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!

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.

 

Tuscan summer appetizer? Here you are.

One of the great gifts that a good summer can offer us is delicious fruits like figs.

There are good just as they are, sweet, soft and juicy, but you can try them in one of the many simple recipes that our ancient tradition in Tuscany can propose.

This following dish is easy to prepare, fulfilling and delicate to the palate. You can use it as a starter or just a snack with a good glass of tuscan wine.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 slices of tuscan saltless bread

4 ripe medium figs

4 slices of pecorino toscano medium age

2 slices of tuscan ham

Acacia or chestnut honey

Cut bread in 2 cm thick slices, cover each with a slice of pecorino and place on top a quarter fig.

Place the prepared bread slices under hot oven’s broiler until the cheese starts to melt.

Meanwhile, cut in thin stripes the ham and put it in a hot non-stick pan and let it get a little crunchy, then set aside.

Once the cheese is melted, take the slices of out the oven and top them with the crunchy ham and a little honey.

Enjoy!

 

Tuscan summer vegetable soup

We have in the past proposed the classic recipe of Ribollita, the tuscan vegetable soup popular throughout Tuscany.
This is the summer version, where all ingredients are fresh with the full flavors of the seasonal herbs, plus the delicate aroma of the tuscan sheep cheese. Try and make it, the round full taste of tuscan summer will come alive with every spoon you have.

Ingredients for 4 people:

300 gr fresh borlotti beans
150 gr potatoes
200 gr zucchini
200 gr carrots
400 gr black kale
1 large onion
1 garlic clove
2 celery stalks
250 gr fresh tomatoes
250 gr. tuscan bread slices
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ liter of vetable broth
aged tuscan pecorino cheese
thyme
parsley
basil
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, saute onion, celery and carrot in olive oil.

Add diced potatoes, garlic, coarsely chopped black kale, parsley, basil, fresh beans, salt and pepper, and saute gently a little more.

Add then the chopped tomatoes previously peeled, and vegetable broth.

Cook on medium heat for about 1 hour and until most of the liquid is reduced.

Toast the tuscan bread slices..

Put them in a large baking pan, sprinkle with olive oil, pepper and grated pecorino cheese.

Cover them completely with the vegetable stew, sprinkle on top a generous amount of grated pecorino cheese and cook in the oven under broiler until a good crust is formed.

Let it sit out of the oven for at least half hour. Best served lukewarm.