Archives For pane sciocco

Florence Market

At the market with Paolo.


Have you ever dreamed the Italian dream? Waking up, let’s say in Florence, on a Saturday morning; taking a stroll to the local market to buy fresh produce; making fresh pasta with your own hands; having an aperitivo with friends before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your culinary labours?

Last week, I was lucky enough to have been invited to live this experience in the capable hands of Eating Europe Food Tours and the Florence Food Studio at their cooking school in the authentic Santo Spirito quarter of the city. You may remember that last year I reviewed their excellent Other Side of Florence tour.

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tagliatelle sugo di noci



Simple, tasty, vegetarian, and good for you, this recipe is a traditional one here in the Tuscan province of Arezzo. It can also be made easily in under twenty minutes. What are you waiting for?

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Watch me make peposo, an amazing Tuscan winter warmer stew. This dish originated with the workers in the terracotta factories of Impruneta, near Florence, back in medieval times. Like them, I use a traditional terracotta pot, but you could make this in a slow cooker, or a normal dutch oven. Nowadays, some people add a small amount of tomato puree to this dish, but it was invented long before the arrival of the tomato in Italian cuisine. You need to cook this for a minumum of two to three hours: four, five, even six is better. The Tuscans eat this on top of a slice of toasted pane sciocco, which is unsalted, but any good rustic bread will do.


Peposo d’Impruneta

Serves 4
1kg (2 1/4 pounds) beef
18g (2/3 ounce) salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 liter (2 cups) Chianti
4 slices of Tuscan bread
  1. Put all the ingredients into a terracotta pot, dutch oven, or slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook in the oven at 150-160°C (300-320°F) for 2-3 hours.
  3. Toast the bread and serve the stew on top.

What’s your favourite winter warmer dish?

Chestnut and truffle soup

When I started this blog, I decided to call it Chestnuts and Truffles because these are the two major local products here in this corner of Tuscany. In fact the name Marrone di Caprese Michelangelo, (marrone being a cultivated chestnut) is protected in Italy with a DOP status. I could easily have called it Chestnuts and Mushrooms, or Chestnuts and Wild Boar, because those things are in abundance here too: but I also had in mind a signature soup recipe that I developed a while back and which I am going to share with you today.

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Crostini Toscani


If you go into any restaurant in Tuscany and look on the menu, under antipasto you’ll find crostini. Rather akin to bruschetta,crostini are slices of Tuscan bread, lightly toasted, and then loaded up with a wide variety of toppings of which chopped tomatoes with basil is only the beginning. The usual suspects are, fresh tomatoes or tomato paste, chicken liver pate, and salsa della nonna (grandma’s sauce) a kind of mixed vegetable sandwich spread.

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