Monday, October 27, 2014

#Pisa, how to prepare Tuscan cookies #Cantuccini with planetary o hand blender: an easy recipe step by step from our cooking classes to your kitchen abroad


Those who love the Tuscan cooking have never tried to make this tipycal almond biscuits? If we also consider the fact that they are really easy ... well, the answer is definitely: a few, very few.  

PicMonkey Photo
1 Cut coarsely almonds
Yet when we prepare them they're never good: hard we can hammer a nail, or limp, almost chewy, too sweet, not sweet, burnt, undercooked, too dry ... you can follow the most famous recipe, your grandmother's one, your aunt's ... there is always something to take for granted, something that escapes.
Here, a few days ago I
decided to try some of the recipes that I like more to prepare these cookies; I revisited them by my way and cantuccini have gone out of really super loose and just as I like. I marked all the passages, not to miss anything to pass on to you from this recipe so that your cookies are able really perfect. And just because they're a very old cookie...I'm going to pass you some historical too.
3 egg whites
eggs and sugar
4 Egg yolks with sugar
butter and eggs
5 melted butter
and almonds
6 Almonds
7 flour and baking powder
My grandmother made cantuccini on the pastry board: put the flour, made a hole in the middle, added the eggs and gradually all the other ingredients. And this is the traditional way to prepare them, then if you have a wood oven, well, it's even better.
But since in modern homes missing more and more space to set up a laboratory for "pasta", and since almost everyone has a planetary or at least of a hand blender, then I describe step by step how to make almond biscuits with these tools and I assure you that the result is the same ... except for the wood-burning oven eh? This one makes a difference, and who's got is really lucky.

whipped whites
8 egg whites


As written by the Cantuccini Association "the origin of this cookie dates back at least to the sixteenth century, and the name seems to derive from "Canto", (in Italian: part of a set) or "cantellus", in Latin "piece or slice of bread," a savory biscuit that Roman soldiers already ate during military campaigns".
We'll know the cookie as "sweet" first in England and then in Tuscany and also in the rest of Europe, from the fourteenth century, after what historicals call: "sugar boom", following the spread of the cultivation of sugar cane in North Africa and Southern Europe.  
From the second half of the '500, "cantuccini" cookies did their appearance at the Medici court, although they did not include almonds. They were inspired by the already known "biscotto" from Pisa and the relative "Genoese" cookie.  
The '700 was characterized by the spread of "cantuccini" cookies in different ways, but only from the '900 the biscuits with almonds began to be produced in the whole of Tuscany increasingly large scale. The presence in their recipe of butter and leavening agents made ​​them in fact a product with a long shelf particularly suitable for mass distribution and export
In the nineteenth century, Antonio Mattei, pastry chef of Prato, developed the recipe now considered classic, awarded in 1867 with a special mention of the universal exhibition in Paris.
Even today, in Prato you can find the Mattei Pastry shop where you can buy cantuccini in the famous blue envelope, but if you like to prepare them by yourself, they'll be surely more tasteful, and I assure you they're very easy anyway if handmade or using a planetary or robot.
11 small loave
12 golden

14 cut obliquely

baking again
15 baking again

cantuccini box
16 store

#Cantuccini, cookies from Tuscany

Author: Erika Elia
Prep time: 30 minutes 
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

  • 1 lb all purpose flour
  • 13 oz sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 oz baking powder
  • 1 grated lemon zest
  • 7 oz whole almonds
  • 7 oz no salt butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 2 tbsp limoncello (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut coarsely almonds (no need toasting)
  2. mix the flour with the baking powder and set aside
  3. mount the egg whites until stiff and set aside
  4. mount the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale yellow
  5. add melted butter and continue to mix 
  6. add almonds and liquer
  7. add the flour, baking powder and grated lemon rind
  8. add egg whites, stirring gently from bottom to top
  9. make small loaves with this mixture, about 10cm wide and about 3cm thic, long as you prefer
  10. lay them on a baking tray
  11. brush with egg yolk mixed with honey
  12. bake at 375 °F until golden
  13. wait for warm (about 10 minutes)
  14. cut the loaves obliquely into slices of about 2cm
  15. place these "cantuccini" on to the baking tray again at 375 ° F for about 10 minutes so that they become more crunchy
  16. store in a tin box with baking paper

Monday, October 13, 2014

San Giuliano Terme and Lucca, I could not keeping you still unaware: #Fried Chicken Nuggets Tuscan Style...the Secret is Out!

fried chicken tuscan style
Fried Chicken Nuggets Tuscan Style
Those of you who came to meet me this Summer in Tuscany, know very well how much   has been crazy this season: rain, rain, rain, sun, rain, rain ... Well, after yesterday I have to say that the Autumn is not far behind in terms of madness: an incredibly hot, the sun was always high, the sirocco wind, mosquitoes as in July.  
Usually during these days of October, we go for a walk in the main street of Pisa or Lucca and protect us from the first cold with a steaming bag of roasted chestnuts cooked  on braziers tight in our hands.
But on yesterday (Sunday) this was unthinkable: the sun was really shining and the temperature was 26 °C; and yet nowaday here in San Giuliano Terme everyone still wears T-shirts and in the resorts where we hold cooking classes or private dinners, there are still those who have a dip in the pool and have a sunbath.
In this Sunday of "Jultober", after 2 weeks of laborers and masons and plumbers at my home, where we're renovating the bathroom, we decided to give us a nice lunch out at a restaurant, and so I went with girls and husband at the restaurant "La Cecca" in Coselli (Lucca). It's a very nice place where eating, I've been there since I was little and I've never been disappointed by its high quality and authenticity in the kitchen.
Usually, however, we pass the Sunday in family and the dish, the most popular one is also the most successful in our dinners, namely: the Fried Chicken Tuscan Style. 

You are about to discover how to make one of the most delicious dishes you've never tasted! And it is also one of the most requested in CuocheinVacanza dinners at home, special events and cooking classes in Tuscany, where is the master along with seasonal vegetables (shortly a post just for them!).
One day a few years ago, thanks to my friend Nicla, Tuscan doc, I dicovered this kind to fry chicken and, since then, has become a "must" in my family and for all those who attend my home. 
In the same instant I tasted it for the first time, I had all my grandma memories in my mind: her patience in cooking, her gentleness in teaching me the tricks of the trade, and above all it's got back in my mouth the flavor of the chicken she was preparing for me, during lazy Sundays when she, my father, my brother and me, had lunch at the same table.

Here is Nicla, my Friend!
Everyone knows the fried chicken, almost everyone has their own way to prepare it, but the way to fry it here in "Tuscany", gives to this meat a so delicious taste that (I can assure you) it will be the main, if not the only, you will use from now on.
The recipe I'm about to revel to you is really a little "culinary heritage" that is handed down from mother to daughter.
Loved by young and old, everyone wants this recipe ... and here it is for my friends! Today I decided to reveal this secret so far remained within the walls of the houses of my family. 
Not only the meat is tender as butter but unlike other
chicken preparations, the absence of bones makes this dish appetizing as ever... and be careful, because one bite leads to another and you will not even notice.
So get ready to enjoy this delicacy and remember that to fully understand this recipe will leave only 2 recommendation: try it, try it, try it! And...
spread the recipe, but with discretion :D
Fried Chicken Nuggets Tuscan Style

Fried Chicken Nuggets Tuscan Style

Recipe by Erika Elia
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 5 Chicken hips
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cup peanut oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Remove the skin from the hips and debone the chicken aiding yourself with kitchen scissors.
  2. Cut the chicken in pieces as big as walnut (nugget).
  3. Put the chicken nuggets in a bowl.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork and add the garlic clove, minced; leave to rest.
  5. Pour the flour over the chicken nuggets, stirring by hands to incorporate.
  6. When nuggets are completely wrapped, pour on them the beaten eggs and stir with a fork until they're well wrapped from eggs too.
  7. Pour the peanut oil in a large pan and wait the oil is very hot.
  8. Drain the nuggets from the egg surplus and plounge them in the oil.
  9. Wait until they're golden, turning them over.
  10. Cooking time is about 10 minutes.
  11. Drain them on a kitchen paper
  12. Salt just now
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy this amazing flavour and tenderness! 
View from my Home

Saturday, October 4, 2014

#Toronto, Oslo, Perth, New Tuscany during Cooking Classes and Private Dinners. Thanks my friends, you're far away, but you gave me a "piece" of your countries!

The summer is ending and I'm already rearranging memories and pictures of cooking classes and private dinners.
Also this year I met many new people coming from distant  and charming
countries; I discovered ways of thinking different from mine, this year too. Thanks to the words of my guests I managed to see places, feel the tastes and smells. I managed to dive in the habits of countries that I still have never visited, but I will soon, I hope.
I do not know if I'm going to Toronto, Oslo, Perth, New York, Houston,
Instambul ... but definitely a piece of these places came inside me and will not come out more on.
Thanks to all of you, if you were students of our cooking classes, or guests in our private dinners; the adventure does not end here, I know ... the sun still shines in the land of Tuscany, yet so many days of work ahead.
Inside of me I feel, however, already the melancholy of this season 2014 that is going to greet us; enjoy a few pictures from this summer and I would recommend: keep in touch !!