Curious Appetite

Recipes

3 easy recipe ideas for artichokes

photo by Tracy Russo

In Italy artichokes are a big deal. They are beautiful, delicious and full of amazing health benefits and are extremely versatile culinarily-speaking.

Roman cuisine probably gets most of the diva attention for their thistles, and rightly so. They have plenty of culinary uses in Roman cuisine, the most famed being from the Roman Jewish repertoire,ย carciofi alla giudia (Jewish deep fried artichokes, traditionally served after Yom Kippur but eaten joyously by all when in season). If you are in Florence and love carciofi alla giudia, Club Culinario da Osvaldo in Santa Croce pays them due justice even if outside of Rome. Worth knowing is this artichoke currently experiencing some controversy as Israel’s chief Rabbinate declared the dish non-kosher.ย 

In Florence, artichokes may not have fascinating recipes steeped in deep cultural history like Rome’s, but they are nonetheless present and important to Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. They are commonly found in traditional trattorias quartered, battered and fried with a squeeze of lemon. At home they are made into sughetti (sauces) for pasta, carciofi ritti (upright artichokes doused in lemon, herbs, pancetta and garlic) and are cooked along with a variety of meat dishes, such as involtini (meat-rolls), arrosta in crosta (crusted roast meats), etc. Continue Reading

{recipe!} Turmeric & Ginger rich Tuscan-inspired chili soup

 

Tuscan-inspired chili? Whatever could this mean?

There’s is a lot of debate of what makes a chili a chili, but to me a chili is a hearty bean & ground meat soup with spicy chili and some tomato. While this has no tomato and neither chili apart from dried chili flakes, the depth in spice is derived instead from raw turmeric root and ginger root. And instead of ground beef, this recipe calls for ground turkey which I order in advance from Luca Menoni at the Sant’Ambrogio market. Just call Luca up and let them know how much you want- 500grams (half-kilo) is minimum and I suggest getting a kilo, divided in 2 packs, one vacuum packed so you can throw in the freezer for later!

How’d ya get raw turmeric root in Florence? La Raccolta health food store in Sant’Ambrogio!

Ginger root is a thing in Florence so you can find it pretty much everywhere, albeit questionable in quality. However, the best roots can be found in Sant’Ambrogio from the sole Asian food stand, also Naturasi and La Raccolta for organic ginger. Continue Reading

{recipe!} Tuscan (chickpea) ceci & market romanesco soup

I love making soups. Especially after a cooking lesson with one of my chef friends Melissaย of Musang Seattle (trained in Florence, now off doing badass things like cooking at the James Beard House, bringing Filipino flavor to Seattle’s pop-up scene and winning cooking battles on TV).

I detailed our little lesson in this post, and they are memories which have always stuck with me. My soup and risotto game haven’t been the same since. I’ve always believed in Melissa’s special touch and skill, a cook with soul and a rare kind of heart in the kitchen. Whenever I make soup, religiously using the tips she taught me in my once kitchen which gazed the Duomo from dusk till dawn, I hope to impart at least a small apart of soul the way she does in her food.

As I have mentioned a few times now on the blog, my intention is to share more healthy, seasonal recipes using what I find at the markets in Florence. I hope you enjoy this Tuscan-sourced vegetable forward soup pulsing with ceci (chickpeas). Pronounced “che-chi.” Continue Reading

{recipe} Pasta with Shrimp & Zucchini Blossoms (fiori di zucca)

love love love sant’ambrogio market

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.”

I lead market food tours in Florence and one of the first things I point out to people is to take note of the zucchini flowers in the markets, and the visible quality of the produce in general. Continue Reading

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