Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA-AUF Florence University of the Arts-The American University of Florence. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals.
Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!



“Mezze Maniche” Pasta with Sausage Ragu

Experience the heart and soul of Italian cuisine with this comforting and hearty recipe for “Mezze Maniche” Pasta with Sausage Ragu. The term “mezze maniche” translates to “half sleeves,” describing the short, tube-like pasta that’s perfect for holding onto the rich, meaty ragu sauce. This dish brings together the robust flavors of Italian sausage, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs for a satisfying and flavorful meal that’s sure to become a family favorite.

Ingredients (4 servings):

For the Sausage Ragu:

  • 500g Italian sausage (sweet or spicy, based on your preference)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

For the Pasta:

  • 400g “Mezze Maniche” pasta (or any short pasta of your choice)
  • Salt, for boiling

For Garnish:

  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


1. Prepare the Sausage Ragu:

  1. Remove the casings from the Italian sausage. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage to the skillet and break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until it’s browned and cooked through.
  4. Stir in the minced garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil, and cook for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Pour in the red wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce slightly.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat and let the ragu simmer for 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.

2. Cook the Pasta:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add salt generously and cook the “mezze maniche” pasta (or any short pasta of your choice) according to the package instructions until it’s al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and set aside.

3. Combine the Pasta and Ragu:

  1. Add the cooked pasta to the sausage ragu in the skillet. Toss everything together to ensure the pasta is well coated with the flavorful sauce.

4. Serve:

  1. Ladle the Mezze Maniche Pasta with Sausage Ragu onto serving plates.
  2. Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

Broccoli and Shrimp Sauce with Gnocchi

Prepare to tantalize your taste buds at the TuttoToscana event with a dish that combines the freshness of broccoli, the succulence of shrimp, and the delightful softness of gnocchi. This Broccoli and Shrimp Sauce with Gnocchi recipe is a symphony of flavors and textures that will leave you craving for more. Whether you’re serving it as a special dinner for the TuttoToscana event or a comforting family meal, this dish is sure to impress.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6):

For the Shrimp Stock:

  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 3-4 cm segments
  • Shrimp shells from 12 large fresh shrimps
  • 2 liters of cold water

For the Broccoli Sauce:

  • 600g broccoli florets
  • 80g chopped shallots
  • 10g chopped garlic
  • 20g chili pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Olive oil, for sautéing

For the Shrimps:

  • 12 large fresh shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil, for searing

For the Gnocchi:

  • 400g gnocchi
  • Salt, for boiling


1. Prepare the Shrimp Stock:

  • Peel the onions and quarter them.
  • Cut the celery stalks into 3-4 cm segments.
  • Shell the shrimps and wash the shells.
  • In a large pot, combine the onion quarters, celery segments, and shrimp shells.
  • Pour in 2 liters of cold water.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow it to cook for about 45 minutes.
  • Strain the shrimp stock and set it aside for later use.

2. Make the Broccoli Sauce:

  • Boil the broccoli florets in salted water until they are tender. Reserve some florets for garnish.
  • In a large pan, sauté the chopped garlic and shallots in olive oil until they turn golden.
  • Add the boiled broccoli (excluding the reserved florets) to the pan.
  • Pour in enough of the prepared shrimp stock to barely cover the solids.
  • Simmer for about 3 minutes to meld the flavors.
  • Season the sauce with chili pepper flakes, salt, and the zest of one lemon.
  • Puree the sauce until smooth and strain it to remove any remaining solids.

3. Prepare the Shrimps:

  • In a separate pan, quickly sear the peeled and deveined shrimps in a bit of olive oil. Cook them until they turn pink and opaque. Set them aside.

4. Finish the Dish:

  • Boil the gnocchi in salted water according to the package instructions.
  • Once the gnocchi are cooked, transfer them into the broccoli sauce and toss them over medium heat until they are well coated.

5. Plate and Serve:

  • Plate the gnocchi and broccoli sauce mixture.
  • Arrange the reserved broccoli florets and seared shrimps on top as a garnish.
  • Optionally, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with additional chili pepper flakes or lemon zest for added flavor.

Tutto Toscana 2023: Gala Dinner Menu

Cantabric anchovies are part of this year's gala dinner menu.
Farmer butter and salted cantabric anchovy on turmeric bread.
One of the antipasti rom this year’s gala dinner.

The Tutto Toscana Gala Dinner stands out as a celebration of Tuscan cuisine that captures the essence of this remarkable region. This year’s theme, “Aroma of Tuscany,” has students taking center stage in the development and execution of this extraordinary culinary extravaganza.

Creating the Menu

The menus for the Tutto Toscana Gala Dinner are meticulously crafted by the chefs at the James Beard Culinary Institute during the summer months, following the precise timing indicated by James Beard himself, one of the masters of American cuisine. However, what truly makes this experience special is the involvement of the students, who become the true protagonists in recipe testing and execution in the James Beard style.

Students have the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned in their courses, working alongside the chefs to perfect each dish on the menu. This hands-on involvement allows students to refine their culinary skills and contribute significantly to the creation of an exceptional menu.

The Tuscan Experience

Guests at the Tutto Toscana Gala Dinner can expect an authentic and engaging culinary experience that captures the essence of Tuscany. The flavors remain true to the land of origin, with a variety of traditional and innovative dishes that evoke the unique atmosphere of the Italian region.

The evening culminates in the “gala dinner,” a highlight of the event where guests can fully immerse themselves in Tuscan culture and cuisine. The food is prepared using high-quality ingredients and presented impeccably to provide a memorable culinary experience.

Special Ingredients

One of the highlights of this year’s menu is the pairing of turmeric-infused bread with butter and Cantabrian anchovies. This flavor combination offers a tasty introduction to the Tuscan dishes that follow and demonstrates the creativity of the chefs and students in blending tradition and innovation.

The Must-Try Dish

Among all the outstanding dishes that make up the “Aroma of Tuscany” menu at the James Beard Culinary Institute’s Tutto Toscana Gala Dinner, one of the most intriguing is the broccoli cannelloni. The pairing with shrimp and almond curd creates a unique and satisfying combination of flavors and textures. This dish represents the bold and creative approach of the James Beard Culinary Institute to Tuscan cuisine, highlighting the versatility of local ingredients.

In conclusion, the Tutto Toscana Gala Dinner at the James Beard Culinary Institute offers an extraordinary opportunity for students to put their culinary skills into practice and for guests to immerse themselves in an authentic and captivating culinary experience. With student involvement, special ingredients, and unique dishes, this evening promises to be an exceptional culinary event that celebrates Tuscan cuisine in all its splendor.

TuttoToscana 2023: The student team

Here’s the team of students involved in the program for the 2023 edition of TuttoToscana:

Lauren Tippen

Emily Decking

Sofia Gigliotti

Bryan Berkowitz

Megan Sullivan

Fabiana Chavez

Samantha Farr 

Breanna Williams

Asherdee Diamond 

TuttoToscana 2023

Pastry chef Simone DeCastrois ready for Tutto Toscana 2023

The TuttoToscana team is getting ready to host a week full of events between the 25th and the 29th of September. We’ve asked Simone DeCastro, the Apicius faculty member who is leading the program, to share some insights into this year’s organization.

How does it feel to be back organizing TuttoToscana?

Organizing Tutto Toscana is always an emotional experience. I love this program; it’s always a great challenge for me and for the students involved. Even if they make mistakes at times, it’s all part of the process, and we work together to learn from them. At the end of the program, you can see the look of satisfaction and pride in their eyes. This kind of opportunity offered by Apicius at FUA-AUF is unparalleled.

What can we expect from the 2023 edition of TuttoToscana?

As always, the theme changes, and everything changes… but this time we really want to make ourselves heard. We want to talk about our land, our Tuscany, what it offers, and what it gives to us. This special program will be a week in New York City, full of appointments, including four events that will showcase who we are, what we teach, and what represents us.

What is the theme of this edition?

This year, the theme is “Aroma di Toscana.”

What’s the inspiration for this year’s menu for the gala dinner?

The gala dinner will be a culinary journey that will immediately transport us to the Tuscan hills. Each one of the dishes represents an aspect of Tuscan culture and the care of the ingredients used.

Is the student team ready to embark on this adventure?

They are very ready. Our students have been carefully selected and are ready to face this wonderful experience.

Anything you want to tell the readers of Cibochat?

I just want to say that it is an honor for me to be part of this adventure. I am proud of my students, and I am also proud to be a member of this institution that breaks down any cultural barriers, allowing the students to challenge themselves and to open up to new possibilities.

Learn more about our TuttoToscana program here.

Fish & Chips 2.0

Fish and chips, a beloved British classic, has made its mark worldwide with its crispy goodness and satisfying flavors. Apicius’s faculty and students developed this version 2.0 taking on this iconic dish to the next level by infusing it with colorful veggies and a touch of extra seasoning. Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure as we explore the elements of this reimagined fish and chips recipe, featuring a batter foam that adds a unique twist, a vibrant yellow bell pepper fluid gel, perfectly cooked potatoes, and an array of mouthwatering accompaniments.

Batter Foam


  • 190g 00 flour
  • 190g rice flour
  • 20g rice flour
  • 20g smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 300ml sparkling water
  • 300ml beer


  1. Mix the 00 flour, rice flour, smoked paprika, and honey together in a bowl.
  2. Gradually add the sparkling water and beer while whisking to create a smooth batter.
  3. Strain the batter mixture into a siphon.
  4. Charge the siphon with 2-3 CO2 cartridges, ensuring proper aeration.
  5. Refrigerate the batter foam until ready to use.

Yellow Bell Pepper Fluid Gel


  • Juice of bell peppers (white parts and seeds removed)
  • 100ml water
  • 2g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 0.5g locust bean gum (0.1%)
  • 1.5g agar agar (0.3%)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar


  1. Combine 400ml of bell pepper juice, 100ml water, sugar, and salt in a pan.
  2. Disperse locust bean gum and agar agar in the mixture and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.
  3. Let the mixture set and cool down.
  4. Puree the mixture, adding white wine vinegar for a fluid gel texture.
  5. Strain the gel to achieve a smooth consistency.


  1. Peel and cut a potato into wedges. Cook sous vide with a solution of water, 2% salt, and 1% sugar at 90°C for 40 minutes.
  2. Allow the potatoes to cool completely before deep frying at 190°C until crispy (approximately 5 minutes).


  1. Filet and skin your chosen fish. Season with salt, white pepper, ginger powder, and garlic powder.
  2. Slice the filet into desired sizes.
  3. Flour the fish and dip it into the batter foam.
  4. Deep fry the coated fish slices at 190°C until golden and crispy.

Red Onion


  • 500g red onion, quartered
  • 100g water
  • 100g vinegar
  • 100g strawberries
  • 3g salt
  • 100g sugar


  1. Create a mixture of water, vinegar, strawberries, salt, and sugar.
  2. Cook the mixture sous vide at 80°C for 40 minutes.
  3. Cool the mixture and marinate the quartered red onions in it.
  4. Allow the onions to marinate, preferably overnight, for optimal flavor infusion.

Assemble everything on a plate and you’re ready to enjoy your Fish and Chips 2.0!

Osso Buco with Soft Polenta

Embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Italy with this classic and comforting dish of Osso Buco served with soft polenta. Hailing from Milan, Osso Buco features succulent, slow-cooked veal shanks in a flavorful broth, while the creamy soft polenta provides the perfect canvas for soaking up the rich, aromatic sauce. This combination of tender meat and silky polenta is a beloved Italian tradition that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Ingredients (4 servings):

For the Osso Buco:

  • 4 veal shanks (osso buco), each about 2 inches thick
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef or veal broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Gremolata for garnish (mix of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley)

For the Soft Polenta:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


1. Prepare the Osso Buco:

  1. Season the veal shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and dredge them in flour, shaking off any excess.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the veal shanks on all sides. This step adds depth of flavor to the dish.
  3. Remove the browned veal shanks and set them aside.
  4. In the same pot, add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Sauté them until they become tender and aromatic.
  5. Pour in the white wine and allow it to simmer for a few minutes, reducing slightly.
  6. Return the veal shanks to the pot.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes, beef or veal broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
  8. Cover the pot and let the Osso Buco simmer on low heat for 2-2.5 hours, or until the veal is tender and the sauce has thickened.

2. Prepare the Soft Polenta:

  1. In a separate pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Gradually whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to low. Cook the polenta, stirring constantly, until it thickens and becomes creamy.
  3. Stir in the whole milk, butter, and salt. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta is soft and creamy.

3. Serve:

  1. Divide the soft polenta among serving plates.
  2. Place a veal shank on top of the polenta.
  3. Spoon the flavorful Osso Buco sauce over the veal.
  4. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and a spoonful of gremolata.

Salt Cod Stew in a Garlic Tomato Sauce from Livorno

Transport your taste buds to the charming coastal town of Livorno with this exquisite recipe for Salt Cod Stew in a Garlic Tomato Sauce. Livorno, located on the picturesque Italian coast, is renowned for its rich maritime heritage and delectable seafood dishes. This stew beautifully captures the essence of the sea with salt cod and the warmth of Italian cuisine through a flavorful garlic-infused tomato sauce. Whether you’re seeking a taste of the Mediterranean or simply craving a hearty, comforting meal, this dish is a delightful journey for your palate.

Ingredients (4 servings):

For the Salt Cod:

  • 500g salt cod
  • Water for soaking

For the Garlic Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your preferred level of spiciness)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Stew:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  • Crusty Italian bread, for serving


1. Prepare the Salt Cod:

  1. Rinse the salt cod under cold running water to remove excess salt.
  2. Place the cod in a large bowl and cover it with water.
  3. Let it soak for 24-48 hours, changing the water every 8-12 hours. This process rehydrates the cod and removes the excess salt.
  4. Once fully rehydrated, drain the cod and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

2. Make the Garlic Tomato Sauce:

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the white wine and allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer the sauce for about 15-20 minutes, allowing it to thicken and develop its flavors.

3. Create the Stew:

  1. In a separate pan, sauté the finely chopped onion and diced bell peppers until they become tender.
  2. Add the rehydrated salt cod pieces and cook for a few minutes until they start to turn golden.
  3. Pour the prepared garlic tomato sauce over the cod and vegetable mixture.
  4. Add the black olives to the stew and stir gently.
  5. Let the stew simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the cod to become tender.

4. Serve:

  1. Ladle the Salt Cod Stew into serving bowls.
  2. Garnish with fresh basil leaves for a burst of herbal aroma.
  3. Serve the stew with slices of crusty Italian bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.