An Italian common street food: Porchetta

An Italian common street food: Porchetta

An Italian common street food: Porchetta

Porchetta is a savoury, fatty and moist boneless pork roast typical of central and northen Italy. It consists in a deboned, emptied and seasoned pig. Although its origin is still uncertain, the porchetta is commonly found as a street food. The realisation is not difficult! Do you want to cook it at home? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 5kg pig loin: deboned and with pork rind
  • 1kg piggy shoulder
  • 2 tsp minced black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds
  • salt
  • 8 bundles wild fennel plant
  • lard

Procedure:

  1. Debone and remove the pork rind from the piece of shoulder. Clean the pulp obtained from the clots and set it aside.
  2. Take the pig loin and regulate its shape by levelling off the sides. Separate the pulp of the pork rind from the short side, the one where the roll will be closed.
  3. Distribute the pulp (set aside earlier) over the whole pig loin to obtain a uniform layer. Season the inside part of the loin with fennel seeds, abundant salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then add also the bundles of wild fennel and in the end roll the loin very tight.
  4. Tie the loin with twine and protect the two extremities not covered by the rind with aluminuim foil.
  5. Transfer the porchetta on a baking tray and put into the oven at 160°C for 3 hours. Then, remove the aluminium foil and put the porchetta on a grill, in order to lift it from the tray. Distribute on the surface an abundant quantity of lard and oven it again at 200°C for 1 hour. During the last 10 minutes, raise the temperature to the maximum level.

    Porchetta Sandwich

    Porchetta Sandwich

How to eat the porchetta: The Porchetta can be served cut into slices or in a sandwich. The best when it’s just cooked.

Come to Italy and try the original porchetta during our Afternoon Food Tour with Beer Tasting in Rome you will surely love it!

 

A most special Italian bread: Cecina

Cecina, Italian special bread

Cecina, Italian special bread

Have you ever heard about “La Cecìna”? If not, la Cecina is an easy-to-make savoury pie composed of chickpeas’flour, water, salt and extravergin olive oil.

Despite it is considered as a poor meal and used as an alternative to bread, its Genoese’s origin is quite interesting! The legend of the Cecìna narrates that it was born by chance in 1284, when Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria. One day Genoa’s galleys were involved during a storm and the drums of oil and some sacks of chickpeas that they were transporting, spilled and mixed with salty water. The sailors recovered what they could but some of them refused to eat it and left them under the sun. The result? It became a kind of fritter. The next day, starving to death, they ate the mixture and discovered its deliciousness! Once came back to Genoa, the sailors tried to cook it into oven and the discover was incredible.

Nowadays, the Cecina is a typical dish of the Mediterranean coasts, especially in Ligurian and Tuscan kitchens.

If the curiosity hits you, try this simple recipe.

Ingredients for two pans of 22cm (diameters):

  • 180g chickpeas’ flour
  • 600ml water
  • 1tbs salt
  • 80ml olive oil
  • Black pepper
A slice of Cecina

A slice of Cecina

Procedure:

To prepare the Cecina, you will simply need a bowl and a whisk. Put the chickpeas’ flour into the bowl, add salt and gradually the water, and in the meanwhile mix well the compost with the whisk in order to avoid lumps. Add half of the olive oil and the remaining water. At this point you will obtain a very liquid mixture. Cover the bowl with wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes. What remained of the olive oil will be used to cover the two molds (it doesn’t matter if the oil isn’t equally distributed all over the surfaces). After this, distribute the mixture into the two pans. Preheat the oven at 200-220° and cook the Cecina for 15-20 minutes. If you cook the two pans at the same time, remember to alternate them on the ledges of the oven.

The Cecina is ready when the surface is gold and the peel seems to lift. To finalize the recipe, sprinkle the Cecina with black pepper and serve it hot. It can be served as appetizer or as a second course.

If you are food-lover and especially if you love Italian food, book an Afternoon Food Walking Tour in Florence with us! There’s a lot more to be discovered!

Home made Italian limoncello

 is always the right time for limoncello!

italian home made limoncello

If you’ve traveled to Italy already you know how important is to offer a limoncello at the end of the dinner. You’ll get to meet some of these traditions during our food tours ! Traditional liquor from the coast of Campania region, this drink has to be served cold and you will probably be served it in a frozen small glass. However, this is not a good reason to serve it only in the summertime! Limoncello is pretty much enjoyed an all-year round in Italy! Making it at home is easy and only requires time and good organic lemons. Have you ever tried? Here is a possible recipe! Consider that in Italy we can buy 95% alcohol for liquor making. Depending on where you live, you may use any grape-based strong spirit, like vodka.

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 (preferably organic) lemons
  • 500 ml 95% alcohol (vodka will also do)
  • 700 ml of water
  • 600 gr of sugar

home made italian limoncello

First stage: lemon essence

Wash and rinse the lemons first, being careful to clean properly the surface of the lemon skin. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the lemons in long strips and then chop them into small pieces. Place the lemon peels in a bottle or a hermetic closing jar. Pour the spirit over the peels and close the bottle or the jar. Leave to rest for 3 around weeks at room temperature and in a dark place.

Second stage: the sweet pinch

At the end of the 3 weeks, you are good to add the syrup! Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts. Cool completely before pouring It over the lemon-spirit mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 7 days. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer to discard the peels. At this point, you can transfer the almost-ready limoncello to bottles.

Last stage: the waiting

Now what? Only time will tell! Seal the bottles keep them in a dark place for around 40 days! At the end of this time, your limoncello will be finally ready!

Store it in the freezer and serve it ghiacciato! Easy, isn’t it? Don’t shy off and be your own limoncello maker!

Home made Italian limoncello

For more questions or to speak with an Italian expert, join our tours and discover everything you need to know about Italian culture!

 

Carnival: Frittele time in Italy!

Carnival desserts in Italy: frittelle di carnevale

 

Hola foodies out there!

It is Carnival time in Italy! Everyone is busy finding the right costume for a party or a special dinner with friends. The ones who are lucky enough to live in Venice are probably busy strolling around its canals admiring the typical masques and the beautiful dresses. If you come to Italy at this time of the year, you are likely to find a tradition wherever you go! Our guides will tell you more during one of your food tours in Italy!

But well well, Carnival is also about children, who usually love this time of the year: they can dress up as their favourite heroes, throw colourful confetti at each other and eat all the delicious typical Carnival desserts. Every region has different traditions but they are all really yummy traditions!

Frittelle Carnival Italy

If you want to bring a little bit of Carnival in your home, just throw some confetti here and there and then start cooking one of the easiest dessert: frittelle! Involve your kids in the process, they’ll love it! (If you don’t have kids just borrow them from relatives, friends, neighbours).

Ingredients

1 and ½ cup of flour

2 eggs

⅓ cup of butter

Lemon grated zest

1 tsb vanilla extract

½ tsb baking powder

Pinch of salt

Powdered sugar

Vegetable oil

Start with mixing the flour with the eggs and the sugar a large bowl,. Add the butter in soft, room temperature, small pieces. Add also the lemon zest, the vanilla extract, the baking powder and the pinch of salt. Mix the flour until you get a nice compact and smooth dough. You can use your hands, it is the easiest thing. Let the children do it! It is going to be a nightmare to clean but lots of fun!

Meanwhile heat some sunflower oil in a saucepan or deep fryer (don’t let the children do it!).

frittelle carnival italy

Now let’s make some small balls out of the dough. This is how you can do it: first, Divide it in chunks and then roll them into long sticks. At this point cut the sticks in small 1 inch pieces and roll them with your hands until you get small balls! At this point the oil will be at the right temperature to fry (to be sure about it, just try with a small piece of dough. It should start frying right away when you put it in the pan. Deep-fry until crispy and golden. Prepare a dish with some kitchen paper where you can put the frittelle once they are ready and let them dry a bit. When completely dried, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

frittelle carnival italy

Serve them with tea or juices for children, sparkling or a sweet wine will do for audults. It is Carnival afterall ;).

If you are curious about Italian traditions and a food-lover, book a Food walking tour in Florence with us! You won’t be disappointed!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony ;)

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

Hello, my name is Tony!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony. Italy Food Culture Tours. Planning a visit to Rome? Here are some tips from Tony, The Best foodie guide in town!! Tony will lead you to his favourite places and restaurants, with tips on how to make the most of your stay in Rome.

Name:  My name is Tony

Nationality and Hometown? I’m Italian and proud roman

Name of tour you lead and where: I lead the Food tours, bike&food tours and also segway tours!

What’s your favorite part of the tour: The delicious slice of pizza outdoor, in the middle of the street inside the magical frame of  Campo de fiori market.. an authentic spot of italian life.

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

The lovely “Campo dei Fiori” square

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: “Dar filettaro” (translated from roman: the filet guy 😉 ) you cannot miss this, because it’s the first “roman fast food ever”. The place is near Campo dei Fiori  square.

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: The Jewish Ghetto, this area is like a natural movie set. You’ll feel like stepping into ” Roman Holidays” or “La dolce vita”, I promise!

What’s next on your travel bucket list? The east, Asia. I want to go to Vietnam, a country with great culture, places and people! I can’t wait!!

Overview of Matera

Overview of Matera, it’s beautiful!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  Matera, the italian Jerusalem. This city is one of the many pearl of our unique country, as well as being one of the most ancient towns -still inhabited- in the world. I wish it was more appreciated nationally and internationally.

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? The tip of using your heart…travelling to our country must be an initiative completely natural and spontaneous to fully appreciated our culture.

The delicious "Pasta alla Gricia"

The delicious “Pasta alla Gricia”

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? Of course it’s the pasta alla gricia. Might have heard of pasta all’amatriciana, well this is the ancestor of amatriciana and one certainly needs to try both to learn how they’re made and which is your favourite. 🙂 If you’re an expert on Italian food, you could try this at home!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? The most memorable experience, was a marriage proposal during a Segway tour, by night, in Rome….an offer which is impossible to refuse!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

Here we are on a food stop of our tour!

What do you like most about leading tours? To meet people from allover the world, to interact with them and to share our culture and backgrounds. There’s always something to learn, from every single person.

What makes your tour unique? My passion! To me this is not only a job but it’s a way of living and share all my love for my beautiful city.

Italian Apple pie: torta di mele!

Autumn, autumn…winter is just alle porte! And so it is family time!

Italians are really bounded to their families and cold months are a perfect occasion to get close to your relatives and spend some time together! So what to bring in occasion of a warm family reunion?

Italian apple pie

Well let us tell you: una bella torta di mele! Apple pie Italian style! If you are not new to Italy you’ll probably know almost everything about pasta and lasagne (and more than that if you took part in  our Florence Food Tours), but we are not only that! Let us guide you in the sweet side of Italy!

Italian apple pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll need:

  • 4 apples

  • 8⅚ ounces flour

  • 3½ ounces butter

  • 5⅓ ounces sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 4 ounces milk

  • 1 lemon

  • ⅗ ounce baking powder

  • salt

Heat the oven to 200° C while you prepare the cake.

The process is easy and it will be faster if you have a friend/partner/family member peeling the apples for you! 😉

Another thing about Italians: cooking is something social, so not only your Italian apple pie will be a great contribution to your family reunion, but you can invite a cousin or a sibling over to help you prepare it!

Start by mixing the sugar with the butter in a bowl. Stir it until you have a creamy and uniform mixture. Add the eggs, the flour, milk (you can substitute also with any almond/rice/soya milk), the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix until the dough is creamy again. You and add a little bit of milk or water if it is too thick!

At this point, if no one has done it for you yet, peel the apples. Slice 3 ½ of them and cut the rest in small chunks that you will add to the mixture. Butter and sprinkle with flour a round baking tin and pour the mixture. On the top of it, place the sliced apples as in a radial (or in whatever shape you want them to form).

italian apple pie

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven. Once ready, for how yummy it may look, let the cake cool before slicing!

Some nonna will also want to decorate it with some icing sugar on top! Other modifications can be adding some pine nuts or some cinnamon.As you can find out in our Food Tours Italians also like to be creative!

Cooking is something serious in our country, so any innovation is welcome if it comes from solid basis! Take your time to become familiar with cooking and baking and then find your way!

Buon appetito and enjoy your family reunions!Italian apple pie

Risotto alla zucca: an Autumn must!

Autumn is here! Landscapes are getting orangish and brownish, sky is blue, rain is back again in Italy after a long dry summer! Tomato, eggplant, zucchini season is almost over…but no despair!! It is time of one of the greatest pearl of our vegetable gardens: butternut squash! Starting from the end of September on, these curiously shaped vegetables enter Italian houses and take place as decorative elements of livingrooms and kitchens, to be used in the following months for great vellutate and risotti! You’ll notice this seasonal change also in food shops and window decorations in Italy. If you don’t trust us, come and see it yourself and join our Italy Food Culture Tours!

risotto alla zucca

In October, it is very likely that your nonna will serve you the first risotto alla zucca of the season! If you want to be as seasonal as we are, here you go an easy recipe for this creamy, tasty and warm dish!

 

Ingredients (serves 4-5 people)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter or few spoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 onion

1 garlic clove

1 lb butternut squash, diced ½ inch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp rosemary

6 ½ c water or broth

500 gr risotto rice

Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Directions

As for everything in Italy, you can follow different schools for the risotto. One makes the famous soffritto (onion and garlic base for any sauce) with butter, the other with extra virgin olive oil. So make up your mind and go for your favourite option!

 

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium high heat. If you are using the extra virgin olive oil, just pour few spoons to the pan and add diced onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden. Dice the squash in ½ inch squares and add it to the pan together with salt, rosemary, and ½ cup of water (or broth).

Risotto alla zucca

Cook until the squash begins to turn tender. In the meantime, bring the remaining 6 cups of water (or broth) to a boil in another pot. Add the rice to the squash mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the water gradually, stirring and waiting until the water has completely absorbed before adding any additional water. Continue to cook the risotto this way until the rice is soft and creamy. It should be around 30 minutes but it all depends on the quality of the rice you are using. Once the rice has reached your desired consistency, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh, grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm topped with additional Parmesan cheese and rosemary for decoration!

Risotto alla zuccaAdd a good red wine to your table and toast to this great Autumn!

Schiacciata con l’Uva Recipe

Schiacciata con l’Uva:  waiting for the wine

 

uva
There is something Italians love as much as their mums: that dark red/purple liquid called wine. No surprise then that in Tuscany, one of the most important areas of wine production in Italy, there is lots of excitement and expectation when we come closer to the time  of the year where the yearly wine production will finally “be released”. That is, in early Autumn. Wine harvesting in Italy starts at the end of August and by the beginning of October the vino novello (not aged fresh made table wine) will be already on our tables. Get to know more about Italian culture and traditions with us along with our Food Tours!

While waiting for the real stuff to be ready, Tuscan people make use of the grapes as much as they can. Schiacciata con l’Uva is a product of this sense of expectation. Traditionally made with a a bunch of the grapes of the harvest, this grape pie is very similar to the focaccia dough, but sweater.

Schiacciata con l'Uva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowadays, many Italians do not harvest their own grapes any longer so they choose to use uva fragola grapes for this recipe! You can choose to use whatever grapes you find available in your country! Try to go for the  most organic option you can find!

Ingredients

FOR THE FOCACCIA DOUGH:

  • 5 Cups white flour

  • 2 Teaspoons instant east

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1 3/4 Cups Warm Water

FOR THE FILLING & TOPPING:

  • 2 bunch of grapes

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • Rosemary

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Put the flour, three olive oil tablespoons, salt and yeast in a bowl. Mix and start adding the warm water little by little, while stirring. Continue to add water until the dough begins to thicken and you are able to knead it with your hand. At this point, continue “to work on” (as Italians say) the dough for around 5 outside the bowl, on a lightly floured flat surface. Make a ball with your dough and place it back in the bowl, after sprinkling some flour on it so that it doesn’t stick to your ball. Cover it bowl with a kitchen cloth or a plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot for around an hour or more.

impasto schiacciata con l'uva

 

Divide the dough in half, and place half on a large baking pan. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, and scatter half the grapes over it. Sprinkle with half the sugar and rosemary.
At this point, add the other half of the dough over the dough in the pan. Stretch it and pinchi the two doughs together. Spread the other half grapes on the top. Leave the dough to rest while preheating oven to 180 C° (375 degrees F). Bake the focaccia for around 30/45 minutes until it is golden brown.

schiacciata-con-luva

Ecco fatto! Italian early autumn taste on your table!

To be enjoyed as a snack with your afternoon tea! Feel like trying more?

Come along with our Florence Food Tours!

Octopus and potatoes salad: easy and summery

 

Who said that Italian culinary tradiion is all about pasta? Italian cuisine has a lot to say also about fish! This recipe is going to join your need of fresh flavors and Italian taste!

Octopus and potatoes salad

It is great as a starter, as a main dish and also as finger food if you provide toothpicks. The must-follow rule is quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh parsley. Italian cuisine makes great use of this herb, but it is strictly fresh and never dried! So let’s try to stick to these simple rules to get some real taste of Italy! When you visit, have a look at our Food Tours to discover more about Italian culinary tradition!

For this fresh and easy recipe the ingredients should be easy to find. There are many small variations of this recipe that can be adapted to your personal taste! Just give it a try!

Ingredients for 5 people

1 kg of octopus

5 big/1 kg potatoes

1 clove of garlic (optional)

Few bay tree’ leaves

Parsley

1 lemon

Salt

Pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

As first, place the potatoes in boiling water until cooked. You can choose whether to cut and peel them before or after boiling them! Just be awareh that if you peel and cut them before it will take less time to cook and you should be careful not to over-boil them! If you boil them intact, check with a fork: when they are soft they are ready! Drain them in cold water and put them aside cut in big pieces. Here, it all depends on your taste, if you prefer to cut them a little bit smaller, then cut the octopus in pieces of the same size!

potatoes

Clean the octopus and cook it in boiling water together with the bay tree’ leaves until the meat will become white and tender (it will take usually around 30 min). Once ready, leave it in its cooking water until it cools. It is important to do so, in this way it will stay nice and tender.  Once cool, drain and cut into pieces. Place the octopus and the potatoes together in a bowl.

Octopus salad

And now the seasoning: add the entire clove of garlic peeled (only if you like and are ok with garlic), chopped parsley, the extra virgin olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The best would be to leave the octopus in its seasoning for at least half an hour before being served. Enjoy it with a great dry white wine. We will give you also some ideas for wine-food combination during our Food Tours in Florence!

octopus and potatoes salad

 

The ultimate Italian summer salad dressing

saladsSummer is coming and it is time to get fresh! Bring all of your creativity in the kitchen and start getting mad on salad! Salads are just the best solutions for fresh, easy, quick and yet nutritive lunches! Parmigiano reggiano and bresaola, mozzarella and tomatoes, rucola and cherry tomatoes…you can really create anything out of simple ingredients!

Strawberry salad dressingEver tried adding fruits to your salads? Strawberry with vinegar is just one of my favourite! Not talking about regular vinegar of course but of aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar)! One of the greatest characteristics of this specific type of vinegar, traditionally produced in the central city of Modena, is that it renders all good flavours just taste even better! Try it if you don’t believe me! During our Florence Food Tours you’ll get the chance to try aceto balsamico with cheese and strawberries and trust me it will drive your taste buds crazy!

Here you go with a simple and quick recipe for your Strawberry Salad Dressing with aceto balsamico!

Ingredients

1 cup of strawberries (5/6 big strawberries)

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Instructions

Blend the strawberries, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt in a blender or a food processor. Mix until smooth and serve it in a bowl next to your salad! You can even choose to cool it a bit in the fridge! In that case, be sure to prepare it a bit in advance and take it out right before serving the salad!strawberry salad dressing

As simple as this! Now you just have to compose your salad and pour as much vinaigrette as you like on it! I suggest a spinach, walnuts and gorgonzola salad for your first try for your strawberry salad dressing !

strawberry-salad

I have tried also this vinaigrette adding few leaves of mint and it does taste even fresher if possible! Some other options are adding poppy seeds to the dressing or a pinch of mustard!

Just experiment and find the right combination for you!  Looking forward to hearing your feedbacks!