zaterdag 8 februari 2014


This is not an Umbrian dish, it´s Tuscan, but it´s never too late to try good things.

500 gr. of chestnut flour
750 ml. water
40 gr. of raisins, soakedin tepid water and then dried carefully
80 gr. of walnuts, coarsely chopped
80 gr. of pine nuts
olive oil extra vergine
1 twig of rosemary

Preheat the oven to 200°C
Mix the flour and the water carefully until it´s a smooth paste. Set aside some of the raisins, pine nuts and walnuts to cover the pie later. Add the other raisins, walnuts an pine nuts to the paste and mix carefully.

Cover a shallow tin with ample olive oil. Put the dough into the tin and carefully divide it equally. Cover with the left over raisins, walnuts and pine nuts. Spread the rosemary-needles over the pie. Sprinkle two spoons of olive oil over the pie.

Put in the oven for half an hour until the castagnaccio has a golden colour.  

zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Christmas menu

Day 1

Wild boar stew
oakleaf lettuce with pear, honey and balsamico
sage and thyme bruschetta

Vanilla cream pie with caramel

Day 2


Ham with caramelized onions, roasted tomato and rucola

Hare in Chianti

Chocolate souffle with cinnamoncream

Fall - chestnuts

Another great thing about the fall is the abundance of food you can find just outside. I told you about mushrooms already and I am longing for the day I can tell you about truffle hunting. It´s one of my biggest wishes to experience that.
But, as you can´t always get what you want, this blog is about another fall product that I like. Chestnuts.

It is very comforting to light a fire on a cold fall day and roast chestnuts for dinner. You should not be afraid of a little dirt because it gets a bit messy, but it´s worth it. You carve the chestnuts with a sharp knife, roast them on the glowing ashes and put them in a wet towel. 

Leave them for a minute, peel them and enjoy the taste. The go particularly well with vino novello and a jacked potato with sage.
One of my dearest Italian friends told me that it is almost an art to know how to end your dinner. Should you have a chestnut last, or a sip of wine? Just try, and try again, and again, because you want to be very certain. I probably don´t have to tell you who got a little drunk.

Related chestnut products, like chestnut mash serve many purposes. Think about a chestnut-quiche. I use canned chestnutmash, you can prepare your own but it is a lot of work and it just never seems to get right.
Heat the oven to 180°C. For the puff pastry click here. Put the dough in a greased cakepan. To fill it: I fry a little bacon, some shallots and garlic until lightbrown. Mix it carefully with the chestnut mash. Add grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Cover the dough with it. Mix two eggs, 1 spoon of milk, salt, pepper and some more parmesan and pour it over the pie. Shake slightly to spread it well. Leave it in the oven for about 40 minutes until the eggs are colored.

You can also prepare a sweet chestnut pie. In that case, mix the chestnut mash with 1 sachet of vanilla sugar, 2 spoons of table sugar, 2 spoons of cream, and a beaten egg white. Spread it on the dough and leave it in the oven for about half an hour.

Chestnut flour has a lot of possibilities. I especcialy like castagnaccio, a Tuscan pie of chestnut flour, raisins, walnuts, rosemary, olive oil and pine nuts. You can find recipes everywhere.

My own recipe is a chestnut-chocolate pie.
150 gr. chestnut flour
30 gr. white flour
20 gr. cocoa powder (the sweet one)
200 gr. butter
175 gr. sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
4 eggs

Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a cakepan. Mix the chestnutflour with the white flour and the cocoa. Beat the butter with the sugar and add the eggs one by one. When it´s an equal substance, add the flour little by little and keep beating until you have a smooth, equal batter. Spread the dough in the pan and bake it for 45 minutes.

And if ater all this, you have still chestnuts left.... use them to decorate your autumn home.  

The second day of Christmas - ravioli stuffing and more

On day 1 I am going to prepare the ravioli, but as I have planned a mushroom broth on day 2, we´ll be very efficient and prepare two things at a time. NB I won´t give you a recipe for pasta dough for there are millions to be found.

25 gr. of dried porcini
500 gr. of fresh, mixed mushrooms
Fresh thyme and sage

Soak the porcini in tepid water for half an hour and then squeeze them gently and dry them.
Don´t throw away the water, it will be used for the broth.
Clean the mushrooms with kitchen paper, remove the stems but don´t throw them away. Cut them into slices and pieces.
Divide the porcini and the mushrooms in two parts and put one part aside.

Ravioli-filling, day 1:
1 shallot, chopped into very small pieces
The first part of the mushrooms and porcini, chopped a little smaller
1 spoonfull of olive oil
salt, pepper
1 small glass of white wine
grated parmesan, ca. 2 spoons

Chop the thyme and sage really small.
Fry the shallot in the olive oil at moderate fire until it´s soft. Add the mushrooms and the herbs and fry them until they´re slightly brown. Add the wine, make it boil and then lower the fire. Let evaporate all liquids completely. Remove the pan from the fire. Then add salt and pepper and the grated parmesan, mix well and let it cool down.

Prepare the pasta dough (you can find recipes everywhere) and make the ravioli by putting a small spoon of the filling on it, cover it and cut it into regular pieces.

Mushroom broth, day 2:
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion or shallot, chopped
The second part of the mushrooms
2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic glove, pressed
Fresh twigs of rosemary, parsley, celery and the thyme and sage from the base
salt and pepper
olive oil

Use the stems you have put aside before. Make a bouquet garni from the other half of the thyme, sage, parsley, celery and rosemary. Put the stems, carrot, onion, the porcini water and the bouquet garni in a pan, add water (about 1 liter), salt and pepper. Make it boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for at least half an hour. Pour the broth through a sieve.

Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil at a moderate heat, until they´re light brown. Add the broth and make it boil again, the add the mushrooms. Lower the fire and let it cook for 10 more minutes.
You can add a broth cube, e.g. Porcini, but it´s not necessary.  

Cinnamon raisin bread

Something nice for breakfast or to accompany your tea. It´s is not difficult, but it takes time.

500 grams of flour
a pinch of salt
1 sachet of dried yeast
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
1 spoon of cinnamon
ca. 250 ml. lukewarm water
50 grams of raisins.

Soak the raising in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes and dry them carefully.

Mix the flour with the salt, yeast, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Little by little add the water until you reach a smooth and flexible dough. Continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticky.
Let it rise for at least an hour in a bowl covered with a hot towel. Put it away in a warm, dry spot.

Then knead the dough again, carefully adding the raisins until they are well divided through the dough. Let it rise again for at least an hour.

Knead again and stretch out the dough to a long roll, the diameter must be about 2 centimeters.
Roll up the dough to a volute form. Cover it with a new towel and let it rise for another half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 225°C. Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190° and bake for another ten minutes. The bread must sound hollow when you knock on it.

This bread tastes fine with an apple-honey jelly.

Lazy lemon pie

With a minimum effort you can reach a very fresh effect with this lemon pie.
If you want to make it easy on yourself, use instant puff pastry and a jar of lemon marmelade (by the way, any marmelade will make a nice pie).

Puff pastry
Lemon marmelade

Start preparing the lemon marmelade, for it has to cool down completely. You will find the recipe here.

Prepare the puff pastry with 125 gr. of flour, 125 gr. of cold, hard butter and 62.5 ml. ice water. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour. Roll it, fold it back together again and give it another rest for half an hour. Repeat that once more. Or, use the instant pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Grease and flour a baking pan and put the puff pastry in it. Put a leaf of baking paper on it, and fill it with a support stuffing of dried beans.
Bake the pastry with this stuffing for about 20 minutes, then remove the beans and the paper and bake for antoher five minuts.
Let it cool down and spread the marmelade on it.

Monteolivo apple wine

After last year´s exercise of making my own wine, I found enough courage to try another kind. This year´s apple harvest was abundant, but a dubious quality. The apples tasted very good, but didn´t look very attractive, a bit small and strangely shaped.

I decided on apple wine so I had to chop them into small pieces and press them, hoping there would be enough juice to fill the fermentation bottle. The quality was better than I hoped for so I got my desired 5 liters of juice.

Of course, it would not be Monteolivo wine if there had not occurred a problem. The must didn´t start the fermentation. I could have added more chemicals, but that would have been the easy way out. Which, you know, is not my style.

I roamed around the internet and the solution was ever so kitchen was too hot. I put the whole lot in the cantina and the process began the way it should. After about one week the fermentation stopped so I could start clearing the wine. The smell was delicious and who minds a sticky kitchen?

The result was great. 4 bottles of Monteolivo apple wine and half a liter to celebrate immediately. It tastes fresh, exactly dry and yet sweet enough.

 I´d say.... cheers!!