Monday, October 5, 2015

A Day in the Country

Picking herbs for me to take home to use
When our pal Anne Robichaud, a certified Umbrian guide invited us to join her small group for lunch at her friend Giuseppa's house outside Deruta, the town famous for ceramics, we jumped at the chance.  Giuseppa and Paolo raise everything themselves,  with the exception of sugar, coffee and flour, all the dishes came from their farm. 

Sharing the bounty of her garden with me

Discussing how to use the onions and garlic--using different colored onions for different purposes
Aging their prosciutto

Outdoor oven for baking bread
After showing us around the farm, as well as their bread oven, and the prosciutto that has been aging, we were invited inside to partake of a delicious meal.  She had baked traditional Umbrian cheese bread known as crescia (traditionally served at Easter and festivals) for us to try with the home cured cappocolo.  (no photo since I scarfed it down in no time!)
Pasta for lunch

Wild boar ragu

No one goes hungry in Italy!
Giuseppa served us a delicious pasta dish made with wild boar ragu.  It was the best I've had in a very long time, and reminded me of my grandmothers' home made pasta. 
Paolo told us that he was going to hunt wild boar in the next few days, and was scouting locations
Fresh shelled bean salad, deliciozo!

Not only was the food incredible, the company was awesome as well, 2 Americani, one from the UK, and 2 from Canada
Our friend Anne with Giuseppa, helping with dessert:  traditional crostata with cherry jam, and chocolate chip pound cake
My bouquet of herbs which I used yesterday to make Dr. C. some soup
The recipe for Crostata is here, and I'm sharing the recipe for the Umbrian cheese bread that was given to me by my mother's cousin many years ago.  It is delicious and should be eaten within a few days after baking.  Giuseppa uses a little Parmigiano in hers, and I would recommend that you split the cheese, 1/2 Pecorino and 1/2 Parmigiano, since the Pecorino that you will find in the US is pretty strong, or shake things up and use the Pecorino studded with peppercorns.

 Crescia---Traditional Umbrian Cheese Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm whole milk (105°F)
8 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I prefer Crisco--the Italiani use lard)
6 shakes of Tabasco sauce
1 1/3 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • Coat a 10-cup tube pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.  
  • In a 4 cup measure, stir together the yeast, sugar, salt, and milk. Set aside until the mixture begins to bubble, about 10 minutes.
  • With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, shortening, and Tabasco in a large bowl until light and fluffy and the shortening is incorporated into the eggs. Stir in the yeast mixture and continue to beat until thoroughly combined.  
  • Gradually add the flour and beat for 4 minutes.  The dough will be sticky and loose. 
  • Transfer to the prepared pan, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. 
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. At the end of the rising, bake the bread until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely and remove from the pan.   
  • Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
 I've been invited back to learn how to make pizza in her outdoor oven, and cannot wait!  Grazie Annie, Giuseppa, and Paolo for an unforgettable afternoon. 

It began to rain when we left Deruta, but as we came home to Spello, we were greeted by a rainbow; a perfect ending to an amazing day!

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