From My Tuscan Window

Farro Soup Recipe from Shirley Dye

This recipe is similar to others except I use a few potatoes in the soup and I use canned beans instead of cooking the dried bean.

Chop these into small pieces and put into a large pot with the olive oil and sauté.

1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To this add:

1 3/4 cups water
2 cans red beans
1 large potato, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups farro
1 knorrs chicken bouillon cube salt and pepper

Add all of these to the sauté vegetable and cook until the farro is done, which is about 1 hour. If the mixture does not have enough liquid, add 1/2 cup more of water. When done, serve each bowl and add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the top of each serving.

Some recipes call for rosemary and sage and also some tomato, but I like this plain.

A good crusty bread goes well with this soup.

Elena’s Tomato Sauce
As Interpreted by Sue

While we were living in Italy for three years when George was in the U.S. Army, we met a wonderful Italian lady named Elena Quartieri who lived in Livorno with her beloved Doberman. She was a dear friend to the Americans stationed in a foreign country and tried to help them in any way she could. We were so grateful that Elena was willing to take care of our two parrots when we were on leave, and that she doted on our baby, Anne. During one visit, Elena taught me how to make tomato sauce, and I still use her recipe today. I have had to adapt the ingredients since returning to the United States because of availability of ingredients.

1 large onion
1 stalk of celery
3 tbsp.extra virgin Italian olive oil in which to sauté onion & celery
6 cans of whole, unsalted tomatoes, drained
5 carrots
2 tbsp. dried basil
Add spicy red pepper flakes to taste

1. Sauté chopped onion and celery in olive oil.

2. After opening the cans of tomatoes, drain liquid off and chop tomatoes into smaller pieces. Then, add tomatoes to onion and celery and continue to simmer.

3. Chop carrots and steam them until they are still crunchy. Add carrots to the tomato mixture.

4. Add 2 tbsp. basil (and spicy red pepper flakes to taste if you like arrabbiata sauce.)

5. Grind in a food chopper and serve over pasta.

Rosina’s Roast Turkey
As Interpreted by Sue

When George and I first moved into Casa Giorgio, we became acquainted with Rosina, the funny little woman who lived next door. She could often be seen walking through town carrying a heavy load of firewood on her head. When she laughed, it sounded like a witch’s cackle, and her laugh was infectious.

One day, George bought her some baby chicks so that she could eventually have fresh eggs to eat. Rosina was so grateful that she invited us into her kitchen and prepared a
turkey leg in her wood-burning oven for our family’s dinner. It was the best turkey I had ever eaten, and I have tried to follow her recipe which can be used for a whole turkey as well.

One fresh or thawed turkey (or leg or breast)
Garlic cloves
Fresh Rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil

Rosina cut tiny slits all over in the skin of the turkey and then inserted a sliver of garlic into each slit.

Next, with her hands, she rubbed the turkey with olive oil and then placed branches of fresh rosemary over it. I cover my turkey with aluminum foil after inserting a meat thermometer and then place it in a preheated oven.

Next comes the hard part—trying to decide how long to bake the turkey and at what
temperature. So, I would say just do what has worked for you in the past.

Emanuela's Minestra (Vegetable Soup)
As Interpreted by Kenneth

First, you must start an herb garden of rosemary, sage, basil, parsley, thyme, and a hot pepper plant. Good soup depends upon fresh herbs, and they are easy to grow. You can use dried herbs but they are not as good as the fresh.

When the herbs have grown enough to harvest a few leaves and a pepper or two, you are ready to make Italian soup.

Before traveling in Italy, we thought it was impossible to make good soup without a big “beef soup bone” but a soup bone is not necessary.

Start with beans, dried or canned. Dried will need to be soaked from six to eight hours. Overnight will do. If you do not have fresh tomatoes, a can or two of unsalted tomatoes will work.

From your herb garden, pick a few leaves from each of the different herbs. Chop very finely.

From the refrigerator or garden, collect all of the different vegetables you can find and cut up in little pieces. Potatoes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, hot peppers, rice, okra, squash, onions, and garlic.

Dice up an onion and a lot of garlic. Sauté in extra virgin olive oil.

Remember that different vegetables may require different cooking times.

I almost forgot the chicken broth. A Knorr’s chicken bouillon cube will do if you do not have a chicken.

Add the vegetables according to cooking time.

You may wish to add a little black pepper. Don’t kill the delicious flavor with a lot of salt.

You will need to experiment a little but when you get the proportions just right everyone will want your recipe.

Kenneth’s Risotto con Pepe Verde
(Rice with little green peppercorns)

Asparagus or zucchini are equally delicious.

Take a small onion, not too little or too big and cut it in half.

Chop the heck out of it. Little pieces that is.

Pour some olive oil in a big skillet. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil if you want real flavor. Italian is best.

Build a fire under the skillet, and stir in the little bitty pieces of onion. When the onion is slightly brown dump in a cup of rice for each two servings. If you have good luck, you may want more rice the next time.

You need Arborio rice, a special Italian short grained, soft rice. Ordinary American rice does not work very well.

Stir the mixture until the rice is coated with olive oil. Add a little oil if the rice is not completely coated.

Open up a bottle of Orvieto Secco (dry) white wine. If you are going to go the trouble making this dish do not use cheap wine. If you can’t find Orvieto Secco be sure the wine you use is very dry, not sweet. Brut Champagne works beautifully.

Pour a glass of wine to drink while stirring the rice.

Then pour about a cup of wine in the rice and stir. Add a little more, depending on how much you want left for drinking with your meal.

Now backing up. You will need a quart or more of hot chicken broth. A chicken dado (Knorrs Chicken Bouillon) dissolved in the hot water will work just as well if you do not have a chicken. Don't wait to this point to get the flavored water hot and ready. Do it early in the process.

Drink a little wine or Champagne as you stir the mixture. (Very important)

As the mixture cooks add the water one dipper at a time and stir almost constantly. If you run out of mixture use a little hot water and adjust the recipe for next time.

In about twenty minutes start tasting the rice for best texture. We like it al dente, a little chewy, that is.

Another sip of wine. Careful, not too much. Just a sip.

Always wait until you see the whites of the eyes of your guests before you start. This dish must be eaten within two minutes of completion.

For best results, guests should participate in the wine ritual while you stir and taste.

If you like the little green peppercorns put them in about five minutes before the rice is done. Zucchini about half way through. Asparagus stems early with heads later.

When the rice is just about right, dump in some Parmigiano grated cheese. 1/2 to 3/4 cup is just about right. No salt is necessary, as the Parmigiano is salty.

Turn off the fire, cover until you can't wait any longer, not more than two minutes. Serve on a warm plate.

Insalata mista (green mixed salad) is perfect as the second course. Cheese and fruit for desert. And, frankly, that is all you need for a perfect meal.

Mix the salad dressing as follows: A teaspoon or less of mustard, a little extra virgin olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, and a wee bit of honey. Delicious if you get the proportions to your liking.

If you have company you may need another bottle of wine.

If you are not successful it is entirely your fault. You drank much too much wine while you were stirring. The detailed measurements given in this recipe give perfect results if the cook is an expert!

Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
As prepared by Sue

This is a favorite family recipe because the dish is quick to prepare and delicious if you like spicy food.

Extra virgin olive oil -- enough to cover bottom of a frying pan
Garlic clove
Spicy red pepper flakes

Put olive oil in pan. Dice garlic into tiny pieces and sauté lightly. Add pepper flakes to
oil and garlic, and set aside. Our family likes lots of garlic and pepper flakes in the oil.

Heat a pot of water to boiling. Put in spaghetti, stir, and cook until it is al dente-- still a little chewy. Drain off water and add a little pasta at a time to the olive oil mixture in the
frying pan in order to coat each strand of spaghetti with the oil.

This dish goes well with a mixed salad.

Revised March 3, 2008
Copyright 2005-2006 George H. Russell
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