Well, we’ve been here over a month now, and I’m sure you’re all dying to know what we’re eating in Florence. So I thought I’d give you the links to some of my favorite Tuscan recipes. On the menu for tonight is Tuscan White Bean Minestrone. I made this in a vegetarian version before we came to Italy, omitting the bacon (well, so not strictly vegetarian. I used my homemade chicken stock), but here in Italy they have 100 gram packages of cubed pancetta, so I use that, and it is delicious. Worth a trip to Trader Joe’s, where I believe they may also carry small packages of cubed pancetta. Along the same lines is this deliciously simple Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale . I’ve never actually put kale in it, since the closest I’ve found here is spinach, but it is tasty even without any greens. Yet another bean soup is Tuscan Farro and Bean soup. Farro is spelt, an ancient Etruscan grain, so I’d bet this recipe has been eaten around here for thousands of years. If you absolutely must, you can substitute barley, but only if you do something else Etruscan, like look at this amazing statue of the Chimera.
Since “Florentine” as a culinary suffix is equivalent to “with spinach,” I buy a large bag of spinach every week. We’ve had Eggs Florentine , except I used pancetta instead of smoked turkey, crespelles (crepes), which were to die for with the sheep ricotta they have here, and Ravioli Nudi (Naked Ravioli), which I confess I actually bought rather than made (every Saturday there’s fresh pasta at the cheesemonger’s).
As far as the more exotic, my only foray was Papardelle with Hare Sauce, which was not well received by the children.
In baking, we’ve made our traditional Conference Cookies, and some overnight-soaked biscuit Cinnamon Rolls, which probably saved us from pneumonia, because we ate them still warm as we trudged through the rain after getting off at the wrong bus stop on our way to Church. I’ve been wanting to make some overnight soaked cinnamon rolls, but haven’t been able to find yeast. Two days ago I was at the grocery store and asked about leavening. They had the regular assortment of expensive packets of baking powder (vanilla flavored for sweets, plain for pizza). But they also had, in the refrigerated section, nothing other than sourdough starter!!! The same kind they use to make their traditional Tuscan bread, which would be delicious if they put salt in it. So I bought some (29 cents for two little cubes of it), and now I’m deciphering Italian recipes for making bread with it. I’ll keep you posted!