As every Friday, Poggio Pots and Pans is back with another yummy recipe we made together. We hope you are enjoying these virtual trips that take a little bit of Italy into your kitchen, all the way across the Atlantic ocean to the US. We also want to thank you for all the comments and support you are giving us!
This week it’s one of northern Italy’s most famous specialties. This dish is widely known (and constantly mispronounced) but few people know that gnocchi are actually easy to make. This is a homey dish for those without access to many fancy ingredients other than the humble potato. We learned how to make Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Sage from chef Marzia di Luzio during a cooking lesson with Trissy and her marvellous group of friends from Alabama!
Marzia di Luzio with our friends from Alabama
Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Sage
Ingredients for 4 people:
1 ¾ pounds potatoes
1 ½ cups flour
Salt to taste
Nutmeg to taste
4 T / 2 oz. butter
5 to 8 sage leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
First of all, wash the unpeeled potatoes and boil in unsalted water until cooked through. Peel and mash them while still hot, add the flour a little at a time, then the salt, nutmeg and finally the egg yolk.
Working the ingredients gently until you have a soft dough, form cylinders with a thickness of your finger and then cut into 1-inch lengths. Put them in flour to keep them from sticking to each other.
Marzia introducing the lesson
Cutting the gnocchi
Now, bring salted water to a boil. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the fresh sage leaves and garlic cloves; allow the butter to turn until golden. Gently place gnocchi into the boiling water, a few at a time. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon or strainer and dress them with the sage garlic butter. Lastly, place them in a chafing dish and sprinkle them with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.
Optional: Just before serving slide under the broiler for a few minutes. And then, enjoy!
Poggio Pots and Pans: Cheer up, it’s almost peach season! According to certain people we are what we eat, and maybe that is why Italians are so focused on enjoying delicious food, like Antonella Pavanello’s Creamy Peach Almond Cups. And let’s face it: we frankly need some cheering up. From personal experience during lockdown in Milan, we know that mood improvement CAN and DOES pass through the taste buds! Here is Antonella’s easy but delicious creamy but crunchy peach dessert. Plus, these cups are beautiful to behold, and give whoever makes them the satisfaction of creating something attractive using your hands.
Wow your family or just yourself with these colorful cups to end your meal; this is a dessert worth the small effort required to make them.
Starring in this recipe, again Sheryl and her friends from Alabama and Georgia.
Tasting the amaretti before adding them to the cups
Creamy Peach Almond Cups
Ingredients for 4 people:
9 oz. vanilla yoghurt
5 oz. fresh cream
2 large yellow peaches
2 T confectioners sugar
1 carton raspberries
12 amaretti cookies
½ cup sliced almonds
Cocoa powder to dust
Preparing the cups with chef Antonella
First of all, peel the peaches and food-process the pulp with 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar and 4 raspberries to obtain a pinkish coulis. In a bowl, whip the cream with the remaining confectioners sugar and gently incorporate it into the yogurt.
Next, toast the almonds in a non-stick pan for a couple of minutes without seasoning, until they begin to color.
Place an amaretto on the bottom of a small glass or small clear bowl; pour over a spoonful of peach coulis then layer a yoghurt cream and crumble over a little amaretto and some almonds. Add more peach coulis and another layer of cream; garnish each dessert with some raspberries, another crumbled amaretto, and the remaining almonds.
Sprinkle lightly with cocoa and serve immediately or keep it in the fridge until serving.
Be careful not to refrigerate them too long, otherwise the amaretti cookies become soggy and lose their crunch.
Welcome back to “Poggio Pots and Pans”, here, take a seat! We were just about to get started with a new recipe from Poggio. But first of all we would like to really thank you all for the comments, the kind words of support and the messages! Hearing from you brings us joy and a feeling of connection with our Poggio friends.
While looking for a recipe to share, we came across some pictures from a cooking lesson with the talented chef Antonella Pavanello and Sheryl Lott’s fun group of friends from Alabama and Georgia.
Chef Pavanello cleaning the Basil
Antonella taught us how to make Linguine with pesto made from fava beans, basil, dried tomatoes, mint and Pecorino cheese, a satisfying spring recipe to bring some color into your meal! In addition to being beautiful, this dish is packed with useful nutrients: favas and cheese are protein, pasta is a great source of carbs while fresh mint, basil and tomatoes are fibers and vegetables.
Favas are available in American food stores such as Publix and on-line.
Linguine with fava beans, dried tomatoes, mint and pecorino pesto
Ingredients for 6 to 8 people:
500 gr linguine or spaghetti
For fava bean pesto:
16 ounces fresh or frozen fava beans (canned can be used in a pinch but they are not as green)
2 ounces or 3 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese (you can substitute parmigiano)
4 or 5 tablespoons dried tomatoes in oil (substitute halved cherry tomatoes sprinkled with salt and sugar and baked for 45 minutes at 360°F)
1 bunch basil leaves (about 30 leaves)
A few mint leaves (about 15)
1 clove garlic (if desired)
1 cup or more Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Let’s get started!
Cook the beans in lightly salted boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain and cool them under running water and remove the outer coat (if not already peeled).
Clean, wash and dry the mint and basil leaves. Combine the fava beans and the other ingredients in a food processor and slowly add the oil until you obtain a homogeneous mixture. Add salt and pepper and mix again until you obtain the consistency of a liquid pesto.
Pour the pesto into a bowl. Cook the linguine in rapidly boiling salted water for the time indicated on the package; dilute the pesto with a spoon of cooking water. Place the colander on top of the serving dish in the sink, then drain the linguine in the colander so that your serving dish gets nice and hot. Empty the hot cooking water from the dish, add the linguini and pesto. Mix well and serve.
Fresh Basil leaves
Sheryl and her friends peeling the fava beans
Let us see your Linguine with Fava beans pesto if you try making them!
Trissy, Ann and Lindsey are learn Marzia’s techniques while enjoying an aperitif.
We’re stuck at home here in Italy, so cheerful pictures like this one of chef Marzia showing us how to make polenta rounds really bring joy! Food is a staple in Italian culture and we love cooking together with family and visitors. Here we’ll share some delicious and easy recipes that you can try making at home, bringing a little bit of Italy into your kitchen.
Marzia Di Luzio, dressed here in her bright red chef jacket, gave us a memorable lesson on how to make Gorgonzola Polenta Rounds. Satisfying and cheesy, these rounds are easy and tasty: enjoyed with a mixed salad it makes a wholesome Italian meal.
Here we’ve adapted the recipe using some southern grits, a gift from Poggio Verde guest Peggy Lee, easily available in American food stores.
Trissy and Friends hit their stride in the Poggio Verde kitchen. Hooray!
Trissy and Friends hit their stride in the Poggio Verde kitchen. Hooray!
Welcome to Poggio Pots and Pans!
Upcoming recipes: Pasta Carbonara, Riza’s delicious meatballs and more!
Gorgonzola Polenta (or Grits) Rounds
Ingredients (4 servings or 14 rounds):
1 cup grits or polenta (follow the recipe on the package; usually calls for water, salt and a touch of butter)
6 oz. gorgonzola, blue or flavourful cheese
Flour for the work surface
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
A whole garlic clove to flavour the nuts
Preheat the oven on the grill setting to 420°
Follow the grits (or polenta) recipe on the box (or use leftover grits or polenta). Turn the hot polenta out on a wax-lined baking sheet, spread it out somewhat and let it cool completely.
Use your hands or the back of a spoon to press out the polenta ½ inch thick on floured wax paper or a floured marble surface. Use a cookie cutter or upside down glass to cut out the rounds.
Arrange the rounds on an oiled baking sheet, brush tops with olive oil and bake until browned (about 25 minutes)
While the rounds are browning, saute the chopped walnuts or pecans in a small frying pan with a drip of oil, whole garlic clove and salt, for about 10 mins.
Remove rounds from the oven when brown. Place about a spoonful of cheese on each and place a few toasted walnut pieces on top.
These scrumptious rounds can be made with either grits or polenta
Eric Asimov, the wine writer for the New York Times, wrote an article a few years ago about a lesser-known wine area in Northern Italy called Valtellina. We decided to check it out with one of our food and wine groups (“Taste of Northern Italy“) and have had the pleasure of returning many times since. It’s a bit longer drive from the villa than most of our day trips, almost 1.5 hours, but well worth it, not only for the wine but also for the beauty of the valley, the medieval castle ruins overlooking the valley, the 19th century grocery store and the restaurants we’ve come to know and love there, especially Ristorante Fracia.
The beautiful Valtellina looking west from the overlook above Ristorante Fracia in May. Photo by Austin Mann.
Valtellina shares its northern border with Switzerland, and it looks it. How grapes came to be grown, and wine made, in such rugged territory is quite a mystery. The work involved in terracing the steep hillsides to grow grapes is mind-boggling, but wine has been made here since before the Romans arrived (for over 2000 years). Leonardo da Vinci mentioned Valtellina in his Codex Atlanticus, describing the mountains as “fearsome” and the wines made there as “powerful.” Both are still true!
Walking up from Ristorante Fracia in Teglio toward the overlook
The very steep terraces grow excellent grapes, primarily the same grape used for the famous Piemonte wines (Barolo, Barbaresco, etc.). In Valtellina the grape is called “chiavannasca” and in Piemonte it’s known as “nebbiolo.” We’ve visited several producers, including Nino Negri, Sandro Fay, Ar.Pe.Pe and Aldo Rainoldi, but the one we tend to visit for tours (and for purchasing cases to take home or back to the villa for future enjoying) is Aldo Rainoldi. We have come to know the young current owners, who enthusiastically welcome our groups and many other guests we’ve encouraged to visit. We begin with a tour of the cellars…
Erica, our wonderful tour guide (photo by Kelsey Wilson)
The barriques from France (photo by Kelsey Wilson)
The sparkling in process.
…and continue with a tasting of four or five of the wines. Most of the Rainoldi wines are made with the chiavennasca grape but they do also make a couple of very nice whites and a lovely sparkling wine and then a visit to the boutique to make our selections to ship home or take back with us to the villa.
Aldo Rainoldi steps in to help set up a wine tasting
Erica explains where the grapes are grown for each of the wines
The. wines we tasted on this trip
Erica explains where the logo for Aldo Rainoldi originated (a very old carving on a rock found in the valley)
When we return to the villa, we unload the cases to enjoy during the week or to take to the cantina for aging and sharing with future villa guests.
Ristorante Joia is quite simply my favorite restaurant in Milan for many reasons: the delicious food of course, the calming, quiet atmosphere of the restaurant, the values that underpin the decisions made by Joia’s visionary chef/owner Pietro Leemann and the reasonable prices (especially for a Michelin-starred restaurant).
Joia’s lunch menu has many seasonal and beautiful options but I invariably choose the Piatto Quadro (“Square Meal”), an ingenious invention where lunch diners have the pleasure of trying five of the chef’s newest recipe creations presented on a single square plate. Since the price is so reasonable for such an exceptional place it’s easy to go back again (and again!).
Pietro Leemann‘s serious vision for eating well plays out in the use of super-fresh, flavourful ingredients and the satisfying texture and consistency found in each dish. Going to his restaurant means trying whatever is in season in that moment, presented in a creative, attractive yet simple manner. The flavour pairings are occasionally unexpected but always harmonious, and I have never tasted an unsuccessful combination. Pietro enjoys using Lombardy’s local cheeses as well as seeds and other pleasing ingredients that go crunch when you put them in your mouth. It will be an unprecedented flavor experience who will probably leave you satisfied.
Going to Joia for lunch is one of the pleasures of living in Milan. The recommendation of a vegetarian restaurant in Milan may be surprising, coming from a carnivore born in Kansas. Pay Joia a visit, and you will see why. The restaurant is right in the beating heart of Milan’s eclectic district of Porta Nuova, near the Giardini Pubblici, and can be easily reached with the underground.
In a country villa up a hillside from little Barzanò, Italy, less than an hour north of Milan, final preparations are underway to receive visitors for a week of exploring the beauty of northern Italy. Rooms are being given a final cleaning, the refrigerator is being stocked, the grounds are being tended to and windows are being shined so nothing obstructs the gorgeous views.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, eight women are finishing up their packing, taking care of last minute details and saying their good-byes before heading to the airport to catch their flight for Milan, arriving Saturday morning.
Things may change due to weather, but their itinerary is as follows:
DAY 1: Saturday, 3 October 2015. Arrival, Organic Luncheon and Montevecchia. Exiting Malpensa airport’s baggage area, look for our driver who will be holding a large POGGIO VERDE sign. He will accompany you to the Villa where you will have time to unpack, make yourself comfortable and take a relaxed walk in the park. We will have lunch at the organic farm,”Galbusera Bianca” followed by a short walk in scenic Montevecchia Alto with its quaint church and stations of the cross. The day ends with a delicious meal at the Villa with home-made tagliolini pasta and fresh vegetables and herbs, followed by Italian cheeses and a dolce.
DAY 2: Sunday, 4 October. Bergamo Alto and Franciacorta. After breakfast, our driver will take us the lovely hill town of Bergamo. We’ll take the funicular to Bergamo “Alta”, one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy. After wandering around the medieval town we will take the funicular back to the lower city and our driver will take us to lunch at a nearby vineyard to taste the delicious sparkling wine of the region and then back to Poggio Verde. We’ll have dinner at the Villa prepared by Cicchi (pronounced Cheeky), a great chef and friend.
DAY 3: Monday, 5 October. Switzerland, Outlet shopping, Wine Tasting. After breakfast, put your passport in your purse because we’re heading up to Switzerland! Our driver will take us for a short visit to the house museum Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto and we will have lunch at the nearby family restaurant “Grotto Balduna” featuring Ticinese local cuisine. After lunch we will visit Foxtown for outlet shopping. Return to Poggio Verde and relax until our wine tasting session with the sommelier Penati of Oggiono and delicious home-cooked meal of Northern Italian specialties.
DAY 4: Tuesday, 6 October. Como, Silk outlet, painting exhibit, Tea at Villa d’Este. After breakfast, our driver will take us to Como, where we will enjoy a bit of the Old Town and visit Mantero, a luscious Italian silk outlet. We will have lunch at a sweet Osteria featuring local specialties, then visit a painting exhibit at Villa Olmo in Como followed by tea at the Villa d’Este, one of the most beautiful romantic and neoclassical villas in Italy. Our driver will return us to Poggio Verde in time for dinner prepared for us at the Villa.
DAY 5: Wednesday, 7 October. Lago Maggiore, Stresa, Isola Bella, Linens outlet. After breakfast our driver will take us to the charming town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore. We will take a walk along the lakefront and then take a boat from Stresa to the magnificent Isola Bella, the most lavish of the three Borromean Islands. Here we’ll have lunch in a charming restaurant and we will visit the princely Borromeo Palace and its grandiose baroque Italian Gardens built on ten terraces. We return to Stresa by boat where our driver awaits us to accompany us to the linens outlet Bellora and then back to the Villa for a delicious meal at Poggio Verde. (Rain alternative: Go to Milan and visit EXPO! The world exhibition has been receiving excellent reviews and exhibits from 70 countries are said to be amazing.)
DAY 6: Thursday, 8 October. Milano: The Last Supper, Duomo, La Scala, Via Montenapoleone. After breakfast, our driver will take us to Milan where we will begin with a guided tour that includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Lunch will be in a restaurant overlooking the roof of the Duomo. From the restaurant we will walk through the Galleria to the La Scala opera house for a behind-the-scenes visit, followed by shopping and strolling down Via Montenapoleone and Via Spiga. Our driver returns us to the Villa for a short rest and then we will dine at the nearby “Giovanna Passeri” Agriturismo with its refined and fresh Brianzola specialties.
DAY 7: Friday, 9 October. Royal Monza After breakfast our driver will accompany us to the royal city of Monza we will visit one of the most beautiful Romanesque cathedrals in Northern Italy, the Duomo of Monza, for a look at the famed “Iron crown” – said to have been made with the melted-down nails of the Cross and the crown which Napoleon crowned himself in 1805. After a stroll around the old center of this pretty town, we’ll have lunch at a delightful Osteria featuring local specialties. Then we’ll visit the newly renovated Royal Villa of Monza, a truly spectacular visit. That evening we will celebrate a scrumptious good-bye dinner prepared by Cicchi at what has become by now your new Italian “home.”
DAY 8:Saturday 10 October Departure. After breakfast at the Villa our driver will take you (and your packages and your great memories!) to the airport.
Expo has opened!! Until October 31st this outstanding exposition on how the countries of the world are working on the issue of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is being visited by millions of people from all over the world!
Expo 2015 is open not only in the Exposition site but also in the historic heart of Milan, through ExpoGate, both a meeting and entertainment space and an information point for citizens and tourists in Milan. This location symbolizes the role as a gateway between Milan and the Expo, in the same way as Milan has always been considered a bridge between Italy and the rest of the world.
Milan and its region, Lombardy, are proud to host such an important event and can’t wait for all the visitors to come and visit. In fact, beyond the pavilions of the fair, there are many thrilling experiences and interesting trips in the amazing surrounding region which make Milan a top destination during the Expo period, with many not-to-be-missed events.
Indeed, the city has undergone a process of renovation, becoming a modern European city while maintaining the ancient splendor. Even some of the main attractions of the city will change their look for the occasion. The Duomo, after a huge restructuring operation, will reopen its “Museo del Duomo”. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the historic gallery arcade completed in 1877 is the oldest shopping mall in the world, during the Expo will be exceptionally opened until late in order to host a large number of cultural and gastronomic events.
The artistic and cultural heritage of Milan is on full display, as well: among the many exhibitions and museums of the city, don’t miss The Last Supper and Leonardo in Milan (an exhibition of Leonardo’s work during his 25 years spent in Milan) and an exhibition about Caravaggio, which was planned for 2010 and will be repeated on the occasion of Expo. Moreover, others great exhibitions about the Expo’s theme are programmed at the Triennale and Pinacoteca di Brera.
Lastly, if you are interested in fashion and design, sports, music and theatre, you will certainly have plenty of special events connected with the theme of Expo as well.
Last weekend Luigi and I enjoyed a day strolling through the lovely Val Curone just 20 minutes from Poggio Verde. It’s a protected valley dotted with farms and vineyards in the setting of the Italian pre-Alps: the perfect place to spend a pretty winter day.
We had lunch at Oasi di Galbusera Bianca, a charming Agriturismo located in a WWF “Oasis for Biodiversity”, surrounded by a dynamic organic farm. We enjoyed a simple but delicious meal in the cozy atmosphere, close to a welcoming fireplace. Beyond the restaurant, there’s also a country-style bar where you can taste organic snacks, cold dishes and locally made sorbets. We tasted the local wine made by the nearby vineyard La Costa, a surprisingly crisp and clean white wine called La Brigante made with the Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni grape varieties. We’ll be visiting the La Costa winery very soon to pick up some bottles for Poggio Verde!
The location is surrounded by the Regional Nature Reserve of Montevecchia and the Curone Valley . After lunch we took advantage of this enchanting place and had a relaxing walk amongst the vineyards along well-marked trails. There are various trails for all tastes, and we were overtaken by a mountain bike or two. Our cousins the birders (Peters 1 + 2, Susie and Connie, you know who you are!) would have gone wild with all the feathered wildlife around. Next time I hope to come with them! – Gretchen
The cookbook is a collection of prized recipes from some of the supporters of the organization who happen to be excellent cooks. The book will be sold online and at events and markets in Milan beginning in May.
The photos here are of a recent video and photo shoot.
Here are the beautiful finished products of our 3 days of arduous work!
Preparing the Cream Cheese and Caviar for photographing
Cream Cheese and Caviar Aperitif will be served with crackers
Preparing the dough for the Cherry Strudel
Here’s Cicchi’s Cherry Strudel an hour later…. scrumptious!