Zuppa toscana di magro alla contadina Tuscan vegetarian peasant soup

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A recipe to celebrate Artusi, the first gourmet of newly made Italy, here the link for another recipe from Artusi’s book.libro artusi

Artusi, highly patriotic, with his “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” aimed to contribute to the makings of the national culture. Although this book includes recipes mainly from Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, Artusi made reference to varied local Italian cuisines. Artusi clearly wanted to celebrate the gastronomic richness of the recently united Italy

Storia di un libro che rassomiglia alla storia di Cenerentola (Story of a book similar to Cinderella, Artusi in the introduction of the 6thedition,1902)

Artusi recipes’ manuscript was reject by a number of publisher and so he had to resort to publishing it at his own expense in 1891. But as Cinderella at the ball it was very well received, not only by the ladies who had first encouraged him, but also by very influential figures such as Paolo Mantegazza, a well known anthropologist and senator of the newly born Kingdom of Italy who publicly praised and supported the book and its author thus: « in giving us this book you have done a very good thing and I therefore wish you one hundred editions».

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The recipe I present is very similar to the one included in Artusi original book, but as person who lived the first 23 years of her life in Tuscany, I propose the version that my mother used to prepare for me on rainy days as comfort food.

INGREDIENTS

To prepare the beans

300 gr dried Cannellini

1 spring thyme

1 bay leaf

1 spring rosemary

 

 

For the soup

250 gr Lacinato kale leaves

1/4 Green or Savoy cabbage

1 potato

1 carrot

1 stick celery

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup (200 g) tomato puree

1 tsp black pepper

to taste table salt

 

 

btrINSTRUCTIONS

  • Soak the beans 12 hours into fresh water, then rinse and boil into a pot covered with water about 1 hour, along with 1 bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Cook the beans until perfectly soft. Remouve, bay leaf, rosemary and thymeTake a cup of beans and with a blender, blend the rest of the beans in their broth.
  • Prepare the Soffritto: the basic Italian sautéed vegetables. Peel and cut the onion into halves, then reduce into thin slices. After that, peel and slice the carrots, then peel and crush the cloves of garlic. Finally, slice the stick of celery.
  • Pour all these vegetables into a thick-bottomed heavy pot, along with 4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. and sauté over medium heat, stirring as needed, until the vegetables become tender and translucent.
  • Reduce the Lacinato kale and the cabbage into flakes of different sizes. After that, peel and dice the potato.
  • Once the Soffritto is ready, add the potato, kale, and cabbage, and sautè 10 minutes. Then, add the tomato puree, the thyme, the beans broth.
  • Cover with the lid, set the flame to let the Ribollita simmer very gently, and cook 2 hours. If necessary, add more broth a ladle at a time.
  • Finally, add the the whole beans, and cook 30 minutes more, stirring as needed. Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with pouring a generous amount of olive oil

Enjoy!

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peels Pie

Il club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di Guernsey é un romanzo delizioso, non riesco a trovare un altro aggettivo per descriverlo.

il club del libro

Non lo conoscevo, cosi come non conoscevo la sua autrice, Mary Ann Shaffer che ha scritto questo unico romanzo, infatti mentre lo scriveva si è ammalata gravemente ed ha chiesto a sua nipote, Annie Barrows, di finirlo per lei. Ho visto il film su Netflix e mi è piaciuto quindi ho deciso di leggere anche il libro e mi è piaciuto ancora di più. Senza fare la spoiler, dico soltanto che si tratta di un romanzo epistolare. Siamo in Inghilterra nel 1946, Il personaggio principale, Juliet, in cerca di un’idea per il suo secondo libro, dopo che il primo è stato un successo, inizia una fitta corrispondenza con i membri del club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di  Guernsey. Le raccontano cosa abbia significato la guerra per loro (Guernsey è stata per cinque anni sotto l’occupazione nazista)le amicizie ed i rancori che sono nati. Spicca tra tutti il personaggio di Elisabeth, donna coraggiosa che pur potendo fuggire a Londra era rimasta sull’isola per aiutare un’amica.

Mi fermo qui, aggiungendo solo che il mio personaggio preferito è Isola, “una strega che pratica la sua arte”.

La torta di bucce di patate nasce dal fatto che sull’isola, dopo l’occupazione, era venuto a mancare tutto, si trovavano solo patate e qualche barbabietola. Cosi Will Thisbee, volendo portare qualcosa una sera che era stato invitato a una cena molto speciale(non voglio spifferare niente) inventò questa ricetta(patate schiacciate, barbabietole per dargli un po’ di dolce e le bucce di patata per simulare la crosta, il tutto da mandar giù con un bicchierino di gin preparata da Isola.

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Io ho rivisto un po’ la ricetta e il tocco da maestra (me lo dico da sola) sono proprio le bucce di patata che ho spolverato leggermente con polvere di curry e sale e le ho fritte nella friggitrice ad aria calda, sono sinceramente buonissime…

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Il Pie fa la sua figura servito caldo come contorno a fette di arista arrosto o di roast-beef (l’ho provato), ma penso che starebbe benissimo anche con il pesce fritto all’inglese(che invece penso di proporre uno di questi giorni nel mio blog).

Buon appetito a tutti e fatemi sapere se da adesso in poi pensate ancora di buttare via le bucce di patata.

 

Ingredienti

2 patate grosse (500-600 gr) a buccia sottile

2 barbabietole cotte al vapore

3 cucchiai di olio EVO

1 spicchio d’aglio (piccolo)

1 cucchiaino di curry

sale q.b.

 

Procedimento

  • Con l’aiuto di una spazzolina, pulire bene le patatein maniera tale che la buccia risulti senza sporco o impurità.
  • Sbucciare le patate e cuocerle al vapore. Nel frattempo, asciugare le buccedi patate, spolverarle con polvere di curry e salee cuocerle nella friggitrice ad aria calda. Se non si ha questo tipo di friggitrice, cuocerle al forno con la funzione grill.
  • Tagliare le barbabietole a fette sottilicon la mandolina
  • Quando le patate sono cotte, schiacciarle beneo passarle al setaccio, ed aggiungete l’olio in cui avrete frullato un piccolo spicchio d’aglio, aggiustate con il sale.
  • Per comporre il pie basta fare uno strato di purea di patate, uno strato di barbabietole e coprire con uno strato di patate, alla fine decorare con le bucce di patate come se fosse una crostata.

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Pesto alla Genovese

Eugenio Montale became a Nobel laureate poet in 1975, the Swedish Academy awarded him despite his modest poetic production (5 books in 50 years of work), declaring that Montale was ”one of the most important poets of the contemporary West”.

montaleGlory of expanded noon
when the trees give up no shade,
and more and more the look of things
is turning bronze, from excess light.

Above, the sun—and a dry shore;
so my day is not yet done:
the finest hour is over the low wall,
closed off by a pale setting sun.

Drought all around: kingfisher hovers
over something life has left.
The good rain is beyond the barrenness,
but there’s greater joy in waiting

translated by Jonathan Galassi (forpoetry.com)

Montale was born in Genoa, in 1896 and died in 1981 in Milan. In his poems the focus is on the landscape, sunny and desolate, stone walls surronding vegetable gardens and cultivation of olive trees. In the inclement sun everything appears hard and cruel. Those poetic descriptions are very far from the turistic leaflets of Portofino or Cinque Terre. True is that Liguria used to be an hard and poor area and many it inhabitants migrated before and soon after II World War.

Pesto alla Genovese is a very tasty sauce, you can use for your pasta, on toasted bread as a snack, is wonderful with boiled potatoes. But mind the ingredients, they have to be fresh (sometimes I found basil that went to seed in the supermarket and it is too hard to get a real nice pesto), prefer pine nuts produced in the Mediterranean area (they are long and thin) rather the Chinese variety that is cheaper but they don’t taste the same (they are bitter). The original recipe traditionally,  is made in the mortar.  You can do pesto in the food processor, but with mortar the green essential oils contained in the basil leaves come off and  the marble of the mortar that is cold and prevents the oxidation of basil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoon of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of leaves of fresh basil
  • a pinch of rock salt
  • 2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, grated.
  • 1 tablespoon of pecorino cheese, grated.
  • 5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Wash the basil leaves in cold water and put them on a canvas to dry . They must be perfectly dry before starting the preparation of the pesto.
  2. Put a clove of garlic in the mortar,  Add 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and  crush until cream. Scoop out the garlic cream from the mortar and put aside. You will add it later.
  3. Put the remaining pine nuts in the mortar, half a cup of the basil leaves and few grains of rock salt.
  4. Smash the basil leaves with a rotating movement along the interior walls of the mortar. Add the remaining leaves, some more rock salt grains  and continue smashing.
  5. Then add cheeses. Amalgamate and taste. Adjust with salt if necessary.
  6. Finally, add the oil and stirr gently. Keep the pesto under a light layer of oil to prevent oxidation.

A Soup for Nazim

I don’t want to present the famous Turkish Poet Nazim Hikmet,

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Better to introduce him in his poetic words:

 

Autobiography (1962)

by Nâzım Hikmet

I was born in 1902

I never once went back to my birthplace

I don’t like to turn back

at three I served as a pasha’s grandson in Aleppo

at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University

at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party’s guest

and I’ve been a poet since I was fourteen

some people know all about plants some about fish

I know separation

some people know the names of the stars by heart

I recite absences

I’ve slept in prisons and in grand hotels

I’ve known hunger even a hunger strike and there’s almost no food

I haven’t tasted

at thirty they wanted to hang me

at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize

which they did

at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year

at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours

I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in ’24

in ’61 the tomb I visit is his books

they tried to tear me away from my party

it didn’t work

nor was I crushed under the falling idols

in ’51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death

in ’52 I spent four months flat on my back with a broken heart

waiting to die

I was jealous of the women I loved

I didn’t envy Charlie Chaplin one bit

I deceived my women

I never talked my friends’ backs

I drank but not every day

I earned my bread money honestly what happiness

out of embarrassment for others I lied

I lied so as not to hurt someone else

but I also lied for no reason at all

I’ve ridden in trains planes and cars

most people don’t get the chance

I went to opera

most people haven’t even heard of the opera

and since ’21 I haven’t gone to the places most people visit

mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers

but I’ve had my coffee grounds read

my writings are published in thirty or forty languages

in my Turkey in my Turkish they’re banned

cancer hasn’t caught up with me yet

and nothing says it will

I’ll never be a prime minister or anything like that

and I wouldn’t want such a life

nor did I go to war

or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night

and I never had to take to the road under diving planes

but I fell in love at almost sixty

in short comrades

even if today in Berlin I’m croaking of grief

I can say I’ve lived like a human being

and who knows

how much longer I’ll live

what else will happen to me

Soup for Nazim Hikmet
Turkish red lentil soup

As Nazim himself says in this poem, he tasted any kind of food but I was lucky enough to get acquainted with his Italian translator and friend, the late Joyce Lussu and in one of our conversations she told me of the preference of Nazim for the simple and humble of country.

So here the recipe for the Turkish red lentil soup: 5 minutes to prepare, low in calories, healthy, full of good nutrients a real food for the soul…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
    1  onion, finely diced
    1  carrot, diced
  • 1 small potato, diced
    ½ teaspoon dried mint
    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    6 cups of homemade broth

Directions

  1. Rinse the lentils 2 or 3 times
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, put he lentils, potato, carrot, onion, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil.
  3. After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot until the lentils have fallen apart and the carrots are completely cooked.
  4. After the soup has cooked and the lentils are tender, blend the soup and add more salt if necessary.
  5. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of mint and red pepper flakes, wedges of lemon, and toasted bread.

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Cottage Pie (The Jane Austen Challenge)

I haven’t post in my Jane Austen Challenge for a while. Spring is a very busy moment for my family and me. It is mid-term exams period for my students and my kids. Kids have to practice intensively because the regatta season starts, and I have to balance between job, home and shuttle the kids to the practice spot nearly every day. I felt I need some comfort food, and my mind went back to my early teens, when I first went to UK to improve my English. I discovered there the Cottage Pie, a very humble pie, when compared to others but tasty and very easy. You would say that there is no mention of Cottage Pies in Jane Austen’s work, and you would be right, but that very summer, our English teachers gave us “Emma” as one of our summer readings and it was love at first sight both with Jane Austen and UK.

I have travelled extensively in my life and lived in different country, but whenever I go to UK I have the same sensation than I get in Italy: “home”.

The recipe I suggest you, is my own recipe, the one that I developed in the years. The topping is prepared with the same procedure my mom was using to prepare her “potato pure” and enriched with cottage cheese. I hope you will enjoy this small Italian contamination of a traditional English recipe. Let me know.

 Cottage Pie 2

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 chopped stalk of celery
  • 700 gr beef mince
  • 300 ml homemade beef stock
  • 1 tbs white flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of thyme
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil

 

For the topping

  • 750gr potatoes, boiled or steamed and peeled
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100 gr. of grated cheddar cheese

 

 

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190’ C
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, the celery and carrot and cook over a medium heat until soft (the onion should be translucent).
  3. Add the minced beef and cook very well until is brown.
  4. Dissolve the flour in the warm beef stock and add it to the mince along with bay leaf and thyme.
  5. Cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes, it will be ready when the gravy has a creamy consistency.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the topping, mash the potato in a pan heat the butter over low heat
  7. Add the mashed potato to the butter, mix well and add the milk.
  8. When the milk is absorbed add the cheddar and stir until completely dissolved in the mash. season with salt and pepper.
  9. Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish (I used single-serve oven proof cups). Top with the mash and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Cottage Pie 9
Golden Brown topping that melt in your mouth
Cottage Pie 8
The spoonful of flour in the mince adds texture to the gravy