Drunken tofu stew the old tuscan way

Nowadays we are all concerned about what we eat, so we have revisited a traditional recipe making a vegetarian stew, tasty and nutritious, that we can have with all the pleasure of an old style savoury tuscan dish.

tofu-stew
Ingredients for 4 people:
400 gr of fresh tofu
500 gr of fresh peeled tomatoes
300 cl of Chianti (or red dry wine)
4 garlic cloves
1 medium size red onion
2 celery stalks
50 gr of dry tomatoes
1 small bunch of parsley
1 tablespoon of minced rosemary leaves
2 carrots
A few basil leaves
Half a teaspoon of black pepper
Half a teaspoon thyme
A quarter teaspoon of marjoram
2 bay leaves
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt to taste

Directions
Chop finely by hand, or with help of a food processor, carrots , celery, parsley, onion, dry tomatoes and garlic. In a saucepan heat olive oil and toss in the chopped vegetables with rosemary, basil, thyme, black pepper and marjoran and sautee for 2 or 3 minutes.
Chop in little cubes the tofu, toss in the pan with sautee vegetables keeping on gas mark medium, meanwhile chop the tomatoes and put in the pan with the wine, sugar, salt and bay leaves.
Let it cook for 1 hour, checking, and if needed adding some hot water, the final consistency should be of a thick chunky stew.
Serve warm with some tuscan saltless bread slices and good glass of robust Chianti.

 

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Red skin potatoes and remember tastes of long ago

From the Casentino valley in Tuscany, a traditional recipe where the main ingredient is the red potato of Cetica, an old variety of potato with a red skin and white inside, that has its own taste and texture and produces delicious special dishes.

Here our version of the red potatoes’ tortelli as we have always made them.

tortelloni
Ingredients:
400 gr of durum wheat flour
5 eggs
700 gr of red skin tuscan potatoes
2 small tuscan sauges
100 gr of dry beef (like beef jerky)
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
50 gr of butter
a few sage leaves
extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

patata rossa di Cetica

Prepare the dough mixing flour with 4 eggs and kneading well until smooth and even (you can you use a bread or pasta machine for the purpose), let it rest covered with a cloth or food plastic foil for half hour.
Wash and boil the potatoes in enough salted water, once cooked drain water, peel and mash them before they get cold. In a small pan sauté the finely chopped dry meat and sausage with a drizzle of olive oil.
Sauté in another pan with some oil the whole garlic cloves just hand crushed, add in the sausage and after a minute or so parsley, tomato paste, salt and pepper, sauté briefly and turn off heat.
Mix the sauce with mashed potatoes, adding one egg to the mixture and discarding the garlic. Finely roll the dough, make pasta stripes of 5-6 cm wide and pack the tortelli with half a spoon of potatoes mash for each one using a second pasta stripe on top and then cutting to close the tortello.
They should be cooked for 4 – 5 minutes in boiling salted water, gently drained and poured in a pan, where previously had lightly sautéed butter with sage. Stir for a minute and serve with grated tuscan pecorino cheese on top. Enjoy your meal!

 

 

In Tuscany black kale and farro marry well in pesto.

Farro as we call it in Italy, or spelt, one of the oldest grains known, is combined in this recipe with a special ‘pesto’ made mainly with black tuscan kale, which is the most popular vegetable in Tuscany. The dish has a very fresh and full palate taste, perfect for lunch or dinner with a good glass of medium bodied red wine like Chianti or Nobile di Montepulciano.

black kale pesto
Ingredients
200 gr of spelt
200 gr of black tuscan kale
70 gr of almonds
1 garlic clove
70 gr of tuscan pecorino cheese
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Put the almonds under the broiler in oven tray and turn it on for a few minutes, just to have them lightly toasted.
Wash the kale, cut out and discard the stem in the middle. Put the kale in a pan with a little water and cover and cook for 5 minutes, then drain it.
Put everything in a blender and mix briefly the kale, almonds, salt, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
Bring to boil 2 liters of water, add 1 /2 tablespoon of salt and the spelt, let it cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Drain the spelt (preserving 2 spoons of boiling water), pour the spelt and the kale pesto sauce in a bowl and stir well with some left hot water, add a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
Enjoy this Arianna & Friends‘ recipe.

Warning: adding a few fresh chopped tomatoes may want you to eat more….

_DSC1272

 

A tuscan dessert you have to taste… and taste..

A typical dessert of traditional nothern Tuscan cuisine, mainly the Lucca and Pistoia mountains, the Necci are basically made from chestnut’s flour and ricotta cheese. They look like pancakes and they were traditionally cooked between two hot iron plates.

necci and ricotta

photo courtesy intoscana.it

Here follows our recipe.

Ingredients:
500 gr of chestnuts flour
200 gr of sheep ricotta cheese
75 gr of white sugar
50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
50 ml of dry white wine
Salt
20 ml of dark rhum
40 gr of icing sugar

Directions
In a bowl beat the ricotta with the sugar until frothy. In another bowl, whisk chestnut’s flour, wine, a little trickle of oil, sugar and a pinch of salt.
When the mixture becomes homogeneous, warm up on the stove a non stick pan with a few drop of oil and grease through with a paper towel. When hot enough, pour in a small ladle of the compound, shaking the pan to have the compoud well distributed and cook.
When the top side whitens, flip over the neccio and cook until it gets golden. Repeat the procedure for each crepe starting from greasing the pan.

With all the necci in a tray, stuff each of them with the ricotta cream, roll them up on themselves and sprinkle on top a few drops of dark rum and some icing sugar.

Best served warm. Enjoy!

Befanini the Tuscan Christmas cookies

Around this time of the year the flavors of the befanini cookies is unmistakable in our homes, bakeries and pastry shops. These cookies once available for the Epifany celebration of January the 6th, have become the most popular biscuit that welcomes the holiday season in Tuscany.
Let’s see how to prepare them with the recipe we inherited from grandma.befaniniphoto Aurelio Barattini

Ingredients

500 gr of white flour
300 gr white sugar
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla essence
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
200 gr of butter
pinch of salt
grated skin of 2 oranges
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of Rhum
colored sugars to decorate

In a bowl combine 3 eggs with sugar and whisk well, then slowly add, while mixing, the melted (and cooled) butter, salt, grated orange skins, rhum, and baking powder.
On a separate surface combine the previous mix with the flour and knead well (in case the dough is too firm help yourself with a little milk). Wrap the dough in a cloth or aluminum foil and let it cool in the fridge for an hour.
Roll out the dough to about 3 to 5 millimeters thick. cut cookie shapes as you wish, can be little stars, christmas trees… and place them on oven tray.
Beat the remaining egg and brush each cookie, add the colored sugars on top and bake in a 180° preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool, they keep well in a glass jar for a couple of weeks (if nobody finds out where the jar is !)