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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Italians like their recipes and ingredients to have an origin. Knowing where something comes from give a sense of tradition and authority very important in Italian cuisine. Thus salsa amatriciana comes from the town of Amatrice, parmigiano-reggiano, is named for the twin provinces of Parma and Reggio d’Emilia, and risotto alla Milanese, comes from the city of Venice. OK, I’m joking there since it obviously comes from Milan but you get the point.
At 43 degrees north, 650 meters above sea-level, and almost perfectly halfway between the two Italian coasts, Caprese Michelangelo enjoys four, very distinct seasons. So, after one of the hottest summers on record, we are now halfway through autumn and preparing for, perhaps, two weeks of forced hibernation, when the snows come in January.
Crostata ai fichi:
An Italian friend once told me there are certain things you just don’t buy. One of them is tomatoes and another is figs. No matter where in Italy you live, some friend or neighbour will be growing them in their garden, and at this time of year people happily swap, or give away, the excess. So far, this year, I’ve been presented with two crates of tomatoes—for homemade passata—a huge crate of potatoes, and copious baskets of figs. We grow tomatoes and potatoes as well as delicious blackberries, but don’t have a fig tree, so thank providence for a very good friend who does.
One of the things I miss most from my travels in the USA is the gourmet burger. And they are quite difficult to knock up at home. Here in mainland Europe, it’s impossible to find good burger buns. The ones sold in the shops here are weird, dry, flaky things that fall to pieces the moment you try to place anything on them. If you make a burger using them, most of the bun is still on the plate at the end.
So, I’ve been thinking for a while of developing a mash-up recipe. Taking the concept of a gourmet burger, but making it using all the ingredients and flavours of Tuscany. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you … Tuscan Burger #1.