Tuesday, July 29

A Bakers Dozen of Summer Desserts

During the long hot days of summer a light, bright and refreshing dessert is the perfect way to end the meal, especially after a four course meal! I was asked by Foodie.com, (the same group that produces FoodieTV which has posted a series of our videos) to compile our favorite summer desserts.  I normally pass on these things but thought it would be fun to share! Here's a mix of a few of our favorite desserts served during the summer at our farmhouse/cooking school and memories of summers past long before we lived in Italy...

Check out Desserts of Summer

by La Tavola Marche at Foodie.com

Sunday, July 27

{Video} Taste of Italy: Pappa al Pomodoro, Cooking Class

Make your kitchen smell outright divine with this Tuscan-based slow roasted tomato bread soup, Pappa al Pomodoro. This recipe is a perfect example of eating with the seasons & peasant cooking. Using our homegrown tomatoes, basil & garlic along with stale bread - with only four ingredients the taste is explosive!

Originating in Tuscany (about an hour away) we can't resist sharing this mouthwatering recipe at our farmhouse during summer cooking classes with dinner alfresco - using our plump and juicy homegrown piccadilly, datorini & cherry tomatoes!

Filmed LIVE during a summer cooking class in Le Marche, Italy at our farmhouse, inn & cooking school!
"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 and don't miss an episode!
Find the full recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro on our blog: Slow Roasted Tomato, Basil & Bread Soup

Tuesday, July 22

Summer Recipe: Poached Peaches in White Wine & Rosemary

A gorgeous oven-free, gluten-free, no-bake dessert perfect for those hot summer nights!  This dessert has become a classic in our kitchen and cooking classes throughout stone fruit season. It's light & fresh, and even after a long Italian meal, everyone has room for a little peaches & cream! 

It's not only easy to make, but the ingredients are flexible; use white, rosè or red wine (finish off that bottle of white that's been sitting in the fridge for the last 2 nights...) The same with aromatics - rosemary, thyme, lemon, lavender...whatever you've got on hand. (This is why its so important to have an herb garden!)

Poached Peaches in White Wine
Serves 4


4 firm peaches or nectarines (mature fruit will fall apart)
2-3 spoons of sugar
white or rosè wine
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
zest of ½ lemon (use ANY aromatics you like)
homemade whipped cream or mascarpone cream if you like

With a paring knife cut the fruit in half and remove the stone. If the stone will not come away easily, make a shallow incision around the stone and it will fall away once cooked.

Place the fruit cut side down in a pan or pot that fits the fruit snugly. Add in the aromatics with the sugar and top with wine until halfway up the fruit. Cover with baking paper (parchment) and bring the pan up to a medium simmer for 8-12 minutes total depending on the size of the fruit. Give the peaches a turn on their backs after about 5 minutes and they are done when a knife slips easily into the thickest part of the fruit.

Once the peaches are cooked, remove from the pan and place on a plate to cool. Return the pan to a low flame and reduce the wine until it becomes a syrup. Give it a taste - if its a little tart, add a spoonful of sugar. Be careful not to let this burn. Strain the syrup into a bowl and allow to cool.

To serve: Quarter the peaches and carefully remove the skins. Arrange on the plate and drizzle atop the white wine syrup and a dollop of cream.

Thursday, July 10

A Homemade Walnut Booze That's Biblical...

A booze that's damn near biblical - not only because of its rich smooth spicy flavor of walnuts, clove, vanilla and cinnamon but it must sit in the sun for 40 days and 40 nights as the first step in making it! Pour a glass and serve alongside creamy vanilla panna cotta or topped on gelato for a decadent end to the meal.

A thriving local tradition is making homemade liquor - from grappa infused with fruits & herbs, to visner & visciolino (cherry liquors), nocino (walnuts) & many more! Whenever offered a homemade digestivo (after dinner drink) you must oblige! It is homemade & thus a gift from the house....sometimes a wonderfully delicious drink that you are beggin for more and other times...WOW! absolute firewater! In Italy it's easy to find 95%-97% pure alcohol at any where from the hardware store to the "Costco" surplus shopping stores. And with a walnut grove a kilometer down the road from our farmhouse, this has become a classic in our house.
Picking walnuts with my cousin

I 've told the story before but many of my homemade liquors are recipes from the wonderful Mamma Mochi teaching me her age old recipes of making digestivi. She is my mentor of sorts when it comes to all things 'spirits'! As usual, the recipe varies depending on where you live. 
This Nocino recipe for example uses whole green nuts and MUST sit in the sun & stirred for 40 days, then brought in to sit in the dark for another 30 days before you filter. After that, the first pour is traditionally on Christmas Eve! ...maybe I'll leave a little out for Babbo Natale this year!

Walnut Liqueur
25 green young walnuts
1 kilo (or just a bit less) of sugar
1 liter of pure alcohol (grappa, everclear or vodka)
250 grams of water
stick of vanilla
stick of cinnamon
5 -7 cloves

Mix together well.
Let sit in sun for 40 days - stirring & mixing the sugar each day.
Then let sit for another month in cool dark storage.
Filter & bottle.
You can let the nocino age if you would like - some prefer to drink immediately & those shelf the bottle for 2 years or more! Traditionally, the first glass should be poured on Christmas Eve.

There is also a recipe for the 'used nuts' with Marsala ...coming soon!

Maria Mochi, my mentor

Saturday, July 5

"Taste of Italy" New Episode on YouTube: A Walk Thru the Rows of 400 Heirloom Tomatoes

Watch the latest video in our webseries of shorts "Taste of Italy"! A walk through our 400 tomatoes in 12 heirloom varieties at our farm (agriturismo) in Le Marche, Italy.  Jason (chef & farmer) waters his pride of the garden & explains which are for eating & which are for jarring/preserving. Filmed on an iPad in July 2014 - be sure to check back for Part 2 and watch the tomato harvest begin shortly!

"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 channel: YouTube.com/LaTavolaMarche

And in just a few short weeks...(photo from last years tomato harvest)

Thursday, July 3

Podcast & Photos: A Rustic Farmhouse Wedding in Italy

We're back after a June hiatus with an update on the farmhouse and happening in the area. We recap the past month and beautiful wedding and festivities we hosted as well as what it's like watching the World Cup in small town, Italy! Ashley recreates the 'barking deer' and we share a few recipes: Nocino (walnut liquor) and Poached Peaches in white wine! The we run down a list of upcoming festivals in the area from beer to gelato there is something to eat/drink/do!!
Thanks for listening! 

Stream on Stitcher Radio or download on iTunes: Podcast from Italy, #76 - Summer Weddings in Italy & Recipe for Poached Peaches

And here are a few photos from Cèshaun & Aaron's Wedding at our farmhouse, the culmination of three nights of food & festivities:
Black Summer Truffles


Tuesday, June 24

World Cup Mania in Small Town Italy - Forza Italia!!

As the temperatures rise, so does the excitement of the 2014 World Cup in our tiny town of Piobbico. Each match is televised on the streets and it's a surely a scene not to miss. In a village of 2,000 there are 3 bars and 4 TVs showing the matches. The crowds grow, beer and wine poured, arms flail, chairs fly and curses spew out in dialect. I love every minute of it, even though I could care less about the matches (horrible I know, but I'm still an American football kinda girl) it's the love & passion the locals have for this sport that I just can't get enough of.

So even though this video is not about food - it is a slice of life in Italy. "Taste of Italy" Episode 8:  World Cup 2014

Thursday, June 19

Good Organic Gardening: Living the Dream (Growing & Cooking on an Italian Farm)

Here' a very nice piece about our garden & Jason's theory on cooking in this lovely Australian magazine "Good Organic Gardening." The four page article, written by Sandy Moore, an Australian guest, beautifully shares our story & a few of my photos in the June 2014 issue! I think she really nailed it!!!

“In the kitchens of New York, it’s more about what’s in style,” says Jason. “Here, it’s about what’s in season. We cook and grow totally with the season. It’s about taking the freshest- possible ingredients that the Earth is giving you and doing the least amount with them.” Jason believes his job now is to get out of the way, taking the ego out of the kitchen. “Nature has made perfect ingredients, so why would I want to transform them into something else? All I want to do is cook them to highlight them and make them the best they can be. It’s a fundamental change in thinking.”

"In the winter months, Jason and Ashley make their own sausages and salami from scratch, curing them in the cool winter breeze that passes through the rafters of the house. The cupboards heave with preserved tomatoes and other produce from the garden. They jam, jar and preserve to extend the season. "
"Jason and Ashley’s vision for the future is to continue teaching guests to shop locally, grow what they can and eat seasonally. This was the perfect way to begin our Italian food adventure and, with their generous hints, tips and knowledge shared, we knew we had more exciting times ahead.

A farm-to-table experience is enriching and the interaction with locals gave us a deeper understanding of the real Italian culture. As a bonus, it was away from the tourist hotspots, so offered a quiet, harmonious ambiance. "
 - Good Organic Gardening, June 2014

Saturday, June 14

Light, Floral & Lemony Elderflower Syrup, Just Add Sparkling Water, Prosecco or Gin!

Elderflowers or fiori di sambuco are in bloom in Italy! This flower from the elderberry tree makes a lovely light floral lemonade-like flavored syrup to be added to drinks (sparking water, vodka, gin or grappa), desserts or sorbets - depending on your mood. It makes an amazing vinegerette over salad as well! This can be served along breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner - perfect a for hot summer's day!
Syrup of Elderflower
Sciroppo di fiori di sambuco:

A jar stuffed full of elderflowers (nice big heads), gently shake off any insects & trim any excess branches/leaves
1 lt. of water
1 oz of lemon juice or 20 gr citric acid
1.5 kilo of sugar

Stuff a large jar with fresh picked elderflowers (pack them in!). Fill jar with water to the top.
Let sit for 24 hours.

Filter well the add the lemon juice or citric acid and sugar. Let sit in the sun for 3 days (shaking the jar every so often so the sugar doesn't solidify at the bottom)

Then pour the liquid into clean sterilized glass bottles. Close them.  Place in the refrigerator.

To serve, pour 1-3 tablespoons of the syrup into a pint glass and add water or seltzer. Or you can add a tablespoon to a couple shots of vodka or gin.

Monday, June 9

Wild Cherry Liquor from Le Marche, Visciolino

 A thriving local tradition in Le Marche is making homemade liquors/liqueurs to be served after dinner as a digestivo.  Using pure alcohol or grappa infused with fruits & herbs such as visciolino (wild cherry), nocino (walnut vanilla), brugnolino (wild plum/sloe) & many more!

Visciole is a tart wild cherry found in abundance in the Candigliano Valley of Northern Le Marche and its leaves make the most delicious & delicate after dinner cherry digestivo. Visciolino is made with 100 leaves of the cherry tree + 10 leaves from a peach tree along with red wine, sugar & pure alcohol. The recipe below is simple & passed to me by our dear neighbor Mama Mochi, traditionally made at the end of May/early June.

Wild Cherry Liqueur

1 liter of red wine
100 leaves of visciole (wild cherry tree)
10 leaves of a peach tree

Let soak for 10 days & filter.

Add 600 grams of sugar
1/2 liter of grappa or pure alcohol

Mix well, incorporating the sugar.

Bottle & enjoy! You can let it continue to season or age as well - keep in cool dark storage.

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