Uncategorised

Panettone aPlenty

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 ...

Liam’s Pecorino, Garlic and Oregano Fries

Nothing goes better with a juicy burger than a pile of hot, crispy and perfectly golden French fries. Unless, of course, you happen to have Chef Liam’s recipe for homemade fries with pecorino, garlic and oregano. Those might top the list.

FRENCH FRIES WITH PECORINO, GARLIC AND OREGANO
INGREDIENTS

3 each russet potatoes, large

2 T chopped fresh oregano

1 T chopped fresh garlic

2 T fresh grated Pecorino Romano

Fryer oil, or canola oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

     DIRECTIONS

Wash potatoes, keep skin on. Square off the potato by cutting it to form four sides. Proceed to cut ½ inch slices then cut into strips.

Place a colander in a bowl. Place fries in the colander and run cold water continuously(it will fill up with water)  over the fries till the water starts to run clear. This is removing any starchy sugars.

-Strain the potatoes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep saucepan for frying to 300F. Add strained potatoes to the fryer and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from fryer and place on sheet tray and let cool.

-Heat fryer up to 375…Then fry the fries again. Cook till crispy. Put in a bowl with the herbs, garlic, cheese and salt and pepper and toss. Serve immediately.

Nothing goes better with a juicy burger than a pile of hot, crispy and perfectly golden French fries. Unless, of course, you happen ...

The Burger…

I have a love-hate relationship with burgers. As a chef I can’t stand them. As a chef getting off from work and drinking a Miller High Life or 5, I love them.  I mean I love the simple kind. Not the hand massaged, stressed free, pork fat infused, steak sauce marinated, fines herb buttered, pampered pucks of organic grass and hopp fed hipster beef.  

I prefer the pan fried, steroid pumped, corn fed, fatty as hell, indulged pucks of beef that are pan fried till nicely caramelized and topped with a proper cheese. If it’s two thin patties, even better. But what I really like about these types of burgers is the proper beef to bun ratio. Not too much bread, just enough mass to harness the beef and soak up all of that delicious fat and Champagne of beers.

So, it’s always a challenge to put a great burger on the menu, even harder if half of your adult life you have worked in Italian kitchens.  What we ended up with is a truffled taleggio-stuffed shortrib burger with aioli, beefsteak tomatoes and crispy guanciale on a brioche bun, available during DC Burger Week (July 22-29). It’s a cheesy, rich, delicious mess—in the best way possible.

Almost makes me rethink my fast food burger. 

BURGERWEEK-2

 

I have a love-hate relationship with burgers. As a chef I can’t stand them. As a chef getting off from work and ...

Letter from Studio Geribi

Deruta, located in Umbria (center of Italia), 150km from Rome and 15km from Perugia, is a middle town in the hill famous for the production of ceramics. At Via Umbria, we sell a range of ceramics that are imported from Studio Geribi in Deruta, owned by Gerardo and Assunta Ribigini.

unnamed-1

From Gerardo:

My father Pasquale, in 1956 together with 27 partners, founded a cooperative to maintain alive the company named Maioliche Deruta. There were more than 200 employees and my father was the president for 7 years, until 1962 when he retired.

The company ceased the activity in 1978, and I worked there as a painter and designer from 1969 to 1975 when I left to serve in the Navy.

In 1978 I started my company Geribi and met my future wife Assunta who joined me the same year. At the time, Assunta was working in a factory making compositions of dried flowers (ikebana-like). She not only learned to paint, but she began (and still does) to create new designs for the ceramics. Assunta made a lot of new designs that are inspired by the antique production with a new powerful color.

Our daughter Claudia joined us after her graduation in art history. She added a modern touch that meets the taste of the new generations.

After his graduation in art history, our son Federico spent some months as a potter and as a painter with us (but most of the time he was studying game programming and web design).

unnamed-2

For some years we worked to serve retailers in Assisi, Orvieto, Urbino, Firenze and few others. Then we met an Italo-Australian young guy who wanted to open a shop in Sydney and from a couple of large boxes we ended up to ship 6 containers a year for their seven shops around Australia and New Zealand.
In 1994 we opened a shop in the piazza. There we met for the first time, Suzy and Bill Menard who fell in love with our ceramics.

This is one for example, is one of her unique master piece, completely hand painted. It’s possible to buy in our store in Georgetown or order online here.

unnamed

Deruta, located in Umbria (center of Italia), 150km from Rome and 15km from Perugia, is a middle town in the hill famous ...

Assunta’s Insalata di Riso

Insalata di riso is a typical summer dish in Italy, where the summers are hot and turning on the stove is avoided at all costs. Quick and refreshing, it’s infinitely adaptable to fit whatever you have on hand. Assunta, co-owner of Studio Geribi, sent over her family’s favorite recipe so that we might all enjoy summer the Italian way.

 

INSALATA DI RISO
INGREDIENTS

1 cup rice

4 hard boiled eggs

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/3 cup cucumbers

1/4 cup celery

1/2 cup peppers

1 large carrot

1/3 cup fennel

1/2 cup olives (in oil or fresh)

1/3 cup artichokes (in oil)

1/2 cup mushrooms (in oil)

1/3 onion (in vinegar)

Salt to taste

 

     DIRECTIONS

Place a large tray in the refrigerator to chill (you’ll need this later).

-Add rice to a pot of boiling, salted water. 2-3 minutes before the rice is fully cooked, drain and let it cool on the tray that you chilled in the fridge.

-Meanwhile, wash and clean all the vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Once the rice has cooled, add it to the fresh vegetables, followed by  the ingredients in oil and vinegar.

-Add the two tablespoons of mayonnaise and the egg. Mix carefully, trying not to damage the hard boiled eggs.

-Season with salt to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Insalata di riso is a typical summer dish in Italy, where the summers are hot and turning on the stove is avoided ...

Chiara’s Green Bean Pesto Recipe

This vibrant green bean pesto is a delicious twist on a classic. Use it generously on your pasta or as a spread on bruschetta—it goes particularly well with fresh, creamy burrata.


GREEN BEAN PESTO
INGREDIENTS

500g green beans

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 garlic clove

Juice of 1 lime

Handful of mint

     DIRECTIONS

-Wash and remove the sides of the green beans and then cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain into a colander.

– In a blender, combine drained green beans with lime juice, garlic, mint, pepper and olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy.

 

This vibrant green bean pesto is a delicious twist on a classic. Use it generously on your pasta or as a spread on ...

Chiara and Marco’s Umbria

It’s summer at La Fattoria del Gelso and we are ready to host you in this awesome place in the green heart of Italy. We said summer and that means pool, drinks, fresh food and relaxing. We had this combination a couple of days ago and now it’s time to share with the guests. The farmhouse is ready with its flowers and this year we’re lucky to have a wonderful golden wheat crop set against the cozy sunset each evening. Like every summer, the chicken coop is full of friends: hens, guinea fowls, geese, ducks and our beautiful rooster (he is a good fellow, he understands that he can’t bother us early in the morning!)

Another beautiful corner is our garden. The asparagus has just finished, but a good substitution has just arrived: green beans are now the king of La Fattoria del Gelso. And we can’t wait for the tomatoes and potatoes that are coming next. And since we are in Cannara, we can’t miss garlic and onion. So… we have good weather, a good location, good food and what else? Of course good wine is always with us.

unnamed

Next week we’ll have our typical pizza night and we are going to try our new favorite pizza: mozzarella, fresh stracciatella, anchovies and truffle! What? Did someone say truffle? Yes, we did. This year we have a new member in our family: Google, the truffle dog! Google and Marco go truffle hunting every morning and they are doing a great job. A lot of people are coming and we are ready to host them on tours, private dinners, cooking classes or whatever they might ask.

unnamed-2

We try to do our best to give you an unforgettable experience in Umbria.

Chiara and Marco

It's summer at La Fattoria del Gelso and we are ready to host you in this awesome place in the green heart ...

Jennifer’s Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms Recipe

This gorgeous arrangement of fresh zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and parmigiano is accented with bright cherry tomatoes and scented with lemon and basil. It’s a dish that never fails to impress—both for how gorgeous it is and how shockingly simple it is to prepare.

FIORI DI ZUCCA RIPIENI
INGREDIENTS

about 15 zucchini flowers
500g (1lb) ricotta
1/2 c grated parmigiano reggiano
1 T lemon zest
2 T chopped basil
1 t salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil (+ more for drizzling)

1 c sliced cherry tomatoes

     DIRECTIONS

-Carefully pull the stamens out of all the flowers

-Mix the ricotta, parmigiano, lemon zest, basil and olive oil. Carefully stuff into the blossoms.

-Place the blossoms in a baking pan. Scatter the tomatoes around and sprinkle with a little salt and extra virgin olive oil.
-Bake in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

 

This gorgeous arrangement of fresh zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and parmigiano is accented with bright cherry tomatoes and scented with lemon ...

Jennifer’s Umbria

My Family Farms of Montefalco Tour has been a big hit so far this season.  In addition to a wonderful tasting of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses from a young local farmer, we visit two local farms and meet all of the animals – from chickens and ducks to rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats and cows!  We also take a stroll through the borgo of Montefalco, always stopping at the Pardi linen store – a visit to their neighboring winery completes the day!

unnamed (1)

unnamed (4)

unnamed (2)

For a more active day, nothing beats a horseback ride though the vineyards of the Terre Margaritelli winery followed by a long winery lunch or a cycling tour through the Umbrian valley with a picnic lunch in the countryside!

unnamed (9)

unnamed (13)

unnamed (12)

unnamed (11)

unnamed (10)

Discover the best that the neighboring Umbrian villages have to offer!  I have designed my Tasting Tours of Bevagna, Spello and Perugia to explore all of the hidden secrets from the best salami producer to the original Perugian chocolates!

Suzy and Bill say:

“Jennifer has been working closely with all of the local farmers for 12 years—for a multi-course feast  at the Farmhouse using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients, reserve her to cook a special dinner for your guests!”

My Family Farms of Montefalco Tour has been a big hit so far this season.  In addition to a wonderful tasting of ...

What’s New In Umbria? (Part One)

Le Delizie del Borgo is my restaurant in Bevagna inside the park, Filippo Silvestri.

I am Simone Proietti Pesci, the chef of the restaurant and when you come to visit me in Bevagna you can taste the real Umbrian cuisine.

The park is a special place to eat. We have table outside under the shadow of the trees and beautiful light during the evening. Some of our favorite dishes right now are handmade pasta with local fresh truffles, porcini mushroom salad and pasta with fava beans.

We have planted a garden in the backyard of the restaurant.  We have aromatic herbs and all the veggies come from our garden.

We are available for  cooking classes and private dinners in the restaurant and also at Bill and Suzy’s farmhouse, la Fattoria del Gelso, where you can celebrate your weddings and special events.  This summer we are hosting our first wedding at their farmhouse (can’t wait to share the photos with you!)

During the summer we have music in the park.  July 7th we have a concert and dinner, July 22nd a Jazz trio with dinner and the end of August Lola Swing will be playing.

Come party with us in the park.

Simone

Quick Summer Salads

ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
INGREDIENTS

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

1T honey

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

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
INGREDIENTS

1 pint strawberries sliced

4 cups baby arugula

10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off

Goat Lady Chevre

Marcona Almonds

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

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
INGREDIENTS

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

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

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 INGREDIENTS 10 stalks asparagus - ends broken off 3 stalks rhubarb - slightly shaved 2 cups pea shoots ¼ cup lemon juice ¼  cup ...