A tuscan dessert you have to taste… and taste..

A typical dessert of traditional nothern Tuscan cuisine, mainly the Lucca and Pistoia mountains, the Necci are basically made from chestnut’s flour and ricotta cheese. They look like pancakes and they were traditionally cooked between two hot iron plates.

necci and ricotta

photo courtesy intoscana.it

Here follows our recipe.

Ingredients:
500 gr of chestnuts flour
200 gr of sheep ricotta cheese
75 gr of white sugar
50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
50 ml of dry white wine
Salt
20 ml of dark rhum
40 gr of icing sugar

Directions
In a bowl beat the ricotta with the sugar until frothy. In another bowl, whisk chestnut’s flour, wine, a little trickle of oil, sugar and a pinch of salt.
When the mixture becomes homogeneous, warm up on the stove a non stick pan with a few drop of oil and grease through with a paper towel. When hot enough, pour in a small ladle of the compound, shaking the pan to have the compoud well distributed and cook.
When the top side whitens, flip over the neccio and cook until it gets golden. Repeat the procedure for each crepe starting from greasing the pan.

With all the necci in a tray, stuff each of them with the ricotta cream, roll them up on themselves and sprinkle on top a few drops of dark rum and some icing sugar.

Best served warm. Enjoy!

Cooked Water ? Not really, a tuscan simple recipe

From the old tradition of tuscan farmers of using everything available around the house and garden, comes the recipe of Acqua Cotta (means cooked water) from southern Tuscany, where stale bread was recycled making with it a tasty soup.

Ingredients (serving 4 people):

2 celery stalks chopped
4 medium-sized white onions finely chopped
2 eggs
400 gr of tomato pulp
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt
chili pepper (powder)
100 gr pecorino cheese
400 gr of tuscan bread (stale or toasted)
1,5 liters of water or broth

Directions
In a large pan put onions and celery, add the oil and let it sautee, when the onions are golden (not brown), add the tomato pulp and water, salt and chili to taste, and cook slowly, until the celery is tender.
After about 25-30 mins it should be cooked, at this stage add two eggs that were earlier beaten with the pecorino cheese, wait 3 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally then remove from the heat.
Cut the bread into thin slices and place in a bowl, pour over the broth mixture and serve hot with some extra grated cheese on top, in each plate.

Buon Appetito!

Befanini the Tuscan Christmas cookies

Around this time of the year the flavors of the befanini cookies is unmistakable in our homes, bakeries and pastry shops. These cookies once available for the Epifany celebration of January the 6th, have become the most popular biscuit that welcomes the holiday season in Tuscany.
Let’s see how to prepare them with the recipe we inherited from grandma.befaniniphoto Aurelio Barattini

Ingredients

500 gr of white flour
300 gr white sugar
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla essence
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
200 gr of butter
pinch of salt
grated skin of 2 oranges
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of Rhum
colored sugars to decorate

In a bowl combine 3 eggs with sugar and whisk well, then slowly add, while mixing, the melted (and cooled) butter, salt, grated orange skins, rhum, and baking powder.
On a separate surface combine the previous mix with the flour and knead well (in case the dough is too firm help yourself with a little milk). Wrap the dough in a cloth or aluminum foil and let it cool in the fridge for an hour.
Roll out the dough to about 3 to 5 millimeters thick. cut cookie shapes as you wish, can be little stars, christmas trees… and place them on oven tray.
Beat the remaining egg and brush each cookie, add the colored sugars on top and bake in a 180° preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool, they keep well in a glass jar for a couple of weeks (if nobody finds out where the jar is !)

 

Get your slice of tuscan bischeri pie and all is well!

This recipe made of short crust pastry basket filled with chocolate, rice, raisins and pine nuts comes from the culinary tradition of the Pisa area, and the bischeri are the name of the pastry tips that stick out from the cake. Original recipe was started in the Valdiserchio area and used for celebration days or local catholic festivities because its richness of flavourful aromas and fullness of taste made everybody cheerful.

This is the version we make at home.

Ingredients for the dough:

300 gr of flour

250 gr of sugar

70 gr of melted butter

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of baking soda

¼ lemon zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

20 gr of Strega liqueur (or rhum)

In a bowl mix all the above ingredients and work until a firm ball of dough is formed, then wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge.

Meanwhile prepare the filling with the following ingredients:

100 gr of dark chocolate

70 gr of short grain rice

150 gr of milk

30 gr of cocoa powder

150 gr of sugar

60 gr of candied cedar

60 gr of candied orange

40 gr of pine nuts

40 gr of raisins (pre-soaked in warm water)

½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1 large egg

Boil the rice in milk until well cooked, turn off the heat, discard any excess of liquid and add the dark chocolate in small chunks, mix until the chocolate is all melted and let it cool completely.

In a bowl add to the rice-chocolate mix all the rest of ingredients, stir well and set aside.

Pre-heat oven at 180°. Retrieve the dough from the fridge and split it in 2 pieces, the larger should be about 2 thirds of the whole pastry, roll this out in a large dish that has to cover bottom and sides of a baking pan, previously folded with non-stick paper foil, allowing some pastry to go a little over the pan edge. Now do some oblique cuts on the edge of the pastry at regular distance, and bend the cut part to form little triangles.

Spread evenly all the filling into the dough surface, and with the remaining dough rolled out cut in 2 cm strips, create a grid on top of the filling.

Bake for 50 minutes, remove from the oven and let it cool, Buon Appetito.

 

Squash or Pumpkin, in Tuscany are tastier !

It’s fall again, and colorful squash are available anywhere in Tuscany. They are celebrated in many food festivals around the region, where they are served as main ingredient for several types of recipes that range from starters to main dishes, soups and desserts.

zucche

Here is a nutritious tuscan soup that can be a fulfilling main dish.

Ingredients for 4 people:

250 gr slices of tuscan toasted saltless bread

½ kilo of winter squash

2 carrots

1 small onion

2 celery stalks

400 gr of boiled cannellini beans

300 gr of black kale

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Prepare a sautee with finely chopped carrots, onion and celery in 3 spoons of olive oil.

Puree the boiled beans and add them to the pan together with their water.

Now add to the pot the kale and pumpkin cut into small pieces with some salt and pepper.   Bring to boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve with toasted bread and seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil (for extra flavor you can instead use a little olive oil and sautee briefly in a small pan with a finely chopped garlic clove and a few rosemary leafs… to pour on top of the dish).

Buon Appetito!

Recipe by Arianna & Friends, for your hands on cooking classes in Tuscany, try the difference!