Pasta alla Gricia: Roman cuisine triumph

New year is on! Welcome 2018!

Pasta alla Gricia: Roman cuisine triumph

Do you already know how you want to start this new year? We suggest starting with new things! In terms of food, what about trying a recipe that it is popular in Italy but yet not regularly in Italian restaurants menus? There are some Italian dishes that are simply everywhere. Think about Carbonara or Arrabbiata or the famous Alfredo Pasta, completely unknown in Italy. Well, Gricia is that kind of pasta you will find in Roman trattorias, but quite rarely is to be found elsewhere in Italy. And yet is an easy and mouth-watering recipe! Sure that you’ll have a try along with our Roma Food Tour! Ingredients? Really few! Only thing you need is a good Italian Food shop where you can buy guanciale and percorino romano!

pasta alla gricia

 

Ingredients for two people

 – few thick-cut slices of guanciale

 – 4 tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano

 – 200 gr pasta

Directions

Pour around 3 liters of water in a pot, salt it, and bring it to boil. Take into the account that both pecorino romano and guanciale are quite salty so you don’t need much of salt. If you can, try to find exactly pecorino romano and not other types of pecorino.

While the water is heating, slice the guanciale thinly into strips or even dices, or whatever shape you like. Put it in a pan that is big enough to contain also the pasta  – that you’ll add later on –  and place over medium heat. You need to cook it until the fat is cooked but yet not too brown or crispy.

pasta alla gricia

Once ready, add a spoon of water from the pasta pot and let it on low heat. Add the pasta to the water when it starts to boil properly. Now, you can follow the instruction on the pasta box on how long it should cook or drain it just a minute before so that it is al dente. Keep a cup of the cooking water aside before draining the pasta. Add the pasta to the guanciale and use the cup of cooking water to mix well.

At this point, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano cheese, just as much as to create a white thin coat on the pasta.

Grind some black pepper oh the pasta and serve immediately!

pasta alla gricia

Pasta alla Gricia is one of my favorite ones – and don’t tell anyone  – I like to exaggerate with pecorino romano, so I suggest you feel free to do that. If you need to cook for more people just calculate proportionally! It is a great dish to share according to the Roman tradition! Curious about finding out more about Rome? Join us for our Rome Tour Food!

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!

Truffles: yet another diamond of Italian cuisine

Italian cuisine is surprising. When you think you know everything about spaghetti, then you find out about risotto, when you mastered your art of cooking melanzane, you find about the great power of basil. Truffles are just another diamond of Italian cuisine: one of the most precious.

You might have heard about it, you might have tasted it in some fancy restaurant, you might have smelled while walking in the streets during your last visit to Italy.

Italian truffle

If you haven’t, well this will be an important discovery for you, I am talking of another diamond of Italian cuisine: truffles! Small and yet tasty tubers belonging to the family of fungus which are found in Mediterranean soil, they are called tartufo in Italian and a sprinkle of it is enough to make any dish special! Useless to say that the best ones come from Central and Northern Italy! That’s why they can’t be left out from our Florence Food Tour!

tagliata tartufoTruffle’s taste is hard to define. The most peculiar thing is that it involves the scent of it as well: you can recognize the smell of tartufo from few meters. If a trattoria has tartufo in the menu, you will smell it in the air. If you do, please do not miss it and try a tartufo dish of the house. Truffle goes great with meat (tagliata con tartufo), tagliolini (tagliolini al tartufo), risotto, eggs and you may find also very tasty tartufo sauces for your crostini. If what you are being served doesn’t have much taste than you know that you did not get a good truffle.

Usually truffle dishes are quite costly, since this fungus is really hard to find. It grows close to trees’ roots between 5 and 30 cm below the ground. The only way to harvest it is to train hogs and dogs and to dig the earth when they find the right spot. Truffles usually grow close to poplars, oaks, hornbeams, pine trees and beeches. In Italy, the truffle hunters are treated with respect and they are admired by local communities.

italian trufflesTruffles come in different shapes and colors, from dark to light brown, wrinkled or more smooth. There are many different types but if you are not  an expert the taste will be very similar. If you come to Florence, don’t miss our Food Tour experience! You’ll get the chance to taste the famous Tuscan truffle, and this will give you just another reason to be back!

Butter and anchovies: easy crostino topping

Having some friends over for dinner on short notice? Don’t panic! The trick is to start with some good and filling appetizers! Surprise your guests with the starters and they’ll enjoy the rest even better! And if you have no time for shopping, we have a perfect idea for you!

All you need is bread, butter and canned anchovies and here you go with a great Italian starter: crostini burro e acciughe! Sometimes the simplest things are the best!

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

If any of you have passed by Italy already, you might have tried it along with our Florence Food Tour, during which you get the chance to taste Italian crostini in Florence.

Now, as you know there are many crostini toppings in our tradition. You might now some of the very standard one: tomato and basil, black olives… Burro e acciughe is something that doesn’t come to your mind easily, but believe me it is a pleasure for your mouth!

As ingredients, we’ll list what it would be better to use, but surely any surrogate will do:

  • Tuscan bread

  • Good quality unsalted butter

  • Good quality anchovies, in oil or salted.

  • Pickles baby capari (if you like)

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

Tuscan bread is the one that best fit this recipe. If you don’t have, just use what bread you have. Cut as many slices as to have at last two crostini per person. Toast the bread and let it cool some minutes. Spread a good layer of butter on the slices and, depending on the size of these slices, lay one or two anchovies on the top. You can add a capari as the final touch on your crostini burro e acciughe. And there you go, you are ready to offer your guests an original and finger-licking Italian starter!

If you do want to taste Italian crostini while in Florence let us know! We’ll make sure you’ll get the best out of your stay!

 

Torta Fedora: the best of Tuscany

Italian culinary tradition is wide and varied: all kinds of pasta sauces, the many versions of lasagne, tasty meat stews, pizzas, and last but not least: the desserts. There are so many of them that there is always something new to taste. One of the less-known ones is Torta Fedora, a real delicatesse of Tuscan cuisine. A soft heart of puff pastry, whipped cream and sponge cake covered up with a crunchy layer of dark chocolate.

Torta Fedora

Torta Fedora

I bet we already made you drool! No despairs though, you’ll get the chance to try this tasty dessert of our cuisine during our food tours in Florence!

And in case you like it, and we bet you will, here is a simple version of this recipe that you can try at home. The only thing that you might struggle to find is the alchermes liqueur, which you can replace with any another kind of gentle and
Alchermes and Maraschino

Alchermes and Maraschino

sweet liqueur. Some versions of this cake is with maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of Marasca cherries.

Here is what you will need:

1 roll of puff pastry

1 disk of sponge cake

550 gr whipped cream

Icing sugar as required

Few spoons of milk

For the chocolate crust:

150 gr: dark chocolate

1 spoon of water

2 spoons of honey

Icing sugar as required

For the bagna (to soak the sponge cake):

65 g of water

35 g of sugar

50 ml of alchermes liquor

It would be better to prepare the sponge cake the day before or – don’t tell anyone we suggested you-  you can buy already-made one. First thing, you’ll need to bake the puff pastry. Before doing that make sure you poke few holes on it using a fork, gently brush it with some milk and sprinkle it with some icing sugar. Bake at 180° until golden brown.

While you wait for the puff pastry to bake, prepare the bagna, with which we will soak the sponge cake. Pour the water together with sugar in a small pot. Once it boils, you can leave it cooling a bit and then add the alchermes liqueur.

At this point, take the puff pastry out of the oven, cut it the same size of the sponge cake and lay the sponge cake on it. Pour the bagna all over the sponge cake and now our base is ready to be topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Let now rest the cake in the fridge for at least few hours.

Cioccolato a pezzi

Let’s now prepare the chocolate topping. Cut the chocolate in pieces, put it together with 2 spoons of honey and a spoon of water in a small pot and let it melt in a bain-marie. Let it cool, sprinkle some icing sugar on a clean surface where you can pour the chocolate. Add icing sugar until it gets thick enough to make a ball out of it. Let it rest a bit until it becomes a malleable dough of chocolate.

At this point, place it on a long piece of baking paper and roll it out using a rolling pin. Now it is all up to you: decorate your Torta Fedora as you wish with the “chocolate papers” you made! You can also add some icing sugar if you want it to look nicer!

Torta Fedora

Well, if Torta Fedora doesn’t sound easy to make, we can assure it tastes good! Don’t miss our food tours in Florence next time you are around, during which you’ll have the occasion to ask more tips for this recipe to the local “artisans” of desserts!