EATING UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN

So.  After reading about Tuscany and seeing the movies for the past fifty years or so, I'm finally going in May 2011.
To prepare for the trip, I've been reading more books, and I've noticed that many travel books about Tuscany also include
recipes.

I've decided that after I go and come back, I'm going to be a better chef, influenced by the nuances of the Tuscan cuisine.

In the meantime, I'm collecting some recipes to prepare for the day when I can presume to call myself a Tuscan chef.
Mostly, they come from the books of Frances Mayes.  Here are a few of them.

OLIVE ALL 'ASCOLANA
Olives from Ascoli Piceno

If you can find the ascolana olive (and you probably can't), use large olives with the pits removed.

INGREDIENTS
Peanut oil for frying
20 large olives, pits removed
1/2 pound Italian salami, finely chopped
Beaten flour, egg, and bread crumbs on three separate plates
Salt and pepper


INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oil in a pan until it reaches 375 degrees

Stuff the olives with the salami.

Roll in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs.

Fry until golden, turning when needed.

Drain on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.

Alternate filling:  With a pastry tube, try piping in a mix of garlic, chopped anchovy
and lemon zest.


PASTA AL FORNO CON SALSICCE E QUATTRO FORMAGGI
Baked Pasta with Sausage and Four Cheeses
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
Olive Oil
1 onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt for seasoning
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, meat cut into small pieces
1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing s removed, meat cut into small pieces
1/2 cup red wine
4 or 5 springs of oregano, leaves torn
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, chopped
1 pound dried rigatoni
1 cup ricotta
1/2 pound Fontina or Taleggio, cubed
1/2 pound of mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup parmigiano
1/2 cup bread crumbs

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, Saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic
on low heat for five minutes.  Season with salt.

Add sausage to pan, cooking until browned, about ten minutes.

Add the red wine, turn the heat up to boil, and cook until most of the liquid has
evaporated.

Add the oregano and the tomatoes, along with their juices and continue cooking for
at least ten minutes.

When the water in the stockpot has come to a boil, salt it, and add the rigatoni.
Cook a minute or two less than the time required on the package (since it will
continue cooking in the oven), then drain, reserving a bit of the pasta water.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta with the Fontina and a splash of the pasta water,
then add the drained rigatoni, and continue mixing.

Add the sausage mixture.

Add the mozzarella to the bowl and mix well, then pour into an oiled 8 by 13 inch
baking dish, sprinkling grated parmigiano and bread crumbs on top.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes and serve hot.


PLACIDO'S STEAK

INGREDIENTS
1 big, thick T-bone steak
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Rosemary, minced
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut gashes in the strip of fat on the outside of the steak so that it doesn't curl up in
the heat.

Prepare a pan large enough to hold the steak.  Add oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic.

Grill the steak to your preference.  Bathe the steak in the oil bath on both sides,
sprinkling with more salt and pepper.  Serve warm.