Tuesday, May 30, 2006


yes, i know, i was complaining about tuscan saltless bread, and here i am again talking about it. but i found yet another tuscan loaf i can actually eat! so i gotta tell you about it. tuscans pride themselves on their saltless bread and declare that it the perfect bed for salty toppings like prosciutto crudo (cured ham) or rich pecorino cheese. when i was at the beach in castiglione della pescaia last week i found myself in front of what looked like a huge corn flake cookie: the bozza bread (sorry for the neon lighting that doesn't do the color of the bread justice!). advertised as "special bread that people like", bozza literally means a "rough draft", or something that is "oversized and swelling". when i asked how they make it, i got the typical answer: "just water, yeast and flour!" but everyone has their secret ingredients whether it is lard, olive oil, sugar, honey or milk. so what the answer really meant was that if i want more, i have to go back! i didn’t get the secret out of them, but i brought a loaf home with me.

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Monday, May 29, 2006


i should probably add this to my list of florentine favorites as it is an old standby that i have been going to for years. when we just want a simple snack and a good glass (or bottle!) of wine without having to take out a loan, this is one of the places we go to. the name fuori porta means “outside the door”, which is literally where this local favorite is, just outside the old city gate called san niccolo’. fuori porta has a daily menu with pasta dishes and main dishes, but they are famous for their crostoni, or oversized crostini. they serve up some great flavors from smoked scamorza cheese and truffles, to artichokes, to the old fashioned ham and cheese. the wine list brags 650 labels and their speciality is red wine. they have outdoor seating in the summer months and they are always open, which is quite the rarity here. usually eating establishments close in the afternoons and at least one day a week.

fuori porta
via monte alle croci, 10r
055 23 42 483
open everyday
12.30 to 00.30

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Monday, May 22, 2006


i was inspired by keiko at nordljus to get the book starters, first courses easily turned into main dishes, by shane osborn. and it was a great buy. everything i make from this cookbook is excellent. thanks keiko! my latest experiment was the caramelized onion and mushroom tart. i didn’t have all of the ingredients so i made some variations, but it was still tasty. the savory mushrooms with chives paired nicely with the sweet caramelized onions. the puff pastry was not homemade but the italian brand buitoni makes a great time saving puff pastry that tastes just like the real thing! here’s the recipe, copied and adapted to the supplies i had in my kitchen!:

shane osborn caramelized onion and mushroom tart

serves 4:

shallot stock:
i didn’t have shallots or stock so i skipped this part

caramelized onions:
50g unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper

tart bases (i made one whole tart instead of 4 small ones):
250g ready-made puff pastry
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water

mushroom topping:
400g mixed mushrooms (button, chanterelle, shiitake, oyster) cleaned
65g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp double cream
1-2 tarragon sprigs (i used thyme and chives)
squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

caramelized onions - melt the butter with the garlic in a heavy based frying pan, then add the onions with a pinch of salt. cook over very low heat until the onions are softened and caramelized; about 45 minutes to one hour. season and discard the garlic. let cool.

for the tart base - preheat oven to 220C. roll out and place the pastry in your baking tray with parchment paper. prick the dough evenly with a fork. spread the caramelized onions out evenly on top of the dough. sprinkle with thyme. brush the border of the pasty with the egg wash. bake for 12- 16 minutes until the crust is evenly golden. remove from oven and let cool.

mushroom topping - halve or slice the mushrooms. heat 50g butterin frying pan until foaming. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. season with salt and pepper. (add the stock but i eliminated this step since i didn’t have stock). add the cream and stir in remaining butter. stir in lemon juice, check for seasoning and discard garlic.

to assemble - place the warm tart base on a warm plate. spoon the mushrooms on top. garnish with tarragon and serve. i used thyme and chives instead of tarragon and i added thinly sliced pieces of a soft pecorino cheese as well.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006


i really hope i am not boring anyone with these sunset pictures. but if they continue to be this gorgeous, then i am sorry but "sunsets" will just have to be the theme of the month at kishko!

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this time it’s ice cream. it is finally ice cream season, at least for me. i have a hard time eating ice cream unless it’s nice and hot out. i have two favorites in florence, but my number one pick is perche’ no! which literally means, why not! open since 1939 perche’ no! has been making delectable flavors with wholesome ingredients. besides the regular standbys like chocolate and strawberry they have pistachio, sesame and honey, green tea, almond, coffee crunch, and ginger, just to name a few and they are all made with the “real thing”: no powdered milk here! the flavors are fresh and clean in your mouth. they don’t leave any of those nasty aftertastes of preservatives or film residue in your mouth like some ice cream does. i know you know exactly what i am talking about! it is also aesthetically pleasing to look at (can you tell that i am a libra?!) it’s not piled high in gooey mounds of lumpiness that looks like it has been there for at least a week. you might be surprised to know that you actually see a lot of that here in gelato land! anyways, back to perche’ no! - it’s about a two minute walk from the duomo so if you are in florence you have no excuse not to go there. unless of course it isn’t ice cream season. for any non-dairy desires, they also make granite and sorbet (but i haven’t tried them yet!).

perche’ no!
via dei tavolini, 19r
tel.: 055.239.8969

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Saturday, May 20, 2006


i swear i did NOT retouch this image! this was all thanks to mother nature

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Friday, May 19, 2006


i rationed the zucchini purchase i made with ilva on wednesday into two portions. tonight, a super simple tasty recipe:

zucchini sautéed with mint and garlic

1 large whole clove garlic
300grams whole zucchini (about 6 medium zucchini), cut lengthwise into 3 or 4 pieces and then slice the pieces into thin strips
2 sprigs fresh mint, whole
olive oil
chili pepper or chili oil (optional)

put the ingredients in desired sauté pan in the following order: garlic, zucchini, mint, salt and oil. sauté on high heat for about 5-10 minutes, depending no how crunchy you like your veggies. i am serving it tonight as a side dish to an indian meal of vegetable pulau and grilled marinated chicken breasts. if all goes well, i’ll post those recipes too!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


i have to admit that i am always a little jealous when i read about keiko going to paris and meeting david, meg, michele, pascale and clotilde or about other food blogger reunions around the world. don’t get me wrong, i am excited for them but only wish i could join them!

however, today i had my own little food blogger reunion with ilva from lucullian delights. she has a gorgeous food blog and the images she posts always amaze me. i met her in pistoia which is about 45 minutes from florence by train. there is something incredible about meeting fellow bloggers because there is a part of you that feels like you know them already! anyways, i was lucky enough to have a private guide to the city of pistoia and to the wednesday market there. we ran into a few skeptics who did not want their photograph taken. the woman running the puglia food stand, in the photo above, was concerned that i wanted to take pictures of her goods so that i could copy them! i managed to convince her that i only wanted to take photos because the display was so beautiful. she had pickled everything from garlic to bell peppers! and, she even said “you aren’t going to copy everything like the chinese do, are you?!” so i didn’t dare tell her that i intended on posting the images on my blog!

i discovered lots of yummy new things today: the town of pistoia, a fellow food blogger, slitti chocolate (david would have scolded me for not knowing about slitti - but now i do!) and fresh zucchini from cecina di larciano (a small town in the countryside, south of pistoia). as soon as i decide what to do with those gorgeous zucchini i will report back.

so are there any other food bloggers based in italy who would like to join us for the second italian food blogger reunion? next stop: florence.

above: ilva caught taking pictures of flowers at the market!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006


in this world of expading commercialism the human race is losing track of what pure produce and wholesome natural ingredients are. but there are also lots us who are dedicated to the constant search of the “real thing” and who are always hungry for more! i think it is safe to say that most food bloggers and local producers feel the same way. take for example the eat local challenge, mighty foods or ripe to you, just to name a few. one of my favorite local producers here in florence is the pasticceria gualtieri. it has been a famiily operation since 1933 and they still use the same family recipes from 73 years ago. one of there treasures is the iris cake (pictured here, “before” and “after”!). it is their best seller and my favorite item that they make. named after the symbol of florence, the iris flower, it is a flourless cake made with circa 12 different secret ingredients. there is no way to get the recipe and make it yourself. you just have to give in to that sweet tooth and buy one every once in awhile! the iris cake is similar to a sugar coated coffee cake and it melts on your mouth with hints of orange, almond and vanilla.

the pastry shop is run by riccardo gualtieri, the grandson of the orginal owner, and he knows how to make all of the delights that he sells. he and his wife are dedicated to quality and tradition and it shows in their simple but rich display of cakes and cookies. they also make a made to order millefoglie, some of the best stuff you will ever wrap your lips around!

pasticceria gualtieri
via senese 18r
tel.: 055.221.771
open tuesday to saturday 7.15 - 13.00 and 16.00 - 20.00
open sunday morning 7.15 - 13.00
closed sunday afternoon and monday

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Sunday, May 14, 2006


i have never had the burning desire to go to new zealand. but after i read the may issue of saveur magazine and tried a recipe from it, i am dying to go! the article is called north island bounty and it’s all about the town of matakana, located north of auckland, their dedication to local produce (and wine) and their farmers’ market. i tried the zucchini tart with feta recipe. the result was not half as beautiful as the cover image of the magazine, but it tasted damn good! the saltiness of the feta blended perfectly with the sweet tomatoes and the basil leaves. wherever you are, go and get yourself a copy! if you can't find one, let me know and i will make a copy of the recipe for you.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006


that's mr. eggplant!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006


i don’t think my eating local really counts since i live in florence and i basically eat local everyday! so it's not much of a challenge. plus, from what i have read, you have to be in the u.s. to participate. but i have decided to contribute a few of my own local eating stories anyways! today it is baby radishes and farm fresh eggs. these eggs come from a small farm south of florence. the chickens are free range and dine on all of the vegetarian leftovers of the farm kitchen. so the eggs actually TASTE like eggs. you know what i mean?! the radishes were super juicy and spicey, like they had been spiked with hot chilis. it wasn’t really fair of us to pick them so early since they still need a couple of weeks to get to their proper eating size. but we couldn’t resist!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sunday, May 07, 2006


these beautiful little buds have a very faint scent of honey. but the pungent odor of garlic in their stalks reveals their true persona - green garlic. here in florence, they grow everywhere. i picked up these gems along the roadside on a morning walk. you can make lots of tasty dishes with this very seasonal herb. and, i find it popping up on blogs everywhere! the theme i have been finding is noodles: on april 27th pim gives us a fast, easy and tasty chinese egg noodle recipe. albion and the amateur gourmet go italian
with green garlic pasta dishes. if you are BBQing, throw some whole green garlic stems on the fire. they go very well with all things grilled!

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Saturday, May 06, 2006


while i lived in venice, i had never eaten beans like these. since i have moved to florence, i eat them all of the time, when they are in season of course. mangiatutto means “eat it all” and that’s exactly what you do with these fine flat beans.
saute one medium fresh onion in olive oil and a drop of chili oil, if you have it, until golden brown. add the beans (whole, about 10 ounces), and a cup of chopped fresh tomatoes. add one teaspoon of salt, cover and cook on low heat until done. when they are done, throw in some chopped fresh basil. eat them while they are warm!

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Monday, May 01, 2006


tasty strawberries can be found everywhere in the markets right now. well, you can find them almost year round these days. but you don’t get the local grown that actually TASTE like strawberries until april/may. stumped for a dessert recipe last night, i took a carton of strawberries and dipped them in 70% dark chocolate that i melted in a double boiler. it’s fast, it’s easy and it is very tasty!

150 grams of 70% chocolate (i use lindt chocolate)
1 carton of strawberries (approximately 35 berries)

melt the chocolate in a double boiler. as soon as the chocolate is completely melted, turn off the heat (if it becomes too liquidy the chocolate just drips right off the berries instead of sticking to them!) holding them by their green tops, dip the strawberries one by one into the chocolate and place on parchment paper. let cool. when the chocolate has solidified, transfer the chocolate covered delights to a serving dish and devour.

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