Tuscan bean “Ribollita” soup

Today’s recipe is something that I really love, and makes me glad to live in Tuscany. If you try one of our Florence food tours you’ll meet Ribollita, a peasant bean soup in the style of Tuscany (yes, another one – but all good comes from the roots, right?), one of those that you can never know how to make properly: everyone has its own recipe, its perfect one of course. And, of course, mine is better!


Ribollita means, literally, “reboiled”: because it’s tasty when it’s fresh made, but tastier the day after, when you cook it again, in the pot, or in the oven, or under the grill.

It’s a very easy recipe but to make it the proper way you have to be patient – really patient. It takes at least one day to make it look like a Ribollita and not just a soup. Ribollita has to be thick, not brothy, and it’s not a pureed soup: you have to distinguish the ingredients.

Now, some ingredients are hard to find outside of Tuscany (some of them are hard to find even in Tuscany!), so I will give you some other ingredients that you can use instead of the “true” ones – and it will be great as well!

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • One big frying pan
  • One big pot
  • 400 g “zolfini” beans, tiny a bit hard after hours of cooking.
    If you don’t have the pretty rare and expensive zolfini the cannellini variety will do. Use the dried ones (not the pre-cooked canned kind) remember to soak them overnight.


  • 300 g savoy cabbage
  • 300 g cavolo nero (black cabbage) / if you can’t find it try with chicory or some green and bittery leaves.
  • 300 g swiss chard
  • 1 squashed tomato / or some tomato sauce
  • 1 peeled red onion
  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 3 chopped celeries
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 300 g stale bread (like two or three days stale). It should be the “tuscan”, oven baked, unsalty bread, but if you can’t find it just use something else – a baguette will be good, sandwich bread won’t: it will melt and that’s not good.


Boil the beans in 2 liters of cold water, low fire, add the salt only when they’re ready (consider at the very least 45 minutes if they’re cannellini, more if they’re zolfini). When the water’s boiling you can add some carrot and celery if you want more taste. Leave the beans in their water, take a third of them and make a rough puree. Add again the puree to the beans, still in their water.

While the beans are cooking, chop onion, garlic and, separately, celeries and carrots; wash and cut in small pieces the potato; clean the vegetables (wash them only in cold water or they will lose their freshness) and cut them in thin slices. Take of all the stalk, it would be too hard to eat. In one glass of warm water, pour and mix 2 tbs of tomato sauce, or the peeled squashed tomato.

When the beans are ready, sauté the garlic and the onion in the frying pan, with 8 tbs of warm olive oil, carefully – once the smell starts spreading it’s done. You can add some chili to the mix if you like it. When your soffritto is ready you can slowly add all you prepared – celery, carrots, tomato sauce, all the veggies. Add salt and pepper and cook it for 10-15 minutes.

Now you can either add the beans with their water to the mix, or do the opposite and pour all the vegetables in the bean pot: it’s the same, just choose the method that’ll better contain all the food.

Cook the mix for at least one hour: keep a low flame and remember to stir it often with a wooden spoon or it will burn and stick to the pot. The water should be almost totally evaporated. When you still have water, add the roughly chopped bread and keep stirring until everything becomes thick – at this point it’s up to you, decide how thick. It can be almost solid, it can be still liquid – just not liquid.

Leave it rest for at least 3 hours (better if you leave it in the pot overnight)

Re-heat it, serve it – fancy tip, use terracotta casseroles – warm with a splash of olive oil, maybe serve some bruschetta on the side… and enjoy!






Pizza In Teglia at home!

When you think of italian food – not regional, just italian -what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

You thought pizza, didn’t you. And you’re right! Pizza is truly the one food that every italian loves. But… does it mean that we all love the same pizza?

Not at all! There is the flat and thin pizza, almost burned on the crust (my favourite, I dare say), there is the thick and soft one, there is the half way between the two. But rest assured: pizza is round-shaped.

Well, not true. If you wander around Rome, for example, and look for pizza, you might easily find this strange friend of ours: the Pizza in Teglia (pizza in the tray). And you can make it too! First of all, go taste it with the help of our Rome food tours.


Then you can start making your own, at home.

First thing first: dough is the most important thing in this recipe so be careful about every single gram of flour or drop of water!

It’s a long process and you won’t be able to eat your pizza the same day you started, but you can easily keep eating it the day after you made it: it’s yummi even cold!


Flour type 00: 500 gr.

Water: 400 gr

Salt: 15 gr

Baker’s yeast: 3 gr

Oil (olive extra virgin): 1 tbs

a fistful of durum wheat flour

In a large cup you will put the flour and 200 gr water, then you have to start mixing with a fork. Melt the yeast in some water, and add it to the dough. Keep mixing until you have a grainy texture. Now you can add salt, oil and the remaining water. Keep mixing while you do that!


Now you can rest your arms and leave the dough into the cup, covered with a clean rag, for about 10 minutes.

Cover the kitchen table or any other plain surface you want to use with some durum wheat, topple the cup and fold the dough from the sides, with your hands.

Pour a bit of oil into the same cup used before and put the dough back in it, with the folded side facing down. Cover it with some wrap and let it rest on the lower shelf in the fridge… for about 20/24 hours!

The day after you can take your dough off the fridge, and leave it warming up in room temperature.

Again cover the table with the durum yeast wheat and stretch it out with your hands, not too thin.

Move it on an oiled baking tray and let it rest, again, for 3-4 hours, still covered with wrap.


Heat the oven up to 250 °C.

Season your pizza the way you want (really, now you can do exactly what you want) and bake it for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 230°C and keep cooking for 10 minutes.


Now… it’s ready.

How’s your favourite pizza?


A different kind of meatballs: the Mondeghili


Do you remember that time in Milan, when you tasted some nice meatballs with a very peculiar flavour? Or have you ever tasted something like that?

It’s not just meatballs, there’s something so tasty you couldn’t stop eat them… no? Nothing comes to mind? So you’re telling me you know nothing about Mondeghili?

Ok! First of, go try some in our Food tours in Milan.

Second, learn how to make them!


Mondeghili (milanese meatballs) is a dish from the peasant tradition: it’s so good and so traditional that in 2008 they have been officially recognized from Comune di Milano as a “dish of the territory”, which, despite of its lousy name, it’s a very high distinction.

Remember, do not call them just “polpette” (meatballs)! Milaneses will not like it, even if the two plates do share the origin of the name. “Polpette” comes straight from the Arab “al­bunduk”, of which “mondeghili” is somewhat a spanish distorsion: the Spanish, during their 150 year lasting dominion taught the Milaneses how to make “albondigas” or “albondeguitos”… that Milaneses transformed in “mondeghili”!

The name marks a difference, but so does the taste and, indeed, the recipe. The flavour is quite strong, since it’s, as usual for peasant plates, invented to reuse leftovers. What makes it so flavoury so? Let’s check it out.

Ingredients for 4

• ­ 300g of boiled meat (usually beef or calf or a mix of the two)

• ­ 1 egg

• ­ The soft inside of the bread of a “rosetta” (the traditional milanese bread, the

same we usually use for making sandwiches)

• ­ a milk glass

• ­ chopped parsley

• ­ a lot of chopped lemon peel (remember ­ peel it thin and avoit the white, it’s


• ­ salt

• ­ nutmeg

• ­ 250 g of butter (at least…)

• ­ breadcrumbs


• ­ some slice of bologna, that you will have to mince

• ­ minced onion or garlic

• ­ pork sausages

• ­ grana cheese


Dip the bread into the milk, then squeeze it and sift it in flakes.

Mix the wet bread with all the other ingredients until you have sort of a solid dough.

Make as many small balls as they come. They should have the size of a nutshell. Press them softly, they are not to be flat nor perfectly round.

Prepare a large pan or a saucepan and melt the butter. Leave it warming…

while you roll the mondeghili in breadcrumb.

And now… fry them into hot butter!

Before serving, still warm, you might want to remove a bit of butter with some paper towel. Now you can enjoy your perfectly typical milanese dinner!

Inspired by Balsamico!

The “Aceto Balsamico” (balsamic vinegar) is a particular dressing that italians either love or hate.


It has a very strong flavour – you shouldn’t use more than one or two drops on your meal or it will cover everything up -, and an old and fascinating history.

The original “Tradizionale balsamico di Modena” is a high-costly product, made from cooked grape must, aged at least 12 years, and is protected under the European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system. How to describe its flavour? You should really taste it to understand. And, once done, you will surely acknowledge the difference between what they sell in common shops – and its often ‘basic’ red vinegar mixed with caramel – and this little treasure.

There is, luckily, a half-way: a compote of ordinary balsamic vinegar with the addition of reduced grape juice in varying proportions, without any aging, or cooked wine aged less than the prescribed 12 years. Just avoid the caramel.

Aceto Balsamico comes from Emilia Romagna, and is really ancient: the legend wants it to be produced since the 12th century, but some say that their inspiration comes directly from… Egypt! As strange as it may sound, it is not that unbelievable. The roots of Balsamic Vinegar were found in the cooked must and an Egyptian funerary painting demonstrates that the production of the first sweetener used in the Mediterranean area dates back to long time ago, at least to 1000 B.C. Even for the cooked must the Roman era was a great one and there was a specific verb referring to this action called defrutare. Strong flavours and long time fermentation makes it actually a pretty good food-preserver. When there’s no fridge at home, you have to do with what you have: grape and salt will do.

Anyway, somehow this sweet-and-sour seasoning arrived in Italy, then the emiliani made it the way we know… and we’re here, in the 21th century, and the balsamic is one of the most beloved dressing from chefs all over the State. They use it in ways you would never imagine – it’s vinegar after all! Then, well, all you have to do is taste its flavour and imagine how to use it! 

1) With strawberries.

A few drops on a strawberry bowl – they have to be real strawberries, red and juicy and in spring! – just a few drops and some vanilla ice cream and you’ve created an unforgettable break!

2) With meat. 


All kinds of meat, honestly: I cannot imagine where Balsamic tastes poorly. On red meat, it enhances its flavour and “cleans up” a bit the greasy aftertaste, with white meat it gives them a twist and makes them much more enjoyable, with fish (lake fish) it’s the perfect mix for both the previous situation. Avoid salt if you use balsamic – it would taste too sour!

3) With cheese.

Forget honey, Balsamic is the new gourmet, and this is probably the best solution to look great with your guest. It only takes a platter, balsamic vinegar, some slice of cheese (just not too aged), a punch of nuts, a glass of red wine: you will have a classy aperitivo: tasty and classy, perfect to impress!

4) With Parmigiano Reggiano


You might say “cheese was point 3!”, but I’m not talking about pasty cheese as before, when I imagined some fresh pecorino slice. This is about the true, the one and only Parmigiano Reggiano. They make in the same region of Balsamic – do you think it’s a coincidence? Same story here, it mustn’t be the “24 months old” or more, it has to be fresh and young, also because it’s way less salty.

5) As a lunge balm, instead of herbal compress.

Nope, just kidding. The word “balsamic” comes from Greek word “balsamon” (perfumed oil) and means only that its smell is so powerful that it might have curative effects. Not proven scientifically, though, but wouldn’t you admit to feel much better after tasting something great? So, my last tip is just this one: smell the Balsamic, and – like a little chef mouse – invent your own flavour!


Christmas beer in Italy

As we already know, Italy is not only the land of wine anymore: its passion for brewery is increasing and it’s really easy to find some nice craft beer here and there.

Often, they customize it, adaptating to the weather and the period of the year. Christmas beer is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult beer to make: it has to be tasty and cozy, and yet not so strong – no one wishes to get drunk on Christmas! Besides, it has to get along both with food and dessert.


Well yes, you read well: “Christmas beer” is actually a thing. A craft beer, for the sake of precision.

It’s easier and easier to find them, mostly at beer fairs where the local producers sell their own in glamorous one liter bottles, and the number of italians buying it or making it a present is increasing as well.

So, if you happen to be around during this red-and-gold period, try some golden drink!

1 – in a pub: two examples, there can be much more! In Rome, in  the “Prati” zone, you will find a small pub with a strange and nordic name. It’s LAPSUTINNA, where you can find some delicious, seasonal, craft beers. The winter one is tasty, with cinnamon hints, and it’s perfect with their home made fried potatos (or anything else).
If you are planning a trip in the Eternal City and you are curious to taste special beers, Rome Beer and Bites Tour is just what you need!
In Florence there is one famous brewery called “Mostodolce” (mosto is actually a wine thing, and that’s quite ironic) where they serve you only their own beer. And a dessert called “birramisù” : guess what might it be 🙂



Florence Beer and Bites Tour should be a realy nice experience for you and your group!

At last but not least, we could not miss Milan, the most european city in Italy: a lot of pubs, many different places to visit and….Milan Beer and Bites Tour, of course : )

2 – in a shop: All over Italy you will find good beer shops, usually they serve it as well. It’s always so good to taste (possibly with the help of someone who knows what he’s talking about) a craft beer with matching food, while choosing between the hundreds of fancy bottles around you! Try once, and you’ll never regret.

3 – at a fair. Beer fairs are practically spreaded everywhere. Even the tiniest town has its own beer fair, and usually they don’t have a lot of choices. But when it comes to great fairs, or just to people who love their work, it’s another thing. Wander around with your graduated glass and taste each beer with small sips. You maybe don’t think so, but your mouth will be able to find the perfect Christmas flavour between them!




Biscotti alla birra e cannella

Hello food lovers!

Christmas is almost here, and I bet you didn’t think to the christmas presents yet… haven’t you? And maybe you’re tired of the usual silly little gifts for your coworkers or the acquaintances – or even the friends, and you’d like to prepare something with your own hands… yes, well, that’s me actually.

But I figured something out, something that I will give to my colleagues on the last day of course and will make me look like I incredibly deserve a payrise 😉 Or maybe not, but still they’ll be glad.


I will give them a little bag full of cookies: not just simple cookies though but star-shaped-cinnamon-and-beer-flavoured spelt cookies, or, in italian, Biscotti di farro alla birra e cannella!

Here is what I’ll do.

Ingredients for a baking tray full of biscuits

150 gr. hulled wheat

50 gr. softened butter

100 gr. brown sugar

4 gr. of baking powder (for desserts)

35 gr. brown craft beer (a belgian one, for instance, or something similar)

a few pinches of cinnamon or a little piece of a cinnamon stick

a pinch of ginger mince

a tiny pinch of salt.

Sift the wheat together with the yeast and add the salt; in another bowl knead the butter with the sugar, then add the flour and keep kneading. You will have to obtain a well solid and smooth dough.
Now it’s time to add the spices (ginger and cinnamon) and the beer! Keep kneading and give the dough a ball shape.

Wrap it and leave it into the fridge for 2 hours (you might finish your brown craft beer in the meantime).

Now you can take the dough off the fridge and start rolling it out: it must not be too thin, otherwise it will burn!

something like this

Put your sweet stars on a baking tray – don’t forget to cover the tray with some wax paper before!

Knead the dough over and over while you still can make biscuits.

Pierce them with a toothpicker and put the tray in the fridge again, for twenty more minutes. Heat the oven up to 180° celsius.

Bake your biscuits for 15 minutes and wait they’re cold before tasting th-ehrrrrr, before putting them in those nice little bags!

You may cover them with powdered sugar, but I rather suggest not to:


they’re wonderful just like that.

Lasagne al Sugo Finto

Hello Foodies!

It’s that period of the year… don’t you hear the bells jingle?

I’m pretty sure you will want to amaze your family with some typical italian dish for Christmas: now I will tell you how I amazed mine last year!

We come from a very “traditional” southern family, at least when it comes to food and holidays, but last year, for the very first time, they allowed me and my cousins to cook the first course. And of course I couldn’t resist, I had to do something that they would never think of… And I succeeded!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the wonders of the Lasagne Al Sugo Finto*!


(that’s an actual lasagna)

*Sugo finto means, literally, “Fake Sauce”.

It’s a vegetarian Bolognese sauce, from tuscan tradition, that tastes really good and has the same texture and colours of the Ragù. it’s not even that hard to cook it, and it’s all vegs – you will spend way less than a meat course (we did have meat later – but that’s another story).

Here we go:

Ingredients for A LOT of people.

* 4 packs of fresh lasagna sheets – or 16 sheets if you want to do it by your own

* 10 carrots

* 3 leeks

* 1 1/2 shallot

* 3 selleries

* 1 parsley tuft

* 2 bottles of “passata di pomodoro” (plain tomato purea)

* salt, pepper

* oil

* 2 packs of Besciamella (1 liter)

* 500 g Mozzarella or Scamorza cheese

* grated parmigiano

It will take some work so make sure you have a beer with you or even better someone to drink and work with!

Peel the carrots, wash carefully all the remaining vegetables and start chopping them into tiny cubes: the tiniest the better, because the sauce must have that rough texture so good when you eat the Bolognese Ragù!

Once you’re done, prepare a large pot or pan (something like a wok) and pour oil: it has to be a thick layer because you have a lot of stuff to cook. Heat the oil and once it’s warm – it must not boil – pour all the chopped veggies (the “battuto“) in it, keeping the flame low.

Leave it for 10 minutes, mixing everything up until they are softened, meanwhile start to pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Once the battuto is softened you can pour on it the tomato sauce: lower the flame at its minimum and mix often. You can add salt and pepper (and a pinch of sugar to erase the acid notes…).

Now, if the lasagna you bought is fresh, you will not need to wet it, otherwise leave it into tepid water for 3-4 minutes before using it.

Once the sugo is ready (taste it to understand when: some prefer it very thick and they leave it longer on the fire, others like it more liquid. Just remember that it will cook more in the oven!) you can start preparing the actual Lasagna.

In a baking tray, add a little bit of sugo, then cover it with lasagna. Add a mozzarella layer, then sugo, then besciamella, then again lasagna, mozzarella, sugo, besciamella… keep going until it’s full or you’ve finished your ingredients.

Now cover the tray with some foil and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Take the foil off, if you have a “grill” mode put it on. Add some parmigiano on the top of the last layer and bake everything from five to ten minutes… the result will be a crispy  wonder!

Enjoy your dinner and wait until the last bite to tell your family what did they just eat 😉

Risotto alla Birra e Speck

When you think about italian food, what comes to your mind? Pizza, pasta… pizza…

And when you think about italian food in winter? Seriously? Only pizza? I don’t think so: what if I said… Risotto?


Risotto is a true italian winter meal: comes from the north (the very famous Risotto alla milanese, for example, or the venetian Risotto al radicchio) but it’s so good that everyone loves it. Today I propose you something that mixes the best risotto tradition with some gourmet innovation and a taste that will remind you of north, winter and storytelling by the fireplace… behold, my foodies, the wonders of Risotto alla birra e speck!!


“Carnaroli” rice 320 gr

Dark beer (a weiss, not a stout!) 330 ml

Some creamy cheese (ricotta or mascarpone, for example) 100 gr

Speck 150 g * Note: don’t buy the thin slices, ask for a thick one

Butter 30 g

1 small white onion

2-3 table spoons of chopped parsley

Vegetal broth, 1 liter

Pepper and salt as pleased

Heat up the broth and leave it on a low fire. Peel and chop in tiny pieces the white onion; mix it with the garlic then take the speck and chop it as well, in little small cubes (like bacon)

speck a cubetti

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the onion and parsley.
Once the onion is goldened and shriveled up (ca. 10 minutes later) add the speck dades and mix everything up together to get more flavour.
Stir it for about 5 minutes then slow down the fire and take off the pan some dades for the plate embellishment.

Now start to pour on the same pan the rice, slowly and carefully, and mix it with the sauce, wait until it becomes transparent.
It’s beer time: add it a bit by a bit until it’s over, but wait every time for the rice to absorbe it before pouring another sip. When all the beer is over, follow the same procedure with the broth, carefully keeping mixing with a wooden scoop. Remember not to pour too much liquid every time or the risotto will dry out!

Taste the rice, it has to be “al dente“: once we’re there, add the ricotta or the creamy cheese you chose and stir until it’s melted.

Now you can open another bottle of beer and put it on the table: your risotto alla birra is ready to be served, warm and flavory!


Pasta col tonno

Hello food lovers!

Remember when we talked about the tough fuorisede life? I saved my best recipe for these days – when in University you have exams and you don’t really want to cook, or think, or have a life whatsoever.

So behold, for you and only for you, the one and only “pasta col tonno” good recipe!


The pasta with a tunafish can on it it’s really something all of us experienced, and usually hated, even if the try occurred several times. At one point of my life I learned to put the tunafish on a frying pan before mixing it with the pasta and add some garlic or spice, but still it was so sad and unsatisfying.
Some like to add tomato sauce, I do not.

And then, one desperate study day, a friend of mine shared some tips with me and now I use this recipe even if I’m not in Uni anymore – actually, I cook it a lot and receive quite a lot of compliments!

The ingredients (for 4) are:

pasta (spaghetti or penne), 80 gr. each or more if you’re hungry or this will be your only meal until 5 am

– two big tunafish tin can (150 g) in olive oil

– one big organic lemon




While the water for the pasta is boiling, wash carefully the lemon and grate half of its skin. Be gentle and avoid the white part, which is bitter. Try to obtain little “julienne” pieces, but if you cannot just chop the skin in tiny parts.

Squeeze the lemons and keep the juice in a glass, you will need it in a while.

Prepare your soffritto in a large frying pan with oil, garlic – you can decide whether to leave it “in camicia” (remember?) or crumble it – and a hint of chili pepper. Once the garlic is golden, pour the tunafish after draining some of its oil and lower the flame. Leave it cooking.

Add salt in the boiling water and add the pasta. Attention: set the timer one minute before its due time because you will need it al dente!
Meanwhile your tunafish is cooking: carefully raise the flame and, one spoon at the time, add the lemon juice. It will create a wonderful cream, but you will need to taste it in order to avoid the excess of bitterness.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it leaving a little bit of cooking water and pour everything on the frying pan. Mix pasta and sauce together and add the chopped parsley and, of course, the peeled lemon skin. If you want to go posh: grate a tiny weeny of fresh ginger and mix one more time.


In 20 minutes your pasta is ready and it is absolutely delicious, and light enough to go back to work!


Warm up, eat on! 5 comfort winter soups

Hello foodies!

What’s better than something warm, in those days when the night arrives sooner and sooner? A warm blanket, a cozy armchair, bae’s arm… and when it’s time to cook, a warm comfort soup for soul and belly.

If you lack of inspiration, or worst: if you think that soups are boring, you’re going to read something that will definitely change your mind! Five warm, delicious soups – so simple and yet so unconventional that you’re going to ask yourselves – why exactly didn’t I think about that before?

Here we go!

Potato and ginger soup

Transform a super-basic potato soup, the one with big potato pieces still floating in the broth into something quite curious, adding pieces of ginger roughly cut. Boil together and you will know a whole new world of flavors: the lemon-y spicy fresh ginger will add to the soft texture of the potatoes a touch of joy, and you won’t get enough.

Lentil soup with yogurt

Greek yogurt, actually. Add it to your lentil soup to give it that nice touch of stranger that will renew your wanderlust, and get ready to pack.
If you want your fantasy to get even better: add some cumin. And don’t freak out if Aladdin appears in front of you!


Barley and speck soup

Yes: you prepare your wonderful barley soup, light and health and good and everything it’s fine, but you still miss something… maybe that tasty, smoked flavor, that only this particular prosciutto has? Add it to a little soffritto before boiling the soup and you will be immediately transported into a wooden shelter under the snow, with the fire cracking and some grappa in front of you.

Savoy cabbage and pecorino romano

Another super healthy-super boring soup turned into something really, really amazing: when you’re almost done and the cabbage is cooked, add (a lot of) grated pecorino romano and pepper! It’s basically the winter version of spaghetti cacio e pepe – just don’t tell the romans, keep it between us!

Pumpkin soup and coconut milk

This is actually a “vellutata”, you need to overcook the pumpkin before mixing it with spices and coconut milk. The flavor will be spicy and sweet at the same time, with a sunny yellow color that will cheer everyone up!
Prepare some roasted bread to dip, it will be required and necessary.


Ps: well, let me tell you – a good old minestrone will do its job as well!