Cuisine - Tastes of Tuscany
An integral part of Tuscany is the brilliant Italian cuisine. For Italians food is a very important part of their lives. That's why they spend half the day having a siesta enjoying and celebrating eating.
On our golf tours you will have the opportunity to celebrate delicious Italian food, not only in a typical restaurant but also in small familiy winery or incredible castle/villa that serve simple but delicious food.
Our little surprise will be an opportunity for you to take part in a cooking-course, where under the watchful eye of a professional cook you can explore Italian cuisine.
Italian cooking classes in Tuscany for gourmet lovers
Italy is the country of good food. Every region offers different dishes and ingredients are used differently. Tuscany, for example, has a “rustic” cuisine: vegetable soups and old bread stirred for a long time (ribollita), many different types of pastas with hundreds of different sauces on them, grilled slices of bread with extra-virgin olive oil or chopped fresh tomatoes (bruschetta: please pronounce with “K”)…
Extra virgin olive oil is obtained at low temperatures from the first olives pressed and is therefore known as “cold press”. It can change the favor of a recipe completely.
One of the most interesting and fascinating experiences in Tuscany is taking part in a cooking class. Tuscan cuisine is based on simple but tasty recipes belonging to rooted traditions and coming from wise farming. We give you the opportunity to discover all the secrets of Tuscan food in interesting and informative cooking classes organized for you at a traditional Tuscan farm.
Our cook prepares exactly the meals that Tuscans eat at home, using the same fresh and genuine ingredients with the help of very useful tricks. The duration of the classes ranges from 2 to 3 hours and they can be arranged in the morning or in the evening, before you sit at a table and enjoy all the delicacies you have prepared. The preparation of your dinner or lunch includes a couple of starters, two main courses (primo and secondo according to the Italian tradition) with side dishes and a dessert. During the following meal, local red or white wines will be served as well. During all the experience, there will be a friendly and helpful assistant speaking English (on request also German, Spanish, French, Italian or Russian) ready to answer any question of yours. Remember that you can combine our cooking classes with any other activity of Under The Tuscan Sun Tours.
Along with the service of guided tours in English offered by “Under The Tuscan Sun Tours” based on the artistic and cultural aspect of cities like Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca, Arezzo, Prato, Assisi, Venice, Rome, etc., we also suggest:
This website will eventually contain all types of recipes from Tuscany, from appetizers to desserts. I started with soups as the site is called Zuppa Toscana, or Tuscan soup, but I've started to add more recipes so remember to come back and check every once in a while.
There are many recipes for Tuscan soups, from vegetable minestrones to seafood soups. Each town or area in Tuscany has a soup that has become their specialty and which their mothers, grandmothers and greatgrandmothers before them have prepared following tradition. Of course, many recipes have spread and are no longer prepared just in Tuscany. But these are some of these soups that are generally considered Tuscan by tradition and which are still prepared here today. Here are some variations, with locality indicated.
Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
Zuppa Toscana (Florence) Tuscan Bean Soup
Pappa al Pomodoro
Minestra di Fagioli
Peperoni Arrotolati - Rolled Bell Peppers
Crostini di Fegato - Liver Patè Crostini
Asiago Dip with Crostini
Mixed Green Salad
Panzanella - Italian Bread Salad
Marinated Calamari Salad
Basic Tomato Sauce
Piselli alla Fiorentina - Florentine-Style Spring Peas
Fagioli al fiasco - Beans in a flask
Pici - A kind of very tick spaghetti typical of the sienese region
Filetto al balsamico - Meat filet in balsamic vinegar sauce
Pollo al Marsala e Peperoni Rossi - Chicken Marsala with Red Peppers
Pizza Margherita, Florentine style
Skip's Spuntature e Fagioli - Spare Ribs with Beans
Arista alla Fiorentina
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Tortellini al brodo
Pane Toscano - Tuscany bread (without salt)
Crostata di marmellata - Jam Crostata
Schiacciata con Uva - Sweet Grape Bread
Cantucci di Prato
Panforte di Siena
Frittelle di Riso
Torta della Nonna
Pan di Ramerino - Rosemary Buns
These recipes are for a traditional Tuscan Christmas meal, common in most homes, with a few variations -- it all depends on what you like best!
The meal usually starts with "Crostini di Fegato" followed by the "Tortellini al brodo" which are tortellini cooked in good meat stock, served with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese on top. The main meal consists of both a platter of "gran bollito", which are quality pieces of boiled beef (whose stock you use for the tortellini) with dipping sauces, with a side dish of roasted vegetables. Another option for a main dish is the "Arista alla Fiorentina" or Florentine roast pork. Oranges or tangerines usually follow this main dish, to "clean" the palate before finishing off with dessert. Dessert is often a "panettone" or "pandoro" (both common across Italy) or panforte or ricciarelli (common sweets across Italy but whose origin is from Siena, Tuscany).
Tortellini al brodo
Arista alla Fiorentina
Panforte di Siena
Example itinerary for a ONE-DAY COOKING CLASS in the Italian Tuscany region:
- 9:00 AM Pick-up by private English speaking driver at your location in Florence or surrounding area in Tuscany
- 10:30 AM your cooking class starts in the kitchen of our expert lady cook in a private villa in Chianti countryside, near Greve in Chianti, San Gimignano, Siena, Firenze.
- Enjoy a 4-hour cooking class: you will learn all the basics about the Tuscan genuine food under the expert eyes and guidance of our expert chef
- You will enjoy tasting the gourmet dishes you have prepared during lunch time
- 2:30 PM I'ts time to go! Visit Chianti, Greve in Chianti, San Gimignano, Siena, Firenze for a wine or cultural tour.
- 6:00 PM our driver will leave you at your hotel/residence
Example itinerary for SIX-DAYS COOKING CLASS in the Italian Tuscany region:
Please get in contact with us and we will send you a cost estimate.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also the possibility to spend a few days where the cooking courses will be taking place
With this option of taking cooking classes in Italy, you will not only have traveled to Italy to visit its sites, take in the monuments, admired the squares and museums, eat and enjoy the typical foods in different restaurants – always in the company of a professional guide and /or translator who speaks English – but you will be able to go back to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia or any other country – having learned to cook, prepare and appreciate the Italian food: Full service!!!
Have your cooking classes in
The Olive Harvest started mid October a little earlier than usual. Since then I have visited a vast range of Estates. There is nothing like the lingering perfume of fresh olives being pressed. The country side is coloured with vibrant nets layered on the ground to collect the acidic fruit. As I take guests around the market place of Sant'ambrogio local growers are extremely excited about their new extra virgin olive oil that they have us try their fresh liquid gold on Tuscan Foccaccia bread known as schiacciata. Of course each grower claims to have the 'Best Olive Oil in the world!'.
Almost every region in Italy produces olive oil. One third of the worlds olive oil derives from Italy. The Region Apulia is the largest producer. The taste of Olive oil is different from Region to region as the liquid gold compliments the food grown in the area. Olive oil from Umbria & Tuscany is stronger and leaves a bitter after tasted in comparison to the light buttery oil produced in Liguria best for white meat and fish dishes.
Extra virgin olive oil means the acidity level of the friut is at a minimum. Olives should be pressed the same day they are picked to allow for a low acidic olive oil.
For cooking I use a typical Tuscan - extra virgin olive oil along with a coastal olive oil for fish dishes. My favourites come from Sicily, Liguria and Puglia. I have a small bottle of fantastic extra virgin olive oil from Tenuta di Torciano 2009, I picked it up the day it was pressed and tastes delicious cold on fresh bruschetta, salad with rucola,parmesan, pear and pine nuts.
What to eat in Chianti
The most famous product of the Chianti territory is definitely wine, which has been designated in the seventies with the DOP status (protected designation of origin).
The Classic Chianti Wine D.O.C.G. is undoubtedly one of the best wines of the world, accompanying all the typical products of the Tuscany cuisine.
The production of olive oil in Chianti might be less famous than the wine production, but certainly not less relevant. Particularly worthy of note is the Classic Chianti Olive Oil DOP. This quality comes from different varieties of olives, such as Moraiolo, Frantoio, Leccino and Correggilo, all produced in the territory of Gaiole in Chianti. One of the simplest but tastiest dishes of the Tuscany cuisine is the “fettunta”, that is, bread and oil. It’s just a slice of bread, cooked in a wood fired oven or grilled, and seasoned with a little bit of first press oil (olio nuovo), which is the one coming from the first press, still intensely green and sparkling. ("Tu proverai sì come sa di sale lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale.." Divine Comedy-Paradise , canticle XVII). With second press oil usually a little bit of salt must be added, or you can make a bruschetta, crusty bread grilled,with garlic, salt and oil. The fettunta, which can be served as hors d’oeuvre both at lunch or dinner, or even as a snack, is the golden dish of the peasant feasts dedicated to harvest-time, but it also accompanies the Tuscan hors d'oeuvre in restaurants and trattorias.
Consortium of Chianti Classico Extravirgin Olive Oil
The Consortium of Chianti Classico Extravirgin Olive Oil Terre del Gallo Nero has been founded recently in order to improve and protect the quality of this product and spread the mark throughout the world. This Consortium includes over 100 firms that own more than 1000 acres of olive-groves as a whole planted with 320000 olives trees. The prestigious mark of the Consortium "Terre del Gallo Nero" guarantees the quality, genuineness And typicalness of the product. In fact, olives are pressed only in oil-mills tested by the Consortium itself. The olive oil samples must be chemically analized and tasted by two special Commissions; if there are positive results, the olive oil can be bottled. Many tests are made also after and consist in taking some samples of bottles already packed in order to give a further reassurance of the quality. Now everybody understands why the extravirgin olive oil “Terre del Gallo Nero” reaches high levels of quality: it is because it has been carefully selected, and because of its very natural savour and very low acidity.
The Florentine Steak
Florentine steak isn’t just a dish, but a philosophy. Technically speaking, the steak must derive from beef meat, with the bone forming a letter T. The peculiarity of this steak is the cut, at least 5 cm thick, so that the meat never result too cooked. The Florentine steak must be grilled on each side for a few minutes, so that the meat remains soft and rare. It can be eaten alone, or accompanied by a sauce made with oil, balsamic vinegar and rosemary. The Florentine steak can be also combined with grilled sausages and vegetables. In restaurants it is mainly served alone, but if you ask for a well-done steak, expect a black look from the waiter!
Sausages and Sliced products
Sausages and all sliced products derived from pork belong to popular cuisine. Absolutely not to miss is the famous lard (the most appreciated is the Lard of Colonnata, produced near the marble quarries of Carrara, but the Chianti Lard is also worthy of note). Another typical product is ham (very tasty in Tuscany), Buristo (sweet blood pudding, also called sanguinaccio); finocchiona (a quality of sausage seasoned with fennel); beacon and soprassata (brawn) . Very appreciated is also the native swine breed called Cinta Senese, the only one to survive extinction, which is considered today one of the finest races. Its name derives from the characteristic black hair of the pig, which has a white stripe surrounding the whole body like a belt.
What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is it So Good for You ?
The Mediterranean diet is all the rage these days – it has a reputation for being sinfully delicious while possessing the virtue of being extremely healthful. Yet when asked to define it, many folks have hard time coming up with a good description. Not surprising. Any country contiguous with the Mediterranean Sea, from Morroco to Greece and from Spain to Israel, can rightly claim that its cuisine qualifies as a form of the Mediterranean diet. Indeed there are hundreds perhaps thousands of variations of the Mediterranean diet as micro-cuisines vary from village to village. In Italy alone there are subtle nuances that distinguish the cuisines of different regions and villages. Roman, Tuscan, Ligurian, Neapolitan and Sicilian cuisine, to name handful of broad categories, are all variations on the Italian version of the Mediterranean Diet. It is the south/central Italian version of the Mediterranean diet which we will focus on in this course. It is among the most healthy of all Mediterranean cuisines, and we believe is the most delicious.
Despite the many variations of the Mediterranean diet, there are some common characteristics that are found in all the healthiest versions. Perhaps the single most important feature that unites all these cuisines is olive oil. It is a vehicle for the tastes that permeate these cuisines and it is the elixir of health that makes them so beneficial. Olive oil is the source of almost all fat in the health Mediterranean diet, there is very little saturated fat from meat and not many other vegetable oils either. Not only is olive oil a beneficial monounsaturated fat, it carries many important anti-oxidants along with it. But perhaps the most important characteristic is simply that it makes vegetables taste absolutely delicious. This encourages the avid consumption of vegetables that is so characteristic of the healthy Mediterrranean diet. Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes (technically a fruit), and scores of other vegetables and plant foods have, individually and collectively, been associated with lower rates of disease – especially heart disease and cancer. Italians in particular have a love affair with these foods and specialize in making them irresistible.
But that’s not all. The lowly bean is held in high esteem in the Mediterranean and when combined with olive oil and the proper accompaniments is a culinary delight. It is also a staple of good health. The same can be said of nuts of all varieties. While the healthy Mediterranean diet is not big on milk and butter, cheese and yogurt are important components. In Italy cheese is used largely as a condiment to make other foods such as pasta, tomato sauce and vegetables even more delicious. Yogurt which is found throughout the Mediterranean has long been associated with extended life expectancy, and some studies suggest that it may lower cholesterol, enhance immunity and have anti-oxidant properties.
A Mediterranean meal, especially in Italy, would not be complete without red wine. Modern science is finally establishing what Mediterraneans have believed for millennia – red wine in moderation appears to be good for your health. Each glass of wine contains the concentrated phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants of hundreds of grapes. These substances seem to prevent cholesterol from doing damage and prevent blood clots from forming. Put it all together, the olive oil, the fruits, the vegetables, red wine and you have a diet drenched in deep passionate colors. These colors not only bring a seductive beauty to the table, they carry the greatest concentration of anti-oxidants and healthy phyto-nutrients. It seems that nature in all her wisdom has imbued the most colorful foods with the highest concentration of health enhancing substances. Just as important is what you will not find in the healthy Mediterranean diet. Fast food is verboten and red meat is consumed infrequently, almost as a condiment. Butter and cream sauces are also the exception.
Of course in northern France and Northern Italy you will find people eating this way – but these regions are far from the Mediterranean and the sunny climes that produce the healthiest foods and lifestyles. Finally we cannot overlook the Mediterranean perspective on life. Italians in particular have a reverence for food and good conversation. The two of course come together at the dinner table, each enhancing the quality of the other. After dinner a long walk in the fellowship of friends and family provides those pleasures many of us seem to be lacking. These simple pleasures – good food, good talk, and long walks are the secret to a long, happy, and healthy life. Come join us and we will show you how it is done!.
Why Go Organic? Healthy Body, Healthy Planet
A healthy diet requires more than simply cutting out junk food—it involves getting the most nutritional value out of every bite you take. It takes good food to build a fit body. But did you know that your food choices also have an impact on the environment? If you’d like both a healthy body and a healthy planet, consider going organic.
Definition of Organic
An organic product is raised, grown, and processed without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, antibiotics or hormones. Only farmers who produce food according to USDA organic standards and become certified by an independent third-party accredited agent can label their product as "certified organic" (with the exception of very small farms with sales under $5000 annually). The term "conventional" describes non-organic farming practices. The Benefits of Organic Food
According to a 2001 study, today’s conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have about half the vitamin content of their 1963 counterparts. Organically grown food, however, is more nutritious than food produced using synthetic chemicals, as shown by a study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition in 1993. On average, organically grown food is 63 percent higher in calcium, 73 percent higher in iron and 118 percent higher in magnesium, while being 29 percent lower in mercury. Besides potentially providing more nutrition per bite, organic food may also help you fight off disease. You may have heard of flavonoids, which plants produce in response to environmental stresses, such as competing plants or insects. Flavonoids have high levels of antioxidants, which serve as the plant’s natural defense and help us fight disease as well. Research suggests that pesticides and herbicides interfere with the production of these protective compounds.
According to the 2005 State of Science Review (SSR) by the Organic Center, antioxidant levels are about 30 percent higher in organic food than chemically-grown foods produced under the same conditions. Most antioxidants are found in the peels of fruits and vegetables, but many people cut away the peel of conventionally grown produce to reduce their exposure to pesticides. Since it is safer to eat the skin of an organic fruit or vegetable, you get the maximum amount of antioxidants from your produce when you buy organic.
Scientists now have a better understanding of how disease and environmental toxins are linked and have proven that exposure to chemical fertilizers and pesticides does impact our health. Some pesticides have been shown to disrupt the human endocrine system (which regulates our hormones), while others have been linked to breast cancer, uterine cancer and asthma.
The Importance of Healthy Soil
Farmers began using chemical fertilizers and pesticides around 50 years ago in order to boost crop yields. Over time, insects, weeds and plant diseases have developed resistance to these pesticides, which has prompted the development of stronger pesticides and the need for multiple applications during the growing cycle. Despite the tremendous increase in the use of pesticides since 1950, the percentage of crop volume lost to pests has remained about the same.
A study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that 40 percent of the world’s agricultural soil is seriously depleted due to erosion (a result of planting the same crop over and over again), nutrient depletion (due to the use of chemical fertilizers) and salinization (the build-up of salt in the soil due to excessive irrigation).
The good news is that organic farming methods, such as rotating crops, using compost or manure instead of chemical fertilizers, and careful water use can reverse this damage and rebuild healthy soil.
7 Reasons to buy Organic When it comes to your health—and the planet's—here are the top seven reasons why you might want to purchase organic foods whenever possible:
1. Protect the health of children. Children are exposed to four times the level of pesticides in food than adults. Pesticides affect children more profoundly due to their higher metabolisms and smaller body mass.
2. Look after your own health. Several pesticides that are banned in the U.S. and Canada are used on foreign crops and shipped here for consumers to buy.
3. Safeguard the health of farm workers. Studies have shown that conventional farmers have six times the cancer risk of non-farmers. Because fertilizers and chemicals are often distributed by air, farm workers can be exposed to large quantities of chemicals without protection.
4. Preserve the soil. Over three billion tons of topsoil are lost each year in the United States and Canada due to erosion caused by conventional farming methods.
5. Protect the water. Pesticides are known to contaminate groundwater, which affects the drinking water supply in most of the United States and Canada. If pesticide-contaminated water reaches lakes, rivers and other bodies of water, it allows the rapid growth of algae and suffocates the natural aquatic plants and animals.
6. Conserve resources. Conventional farming uses a vast amount of petroleum-based herbicides to kill weeds, while organic farming uses labor-intensive practices such as weeding by hand.
7. Fight global warming. Petroleum-based fertilizers give plants the nitrogen they need for rapid growth, but these nitrogen compounds can enter the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Thoroughly washing conventional produce and trimming away edible peels will help minimize any chemical residue while still retaining a high level of nutrients. If organic foods don't fit into your budget or lifestyle, try not to worry. Most health authorities report that the health benefits that come from eating fruits and vegetables outweigh the concerns of pesticide use. Whether you select organic or conventionally grown produce, eating five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables each day is still the healthiest way to get the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need as a preventive health measure.