Monday, May 11, 2015

A Few Last Moments In The Kitchen, Umbria

  Still here for a few more minutes….which means a few more bites.
  I do enjoy making a simple meal…and have had some good opportunities with some great ingredients!
  Take some locally baked bread, a few olives and good local pecorino cheese….You have a lunch to write home about!

No, I didn't make this bounty..
A wonderful local baker did. Thanks, Lia!

Just add olives, marmalade and pecorino...A perfect lunch.

  I do a lot of veg roasting. It's easy, and there's always something yummy to roast just a few moments away at the local market up the street.

  This year, we also purchased a couple of weeks of veg boxes from the local CSA, Sticky Farm. One included a nice head of Romanesco broccoli and half of a big cabbage, among other goodies.

  A nice match up, roasted veg and coleslaw!

Romanesco broccoli is one of my favorites.
Roasted with garlic, of course.



  Another night, I added some tomatoes from the market, goods from the CSA box and left over local bread for a dinner of salad and more roasted veg. 
  What can I say, roasting is just too simple, helps warm up the house and tastes so damn great.

Tomatoes from Yolanda's market..

Potatoes and fennel from Sticky Farm CSA.
Thanks, Ruth & Tonino!!

Salad with home made croutons from Lia's bread...

One plate of goodness from many local hands...

  It seems like I didn't cook as much at home here in Umbria this year, But Johnny says I did. Maybe it's the wine…? I'm just glad I did take a some shots of things when I remembered to get out the camera.

  Anyway, one of the CSA boxes had leeks, which I must admit…I don't cook with much. 
  Well, why not roast them, too? Split down the middle, drizzle with olive oil. 
  Best. Thing. Ever.

  With carrots and potatoes, more coleslaw for good crunch. Dinner. Done.

More goodness from the market and CSA.
I will be using leeks a lot more, friends.

  Ok, it's not all roasted vegetables, honest…we do love our pasta, right?

  I got into making sauce from the jars of tomato puree that our dear friend/hostess Katia gave us. What a wonderful gift…
  I liked making a sweet/spicy sauce, with a little cinnamon, red pepper flakes and even cabbage chopped with onions. Throw in some herbs from my little "stoop garden", and it was a most tasty treat.

I'll be making this sauce back home, but it
won't be the same without Katia's tomatoes!

Served super simple with penne pasta and good parmesan cheese, of course.

  Sometimes we'll just get some fresh pasta and sauce, this time trofie and pesto, from Linda's market. So close…it only takes a minute to walk there. Ad some rucola with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil…parmesan again, and it's a five minute dinner that tastes like heaven:

  One evening, we got to our house and found an exceptional gift…wild asparagus, ready to be made into something special.
  Ok! I'm up for a challenge!

Thanks, Katia! 

  These wild asparagus are so tasty, but they tend to be pretty woody at the back end. I just trimmed them down, saved the inedible bits for broth, and went ahead with a leek and asparagus pasta.
  Never made it before, but why not try?

  I chopped up the leeks and the trimmed out asparagus and tossed in a pan with olive oil...

  After cooking down for awhile, I added some cream. Yes, cream…and I mean heavy cream. Hey, I'm on holiday, right?


  Toss with a pasta shape you love, throw some parmesan on top, and you have dinner. Tasty, tasty, dinner.

Seriously good…I must say.

  And the eggs…Love the eggs.
  Again, thanks Katia. All our eggs came from Katia's grandmother, and her chickens. Love these ultra orange and yellow eggs. 
  One night, I thought I'd make a big omelet to share between Johnny and I. It started out great...

Onions, tomatoes,  pecorino cheese, a little garlic..toss in the scrambled eggs..

  Somewhere along the line (perhaps after a glass or two of wine) I realized I was kind of burning the bottom? But, oh was it good!

Some would say burned.
I say caramelized…In a very good way.

  There were lots of frittatas, of course...

Agretti, yellow pepper, onions and cheese. Yum.

  But as the season changed well into spring, we went crazy over our fava bean and pecorino nights.
  We love this local tradition of peeling the fava beans, eating them raw with young pecorino and a little salt. Olive oil is always a nice add on. Everything is fresh and raw. Nice.

  Our addition to the party was honey from Sticky Farm and a nice fig jam, too.

The espresso cup holds Maldon salt I brought from home.
A very nice touch.

Some friends eat the whole bean, but I always take the outer skin off.
I just nick it with my thumb nail and squeeze out the "pea" inside.

The remains of a pile of fava beans.
A perfect light meal.

  Writing this now, I am in bed in a hotel in Florence. Last night in Italy for now. Head home tomorrow.
  Lots more to blog about over the next months…lots of food posts on the way.
  Thanks, Umbria. Miss you already!!
  See you soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Market Watch, My Way

    We sure look forward to the various weekly markets here in Umbria…In our area, there is a an outdoor market somewhere nearby pretty much every day of the week. We generally head to the local market in Tavernelle, about a ten minute drive from us.
  We will go to other markets, too, just for fun and variety. There really are so many to choose from. I may not even buy anything…I just get a kick out of walking through all the vendors to see what's up.
  You never know when you'll come across something you've never seen.

  Much like the local markets back home, you will find all kinds of fresh produce. Though most is local, some of the fruit and veg come up from the southern areas of Italy, like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. It's warm enough there now to grow these beauties.

I could smell the sweet fragrance of strawberries way before we saw this stand...

Shelling peas was a big job this week!

Lovely colors…And the first time we saw eggplant this season.

How many varieties of purple artichokes are there?

It's all about fava beans right now, and they are such a deal here.

  Besides produce, most markets will have cheeses, meats, breads, etc.
  A favorite is the porchetta trucks. There is a whole roasted pig, head and all, stuffed with an herb mixture. The vendors will slice off meat, and serve it in a simple white bun. Being vegetarian, I've never tried it. The skin is all crackled, and people go nuts over it.
  Also available... fish, cured meats, cheeses and even live baby chicks and ducklings. It makes me sort of sad…but also makes for good photos...

I forget that the sea is only a short distance away.

Not my thing, but….popular here.

Ummm….well…somebody must like it.

Yes, we will buy some cheese now and again. 

Yes, please.
This stuff never makes it home.

  These local markets are like having Target come to town for the day….they have just about everything. It's pretty cool.
  They almost all have one or more plant vendors, and I have bought lots of annual flowering plants from them...

The bigger markets have cut flowers, too, like we have at home...

  This past week, the old guys were buying tons of veggie starts..lots of tomatoes and such. Flats and flats for their home gardens.

We don't see nursery vendors at our farmer's markets at home.
I think it would be cool.

  Again, like a Target type store, you will find all sorts of stuff for the home…not furniture, but just about everything else, it seems...

Tons of kitchen items...

Stuff for sewing and knitting, even!

Drapes, carpets, towels and such….
Quality varies.

  We always buy a few scarves for gifts and for ourselves. I also like to check out the clothes vendors.
  This week I bought two very light weight shirts…it's gotten warm and muggy, and I needed something really light for our last days here. The markets have great deals on things...

There are always…and I mean always…scarves.
Lots of scarves.

Also leather goods….

New clothes and used, as well.
The used clothes are always piled on tables..these are new things.

The men's department.

And for the ladies….
I can't imagine buying my girlie things here, I gotta say.

  Then you've got the shoes. 
  The women love the shoes….

  And there are loads of shoes for men, too…in all kinds of colors. 
  Johnny goes nuts, and always comes home with at least one pair of new shoes.
  But he is the clotheshorse of this family, that's for sure.

Oh, yeah.

The girl version of these come in way more flashy colors,
but they were not out here for some reason.

Don't know if these are the real deal, but I sure do love all the pretty colors.
Like candy.

  Just another fun day or two at the local markets.
  Can't wait for the next one…but I guess that will be next year.
  Oh, wait…I think there's one Friday in Pienza……we'll still be here…hmmmmm.