The Kitchen Window

The Kitchen Window
Antique Milk Bottles with Herbs and Flowers


Welcome to the Frog Hollow Farm blog! I've been blogging since January 2010 and have switched from Blogger to Word Press, but I'm back to Blogger because, for me, it's easier to use. My husband and I live on a little farm in Northwest New Jersey. We have some chickens and a very large vegetable garden with asparagus and raspberries, and rows and rows of sunflowers, snapdragons and zinnias. Traveling, entertaining, gardening, spending time with family, studying Italian, blogging and reading keep us busy and happy. With all of this going on, moving towards a simpler life seems almost impossible but it's definitely a daily goal.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scaloppine ai Carciofi

 Veal Cutlets with Artichokes - yummy!!

Okay, we're still in La Cucina del Garga (at least in my mind) and I want to share the Secondi Piatti, or second part of the main meal that FHFB and I made with Sharon:  Scaloppine ai Carciofi, or veal cutlets with artichokes. 

Now, the really special part of this dish, and the reason I'm sure that Sharon included a recipe with artichokes, is that Easter is one of the two prime seasons for artichokes in Italy. 
Fava beans were also in season and absolutely delcious if you haven't tried them fresh - pureed or whole!

Artichokes were all over the vegetable markets in piles like this - sorry for the fuzzy quality of the photo.

Here's the recipe for Scaloppine ai Carciofi.  The hardest part of preparing this recipe was having to peel away most of the leaves surrounding each artichoke heart.  Sharon said that most people have a problem doing this because we usually eat most of the leaves in our recipes - dipped in hot melted butter of course! Despite this - and getting over the fact that 2/3 of the artichoke ended up in the garbage -  you really need to strip off all of the tough outer leaves in order to have the very tender leaves that surround the heart of the artichoke. 

Definitely scarpetta worthy!! (Thank you Eleonora, we've always practiced scarpetta here at Frog Hollow Farm but didn't know that it had a name!!! LOL)

When I came home today I found a beautiful hybiscus in full bloom on my porch.  I picked up two of these little potted plants last fall  - absolutely free from a nursery on my way home from working - they were giving away a truckload.
Isn't she the prettiest????

Artichokes growing on Cousin Mario's farm in Panicale, Umbria.

Fields of olive trees.

I hope that you are enjoying these yummy recipes from la cucina del Garga.  Our next post will include the recipe for the easiest and most delicious dessert I think I ever tasted: 

Crema de Ricotta Salsa Caramello all'Arancia e Madorle Tostate!!!!!!

Ciao, bella!!

I'll be hooking up at Foodie Friday!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Magnificent Taglierini del Magnifico from La Cucina Del Garga

This dish was created by Guiliano Gargani for his restaurant, Garga, in Florence Italy.  In one of my recent blogs about our trip to Italy I mentioned Sharon Gargani's cookbook called Once Upon a Tuscan Table

She writes the following about this recipe in her book:

The inspiration for this pasta came from a simple citrus cake eaten during Carneval - the season between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday.  During the Renaissance, citrus fruits were a status symbol in Florence:  the climate being too cold to grow oranges and lemons outdoors in winter, a greenhouse or limonaia (an orangerie in France) was required.  Naturally, only the wealthy had such accommodations. We named the pasta 'Magnifico' after Lorenzo il Magnifico. 

Lorenzo il Magnifico

Here's the delicious pasta recipe that FHFB and I made during our class. 

As you can see, my abilities to manipulate scans is yet to be developed. 
Please forgive all of the extra space under the recipe. 

If you have trouble reading this just email me and I'll send you a clearer copy!

Below, you can see that I am beginning to make the pasta dough.  This is a basic recipe for homemade pasta dough - it's included in the first part of the Taglierini del Magnifico recipe. 

I've made pasta dough like this before, after watching FHFB's mother and sisters make in on their kitchen table in New Brunswick, NJ.  Watching them begin to make the pasta with a well of luscious light yellow semolina flour with eggs cracked into the middle (one egg per person) was always one of those mysterious Italian skills that I never thought I'd be able to do.   

Sharon showed us how to beat the eggs with a fork while gathering in the flour along the sides of the well, until all of it was incorporated. 

You can see the stainless pasta machine clamped to the side of the work table above.  This is a very basic and easy pasta machine to work with, and it has different settings for flattening the pasta dough and then cutting it into the desired size (such as spaghetti, linguine, fettucine or taglierini). 

After we flattened the dough and rolled it through the pasta machine, this is what it looked like. 

Isn't this a cool looking pasta dryer??

I think that I was just sitting there(and drinking that delicious white wine it appears!) admiring all of our hard work.  Sharon looks busy in the background, doesn't she??

The sauce was made separately in a large pan on the stove by FHFB.

Sharon has a mirror placed directly behind the stovetop.  She uses this to show specific techniques to larger groups of clients
I don't know about you, but I would never be able to keep this mirror as clean as Sharon does! 
This citrus sauce is really so delicious.  The ingredients are pretty basic, but I believe it's the quality of the citrus that will make or break the sauce.  Sharon recommends using only organic citrus - and of course the sweet Sicilian oranges in her kitchen were just so delicious! 
After we zested the oranges Sharon pulled out a small citrus juicer and made some fresh orange juice. It was so delicious (there's that word again) that I purchased a small citrus juicer from Black and Decker when I got home.  This little juicer is just right for us (we have one that attaches to our food processor but it's used for when we are juicing tons of lemons for our Rao's Lemon Chicken recipe!)   This little juicer is so easy to use - we use 2 oranges for each glass of juice.  I would normally eat an orange for the benefits of all that fiber but I have to admit that the juice is just so refreshing. 

I do hope that you try this very delicious recipe. 

We served it here at Frog Hollow Farm with Grilled Salmon and Roasted Asparagus. 

I'm hooking up with Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper

Ciao, bella!

Katie and FHFB in front of the Duomo in Florence.

Ciao, bella!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recipes from La Cucina Del Garga

Okay, I promised the recipes from the cooking class that FHFB and I took in Florence in my last posting.  I even figured out how to scan them from the little cooking booklet that Sharon gave us at our class. 
Woo Hoo!!!  Big Time!!! Really - I'm still struggling with getting photos from my camera to Picassa.  Some days I am extremely fluent in it and some days it's like I never did it before.  Does that ever happen to you with technology??

I'll be posting the appetizer recipe today - yesterday's posting was a little too long and I don't want to just list one recipe after another.

And I think each one of them deserves their own post. 

Our first course was a delicious bruschetta, made with small, fresh, insanely ripe organic Sicilian tomatoes. 

Sharon and I halved the tomatoes and spread them right onto a cookie sheet.  She was so delightful to work with, always smiling and giving great advice and sharing little tidbits of information about the food we were working with along with interesting facts about Tuscan cooking. 

So, so yummy!!

The red pepper flakes used in this recipe are from tiny little dried peppers that are just crushed and added to the tomatoes - not from a jar of crushed red pepper flakes. FHFB and I purchased a little bag of these peppers last year (mainly because I thought they were so cute) and put them into a small Mason jar once the cellophane bad was opened - you can see that I saved the label and taped it to the outside of the jar. 

We ate this appetizer while we prepared the rest of the dishes and drank the white wine - Pomino Bianco from the Frescobaldi vineyards.  I have more information about ithe wine and a picture of the bottle in my last post. 

So, if you can find some ripe Sicilian tomatoes give this simple rustic appetizer a try.  If Sicilian tomatoes aren't available at your farmer's market or grocers try some large organic grape tomatoes - we roast them all of the time here at Frog Hollow Farm and serve them on top of goat cheese on a crostini or on top of fresh ricotta cheese.    Here are two links to recipes from my collection that include roasted tomatoes:

Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Crostini

Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Crostini
This particular feature in Real Simple featured 10 different ideas for crostini - all yummy.

See you next time with the recipe and photos for the Pasta Magnifico recipe!

Ciao, bella!

~~~A produce stand at the Mercato Centrale in Florence~~~

Joining Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cooking in Florence

A I prepare my simple dinner of lemon chicken this evening, I am reminded of the wonderful markets in Florence and how much I wish my lifestyle included shopping for dinner in a local market or visiting a local butcher or fishmonger for something fresh and delicious.  This is something I've just got to figure out how to fit into my daily life, (my good friend Stephanie and I talk about this all of the time) even if it's a limited shopping - but fresh, organic ingredients are so important for a healthy diet and delicious food. With summer coming the markets will be more plentiful, and FHFB's garden will be providing us with delicious vegetables as well.  Cooking with seasonal ingredients is also a basic part of the Italian diet - with fish and beef and fruits and vegetables growing very close to the city of Florence and having very little transport time to the markets and restaurants.  Limiting our carbon footprints and buying local is something we all need to become more aware of - but it's not easy to do!!!

 As you already know, FHFB and I recently spent 15 days in Italy, 13 of them in Florence and 2 in Rome. 

Today's post will focus on a cooking class that we took with Sharon Oddson,
co-owner of the Garga restaurant on Via del Moro in Florence. 

Sharon explains that
the cooking school began in August 1998 in a 14th century palazzo across the street from the restaurant.  Today, she teaches from the kitchen in her apartment - with tremendous passion - the simplicity of recreating Tuscan culinary traditions into a grand culinary feast.  The school offers intimate one-day courses where all guests are encouraged to participate in preparing and enjoying a superb for course lunch served in a renaissance atmosphere.

This is Sharon's simple kitchen in her wonderful Florence apartment.

Sharon has written a great book called Once Upon a Tuscan Table:  Tales and Recipes from Trattoria Garga  about moving to Florence from Canada, marrying and living with her husband Giuliano and of course about the Garga restaurant.  This wonderful memoir and cookbook is full of absolutely hilarious and heartwarming stories as well as delicious recipes.  Some of the chapters have very interesting names:  The Girl from the Frozen North, How Giuliano Saved Our Marriage, Arm Wrestling and Going Underground. 

Sharon created a wonderful menu for us to cook during our 4 hour cooking class on our recent visit to Florence.  We received a lovely little booklet that described why and how herbs are used in Garga's kitchen, an explanation of the different types of Tuscan 'liquid gold' - otherwise known as olive oil - an indispensable part of Garga's kitchen.  The kitchen equipment need for the recipes was also listed in this little booklet - with a focus on using very little kitchen equipment in order to keep the true flavors of the food that is being cooked. 

The booklet from our cooking class - stains and all!

The menu also included the two wines we would be drinking that day, one white and one red.  The white wine was called Pomino Bianco, a Tuscan wine from the Marchesi De Frescolbaldi.   This delicious wine has an appearance called 'straw transparent', almost white, with paly grey reflexes.  The nose is elegant, fruity and flowery and the taste is fine, clean, well balanced with a lingering aftertaste - it was just lovely.  We had this white wine with our bruschetta.

The red wine served during the main course part of our class was called Nipozzano Riserva.

This wine is a Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva, also from Frescobaldi.  The color was an incredibly concentrated bright ruby red with a bouquet that offered an enticing array of ripe fruit frangrances such as cherries and prunes, layered with nuances of currants and hints of spices. 

The delicious menu follows:
(recipe to follow in my next post)

Bruschetta con Pomodori Freschi al Forno
Bruschetta with Fresh Roasted Tomatoes
(these tomatoes were small plum shaped tomatoes straight from Sicily and so soooo sweet)

Taglierini del "Magnifico"
Thin Fettuccine with Citrus Sauce

Scallopine ai Carciofi
Veal Cutlets with Artichokes

Crema de Ricotta con Salsa Caramello all'Arancia e Madorle Tostate
Ricotta Cream with Orange Caramel Sauce and Toasted Almonds

In my next post I'll include each of the recipes for you to try.  Till then, buon appetito!!

Ciao, bella!

Monday, May 9, 2011


FHFB and I have been away visiting our 2 children in Florence, Italy.  Florence is just a spectacular place to be - full of history and beauty and of course, very delicious food.  Our son spent 5 weeks there sketching and drawing (some life, right?) and our daughter went to visit and generously share the cost of the apartment for 10 days. 
The first day we arrived our daughter put together a yummy little aperitivo for us - she loves to entertain as much as I do.

We had fresh, delicious mozzarella cheese with sweet ripe Sicilian tomatoes along with prosciutto wrapped around sweet cantalope melon.  She also had a wonderful bottle of local red wine ready for us!  And of course, this feast was just the prelude to dinner and the beginning of a night full of delicious food.

I'll be sharing some of our adventures in Italy over the next few posts. 

We were able to take a fantastic and delicious cooking class with Sharon Oddson Gargano from the very delicious restaurant called Trattoria Garga

We were also able to meet a fellow blogger, Eleonora from aglio, olio e peperoncino and took a wonderful street food stroll with her while we were in Rome during the last two days of our trip. 

FHFB, being the authentic Sicilian that he is, of course has cousins that we were lucky enough to visit on their farm in Panicala, a small village in Umbria.  What a fantastic experience!!  Here we are eating (of course) fresh pasta and drinking delicious local wine!

More of these experiences to come in the next week!

I've missed you all and look forward to blogging, visiting and commenting!

Ciao, bella!!