Wednesday, February 26

It's that time of year...the kitchen smells like citrus!


Jason came home yesterday with 10 kilos of blood oranges and another 14 kilo of lemons - I've been zesting/peeling/skinning citrus for hours!  Here's what I'm making for our guests this summer (if there was any doubt):



Podcast from Italy: Italian Idioms & Where to Eat in Fano

 
After celebrating the doctors 65th birthday:

 we recap the week from peeling lemons for 3 hours for limoncello & driving school lessons to a farming scandal in the making... We share our favorite places to eat fish in Fano on any budget plus a few type of wine to order with your meal. And a fun lesson in Italian idioms! The song of the week is by Peppino Gagliardi a 70's classic.

Thanks for listening!! You can stream on Stitcher Radio or download/subscribe via iTunes! Podcast from Italy 

(*The cool drawing above is from the super cute tumblr blog: Italian for my girlfriend filled with great art of Italian words/phrases.)



Tuesday, February 25

Contest Follow-Up...

We just wanted to thank all of you that took the time to register and vote on TheKitchn.com for The Homies Awards and "Best Blog from Abroad". At 5am when voting ended we were in 5th place with 104 votes incredibly all thanks to you!! However....come a few hours later when they posted the final results they had rolled back the voting tally to 12-midnight and we were in 6th place with 83 votes so did not make it the next round. (Maybe the powers that be didn't like the results.) When I contacted the editor she said there was a "glitch" in the voting...

I'm not writing this as an angry bitter email but more to thank you all for stepping up and trying to help us!  We never expected to win, but to have been in the finals would have been pretty cool for our little blog.  Not to mention its a total bummer because we had the votes thanks to YOU! Many blog readers & facebook fans have contacted us about the contest and wondered why we weren't in the next round...I don't know what to tell you - maybe email the editor or comment on the contest page...

But for now - we will keep going forward, trying to make our blog, photos, videos and stories better with every post! And to hell with those silly blog contests - anyway! Most of the time the "Best Food Blogger" category has more photographers than actual chefs - so I guess we don't fit the criteria after-all. 


Saturday, February 22

The BEST Pork Sandwich Ever, Found at a Road-Side Food-Truck in Le Marche Italy


This post is a year plus in the making...During the fall of 2012 on a gorgeous crisp Autumn Sunday, we took the back roads through northern Le Marche with no destination in mind - just heading south through the foothills of the Apennines, meandering past Monte Cucco. Without a map in hand, we savored the winding roads and rolling hills, when all of a sudden we smelled grilled meat in the air and noticed two dozen or so motorcycles and cars parked haphazardly along the side of the road. They were flocking to a tiny covered food-truck. Jason quickly made a U-Turn, our stomachs always lead the way and in Italy - where there is a gathering of people and the smell of grilled meats - you pull over and check it out - every. single. time.

We immediately got in line - for what, no clue. Just follow suite. Jason went to check out the scene and came back licking his chops - ohhhhh!! this is gonna be good!
We ordered what ever one else did: panino con braciola

Simply grilled pork on plain long bread. That's it, no sauce, no sides but the fat and juices of the pork soak into the bread! We ordered two and quickly went back for a third.
We jumped back in the car continually amazed by the wonderful surprises of living in the Italian countryside - to happen upon this place!


Jump ahead a few months to a random day off without guests and our craving for another pork sandwich flares up...except we couldn't remember where it was! We drove for three hours criss-crossing the back roads - to no avail...we were hungry and frustrated...longing for a just a taste of braciola.

Fast forward another few months, when out of dumb luck, cleaning out the photos in the hard-drive we came across a photo of an intersection/road sign:

I knew instantly what this was and in mouthwatering amazement, already beginning to drool, I said to Jason "This is it. THE pork sandwich spot." We scurried to pull up google maps and hot damn! Moments later we were looking at the exact  directions from our farmhouse to the best road-side food truck spot. Needless to say the next day we were in the car and with growling bellies and a year of anticipation we arrived hungry & happy!


Again the place was packed from children to anziani (elderly) all ordering the same thing: panini di braciola! And the cost...4 Euro! (Notice the faint stains the delicious meal left on the lips of this adorable well-fed Italian below)

It's worth the drive, at the very least you will explore the back roads and have a simple yet spectacular lunch - for just a few bucks! Don't forget to order an extra for the drive home! (And if you're one of our guests, make sure to bring back a few extra for the House!!)

The Details: Ristoro da Alberto
Price: Cheap
How to get there: Just South of Matelica (Le Marche) on S361 near Brondoleto, continue in the direction for Camerino. The roadside food truck is just before the crossroads for S361/P361/P245
That's about as technical as I can get...
What to Order: The BEST pork sandwich ever!



Friday, February 21

Only 24 hours left... and we need a little of your help!


This is a total shameless plug but we need your help!! In total shock we have been nominated by The Kitchn (one of the Internet’s larger food sites) for an annual award as part of their “Homies” awards. 

 In order to move onto the voting round, we need to finish in the Top 5 of nominated sites.
Nominations close tomorrow and we need every vote we can get (we’re currently  #21).

We ask you for your help because a nomination would be huge for our little farm, inn & cooking school deeeeep in the countryside...hell, we only just got internet at the farm! There are some real heavy hitters on this list like David Lebovitz, Jul's Kitchen, Well Preserved, Life's a Feast and more...so I doubt we'll actually win but it would be pretty cool to climb up the list and sit in good company with these bloggers!

It takes a minute or two to nominate us (or your other favourite blogs).  Head to this link to vote.  We need your nominations in the “Best Blog from Abroad” Category.

Thanks for your help!!

LIVE from ITALY Online Cooking Class: Fennel 2 Ways & Pasta Amatriciana


LIVE from ITALY - Online Cooking Class: Sunday, February 23, 2014
 
This week La Tavola Marche’s LIVE Online Cooking Class, we will cook fennel in two diverse recipes: Fennel with Blood Orange Salad & Braised Fennel in White Wine as well as Pasta all’Amatriciana.  What is Fennel? A big onion? A bulb? Is it even edible? YES and how delicious it is! The secret is to know how to use it & what to pair it with. And since it’s Sunday, let’s make a rich porky red sauce - Amatriciana is a tomato sauce with cured pig’s cheek (guanciale di maiale) or pancetta.

Our classes focus not only the recipes at hand but the technique and theories behind each dish.  It’s more than just watching an episode of a cooking show on television because this is not only LIVE but interactive! Students/viewers will have the chance to ask questions along the way since all the cooking is done together LIVE! Either join in the fun and cook along with us or sit back and watch with a glass of wine.


Menu
Fennel with Blood Oranges
Braised Fennel in White Wine
Pasta all’Amatriciana
LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on
Sunday,  February 23, 2014
Early Broadcast: 1pm EST / 10am PST
Late Broadcast: 4pm EST / 1pm PST
(The class will last about an hour in duration & will be recorded for your future use.)
Cost: $5
To register, email: info@latavolamarche.com
Please send an email and include your preferred time slot (Early or Late). Once payment is received (via PayPal) we will send you the recipes, ingredients & equipment list plus the all important pre-class prep list!
For more details click here!
Hope you join us in the kitchen on Sunday!
 
 

Wednesday, February 19

Podcast from Italy: Caves, Cardoons & Confit


 This week's podcast Jason tells the story of how the Frasassi Caves were discovered and his recent daytrip there. While Jason was exploring Caves in Le Marche, Ashley was eating confit in France! Carnival is quickly approaching and find out which Marche village is actually the 1st place Carnival was celebrated in Italy! And cooking with cardoons - what are they, how do you cook them?! It's the same question we get asked for fennel! (The photos above & below are cardoons). Jason shares how to clean them and a few cooking techniques.  The song of the week is a radio classic in Italy!
Stream on Stitcher Radio or Download & Subscribe on iTunes!
 

Wednesday, February 12

LIVE from ITALY | Online Cooking Class: Braised Rabbit & Roasted Potatoes


LIVE from ITALY - Online Cooking Classes
Sunday, February 16, 2014
This week La Tavola Marche’s LIVE Online Cooking Class again asks students/viewers to cook outside the box with Braised Rabbit Hunter’s Style and Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary. (Chicken can be easily substituted for rabbit if you prefer.) Coniglio alla Cacciatore or Rabbit in the Style of the Hunter is a famous dish, whose recipe varies widely throughout the boot. Most Americans associate ‘cacciatore' (which literally means 'hunter') as a dish with a tomato base - well, not this version! You've trusted us with chicken livers and whole fish so now give this a try too!  While the potatoes are roasting Jason will discuss and answer your questions on knives: maintenance, pricing/purchasing recommendations and care, including a demo on sharpening.
 
 
About the Menu:
Coniglio alla Cacciatore or Rabbit in the Style of the Hunter is a famous dish, whose recipe varies widely throughout the boot. Most Americans associate ‘cacciatore' (which literally means 'hunter') as a dish with a tomato base - well, not this version! Braising the rabbit in vinegar creates one of the most mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone dishes you'll eat! In previous online classes you've trusted us with chicken livers and whole fish so why not give this a try too!

Ever wonder why roasted potatoes taste so much better in Italy?! Well, it could be a few reasons. First the potatoes are golden and buttery to begin with (and homegrown at their farm) and secondly because they are made with with a two-step roasting process. This two part cooking process uses two different temperatures to achieve the desired flavor and look of the potatoes. While the potatoes are roasting Jason will discuss and answer your questions on knives: maintenance, pricing/purchasing recommendations and care, including a demo on sharpening.


About the Class
LIVE from ITALY: Online Cooking Class on Sunday, 16 February 2014
Braised Rabbit or Chicken in the Style of the Hunter
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary
Knife Care 101: Maintenance, care and sharpening.

Early Broadcast: 1pm EST / 10am PST
Late Broadcast: 4pm EST / 1pm PST
(The class will last about an hour in duration. The class is recorded and you will receive a password protected link a day after broadcast to access the video.)
Price: $5
*To register, email: info@latavolamarche.com


For more details, upcoming class & menus: http://livefromitalyonline.tumblr.com/
Hope you join us in the kitchen on Sunday!

Monday, February 10

Leftovers: Make the House Smell Like Campfire Pork Fat with Spit Roasted Pigeon & Pancetta

Sometimes a recipe is just too good to only post once - and since Gaggi recently visited and we shared a dinner of his bounty from the now closed hunting season - I thought it'd be perfect timing to repost this:
 
*****
 
"Your house smells like campfire pork fat. I like it!" my dear friend Theresa recently told Jason and I. Well it's one of the best compliments you can hear as a Chef! It could be we are always grilling and cooking in the kitchen fireplace. The spit roaster (girarrosto) is a quintessential cooking tool in an Italian farmhouse - especially since in the winter there is a fire always going in the kitchen. Its as simple as pulling out some hot coals and laying them just in front of the meat you will spit roast. Here we spit-roast quail, pigeon, all types of wild small birds, chickens, sausage, thick slices of pancetta and even eel.  The best part of how we spit roast comes at the end... with a fiery blaze of melting pork fat!!

Before

After

Spit Roasted Pigeon with Pancetta Recipe
Piccione al girarrosto
serves 4

4 small pigeons cleaned (you can use any small bird you like, up to a chicken it will just take longer to cook.)
4 thick slices of pancetta
juniper berries
sage
garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil
nice piece of lardo or pork fat wrapped in butcher paper


Start a fire.
Clean and dry the pigeons. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity along with a few torn up sage leaves, a pinch of rough chopped garlic and 1 or 2 juniper berries. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the birds, sprinkle with salt & pepper and rub it all in.

Now prepare the spit.

Using a single skewer spit roaster:
Pierce the pigeon through the rib cage, underneath the breast. Do a bird, piece of pancetta, bird, pancetta, etc. If you like you can also put a piece of bread in between that will soak up all the delicious fat.

If you have a double spit roaster (with two levels) you can have some real fun! Put sausages on the top level and the birds underneath so as the sausages cook the fat drips below, basting the birds.

To cook:
Make a line of coals from the fire about 6 - 8 inches (about 20 cm) away from the birds, in front of the spit roaster. Plug it & let it go!

It takes about an hour so don’t rush it. If the birds start to color right away there is too much heat, pull it back.  After about 50 minutes to 1:10 depending on the size of your birds they should be done. You can check this by gently pulling on one of the legs - if it falls away, you’re good.

Now for the fun part! 
Crisping up the skin: With you pork fat wrapped in butcher paper like a nice package, spear a long bbq fork through the center and light it in the fire.  As the paper burns away, the fat will begin to melt and drip down (staying slightly ignited). Drizzle the melting fat over the birds at the very end to crisp up the skins. (Turn out the light and it looks pretty cool!)

Take the birds off the fire and allow to rest for a few minutes - then enjoy!
Serve with roasted potatoes with rosemary.

Sunday, February 2

Recipe: Perfect Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary


 
Why do roasted potatoes taste so much better in Italy?! Well, it could be a few reasons. First the potatoes are golden and buttery to begin with (and homegrown at our farm) and secondly because they are made with with a two-step roasting process. This two part cooking process uses two different temperatures to achieve the desired flavor and look of the potatoes. The first half of the cooking time done at the lower temp is primarily to cook the potatoes until soft. The second half of the cooking time is done at a higher temp to get that gorgeous golden color. (The movement of air with a convection fan will act in lieu of raising the oven’s temperature.)


Serves 4

4 medium sized yellow potatoes (you can use any type you like, but we prefer gold/yellow potatoes) - peeled or skins left on is your choice.
whole clove of garlic, skin removed
salt & pepper
olive oil
small sprig of rosemary (do not cut into pieces)

Place a roasting pan in a cold oven and preheat to 350 F/180 C degrees.
Cut your potatoes into chunks, the larger the size, the longer it will take to cook. The smaller they are cut, the crunchier they will get and a shorter cooking time is needed.

In a bowl, combine the potatoes, a little salt & pepper, clove of garlic and rosemary sprig broken in half - do not chop it up. Toss the potatoes with a very little amount of oil, just enough to coat it. Too much oil will result in greasy potatoes.

Once the oven comes up to temperature, carefully remove the roasting pan and line with parchment paper. Place the potatoes in a single layer on the roasting pan, not too crowded.

Place in the oven and roast until they are soft about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size you cut your potatoes). They will not have much color yet. Remove from oven, with a spatula give the potatoes a flip/turn and return to oven.

Now, if your oven has a convection fan, turn it on - leaving the temperature the same - allowing the the potatoes to continue to roast until they have good color. (about 15-20 minutes depending).

If your oven does NOT have a convection fan raise the temperature to 375 F / 190 C degrees until your potatoes have a nice color, cooking about another 15-20 minutes (depending).

During the 2nd half, you may need to give the pots another turn/flip with the spatula.
To serve, remove the garlic & rosemary sprigs.
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