Coccoli! and other updates..

Hi friends!

I apologize greatly for making you wait in anticipation for so long for my next post…I’m sure you were all on the edges of your seats! 🙂

Anyways, Florence has been super rainy lately and it’s midterms week..so to say I’m really excited for Spring Break is a pretty safe bet. Plus, my mom will be here in less than 24 hours!!!! I’m so excited to see her, travel around Italy and Southern France, and then show her around Florence!

Last weekend, I was in Amsterdam and literally ate pancakes or fast food for every meal (and snack..). It was not a healthy weekend, but it was definitely a tasty one. For anyone who’s been to Amsterdam, I’m sure you know all about Wok to Walk. But, for those who don’t know, it is basically build-your-own lo-mein or fried rice and it’s so so good! I don’t know why they don’t have in the States..but I’m going to try to change that! Amsterdam is such a cool, interesting, and beautiful city. It’s pretty small and quite confusing to navigate, but there is a lot of cool history and a culture unlike any other. Just a walk through the Red Light District will sell you on how different Amsterdam really is. I’ve heard people talk about this city, but had no expectations or real knowledge about what it would be like. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least!

Back to Florence, though. Last week I went to a restaurant across the river called Osteria Santo Spirito and ordered gnocchi with a cheese cream sauce and truffle oil. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Very heavy and decadent, but unreal. Can’t wait to go back and try something else!

And…for the recipe…COCCOLI is a sort of savory fried dough that is traditional in Tuscany. This recipe is served with cured meats and tangy, soft cheeses such as brie or camembert or the cheese we used, Stracchino. This cheese had a creamy texture almost like cream cheese with a sort of tang that was so good with the saltiness of the prosciutto we paired it with!

Ingredients

  • 500 grams flour
  • 25 g fresh yeast
  • 1/4 litre sparkling water
  • salt
  • prosciutto or cured meat of choice
  • Stracchino cheese

Directions

  • Activate yeast. To do so, heat a little bit of still water to a little warmer than lukewarm. Crumble fresh yeast into it and stir. Add a pinch of sugar and let it froth for a few minutes.
  • Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and push to the sides so there is a hole in the center.
  • Pour sparkling water and yeast into this hole and mix, trying to avoid lumps.
  • Let the dough for at least one hour.
  • Scoop from one end of the dough to avoid ruining the fermentation. Make the scoops into little balls.
  • Fry at medium temperature. Make sure that the oil is hot enough that is bubbles around the dough when dropped in. But, make sure the oil is not smoking.
  • While frying, put a dollop of Stracchino on the prosciutto slices and roll them up.
  • Serve immediately.

I ate them by split the dough ball in half and then making a sandwich with the prosciutto and cheese in the middle. It was so delicious!

ENJOY!

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Risi e Bisi (Traditional Tuscan rice and peas soup)

Before I get into the food, I have to tell you all about VENICE (or Venezia, as the Italians call it). It is so amazingly beautiful I still can’t get over it. We went for Venice Carnivale, which is basically this long celebration before Lent where people dress up in fun and crazy costumes and masks and parade around Venice taking pictures with tourists, competing with other costumed people, and having a good time. Literally all my life Venice has been the one place that I have been dying to go to. So, when I found that my friends here wanted to go also and that we would be in Italy during Carnivale, I was beyond excited. Venice did not let me down, in fact it exceeded my expectations. My only complaint was that it was super crowded and the prices are a lot higher than in Florence because it’s mainly a tourist location.

Before going, I got a mask at the Central Market here in Florence and accidentally stumbled upon the indoor food vendor portion of the market. I was in awe! They have all sorts of meats and cheeses, every single type of dried fruit you could ever think of, fresh pasta, breads, produce, prepared foods, everything you could ever want. I’ve heard their sandwiches are really good, so I’ll definitely be going back for that sometime soon!

So, anyways, in my Italian Vegetarian Cooking class, we made two types of traditional Tuscan soup. We were split into groups and each group was assigned a soup to make. My group was assigned Risi e Bisi and it came out so so well and was really easy to make! The recipe probably made a solid 8 servings, so I would definitely cut the recipe if I make it again at home. Also, I apologize to my American followers for the metric measurements..it’s how the recipe came.

photo (7)

Ingredients:

  • 400 g Originario rice
  • 1 kg frozen peas (unless they’re in season, then use fresh)
  • 50 g EVOO
  • 50 g butter
  • 100 g parmesan cheese, grated
  • vegetable stock, as needed
  • 100 g white onion, diced
  • parsley to taste, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • saute the onion in a half of the oil and add half the butter
  • add peas and 1 ladle of stock, simmer for 2 minutes
  • and the rice and cover the mixture with stock
  • season with salt and pepper and simmer to cook the rice completely (it will be consistency of more of a risotto or a thick soup)
  • once the rice is soft, take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese, parsley, and the rest of the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the butter is completely melted and everything is evenly mixed.
  • Serve it hot in bowls and enjoy!!

Tuscan Rice and Peas Soup

I’ll check back in very soon to post about some of my favorite places in Florence thus far! And I’ll keep the recipes coming!

Ciao, Firenze!

For those of you who didn’t know, I just got to FLORENCE, Italy and will be here until May studying culinary arts! (Basically, fulfilling my wildest dreams). I got in a few hours ago and met my roommates (who seem really cool) and unpacked my life. For some reason, I felt it would be a good idea to fly into Pisa because it was cheaper. While that was all fine and good, I didn’t think about how I would have to navigate a train with more luggage than I’ve ever had in my life. But, with the help of a very nice man, I was able to get all of my stuff on and off of the train with little stress.

Another challenge I faced was that I don’t speak a word of Italian. So, getting in a taxi and trying to tell her my apartment number turned out to be a bit of a struggle. But, we figured it out and I got here in one piece!

From what I’ve seen of Florence so far (which was basically from the cab window), it seems like the most beautiful city. Not to mention that the train ride from Pisa was breathtaking the entire ride. The houses are so cute and tucked into the most amazing mountains (I will look up what mountains they were later).

Once I have more adventures, I will post again! I hear the best market in Florence is minutes away from our apartment, so I’m really excited.