Sunday, October 12

Happy Apple Season! Recipes & Photos from our Apple Harvest

This years apple harvest has been our best yet! With a dozen or so apple trees (green, red & pink) we've got a great mix of varieties for both eating fresh & cooking/preserving. In a few short minutes kilos of apples are picked, there are baskets at the doors filled with apples, a crate in the kitchen and each guest room has a bowl of fresh picked apples to welcome them! The fallen fruit is left for our hens to peck at, they don't last long as the boar and porcupines hoover up the leftovers late each night.


Thanks to the Indian summer we are having the trees that usually don't mature past tart green apples have all become heavy with ruby colored fruit.


It's no surprise I love apples, a girl homegrown in Washington State they make me nostalgic. My favorite holiday memories as a child include rainy days with hot apple cider, dinners with fried pork chops and baked apples,  a fancy fizzling glass of Martinelli's sparkling cider and of course apple pie for breakfast lunch and dinner!  I'd kill for a homemade apple fritter.


  I now live in a country that does not have the same affinity to this beloved fruit. Sure wild apple trees line our country road and locals arrive to fill their Fiat Pandas, but mainly to eat as hand fruit.  Apple juice is almost nonexistent. So, I have been scouring the web for an apple mill - the only problem is the ones I like are HUGE and too big to ship...I'd love to make our own cider and happily make myself sick from too much unpasteurized apple juice! But for now we'll bake cakes, make jam and apple sauces, add paper thin slices to salads for a nice crunch...or just eat'em with a spoonful of peanut butter!

A photo I took while picking one afternoon & posted on instagram ended up being featured on Food & Wine and Coastal Living #thisisfall!

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Our #Appleharvest this year makes me think we should revive #countrybaby #applesauce!Yes that's an 80s classic-Baby Boom reference, I've related to Diane Keaton's character on many occasions since leaving NYC for the deep Italian countryside...#homegrown

If you think there's just Granny Smith & Red Delicious you are missing out. Here are two great articles on how diverse apple varieties can be:
 
A Few Favorite Apple Recipes:
photo: the meaning of pie
A friend/guest/photographer/writer, Kelly Yandell has a gorgeous blog The Meaning of Pie, she delved deep into apples with an extensive post on "The quentessial apple pie" that is worth the read & recipe!  

Pear (Apple) & Pine Nut Salad with Honey Vinegarette
Rosy cheeked angelica pears, native to the Metauro Valley are found in the markets throughout autumn in our area of Le Marche. One of my favorite ways to use these sweet small pears is pairing them with our wild apples and tossing with homegrown lettuce, toasted pine nuts, ribbons of parmesan and a sweet honey lemon vinaigrette - creating an irresistible salad!


If you like to cook/bake with wine, olive oil & sambuca - this is the dessert for you! An autumn dessert served at our farmhouse is la rocciata - a rustic apple roll stuffed with pine nuts, walnuts, cinnamon & golden raisins.

And finally, our go-to, super simple, moist & delicious Grandma's Apple Cinnamon Cake - and yes, it's actually Jason's grandmother's recipe! Serve it for breakfast, dessert or alongside an afternoon tea. Not only is it a no-fail recipe, but it is guaranteed to make your kitchen smell warm & cozy like grandma's house...I guess that's what makes apples so great - the childhood memories that come with each slice.



~ Happy Apple Season! ~


Thursday, October 9

No Rolling Pin Needed: Homemade Cavatelli Pasta


This is one of the easiest pasta dough's to make and it doesn't need a machine or any fancy equipment - just your thumb or a pairing knife. Cavatelli pasta (or little caves) is traditionally from Molise & parts of Puglia.  It is very similar to orecchietti (little ears), another pasta made with semolina (ground durum wheat or grano duro). In southern Italy is where you will find most of these types of pasta made with semolina and no egg in the dough. 

The recipe for cavatelli varies greatly from region to region, village to village. Below is the recipe that has yielded the most consistent results for us - a soft delicate pasta that's not gummy.  After all your work in making fresh pasta you'll be happy to know that it freezes wonderfully! Now on a random Wednesday night just pull out your homemade fresh cavatelli, make a quick sauce and dinner is ready!


This pasta pairs perfectly in the Spring with peas, borlotti, sage & tomatoes in the Fall and norcina (sausage & cream) in the Winter!

You can find videos on youtube all day on the technique for cutting & forming the pasta. Below is a simple explanation. Stay tuned as we'll film our own demo soon!!

Cavatelli Pasta Dough
serves 4

200 grams/ 1.5 cups of semolina or ground durum wheat/ grano duro
25 grams / 1/4 cup of regular flour or soft wheat flour
pinch of salt
125 grams or 3/4 cup warm water

In a bowl mix the salt & both flours together, add in warm water and mix with a fork. Dump onto a board and begin kneading. Adjust the consistency as needed. The dough should have a firmness to it, not mushy, however not as hard as a ball. Continue kneading, until you have a nice smooth springy dough (8-10 minutes by hand). Wrap it in plastic and allow to rest at least an hour.

Make a snake about the width of a pencil.
Cut into segments as long as your thumb is wide. …..
Now you can either use your thumb or a knife for this next step.

To begin shaping cavatelli, stick your right thumb up and then turn hand so thumb is pointing left. Maintaining even pressure, use thumb to push a piece of dough forward and up, like an airplane taking off. The dough should spring up and form around the curve of your thumb.

Use a bench scraper or knife to transfer cavatelli to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and sprinkled with semolina, making sure no pieces of pasta touch. Continue until all dough is used. Let pasta dry slightly, 30-45 minutes. (You can then freeze in a single layer. Once frozen place in plastic freezer bag and will keep about a month.)

In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil and drop in cavatelli. Boil the pasta. It should take about 4-6 min depending on the size of your cavatelli. Just keep taking one out and testing!  Serve with the sauce of your choice.

Monday, September 29

A Vegetarian Dish for the Meat Eaters: Garden Vegetable Stew Topped with A Poached Egg


 
This is one vegetarian dish that even the die-hard meat eaters will enjoy! The quality of your veggies will turn this from ordinary to amazing and full of flavor. Its filling and incredible versatile based on the vegetables and herbs you use. This veg stew is perfect over a boiled potato or polenta. With the eggs from our hens, we love poaching an egg and placing it atop this gorgeous garden stew, adding a little protein and making it into more of a meal. Plus, eggs are hot right now!! Which just cracks us up (who comes up with these things?! By the way kale is out and cauliflower is in!) 

Remember with simple dishes like this its important to use the best quality ingredients. This is just the base for the veggies - use what you've got /like/grow. Add in potatoes if you want, etc.

Garden Vegetable Stew
serves about 6

This is just the base for the veggies - use what you've got/like/grow. Add in potatoes if you want, etc.

1 long eggplant
1 onion
1 pepper
1 zucchini
1 bulb of fennel
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper
a couple of large tomatoes, diced or 1 jar of whole crushed tomatoes
herbs of your choice (rosemary, thyme, bay leaf etc)
optional: capers, olives

Dice all your vegetables in a large dice, keeping them separate. Since its a stew the sizing isn’t exact. But don’t mix all the veggies together in a bowl.

In a large heavy pot, with a little bit of olive oil on medium high heat, sauté the onion for a few minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Then remove from the pot. We are just looking to start the onions cooking.

Repeat the same process, a little bit of olive oil, salt & pepper, sauté for 2 minutes or so and then remove, with each of the remaining vegetable except the tomatoes.

Keep an eye on your pan heat - you don’t want it too hot or too cool: too hot and they will burn your vegetables, too cool and you’ll sweat instead of sauté the vegetables.

Then return all the vegetables to the pot, together, along with the tomatoes and your herbs (and capers/olives if you like). Bring the pot up to a simmer and let slowly simmer until all the vegetables are tender. OR I like to pop it in a 375 F/190 C degrees oven, uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced some.

Check your seasoning, remove the herb stems and finish with good extra virgin olive oil on top.

If you like, poach an egg and place atop or serve with boiled potatoes or grilled polenta. Makes a great hearty vegetarian dish. It will get better as it sits in the fridge. Change up the vegetables as you like or play with the spices.

Monday, September 22

Quick Pickled Peppers, Carrots & Onions


A favorite way to keep veggies a bit longer into the season is a quick pickle - that great briny flavor with a crunch without the wait of a month or more for a proper pickle. A dish of these puckery peppers makes a perfect antipasti/appetizer through the fall, I love adding heaping spoonful to my plate with grilled sausages (or dunked into a Bloody Mary) while watching football!


A Quick Pickle for Peppers, Carrots, Onions, etc.

Use any vegetables of your choice, sliced thin - carrots, green beans, peppers, onions, etc. Most often we use a mix of peppers, carrots and onions
water
strong vinegar like white wine, red wine or apple cider (don’t use a soft vinegar such as balsamic)
salt
fresh herbs/aromatics of your choice - thyme, rosemary, dill, peppercorn, cardamon, etc.
chili of your desired strength
honey or sugar
whole head of chopped garlic

This is a ratio recipe. In a pot on medium heat, combine 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Add a couple tablespoons of honey/sugar, a couple tablespoons of salt, aromatics, chili, etc. - everything BUT the vegetables.

Once the sugar and salt are dissolved give it a taste. Make sure its not too puckery or too bland - just nice and briny, slightly acidic with a nice taste. Adjust as necessary with more salt, water vinegar or sugar.

Bring to boil.

Begin adding your vegetables based on hardness - for example:  carrots first, after 20-30 seconds add onions, after  about 20-30 seconds add peppers.

Bring to a rolling boil.

Once soft but still with a crunch, shut off the heat and strain out the vegetables and herbs (Do NOT throw out the liquid!!).  Place on a baking sheet in one flat layer and place in the fridge to cool.

Keep the pickling liquid/brine in the pot to cool as well.
Once both the veggies and liquid are cool, place the veggies along with all the garlic and herbs into a jar and cover with the liquid. Keep in the fridge and it will be good for up to 2 weeks, getting better as it sits.


Tuesday, September 16

London Times: The 30 Best Autumn Escapes...Includes a Gastro Holiday at La Tavola Marche!


It's not too late to plan that last minute autumn getaway! The Times has compiled a well rounded list of 30 of the best from leaf peeping to mushroom hunting, grape picking and beach-bumming there is something for everyone. And to toot our horn, #8 of 30 includes a stay with yours truly -

"La Tavola Marche is a traditional agriturismo, tucked away in the hills between the Apennine Mountains and the sea, specialising in gourmet weekends and cookery courses. Their Flavors of Fall break runs throughout October and includes a "wild edibles" walk and mushroom hunt, half-day cooking course and five course dinner with wine..."

September is fully booked but we do have a few spaces/classes available in October!  
 For more details email: info@latavolamarche.com or visit our website www.latavolamarche.com


You can read the article by Annabell Thorpe in its entirety: The London Times

Thursday, September 4

Taste of Italy Video: 400 Heirloom Tomatoes (Part 2) with Blight


Due to a rainy summer, blight has set in on our 400+ heirloom tomato plants in the garden. Farmer/Chef Jason Bartner explains what blight looks like, why it happens, how to try to prevent it organically and what your tomatoes will taste like...if they are even edible. It's been a disastrous year for our tomatoes but we've learned a few lessons nonetheless. Watch til the end for a preview of our next episode -

Be sure to watch it in HD!! 

Filmed & Edited by Ashley Bartner
Music by Spencer Dahl

"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! Subscribe to our youtube channel!

Saturday, August 23

Plum Perfect: A Bumper Crop Mean Farm to Table is a Group Effort


This year's plum harvest was surely a bumper crop/season if I'd ever seen one. Tree's that have never fruited were heavy with diverse varieties of plums this year! We discovered we had over 4 different types of plum trees from plump sweet yellow (susine) ones to deep purple plums I remember eating as a kid.



We ate them by the bucket load- yes, bucket! In about 5 minutes you could easily pick 5 kilos or more and barely make a dent in the tree. Of course we ate them in every way... So with plums too many plums to eat we picked we happily shared our bounty with friends. (And begged the guests to pick and eat as many as they like!)


"Farm to Table" is a group effort - We're happy to grow the plums & our dear friends at Gelateria Artigianale Makì make marmalade, sorbet & beautiful gelato! This is a great article on how this tini tiny amazing gelato shop is truly artisan & they personally know the producers/growers of the fruits they use! http://www.foodconfidential.it/maki-gelato-food-confidential/

Here's a fraction of what we delivered (a good 30+ kilos)...

And they made this...

 How cool is that?!
 Here are a few photos from my instagram page of more homegrown plums:

that's it...just a bunch of plum pics.

Wednesday, August 13

How to Cut Fresh Pasta by Hand {Video}


Learn how to cut fresh pasta by hand! A glimpse of our Fresh Pasta & Sauces Class at La Tavola Marche, filmed on an iPad LIVE during a summer cooking class in Le Marche, Italy! If you can't make it to Italy for one of our cooking classes in person, enjoy this "Taste of Italy" snippet/cooking class quickie!!



"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!  Here's a few past videos:
Episode 11: How to Cut Pasta by Hand
Episode 10: Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup)
Episode 9: L'Orto - Garden (400 + Tomato Plants) Part 1

Hand cut pasta from our cooking class students!
Fold the pasta in a serpentine to cut

Wednesday, August 6

3 & 4 Night Fall Gourmet Getaways in Le Marche, Italy



Crisp cool nights with the fireplace ablaze in a 300 year old stone farmhouse, trees colored red & burnt orange, fresh pressed olive oil & hearty vegetables from the garden - Autumn in Italy! Taste the flavors of fall in the Italian countryside at La Tavola Marche with a cooking class, five course feast & mushroom hunting in the woods!

3 or 4 nights in a stone farmhouse
Make yourself at home in a cozy apartment with wood-bean ceiling perfect for two - one bedroom, one bathroom & a kitchen stocked with the essentials. Any three nights in October.


cooking class & mushroom hunt
Wake early & head into the woods to collect porcini & other local mushrooms with our expert guide! Back to the house in time for a caffe & nap. Later return to the kitchen & create local seasonal dishes with vegetables from the garden & the wild edibles you have collected in the woods. Take home a handmade apron as a gift to remember your holiday.


cucina povera
Prepared with fresh ingredients from our garden enjoy antipasta, primo, secondo, dolce, digestivo & caffe by candlelight with home-bottled wine from a local vineyard.


Flavors of Fall TOTAL ~ 360 Euro Per Person 
3 Nights Accommodations in Apartment Pesca (Open to dates of your preference)
Welcome Bottle of Prosecco
Breakfast Daily
Mushroom Hunt & Aperitivo
Half-day Cooking Class with Meal and Handmade Apron
Five Course Welcome Feast (Based on double occupancy in low season)
Other Autumn Packages/Possibilities:
Add a "Taste of Le Marche" to your holiday! 4 night minimum = 370 Euro/person + accommodations

1 Half Day Cooking Class with wine, meal & custom hand-made apron, Friday in Apecchio Market Tour, Beer Tasting & Lunch, Wine Tour & Cheese Tasting with lunch & transportation, Five-course Welcome Dinner with Local Wine

“Feel like a Local Friday” in Apecchio - Meat & Cheese + Craft Beer = 75 Euro/person
Market trip & tour of meat and cheese warehouse, porchetta tasting and travelling market walk, visit to Collessi for award-winning craft beer tasting & tour, finishing with lunch at “the hunter’s hideaway!”  (Special price for families and groups of four or more.)


4th Annual Forage, Slaughter and Butchery Course 
28 October - 2 November AND 4-9 November 2014 (5 Nights) 
= 925 Euro/person
If you call yourself a "foodie," pig lover, wine-o, gourmet or gourmand this culinary holiday is for you! A carnivore’s delight - whole hog butchering course, sausage making, chicken slaughtering with hands-on cooking classes, mushroom hunting, wine tour & cheese tasting with lunch and truffle festivals.  Includes: 5 nights accommodations, welcome five course feast, two full day cooking classes, wine tour & transportation, mushroom hunt, 2 butchery classes, pig-farm tour & lunch, breakfast daily, three lunches, four dinners, evening snack, wine with meals, heating, all taxes. (Based on double occupancy. Special discounted rate for group of 4 or more.) 

Click here: to book your culinary holiday in Italy
info@latavolamarche.com
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