It’s official- my favorite summer vegetable are zucchini and especially their flowers. In Florence they seem to be around most of the year as I see them in the fall and in the spring. I wonder if there are some greenhouses responsible for year-round zucchini (or courgette) but the natural summer ones generously blossomed by blistering heat are the ones I tend to fawn over. Before any Italian puts a bounty on my head, zucchini are “zucchine” in Italian but since I speak American English I’ll still refer to them as “zucchini.”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe and have been reluctant to do so amidst all the chef-quality blogs and professional food photographers out there! But I thought hey! why not? There is no end-all, be-all food blog, right? There’s space even for humble soups!
I used to hate soups and hate making them, until I learned some secrets and tips that one of my dear chef friends (Melissa Miranda, who used to cook at Vivanda in Florence and now does fascinating Fillippino/Italian fusion pop-ups via Il Vizietto) and Florentine cooks taught me. Mostly, I learned to bundle aromatic herbs and throw into stock pot and/or Parmesan rinds (Heather of Merry Feast recently wrote a great post about not wasting Parmesan rinds), not tossing kale stalks, using sale grosso (chunkier, kitchen salt) to help make a soffritto sweat out flavor, and if adding dry cannellini beans, to not cook them at a roaring boil otherwise they’ll blister/wrinkle. Also, another trick I love to making a better textured soup is to use an immersion blender to blend a corner of the soup, not all of it but just enough to give a puree’ base.
Is this your first time reading Curious Appetite? If the answer is no, and you already follow on facebook and instagram, then you’ll know how obsessed I am with pistachios!
It all started when a fiery Sicilian-American woman met an Iranian guy with a ‘fro in a club back in the early 80’s. A few years later they made me and ever since, I was exposed to many exotic flavors as a result of being born to a Sicilian/American mother and an Iranian pop. Continue Reading →
If you love Florence, chances are you also love the food. I mean, I can’t think of better moments than devouring something delicious like a truffle panini at Procacci with a glass of prosecco along tragically fashionable Via Tornabuoni or sitting elbow to elbow at a bustling trattoria, wolfing down ribollita, bistecca and chianti immersed in old world soul. This city, with all its imperfections, really leaves an impression on every single person who visits. And if it doesn’t, that person isn’t awake to little joys of life. You live here (like me) because you love the lifestyle. Part of that romanticism comes from the food. Continue Reading →
This big ol’ blob of red mush is one of my favorite things to make in the winter: ragu’. When serving ragu’, you “should” toss the sauce with all the pasta before plating. I on the other hand like mixing it all in the serving plate, I guess its that kid in me that enjoys playing with food. Instead of beef and/or pork, I used Elk sausage I found at Uli’s in Pike Place Market in Seattle (since I’m visiting for the winter). Why Elk? Out of curiosity, of course! I’ve been happy with wild boar in the past and wanted to experiment. If you are in Italy, you can try deer or cervo for a similar game-y effect.
Oh! And did you know that there is a deeper meaning to the term: ragu’? According to The Gourmet Wino, “the word ragu is a derivative of the french verb ragouter which means “to stimulate appetite.” In Italy, “Ragu” it is a staple tomato based meat sauce cooked/simmered for hours with celery, onions, carrots, wine and garlic and is traditional to the north of Italy, but also in the central region of Tuscany.”
Regions have variations on ragu’, like in Bologna they are known to add a cinnamon stick to the pot’ o meat and in Tuscany, there are historical variations such as “ragu bianco” which was common during Medieval and Renaissance times, made without tomatoes since tomatoes did not become strongly apart of the Italian food repertoire until later. Continue Reading →