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Ossobuco di Piero .. Piero's Braised Veal Shanks
Cannoli di Ricotta

serves 4


4 veal shanks about 5-6 inches in diameter, less than 1 inch thick)

odori = 1 carrot, 1 small onion, 1 stalk of celery, handful of parsley 

meat broth

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Finely chop the odori and put them in the bottom of a casserole with abundant olive oil, place the meat on top add salt and pepper and set the flame to medium. Add a ladle of warm broth and cover. When the broth begins to bubble, flip the meat, lower the flame and cover. Check periodically to turn the meat and make sure the pan doesn't dry out (add more broth if necessary). Let the meat cook for about 3 hours until it's falling-apart tender and a rich, dark sauce has formed in the bottom of the pan.

Piero's Sunday lunch

recipe ready for

anyone who stopped

by on their way down  

or up the mountain.

ossobuco cannoli
Pesto alla Trapanese .. Pesto from Trapani

serves 4


big handful of basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

1.5 oz (40 g) peeled almonds

sale grosso, big salt or coarse salt

4 mature tomatoes

      or the equivalent in cherry tomatoes

about 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 lb of long pasta


If you want to remove the skins from the tomatoes you can pierce the skin with a knife and drop them into boiling water for a minute or until you can easily peel away the skins. Chop the tomatoes into pieces discarding the seeds.

Peel the cloves of garlic and chop each into 3 or 4 big pieces.

Roughly chop the almonds.

In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic and basil with big salt. Add the almonds and reduce them to small pieces, it should be a  slightly coarse mixture.

Add the tomatoes and crush them into the garlic almond paste just enough to make a thick mixture that hangs together.

Stir in just enough olive oil to make a kind of sauce.

Boil the pasta (usually the long, twirly busiati) in salted water until it is al dente reserving some of the pasta cooking water.

Dress the pasta in a serving bowl tossing it with the pesto and adding some of the pasta cooking water to help the sauce coat the pasta.


Using the mortar and pestle brings out the essential oils of all the ingredients exalting the flavors and also making a creamy consistency. Although the effect is a bit different you could use a food processor or an immersion blender but be careful to not over process, the sauce should be a little bit chunky.

almond pesto

or coppatedde for a simple country version 


Cannoli are called cannoli when their shells are formed by wrapping the dough around a piece of canna (these days a metal tool has replaced the typical piece of cane or bamboo) and then frying them to make a tube-like shell. In the Sicilian countryside Aunt Francesca makes an alternate sandwich version called coppadtedde.

for the pastry shells 

1 cup flour 

2 T sugar

2 T extra virgin olive oil 

2 T Marsala or white wine

1 T strong coffee

1 egg yolk 


Mix the liquids with the sugar and then stir in the flour. Mix well, knead well to form a ball adding flour if the dough is too sticky, adding Marsala if the dough is too dry. It should be the consistency more or less of pasta dough. Roll through a pasta machine or use a rolling pin, folding and turning several times, to make thin sheets of dough (about 1/8 inch thick, not transparent) and prick with a fork. 


For the tube shells, cut the dough into 10cm squares and wrap around the tube fixing the overlap with an egg wash, fry in hot oil (170-180C / 325-350F) until they are a dark golden color, drain on paper towels.


For the coppatedde use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles about 3 inches in diameter, fry in hot olive oil until dark and golden, drain on paper towels.


for the filling

1 lb ricotta

up to 1/2 lb sugar or to taste (or to taste)

flavoring options: cinnamon to taste, or lemon zest if you prefer (lots of it says aunt Francesca who gave me this recipe), finely chopped zuccata (that’s the green candied cucuzza squash) or some chopped chocolate although chocolate arrived in Sicily over 400 years after this recipe was invented.

Beat the ricotta with the sugar, or pass the ricotta through a sieve and mix it with sugar, it should be very creamy.  Stir in the lemon zest or other flavoring you choose. 

Most traditional recipes for cannoli filling use zuccata or candied citron, but the lemon peel is the better option if you haven’t made zuccata lately since most store-bought versions of candied fruit taste medicinal; if you can get a good one use it, otherwise I suggest lemon zest or cinnamon. 


for decorating

candied cherries

pistachios chopped finely

powdered sugar


Assemble right before serving otherwise they will get soggy. For cannoli use a sac à poche to fill the pastry tubes, dip the ends in chopped pistachios or decorate with candied fruit, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  For the coppetedde spread the ricotta cream on one side of one of the little pastry cups, top with another pastry cup, roll the edges in finely chopped pistachios and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

handmade pasta

pasta alla gricia (aka alla Grisciano)

serves 4-5-6 

depending on your appetite and what else you're serving


150 g (5 - 5.5 oz) guanciale sliced into very thick julienne

cured hog jowl, or use cured pancetta 

60 g (2 - 2.5 oz) grated sheep milk cheeses

salt and freshly crushed black pepper

400 g (14 oz) short format pasta

(paccheri, mezze maniche, calamarata, rigatoni, etc.)


Boil the pasta in salted, boiling water. Cook the sliced guanciale in just enough olive oil that it doesn't stick in the beginning until it forms bit of a crust and the fat is translucent. When the pasta is al dente lift it from the water adding it directly to the hot pan with the guanciale. Stir it together adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if necessary to create a little creamy coating, turn off the heat, stir in abundant grated cheese and freshly crushed black pepper and serve or transfer to a serving bowl immediately.    

thanks to the shepherds

of the Monti Sibilini for

the earthy goodness of their

combination of ancestral flavors 


pasta all'Amatriciana

serves 4-6


200 g (7 oz) guanciale sliced into very thick julienne

cured hog jowl, or use cured pancetta 

swirl of extra virgin olive oil

5-6 small tomatoes, peeled (use a mix of different tomato varieties, canned or fresh in summer)

60 g (2 - 2.5 oz) grated sheep milk cheeses (pecorino romano plus a milder pecorino)

salt and freshly crushed black pepper

400 g (14 oz) thick spaghettone or a short format pasta

(paccheri, mezze maniche, calamarata, rigatoni, etc.)


Boil the pasta in salted, boiling water. Cook the sliced guanciale in just enough olive oil that it doesn't stick in the beginning until it forms bit of a crust and the fat is transluscent. Add the tomatoes to the hot pan squishing them with your hands, there should still be some bits of tomato visible when serving. Stir to cook and let the tomatoes reduce until you have an almost dry  pan. When the pasta is 2 minutes from being done (check the cooking instructions on the package) lift it from the water directly into the pan with the guanciale and tomatoes. Add a ladel of the pasta cooking water to the pan and finish cooking the pasta in the tomato liquid. When the pasta has absorbed the liquid and is al dente turn off the heat, stir in crushed black pepper and enough grated sheep's milk cheese to make it turn a light orangey-pink, serve or transfer to a serving bowl immediately.


pasta all'Amatriciana should be just barely coated with tomato and decidedly not swimming in sauce

Screen Shot 2021-02-15 at 11.49.38
pasta alla gricia
pasta all'Amatriciana

Frittella .. Spring Vegetables

serves 4-6


4.5 lbs fava beans (in the pods)

2.2 lbs peas (in the pods)

some asparagus

4 artichokes

2 stalks green garlic, or a few new onions, or a few cloves dried garlic

extra virgin olive oil


fresh ricotta

salt & pepper


Shell all the beans.

Prepare the artichokes by removing all tough exterior parts (remove the outer leaves, cut off the top 1 inch or so, pare the heart/stalk), cut into quarters and remove the choke and chop into medium dice.

Slice the garlic in rough julienne and let it cook a good amount of olive oil. When the garlic is transparent add the vegetables with some salt and pepper and let them cook...


for a pasta topping or side dish:

add a tiny bit of water and let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes or so, remove from the heat and stir in finely sliced mint. Serve them as is for a side dish or ladel them into a bowl of pasta together with some pasta cooking water and top with a big spoonful of creamy, milky, fresh ricotta.


for a soup: 

to the vegetables add 4 cups of water,

cover and let them simmer for 1 hour or

until the vegetables are wilty. Serve in a bowl

with the broth and top with a poached egg.


for the poached egg:

bring a pot of water to a boil with a teaspoon or so of white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Stir vigorously to make the water swirl, tip an egg into the center of the swirl and let it boil for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a dishcloth or paper towel to blot it dry before adding it to the soup.

Torta di Ceci .. chickpea flour crepe

makes 1 10” round pan

this is a typical street food on the Tuscan coast

and islands, also known as cecinaceciata



1 1/3 cups (150 g) chickpea flour

2 cups (450 ml) water

6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

salt and back pepper


Make a smooth, runny batter with the flour, water, 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well with a whisk and let it rest for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Coat the pan with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, pour in the runny batter and  bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes, it will be golden and sort of bubbly looking on top and a little crimped at the edges. Serve hot.

Fennel flowers are really good here too although that's more of a Sicilian idea, they use them sometimes in panelle, a fried version of torta di ceci.

Both can be eaten in sandwiches, in western Sicily you eat a panino con le panelle with lots of salt and lemon juice (lemon juice being another excellent Sicilian addition to consider), along the coast of Tuscany and Liguria you eat a 5&5 (cinque e cinque): 5 lire of focaccia filled with 5 lire of torta di ceci


focaccia barese .. flat bread from Bari

makes 2 10” rounds


2 1/2 cups (350 g) all purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups (250 g) rimacinata (very fine durum wheat semolina, run coarse semolina through or order some rimacinata from Molini del Ponte in Castelvetrano)

1 1/2 cups (340 ml) total water 

12 grams cake yeast (1/2 a cake) or follow the instructions on your yeast package

1 heaping teaspoon (5 g) sugar

1 waxy potato boiled and smashed with a fork, circa 5 oz (150 g)  

2 teaspoons (10 g) salt

1 lb (450 g) small tomatoes (if out of season let them shrivel in a warm oven, 140C / 280F for 1- 2 hrs)


20 or so green olives  

extra virgin olive oil 



Put the water on to boil.

Melt the  yeast with the sugar in a

few tablespoons of warm water (take it from the pot as you are bringing the water to a boil).

Using a mixer with the dough hook attachment (or by hand in a big mixing bowl) add both flours, the smashed potato and most of the hot water (which has just boiled) and mix together for 1 minute. Add the yeast/water/sugar and mix 7 minutes.  

Add the salt and the rest of the water (which has now cooled somewhat), raise speed and mix for 7 more minutes adding 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil at the very end. 

Generously oil a sheet pan and your hands. Divide the dough into two and fold the edges under to make two smooth rounds. Cover and let them rest in a warm place for two hours (or in the refrigerator overnight).  

Preheat the oven to maximum temperature 480 F / 250 C or 500 F / 260 C.

Very generously oil the baking pans and your hands, spread each round into a 10” baking pan or onto a sheet pan using your fingers to flatten it out into an even disc. 

Top with tomatoes breaking them open with your hands so that the juice falls onto the dough. Press olives gently into the dough. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and with a lot of fragrant dried oregano. Drizzle very generously with extra virgin olive oil.  

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in a very hot, static oven until the bottom is golden, the edges are a bit black and the tomatoes just begin to look toasty. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

risi e bisi .. brodoso / brothy rice & peas

serves 4


generous 2 lbs (1 kg) peas in the pod

5 1/2 cups (1300 ml) vegetable broth

4 Tbs (60 g ca) butter

new spring onions or 1 small white onion, finely chopped

1.7 oz (50 g) rigatino or pancetta (unsmoked bacon), in small cubs

1 3/4 cups (350 g) vialone nano or other short grain rice (carnaroli, arborio, roma etc.)

extra virgin olive oil

small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1.5 oz (40 g) grated parmigiano

salt, white pepper


Make a light vegetable broth by boiling carrots, celery, onion, parsley, etc. in salted water for about an hour.

Shuck the peas keeping the pods. Rinse the pods and boil them in 5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, covered, for 30 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender and pass the puréed pods through a sieve to remove the fibrous parts. Keep warm or rewarm before using it.

In a high sided casserole melt half butter with the finely chopped onion and sautée just until translucent, add the chopped pancetta and cook for a few minutes until the fat is translucent and just begins to brown at the edges. Add the peas, a bit of extra virgin olive oil and 2 ladles of hot water or vegetable broth and boil for 5 minutes. Add the pea pod purée and bring to a boil, add the rice and stir. Let the rice bubble gently until the rice is al dente and the whole thing is brothy but not as loose as soup. Remove from the heat (the rice will continue to cook and to absorb liquid), season with salt if necessary and white pepper, stir in the butter, parsley, grated cheese and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.  It should be quite loose, al onda / like a wave. Eat it hot with a spoon.

olive oil brownies

makes 16 brownies


3/4 c (112 g) flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp flaky salt

2 eggs

1 cup (200 g) sugar

seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped with the back of a knife

1/2 cup high quality, extra virgin olive oil 

6 Tbs (50 g) cocoa 

3/4 cup (60 g) hazelnuts, toasted, finely chopped 


Mix together the flour, and baking powder and set aside. 

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on until the eggs are light and voluminous. Mix in the olive oil and the cocoa, then the reserved flour mixture and then the nuts.

Prepare an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan by coating it lightly with olive oil and flour.

Spread the batter into the pan, sprinkle with flaky salt and bake at 325F/170C for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out reasonably clean but not too clean. Cool in pan, cut into squares to serve. 

focaccia barese
Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 3.13.56 PM.png
torta di ceci
risi e bisi

Aunt Ida’s Pound Cake, Olive Oil Version

makes 1 tube pan, 2 large loaf pans or 3 smaller loaf pans

1 cup (250ml) high quality, extra virgin olive oil 

3 cups (600g) sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped with the back of a knife

3 cups flour (450g)                    

9 eggs
Oil and flour the baking pans, and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan.
In an electric mixer, mix olive oil, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs 3 at a time with 1 cup of flour until they are all used, mixing well after each addition.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at about 325F/175C for 60-65 minutes (80 minutes for the tube pan). Cool in pan. 

‘a parmigiana di zucchine .. zucchini parmigiana

for a small pan of 6 portions, about 7 x 9”


Agata's calabrese parmigiana .. perfection in a savory, rich, harmonious amalgamation of flavors. The better known form of this recipe is made with eggplant, prepared in exactly the same way substituting slices of eggplant for the zucchini and leaving out the salame.


1.5 kg / 3 lbs white zucchini (the pale green kind if you can find them, if not any zucchini will do)

extra virgin olive oil

finely ground semolina 

provola (relatively fresh, not aged, soft, mild, cow’s milk cheese)

parmigiano reggiano, grated

soppressata / a rough grain calabrese salame with some hot pepper, thinly sliced

2 hard boiled eggs, thickly sliced

tomato puree

2 cloves garlic

handful of sweet basil



Slice the zucchini in rounds that are roughly 1/2” thick or less, toss them with salt and let them sit in a colander to release liquid for 20-30 minutes (do not rinse). Dry the zucchini thoroughly in a clean dish cloth, toss in flour or corn meal and fry in olive oil until golden.      


Make a simple red sauce with the tomato puree, enough water to clean out the bottle, 2 whole cloves of garlic, a handful of  sweet basil leaves and salt to taste. Let it boil for about 10 minutes or until it reduces slightly.


Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking pan, cover with a thick layer of overlapping slices of fried zucchini and then add in layers: small spoonfuls of tomato sauce, a sprinkling of grated parmigiano cheese, a layer of thinly sliced provola, thick slices of hardboiled eggs, a few small bits of very thinly sliced salame (don’t overdo the salame, it’s best if it’s just a suggestion of flavor), and few more spoonfuls of sauce. Top with another thick layer of overlapping slices of fried zucchini, a sprinkling of grated parmigiano and a tiny bit of sauce. 


Bake at 180C/350F for 20-25 minutes until the cheese melts and the top browns a bit. Serve warm or room temperature. 


RESTRAINT with both the sauce and with the salame is key.

If you can't find a good (coarse grain, hand-made) calabrese salame, leave it out. 

If you can't find provola you can substitute with any young, mild, cow's milk cheese (note that provolone is aged longer and therefore more pungent than provola and so not appropriate for this recipe). 

i mulingiani chini ..

Agata's Calabrian stuffed eggplant


eggplant white ones are best



sweet basil

grated parmigiano

grated pecorino, Agata  uses a strong one from Crotone

provola soft, young cow's milk cheese with a slight tang .. it's optional, leave it out if you can't find a similar cheese



tomato passata


Halve the eggplant longways and scoop out the flesh to make little boats. Boil the boats and the flesh for about 7 minutes until they are soft but not falling apart. Remove as much water as possible and let them rest in a colander. 

Remove the crust from the bread and, depending on how tenacious your bread is, either run it under the faucet or let it soak in water for up to 10 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the bread and rub it between your hands to make soft crumbs. Let that rest to dry out a bit.

Make a simple tomato sauce with a jar of passata (tomato pulp with no skin no seeds no flavorings), enough water to rinse out the bottle, a pinch of salt, two whole cloves of garlic and a few leaves of sweet basil. Bring to the boil and let it bubble until it is reduced slightly, 10  - 15 minutes.

Chop the eggplant pulp together with a good amount of garlic and sweet basil. Use your hands to mix in bread crumbs, salt and the cheeses. Add just enough beaten egg so the mixture holds together without being too wet. 

Proportions are half eggplant pulp and half bread crumbs; use a lot of cheese and garlic and a good amount of sweet basil, it should be very flavorful.

Salt the little eggplant boats, fill compactly with the stuffing hiding a small slice of provola in the middle. 

At this point you have options, you can either: 

Fry them in a bit of olive oil until golden brown and eat as is.

Fry them in a bit of olive oil until the surface is sealed and then cook by letting them boil in the tomato sauce for 30 minutes (like we do for meatballs). Use the tomato sauce on pasta and serve the eggplant as a second course or just plop an eggplant on top of the pasta and eat it all together.

Bake them in a baking dish with some tomato sauce on the bottom and a bit of sauce on each eggplant, at 180 C / 350 F for 20-25 minutes. If you use some extra sauce you can serve it on pasta like above.


There is a meat option, Agata says it's useless since ground meat doesn't taste like meat and since the meat covers up the taste of the eggplant, true, but that's how most of the folks here make their mulingiani chini: use ground pork or a mixture of ground pork and ground beef making the ratio 1/3 eggplant pulp 1/3 bread crumbs 1/3 ground meat.


Finally .. cook's treat .. form the left over stuffing into croquettes and fry them olive oil until dark golden brown.  

zucchini parmigiana
olive oil brownies
olive oil pound cake

vitello tonnato .. tuna-ed beef (with tuna sauce)

this is a non-traditional version of a

Piemontese recipe that I got

from a Maltese chef 



5 oz (160 g) good quality canned tuna 

1-2 anchovy filets

1 hard boiled egg or just the yolk 

4 oz (125 g) plain yogurt

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 

3 heaping Tbs (60 g) salt-preserved capers, well rinsed

orange zest if you like


In a food processor fitted with the steel blade process the tuna, anchovies, egg and capers until finely chopped, add olive oil in a stream to form a thick, smooth paste. Add the yogurt and pulse a few times to mix being careful not to over-mix so the yogurt doesn’t separate. Add salt to taste and a bit of orange zest. 

Spread on thin slices of room temperature boiled beef (below) and top with a few capers to make vitello tonnato or use the tonnato sauce as a dip or spread for anything. 


2.2 lb (1 kg) veal or beef, from thigh or rump, one boneless piece like a pot roast, tressed so it is round

odori / odors (aromatics): carrots, celery, onion, parsley, bay leaf

2 Tablespoons vinegar


In a stock pot boil the meat with the odori in water with salt and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Boil for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the meat is cooked through. Turn off the heat and let the meat rest in the broth, keep the meat immersed in its broth in the refrigerator to keep it moist. When you are ready to serve it slice it thinly and serve cool or room temperature smothered with the tonnato sauce and topped with a few capers.


vitello tonnato
stuffed eggplant
Screen Shot 2021-08-12 at 3.13.33 PM.png

la Pomarola .. basic Tuscan tomato sauce

to eat now or put up for winter


multiples of:

1 stalk celery with leaves      

1 carrot

1 small red onion, peeled      

1/2 lb (250 g) tomatoes

            with their juice

salt to taste                

around 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 


fresh hot red pepper to taste

small handful of parsley

2 - 3 leaves of sweet basil if you have it


Cut the tomatoes, celery, carrot and onion into very large pieces. Put them into a stock pot with the extra virgin olive oil, salt and optionals. Bring it to a boil so the tomatoes begin releasing their juices, reduce the flame and let it simmer, covered, until the liquid from the tomatoes has reduced and the carrots are cooked through, about 45 minutes - 1 hour. Pass the entire contents of the stock pot through a food mill to purée the vegetables and remove the tomato skins, celery strings and etc. 


Pomarola, enormously satisfying as a condiment for pasta with abundant extra virgin olive oil and grated parmigiano cheese, can be kept for several days in the refrigerator or for several months in the freezer or sealed in sterilized jars.


Passata .. simple tomato pulp 

Cut tomatoes into big pieces, bring to a boil and let simmer until the liquid has reduced quite a bit, 45 minutes - 1 hour. Pass (hence passata) the mixture through a food mill as above.

To conserve pomarola and passata: fill hot sterilized jars with hot tomato liquid and screw on sterilized lids until just closed, do not force them. Place the jars in a stock pot with plenty of water to cover completely, bring to a boil and let them simmer for 45 minutes. Let the jars cool in the water so they slowly come to room temperature. Store in a dark, cool spot. 

IMG_6619 2.heic
tomato sauce

pan di ramerino .. rosemary bread 

rosemary in Italian is

rosmarinoin Tuscan

it's ramerino and it's

used with abundant

raisins in these rich,

perfumed holiday buns 


makes 15 buns


day before, for the lievitina

1 1/4 cups (200 g) flour or bread flour

1/2 cup (100 g) warm water

2 g brewer's yeast (or .03 oz active dry yeast)


To make a lievitina melt the yeast in the warm water and add the flour mixing well to make a stiff dough. Let if rest  covered and in a relatively warm spot overnight and up to 24 hours.


for the dough

5.3 oz (150 g) lievitina

2.5 g brewer's yeast (or .04 oz active dry yeast)

400 g flour 

1/3 cup (50 g) sugar

up to 1 cup (200 g) warm water

1 teaspoon (5 g) salt

1/2 cup (90 g) extra virgin olive oil

1 3/4 cups (200 g) raisins, plumped in hot water

4 Tablespoons (40 g) finely chopped rosemary needles,

1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water for glaze


sugar syrup

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

3/4 cup (150 g) very warm water

small piece of a vanilla bean

a few rosemary needles

Plump the raisins to plum in warm water.

Warm 2 Tablespoons chopped rosemary in a pan with olive oil, let it bubble for a while so the oil absorbs the rosemary flavor, let cool and strain.

In the bowl of a stand mixer dissolve the yeast in half the warm water, add the lievitina, flour and sugar, mix with the dough hook for 5 min; it will form a shaggy dough. Add the salt and slowly add enough of the remaining water so that it all comes together to make a smooth, dense dough.

Add the rosemary oil and knead with the dough hook on low speed for 10 minutes or so until dough has absorbed all of the olive oil, is smooth and not too sticky; this takes some time but the dough will absorb the oil (if you’re kneading by hand add the oil a little bit at a time). During the last few minutes of kneading squeeze the  raisins dry and add them with the rest of the finely the chopped rosemary.

When the raisins are incorporated and the dough has become a smooth ball let it rest in the mixing bowl covered with a dish cloth for 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 15 small pieces weighing 65 g - 70 g each (just bigger than a golf ball). Form each piece into a smooth ball by tucking under the edges and rolling it around a bit to seal the bottom. Place the buns on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, distanced so they have room to rise, and flatten them slightly with your palm. Brush each bun with egg wash. Let rest 25 minutes in a warm spot.

Use a knife to incise a tic tac toe board on top of each of the buns cutting through the dough almost all the way through to the bottom. Brush with a second coating of egg wash and let rest in a warm spot until the buns have risen further, about 45 min - 1 hr.

Preheat oven to 180C/350 F, bake for 15-20 min until golden and puffed.

While they are in the oven make a sugar syrup with the water, sugar and a piece of a vanilla bean, bring it all to a boil and then let it simmer gently for 8-10 min, stir in a few fresh rosemary needles.

Remove the buns from the oven, brush with sugar syrup and and let them cool.

Pasta con le Zucchine – Zucchini Pasta

serves 4


8 small zucchini sliced thinly into rounds    

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

6 Tbs Olive Oil                 


hot pepper finely chopped              

handful of fresh basil, mint, parsley (you can add lemon zest)

3/4 lb long pasta like fettucine or tagliatelle

ricotta salata (or pecorino romano)


In a large sauté pan warm the garlic and hot pepper in olive oil until it just begins to cook. Add the zucchini with salt to taste and sauté over medium-high heat until the zucchini is cooked and is beginning to brown.  Turn off the heat and add chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water. When the pasta is al dente, add it to the pan with the zucchini along with a bit of the pasta cooking water and warm through. To serve, top with grated ricotta salata and a swirl of olive oil. 

If you can't find the tangy, sharp ricotta salata you can grate pecorino romano on top.

In Caltabellota in Sicily they use the zucchine sauce to make a kind of vegetarian carbonara by draining the pasta, tossing it together quickly with an egg yolk in a serving bowl and then adding the zucchini mixture and the ricotta salata.  

rosemary buns
cicchetti .. Venetian snacks

le ciambelline  .. olive oil cookies

makes about 30 cookies


scant 2 cups (450 g circa) flour

scant 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar + more for dipping

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs (220 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup (125 ml) Vin Santo or Marsala or other oxidative wine

2 tsps baking powder


Pour the flour onto a work surface and make a large wide well. Into the well pour the olive oil and vin santo, the sugar and the baking powder. Mix with a fork slowly incorporating flour until the dough comes together and you can work it with your hands. Work in as much flour as necessary until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic leaving aside the extra flour. Knead the dough just until it comes together to form a ball of dough. To shape the cookies, cut the dough into chunks more or less the size of a walnut, roll each one on the work surface with your palm forming a length of dough and join the ends to make a little ring (ciambellina) 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter. Dip the cookies in sugar to coat one side and place them, sugar side up, on a cookie sheet. Bake them at 200-210C / 390-400F for 20 - 25 minutes, until they are golden brown and slide freely on the cookie sheet. Remove the ciambelline from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

pomodori col riso alla romana  .. Roman tomatoes stuffed with rice

4 ripe, round tomatoes

125 g / 3/4 cup long grain rice

extra virgin olive oil

2 medium potatoes or 1 big potato

sweet basil


hot red pepper or black pepper

Cut the the tops off the tomatoes and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh capturing all the flesh and all the juice in a bowl.

Use your hands to reduce to a puree as much of the tomato flesh as possible.

Put 6 Tablespoons of the tomato pulp/juice into another bowl, add the rice, salt, whichever pepper you are using, sweet basil torn to bits and olive oil. Let this rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour so the rice can absorb the tomato juice and soften.

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.

Peel the potatoes and cut into biggish chunks, toss with oil and salt.

Salt the insides of the tomatoes and fill to 3/4 with the rice and tomato mix.

Place the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with tinfoil or parchment paper and place the potatoes around and between the tomatoes.

Pour the remaining tomato juice and pulp into the tomatoes and over the potatoes. Add more salt and oil if necessary. Put the tops back on the tomatoes and bake for about 1 hour or until the rice and the potatoes are done.

Serve hot, room temperature or even just a few minutes out of the fridge.

Carpaccio di carciofi .. Artichoke salad

a classic in Tuscany in late winter and  early spring 




olive oil

salt and pepper


Squeeze lemon juice into a large bowl of water. To prevent browning, dip the artichokes into the lemon water as you work, and reserve the prepared artichokes in the lemon water.

To prepare the artichokes peel away and discard the tough outer leaves until you reach the light green tender leaves. Cut off the tough top part of the leaves. At the bottom, trim the stem leaving 1 to 2 inches; pare away all rough dark green parts of the remaining stem and the bottom of the artichoke. Chop the artichoke in half lengthwise or into 4 wedges. If necessary remove the choke and any shiny, pointy center leaves and then slice as thinly as possible lengthwise. Reserve the prepared artichokes in the lemon water. To serve, drain well, toss with lemon juice, olive oil salt and pepper, top with shaved parmigiano to serve.

Pasta 'ncasciata .. cheesy Sicilian baked pasta 
this is a winter version of baked pasta, a summer version has a base of eggplant and tomato sauce
serves 6-8
1 cauliflower (about 2 lbs or 1 kg)
1 onion
2-3 anchovy filets
pinch of saffron threads
1 Tbs raisins
1 Tbs pine nuts, optional
350 g bucatini (or other long pasta)
big handful of grated pecorino cheese
handful of chunks of caciocavallo aka provola cheese or scamorza
2 eggs
ground black pepper
bread crumbs
high quality extra virgin olive oil

Chop the onion and sautèe in a few tablespoons of olive oil, when the onion is transluscent add the anchovy filets and let them melt into the onions. Boil the cauliflower florets in salted water until they are easily smashed with a fork. Remove the cauliflower and keep the water it was boiled in.
Let the raisins soften in a few tablespoons of the hot cauliflower water. Soak the saffron threads in a few tablespoons of the hot cauliflower water. Boil the pasta in the cauliflower water until it is about halfway done.   
In a big mixing bowl, smash the cauliflower with the back of a fork, add the onions and anchovy mix, the raisins with their water and the saffron with its water. Stir in the grated pecorino, the pieces of caciocavallo and some black pepper.
Lift the pasta from the water directly into the cauliflower mix, stir to coat, add two beaten eggs and mix well.
Oil a 9x13 lasagne dish, coat with breadcrumbs and fill with the pasta mix. Pat the pasta down to make sure it’s compact, cover with grated pecorino, a few tablespoons of olive oil and some bread crumbs.

Bake at 180C/350F for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot or warm with a swirl of olive oil.

ciambelline .. olive oil cookies
stuffed tomatoes
artichoke salad
zucchini pasta
cheesy baked pasta
vegetarian carbonara
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