderflowers and Squash/Zucchini Blossoms

*It is very important to have all the ingredients as cold as possible, including: flour, bowl, whisk/whip, etc.

Serves 4
12-15 flowers (sambuco/elderflower or squash blossoms), it is important to keep the stem long to use it as a 'stir-stick' when frying.
bottle of beer (or seltzer water - but it won't be as crispy)
flour
sea salt (for sprinkling on top before you serve)

Add a couple of handfuls of cold flour to a cold bowl, with a cold whisk add cold beer steadily mixing until you develop a light thin batter without lumps that will coat a spoon. (Think of a thin crepe batter.) - Watch the video for an example.

Once at desired consistency, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about an hour.

Heat oil to 350 F / 175 C - be sure to use a thermometer.

Clean your flowers. Elderflowers: give a little shake and check for bugs. Squash Blossoms: remove the pistil & stamen.

Dip the flower in the batter holding on to the stem. Allow access batter to drip off. While holding the stem of the flower, place in the hot oil in a slow swirling motion thru the oil. (This avoids clumping).
Fry for 20-30 seconds, until golden brown. Be sure to maintain the temperature of your oil.
Place on the fried flowers on brown paper and sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately!

Serve with beer or prosecco - something bubbly!!

Warm Artichoke, Asparagus, Fava & Potato Salad


 When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade and when the garden is producing kilos of fava and neighbors deliver homegrown artichokes and asparagus we make this delicious warm salad! It's a shame to call is a 'potato salad' but when I asked a handful of guests, as they were eating this dish after a cooking class they all replied 'the best potato salad ever!' Use whatever Spring veggies you've got but the combo of warm boiled new potatoes with sweet artichoke hearts and bright asparagus & or fava is simply...the best potato salad ever!

Check out the short video on Tastemade to see a glimpse of the cooking class with this one the menu!

Artichokes & New Potatoes with Fava and Asparagus

Serves 4

12 artichoke hearts, cleaned (we have small artichokes, if you are using big Roman artichokes you can use 1 artichoke heart per person, cut into quarters)
4 medium potatoes (the best looking potatoes you can find)
2 handfuls of cleaned, double shelled fave beans (or peas)
handful of thin asparagus if you have them (grilled or blanched)
handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered (seeds removed)
small handful of chopped herbs: oregano, basil, parsley - whatever you’ve got.
good extra virgin olive oil
vinegar
salt & pepper

In separate pots, of boiling salted water, cook: the artichoke hearts,  the potatoes with the skin left on whole and fave beans until just soft, but not mushy. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
When you can handle the potatoes, peel them and cut into similar size chunks as your artichoke hearts.

While everything is still warm, place the potatoes, artichokes, bean/peas and tomatoes, etc. into a bowl and season with salt & pepper, chopped herbs and dress with olive oil and vinegar. (General rule of thumb, dress with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, i.e.: a 3 count pour of olive oil to a 1 count pour of vinegar.)

Toss gently, adjust seasonings and allow to sit for five minutes and serve slightly warm. Garnish with grated hard egg over the top if you like.



Video Recipe: Cooking Class, Beer Batter for Elderflowers & Squash Blossoms

 On a warm Spring afternoon we added Fried Elderflowers or fiori di sambuco fritti  to the menu - these edible flowers when fried in a beer batter create a light, crunchy, aromatic antipasti/appetizer!
Serve with the same beer you used in the batter, in our case, local craft beer from Apecchio's Collessi Brewery. The flowers have a floral-lemony flavor that pair perfect with Prosecco as well.

The key to this recipe is keeping all the ingredients - including the bowl & whisk in the fridge!! It is a very light/loose batter that becomes nice & crispy!
 
 
Here is a short 2 minute video taken during a May Cooking Class just the other day - on the menu: Fried Elderflowers, Homemade Ravioli stuffed with Greens & Ricotta in a 'Sugo al Momento' or Sauce of the Moment and 2 Crostata's: Fresh Strawberries and Fig Jam with Pine Nuts. It was a lovely lunch but the elderflowers stole the show!


Beer Batter for Elderflowers and Squash/Zucchini Blossoms

*It is very important to have all the ingredients as cold as possible, including: flour, bowl, whisk/whip, etc.

Serves 4
12-15 flowers (sambuco/elderflower or squash blossoms), it is important to keep the stem long to use it as a 'stir-stick' when frying.
bottle of beer (or seltzer water - but it won't be as crispy)
flour
sea salt (for sprinkling on top before you serve)

Add a couple of handfuls of cold flour to a cold bowl, with a cold whisk add cold beer steadily mixing until you develop a light thin batter without lumps that will coat a spoon. (Think of a thin crepe batter.) - Watch the video for an example.

Once at desired consistency, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about an hour.

Heat oil to 350 F / 175 C - be sure to use a thermometer.

Clean your flowers. Elderflowers: give a little shake and check for bugs. Squash Blossoms: remove the pistil & stamen.

Dip the flower in the batter holding on to the stem. Allow access batter to drip off. While holding the stem of the flower, place in the hot oil in a slow swirling motion thru the oil. (This avoids clumping).
Fry for 20-30 seconds, until golden brown. Be sure to maintain the temperature of your oil.
Place on the fried flowers on brown paper and sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately!
Serve with beer or prosecco - something bubbly!!

Cooking Conversions & Cheat Sheets for the Kitchen



Cooking is about as much about improvisation as it is about technique - what do you do if you run out of brown sugar?! Or in our case, we live in the Italian countryside where 'packed brown sugar' for good ol' chocolate chip cookies does NOT exist. So does that mean we can never eat cookies or oatmeal with brown sugar again - no, we just have to get creative & improvise with that we have on hand. (Sometimes it's also knowing where to shop - for example cream of tartar is found not in the grocery store or bakery but...pharmacy! (Sold by weight, the fine white powder folded into paper packets - reminiscent of trafficking drugs!)  Also most Chef don't weigh out 5 tablespoons of olive oil - they eye it! That is why most of the recipes on our blog call for 'glugs' because it's a visual & audible indicator how much you are using.





Rustic Tart with Fresh Strawberries & Cream


Traditionally made with marmalade, this rustic tart is found kept under a kitchen towel in most homes in our area.  With strawberries in abundance this time of year, we use fresh fruit instead of jam.
This recipe is enough to make two 9-in/22cm tarts with lattice. Use what you have for the tart pans, we use round pizza pans.

Italian Rustic Tart with Strawberries
Crostata di Fragole

1 1/3 cup, 250g butter
4 cups, 500 g of flour
1 1/4 cups+ for dusting, 250g  sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon, 5g baking powder
2 full eggs + 3 yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
drop of booze - grappa, rum, brandy, anything you like
about a pint of fresh strawberries per tart, sliced
Optional: Serve with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese thinned out with milk.

Cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla a few drops of your favorite liquor and beat in.
Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter & egg mixture with a few strokes of a wooden spoon forming a dough.  Take 1/3 of the dough & and roll it out slightly larger than your  parchment lined tart pan. Roll down the edges of the dough to create the crust.
Arrange the strawberries slightly overlapping to cover the tart. You can sprinkle a little sugar over the strawberries, if they are in season this is not necessary.

To make the latticework top:
Pull off a pinch of dough & roll into a long snake. This is an easy dough to work with if it breaks just pinch it back together. This is a rustic tart. Moist hands will help if the dough is sticky.
Continue until you have enough to make your lattice top.

Bake in a preheated 350F/175C degree oven for about an hour or until the top is nice & brown, the bottom is cooked & the dough should shrink away from the pan a bit.

In loving memory

Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring Vegetable Soup - Artichoke, Pea, Asparagus
Spring Vegetable Soup

Serves 4

1 leek or spring onion, diced
1 carrot, fine dice
1 liter or 4.5 cups of vegetable stock or brodo
couple cloves or garlic
olive oil
3-4 leaves of mint, chopped
small handful of parsley, chopped
optional: 2-3 slices of prosciutto, thinly sliced & then chopped.
salt & pepper
about 2 cups or 2 large handfuls total of cleaned prepped veggies. Use whatever spring vegetables you have: asparagus, artichoke hearts, peas, fava beans (double shelled), leafy greens, spinach, kale, etc.

In a pot over low heat, sweat the garlic, onion & carrot in olive oil for about 10 minutes or so - without color.
Season with salt and pepper. Then add the vegetables in the order to cook, ie: artichoke hearts would go in first as they are the hardest vegetable, followed by peas, asparagus & fava, then spinach, etc. Add in the stock, bring up to simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked properly. Skim any oil that has floated to the top.
Finish with the chopped herbs. Check your seasonings and adjust if needed.

Serve with toasty bread and finish with extra virgin olive oil atop each bowl of soup.

Roasted Lamb with Potatoes & White Wine (Roman Spring Lamb)


A beautiful dish for Easter, Roasted Spring Lamb with Potatoes & White Wine - good every time! The recipe is adapted from one of our favorite Italian cookbooks, The Silver Spoon. Have you ever cooked lamb before? Have questions? Try our LIVE! online, interactive Cooking Class from our farmhouse/cooking school in Italy on March 16th and make this dish right along with the Chef! (Details Here)
Roman Spring Lamb
Roasted Lamb with Potatoes & White Wine

1 kilo or 2 lb leg of lamb, in pieces (ask the butcher to do this for you)
flour for dusting
2 glugs of olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary
a small handful of sage leaves
couple of cloves of garlic
glass of white wine
1/3 glass of white wine vinegar (about 5 tablespoons)
4 potatoes, sliced
salt & pepper
2/3 cup water, boiling
optional: 2-3 anchovies (or capers or anchovy paste)

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C

Dust the pieces of lamb with flour, shake off the excess.

In a heavy bottomed roasting pan, over medium-high heat brown the lamb on all sides in a couple glugs of olive oil, turning frequently (about 10 minutes).

Once browned, season with salt & pepper. Toss in the rosemary, sage & garlic.
Combine in a glass the wine & vinegar, then add to the roasting pan. Reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated, turning the lamb frequently.

Once the pan is almost dry, add the boiling water. Then top with the slices of potatoes (its OK not to cover the entire dish) and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until tender WITH a foil lid.

If it seems to be drying out - add in a little hot water mixed with a dash of white wine.

For something truly authentic, 10 minutes before the lamb is ready smush 2-3 anchovy filets in a bowl with a little of the pan juices/sauces and pour over the entire lamb/potato dish and return to oven to finish cooking for another 5-10 minutes.

Check your seasonings.
To Serve: pick out the stems of herbs and transfer the meat to a warm serving dish and spoon the pan sauces/gravy over the top with the potatoes.

The Perfect Frittata WITHOUT the Flip



A light paper-thin frittata topped simply with Spring’s young onions or traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena D.O.P., done with the right technique elevates an 'omelette' to a sophisticated and elegant dish. This healthy versatile recipe is not just to be made for breakfast, it can be served along side a salad for a light lunch or an appetizer/antipasto with dinner.
The best way to learn to make a frittata is to be taught in person so why not sign up for our live! online and interactive cooking class this Sunday when it's on the menu! (LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class details.)
Without having to flip the eggs this dish just got super simple - it's all in the detail!  
  1. The pan heat is very important. If your pan is too hot you will brown your eggs and a proper frittata should have no color.
  2. By using the oven to firm up/cook the top of the frittata this eliminates the need to flip it & risk breaking the eggs.
  3. Less is more. Remember this is not a thick fluffy omelet but delicate enough to almost melt in your mouth.
Simple Frittata

Serves 2
2 eggs
butter or olive oil
salt & pepper
Nonstick frying pan
anything you like to add inside: cheese, veg, bacon, balsamic, truffles, etc.

Preheat broiler/grill.
On medium heat, get the pan warm. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Add a small amount of butter or olive oil to the pan.

Add the eggs to the perimeter of the pan letting them swirl to the center. Once they have set up, add your filling as you like (cheese, veg, onions, etc.), crack of salt & pepper. Then pop it into the oven under the broiler 5-10 seconds until the top has set.
Slip onto board, fold over and cut.
Serve immediately.
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