Figs are in season here in Italy and we’ve eaten them every day with no signs of slowing down. We used green honey figs straight from the garden for this simple side dish.
BRAISED GREEN FIGS AND FENNEL
Figs, about 3 per person
1 medium fennel bulb
Generous knob of butter
Thin slice of lemon, peel on
One dried Italian hot pepper, whole
Dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino, shaved large for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400.
Slice the fennel into 4-6 segments.
Place the butter, whole lemon slice, and hot pepper in an oven safe pan and sauté until fragrant. Sear the fennel wedges on both sides, don’t be shy about giving it good color. Add the figs whole and leave on high for a minute or two, before adding a generous pour of wine and transferring to the oven.
Cook until the fennel is just tender, but not falling apart.
Top with fresh ground pepper and good pecorino.
Figs are in season here in Italy and we’ve eaten them every day with no signs of slowing down. We used green ...
Here’s a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience and a new recipe that is applied from the techniques and approach I’ve come to learn in my time cooking in Umbria.
FAGIOLI CANNELLINI SEMPLICE
1 can/jar cannellini beans
1 yellow onion
1-2 stalks of celery
white wine, chicken/vegetable stock &
Start by preparing a classic soffrito: dice your onion, carrot, and celery, and let them sweat on low heat with a bit of oil, butter, or both. Cook until translucent.
Once the onions and carrots are soft, you can add a pinch of salt and the rest of your aromatics (typically I’ll go for some crushed red pepper to give the dish some heat, or you can add herbs like rosemary and thyme).
Once the pan is smelling fragrant, add your rinsed beans. Cook until you’re satisfied—if you want the dish to be dry, cook until the beans are warm and you’re done! If you want a stew-like quality, keep the temperature low and add some white wine, chicken/vegetable stock, or even just some water. Option to toss in more butter to get a rich, velvety texture.
Once you have the consistency you’d like, pull the beans from the heat and top with some parmigiano and, if you’d like, some lemon zest. This is the dish I always cook for myself on the elusive rainy day in Los Angeles.
In Umbria, radicchio is typically roasted over a fire then finished with salt and oil, maybe some lemon juice, and it is a delight. I hadn’t been using the oven recently, however, and wanted to put it to use:
1 whole head of radicchio
1 yellow onion
Preheat to 450-500—you just want it to be hot.
Quarter your radicchio lengthwise. Put a pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil and a small pat of butter. Place the radicchio into the pan to sear its outside—it should brown and even start to blacken before you flip it, about 2-3 minutes a side.
Once the radicchio is seared, transfer the quarters into a baking dish. Slice the onion and add into the baking dish.
Take your bottle of red wine and pour into the dish until the radicchio is about 1/4 submerged, then add just a bit of water to bring the liquid level to just under 1/2 of the radicchio.
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once it’s out of the oven, feel free to drizzle with some good olive oil!
Here's a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience ...
This Asian recipe may seem out of place in an Italian recipe blog, but it shares a lot with Italian preparations. First, the fish should be fresh, which in our case was beyond doubt, having purchased it from Robert, our local fishmonger at the daily harbor fish market in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Robert cleans and filets all manner of fresh catch with an uber sharp machete right in front of your eyes. Second, the accompanying flavors are understated and elevate rather than overwhelm the fresh fish.
This is a favorite of Suzy and mine when we, like we are now, spend time at our vacation home in the Caymans (no money laundering jokes, please). After a grueling day under the sun, there’s nothing quite like this flavorful fish dish and a little (or a lot of) white wine to wash it down.
[recipe courtesy of taste.com.au]
Whole Snapper with Garlic and Ginger
1 whole snapper, gutted and scaled
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Ginger, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
2 or 3 dried chili peppers crushed
1 bunch coriander
Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Rinse and pat dry 1 whole red snapper. Line baking dish with aluminum foil (you may have lay 2 sheets side by side) and place wax or parchment paper on top. Lay snapper on paper and liberally salt and pepper. Sprinkle garlic and ginger over entire surface.
In a small bowl, mix well soy, fish sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Pour over snapper allowing it to penetrate the skin. Baste several times.
Close aluminum/parchment paper to form an airtight pouch with snapper inside. Place in oven (in baking dish) and bake for 30-45 minutes. The snapper is cooked when the flesh flakes and displays no opacity.
Unwrap fish and transfer to a serving plate or bowl being sure to pour the liquid over the fish. Garnish with a liberal amount of sliced scallions and some sprigs of coriander.
Serve with lots of white wine, preferrably a crisp, acidic wine such as Falanghina, Greco di Tufo or anything from Campania.
This Asian recipe may seem out of place in an Italian recipe blog, but it shares a lot with Italian preparations. First, ...
We’re celebrating Suzy’s birthday with one of her favorite drinks to sip on—the Tom Collins. In the Italian spirit, we’ve renamed ours Tommaso and used our favorite Italian sparkling water. Here’s why we love it: it’s a simple (and quick!) blend of gin, lemon juice, seltzer and simple syrup which, when combined, is a citrus-y sour cocktail thats deliciously refreshing. Perfect for the sweltering heat of late August!
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ oz. simple syrup
Lemon wedge, for garnish.
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.
Top with seltzer water. Taste and adjust as needed.
Garnish with a wedge of lemon.
We're celebrating Suzy's birthday with one of her favorite drinks to sip on—the Tom Collins. In the Italian spirit, we've renamed ours ...
This is our favorite way to handle an overabundance of produce—depending on the season you can make a filling with mixed berries, apples and cinnamon or ricotta and marmalade. Here Liam uses a mix of ripe figs, honey and a dash of vincotto. The wine (vincotto translates to “cooked wine”) deepens the flavor and rounds out the sweetness of the figs, leaving you with a balanced and elegant dessert. Enjoy!
FIG CROSTATA RECIPE
For the crust:
300g flour + more for dusting
140g butter, room temperature
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 ½ Tbs baking powder (or 1 packet of Italian bkg powder w vanilla)
For the filling:
6 cups of fresh ripe and plump figs
¾ cup honey
1 T a.p. Flour
3 T butter, cubed into small pieces
1 T vin cotto
Roll the dough to about ½” thickness. Place in a 10” pie pan.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the filling and put in the pie pan. Fold the outer edges of the dough around the perimeter of the fig filling. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Put in refrigerator for 1 hour before baking at 375 for 30-45 minutes.
This is our favorite way to handle an overabundance of produce—depending on the season you can make a filling with mixed berries, ...
We love those recipes that are low effort, maximum reward and that’s exactly what this truffle frittata is. With so few ingredients, quality is paramount—we recommend using Tartufi Bianconi’s delicious truffle flavored oil to impart a taste of Italy into your frittata.
TRUFFLE FRITTATA RECIPE
Truffle sauce or “Truffled Flavoured Oil” from Tartufi Bianconi
-Beat the eggs with salt and a few teaspoons of your favorite truffle sauce or oil.
-Heat olive oil in a skillet and cook the omelette on both sides—serve with truffled mashed potatoes.
We love those recipes that are low effort, maximum reward and that's exactly what this truffle frittata is. With so few ingredients, ...
To continue with our celebration of cheeses, we’re enjoying one of Italy’s finest formaggi in a simple but decadent way. Almost perfect on its own, pecorino gets a boost from a generous drizzle of good olive oil and cracked black pepper. Buon appetito!
1 lb pecorino
1/2 c olive oil
Black pepper, ground coarsly
-Break or cut the cheese into small bite-sized cubes, about 1 inch.
-Toss with the olive oil and black pepper. Put in a serving bowl and cover.
-Let the cheese marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving. Can be made ahead but should be served at room temperature.
To continue with our celebration of cheeses, we're enjoying one of Italy's finest formaggi in a simple but decadent way. Almost perfect ...
Love cheese? Join us for our Cheese of the Month Tasting featuring Sweet Grass Dairy on Wed, August 1 or reserve a seat at our Cheesemaker Dinner with Sweet Grass Dairy on Fri, August 10. Better yet, come to both!
I didn’t know all that much about Murray’s cheese before my most recent trip to New York City. Basically, I knew it was a famous shop that sold good cheese and was willing to wholesale to me. Now that I’ve been, I’m in love.
Here at Via Umbria we deal with a lot of different cheese producers from all over Italy, the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and the United States. Walking into the shop on Bleeker Street I felt right at home. It wasn’t that I recognized every single cheese they were selling (although there were quite a few familiar faces)—it was that I could tell I was somewhere that cared about sourcing great cheese from great producers. It was awesome, and I was ready to taste.
You may know of Murray’s as an excellent purveyor of fine cheeses, but what most don’t know is that Murray’s is also an affineur (an ager of cheese). A few days after visiting the store, we were fortunate to travel to glamorous Long Island City to tour their “caves” (it’s actually a set of climate and humidity controlled rooms—I don’t think there’s much in the way of caves in Queens). And learned a bit about the history of these cheeses.
If you’ve read my blog post about Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, it’s a pretty similar story. A cheese shop taking care of their cheese decided to reach out to some producers and get things specially for the shop. In the case of NYD, they preserved a whole range of traditional British cheeses. At Murray’s, it was a case of innovation. The team took cheeses that were already in production and began to age them differently. They started inoculating cheeses with different molds and washing rinds of varieties that weren’t typically washed. In short, they were creating some deliciousness. They even worked in a dairy lab upstate with some local milk to make their own cheese from scratch—a delightful cheddar that tastes almost like cheddar-swiss hybrid.
We’re so pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Murray’s team, as well as all the other cheesemakers and cheese lovers that we partner with. Stop on by and ask to try some of our cheeses!
Love cheese? Join us for our Cheese of the Month Tasting featuring Sweet Grass Dairy on Wed, August 1 or reserve a seat ...
This past April on a trip to VinItaly, Suzy and I snuck off for a day to indulge our sweet tooths with a tour with two of our favorite Panettone producers—Loison and Filippi. One step (or really one sniff) inside the baking facility at Loison and we knew we had made the right choice. Even during their off season, a time when there are no ovens on, no cakes baking, and no ingredients in sight, the entire factory smelled like sugar, butter, and fluffy, decadent cake. We wandered around the production line—looking at the giant (seriously huge) stand mixers where they carefully mix the panettone dough, coaxing the ingredients to combine together in just the right way to create the light, airy cakes, the enormous ovens that bake hundreds of carefully handcrafted cakes at a time, and the inventive machines that flip those cakes upside-down straight from the oven to keep their shape. If you’ve never seen the process I definitely encourage you to take a look—it’s pretty incredible. And for those of you who have ever had any doubts about whether or not the Italians are some of the most thoughtful, patient, and purposeful people on the planet take my word for it- one bite of a perfectly baked Panettone is all you need to change your mind.
In addition to the attention to detail during the baking process two other aspects of the production of the Panettone really stood out to me. The first being the pride that emanated from the bakers at both facilities as they walked us through each flavor of Panettone they were preparing to make for this holiday season (between 20-35 each) and exactly where every single ingredient in each of those cakes was sourced. Single origin chocolate drops from Domori, untreated Madagascar vanilla beans (and never any artificial flavors), free range eggs, figs from Calabria, Lemons from Sicily and fresh milk delivered every day during the baking season; each ingredient is carefully selected for it’s quality of production and taste to create the perfect marriage of flavors for each cake. As the Pastry Chefs at Filippi say “Just as in an orchestra, to create a symphony, every instrument has to be in harmony with the whole, so it does not suffice that every ingredient is good on its own. Each ingredient has to amalgamate well with all the others…” Each year they revisit the flavors of the year prior, sampling dozens of varieties of fruits, nuts, and honeys, ensuring that their cakes are always created using the just the ideal balance of flavors and ingredients.
The second aspect that the Pastry Chefs at both Loison and Filippi were quick and proud to point out is that each one of their cakes is hand wrapped in paper and tied with a bow. Out of context that may not seem like a big deal but when you think about the thousands of cakes being produced every Christmas and the intricate and precise wrapping each of these cakes is adorned with you really start to get a sense of the magnitude of this process. And the result is spectacular—3as they said at Loison “The result is a product that is more than just a baked good: it’s also a gift, a furnishing item and a piece of art.” It’s clear in speaking with them that there is no detail of the panettone making process that is overlooked and the result of all of that effort and attention to detail is the essential (and most delicious) emblem of the Christmas holiday.
Don’t just take my word for it though- come see and sample for yourself! On July 25th we’ll be celebrating Christmas in July- we’re so looking forward to the holiday season that we can’t possibly wait any longer. Stop by our market and taste samples of this year’s spectacular concoctions, see that intricate and delicate paperwork and ribbons adorning these beautiful parcels and pre-order some of your favorites.
This past April on a trip to VinItaly, Suzy and I snuck off for a day to indulge our sweet tooths with ...
Filled with toasty fregola sarda and delicious summer vegetables like sweet peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, Chef Simone’s panzanella is a classic summer cookout staple. The crisp vegetables offer a bright contrast to the tender cooked grains—Simone’s Summer Salad is the star of every BBQ.
SIMONE’S SUMMER SALAD
I cup raw Fregola Sarda
2 cups hot water
– Boil the water and cook the Fregola. Once tender, drain and let cool.
-Dice all the veggies and toss with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
-Once the Fregola is cool, mix with the prepped vegetables and sprinkle with fresh basil.
Filled with toasty fregola sarda and delicious summer vegetables like sweet peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, Chef Simone’s panzanella is a classic ...
ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off
3 stalks rhubarb – slightly shaved
2 cups pea shoots
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender. Slice into 1” pieces. Slice the rhubarb into matchsticks. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey. Toss asparagus and rhubarb with dressing in a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with pea shoots and lemon zest.
STRAWBERRY AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
1 pint strawberries sliced
4 cups baby arugula
10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off
Goat Lady Chevre
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender. Slice into 1” pieces. Put arugula in a serving bowl and add strawberries. Whisk together vinegar and olive oil – season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the arugula and strawberries. Top with dollops of goat cheese and almonds.
FAVA BEANS AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
1 pound fava beans shelled
3 Portobello Mushrooms cleaned
¼ pound aged pecorino shaved
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
Steam fava beans for 1-2 minutes (should still be bright green) remove from heat and put on ice to quick chill. Slice portobellos. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together mushrooms and cooled favas. Top with pecorino and serve.
ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
10 stalks asparagus - ends broken off
3 stalks rhubarb - slightly shaved
2 cups pea shoots
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup ...