Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. 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!

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Blog

Panzanella

Panzanella is a typical tuscan salad with the main ingredient being bread. It’s not uncommon to see this dish during the spring and summer, being  both fresh and filling at same time. Our Apicius students have taken the basic recipe and put their own spin on it, making a complete meal for this spring season. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 240g Tuscan bread (Preferably stale)
  • 2  Red onions
  • 1 Fennel
  • 2 Celery sticks
  • 20g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 20g Black olives
  • 30g Parsley
  • 10g lemon juice
  • 30g Lemon zest
  • 50g Olive Oil
  • 100g White wine vinegar
  • 150-200g Water (adjust if needed)
  •  Pepper To Taste
  •  Salt To Taste

Method

Start by removing the bread’s crust, and cut it into small chunks and set aside. Meanwhile dice parsley, celery and red onion, cut the black olives into thick slices, and slice the fennel. Mix white wine vinegar and water then put the diced red onion inside to marinate for 30-60 minutes.

Drain out the marinated water and add more water to decrease the flavor, then quickly soak the bread inside, don’t let it get too soft, it should be damp but not falling apart. Once soft enough squeeze out the water. Put all the vegetables and bread into a bowl, mix with a dressing made of  lemon juice, Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and serve on a plate with some chopped parsley on top. Be sure to enjoy it on a warm summer day!

Fagioli all’Uccelletto

This simple traditional tuscan recipe might remind some of the british baked beans, but with a more italian flavor. An excellent side dish to accompany meats, especially the traditional Tuscan cuts such as bistecca alla fiorentina or tuscan sausages, it is simple and quick to make and can also stand as a main course on its own.

One particular thing regarding the recipe is the fact that the name refers to the italian word for bird “Uccello”, which strikes as very odd for a dish that is fully vegetarian. Well the famed Pellegrino Artusi helps us out here. According to Artusi, the name derives from the fact that the aromas used for the dish, especially sage, are the same that were used to prepare small birds on the spit.

Ingredients:

  • 150g of dried  cannellini beans
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic, 6  minced garlic cloves and 1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
  • 2 sprigs of sage, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 300ml Tomato purée
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Start by soaking the dried cannellini  in  salted cold water overnight. Once at least 12 hours have passed drain the soaked beans and place in a pan with the halved garlic bulb, sage and onion. Top up with water and season with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 35–45 minutes or until the beans become tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Discard the onion, garlic and sage. Preheat an oven to 160°C. Heat 40ml of the oil in a casserole pan and gently fry the garlic and sage until soft.  Once the garlic is soft, add the beans, then add the tomato purée,  enough to cover the beans, add the cooking water if needed. Season with salt and pepper then place the lid on the casserole pan. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes to thicken up the sauce, if needed.

Green Pea Soup, poached egg, borage, and crispy pancetta


The late spring weather is allowing us to spend more time outside and especially enjoy wonderful brunches under the sun. If you’re planning a brunch on your own we have a great recipe for you. This green pea soup with a poached egg is both filling and refreshing; perfect for a sunny Sunday morning.

Ingredients
● 1 kg frozen green peas
● 1 shallot, finely sliced
● 1/2 tbs sugar
● 1 lt water
● salt to taste
● 120 gr baby spinach
● 6 mint leaves
● Pancetta
● Borage
● One clove of garlic

Method:
Bring salted water to a boil. Then add peas, sugar, and shallots and let cook for 8 minutes. Use a hand blender or just a regular blender and puree until smooth as silk. Then add the mint and blend again. Leave on a simmer while you go work on the pancetta and the poached egg. Cut pancetta into small sticks and cook until crispy in a pan with no oil. Wash, boil, and sauté the borage with oil and garlic until fragrant. To poach the eggs, crack the egg into a bowl being careful not to break the yolk. In a pot, bring water to a simmer, add a drop of white wine vinegar, stir the water until it creates a whirlpool, and pour the already cracked egg in. Cook for two minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. To bring it all together, pour the soup into a
pasta or soup bowl. Place the borage in the center of the bowl. Then place the poached egg on top of the borage and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with pancetta and fresh peas, enjoy.

Tuna tartare with bufala mozzarella, coconut sauce, lime and chili pepper

Tuna tartare usually consists of finely chopped raw tuna that can be prepared and served in a variety of ways. Initially, tartare was created as a French dish and was often prepared with beef. But since its conception, it has evolved time and time again to include certain meat or fish you desire. Tartare is often served at fine dining eateries, and fits right in with Apicius’ Spring menu. Here’s how to make Apicius’ interpretation of this elegant classic.

Serves 1
Ingredients:
Tartare
50 gr Savoy cabbage
90 gr Tuna
White wine for cooking
Citrus Air
120 gr lime juice
80 gr lemon juice
8 gr sugar
2 gr salt
2 gr Lecitine (1.7%)
0.4 gr Xanthan gum (0.3%)
Chili peppers (to taste)
250 gr water
50 gr sugar
5 gr salt
Bufala & Coconut Sauce
150 gr buffalo mozzarella
200 gr mozzarella water
80 gr coconut milk


Method:
When preparing the chili peppers, slice the peppers and cook sous vide at 85°C with a syrup made of the water, sugar and salt. Set aside until ready to serve. To prepare the bufala and coconut sauce, puree the ingredients together until smooth and add salt to taste. You can also adjust the flavor to your liking, adding coconut milk if necessary. When ready the expected texture of sauce would be similar to a liquid yogurt. Next, slice the savoy cabbage julienne-style and stew them in a pan with olive oil, garlic, salt and white wine. For the tuna, finely chop and dress with olive oil, salt, pepper. To plate this dish, take the bufala and coconut sauce and pour it into the center of a pasta bowl. Next place the chopped savoy cabbage in the center and flatten with a spoon. Place the tuna tartare on top of the cabbage and garnish the sauce with chili and micro-greens. To finish, add the citrus air on the tartare.

Fedora’s Artisanal Chocolate Eggs

By Lauren Mulvey

This spring at Florence University of the Arts’ pastry shop, Fedora, head pastry chef Simone De Castro is working on his latest round of chocolate eggs with his students. De Castro’s spring collection will feature 11 eggs of varying designs based around the natural environment and sustainability, as well as a mini collection of specialized chocolate eggs for children. During the spring season, chocolate eggs pop up in nearly every market and pasticceria in Italy’s city centers. Chocolate eggs are an Italian Easter tradition that rose to popularity following World War II. The chocolate eggs themselves are a special treat, but they serve to hold gifts for family members and children. On Easter day, families in Italian homes around the country can be found cracking their egg open to find a secret surprise inside. De Castro has been making collections of eggs every spring for years, and each year, he has selected a theme that presents a string of thoughts and feelings he has experienced. In Fedora this spring, you can expect to find chocolate eggs embellished with earth-inspired textures like wood,
stone, leaves and flowers. “Nature is the only place that calms me,” De Castro said of his choice to utilize these themes. Not only will the eggs include imagery of nature, but their packaging and production will also be sustainable. De Castro ensures the chocolate is free trade, packaging is recyclable and the production of the chocolate excludes the usual use of non-sustainable tools.
“I don’t want to dirty the world with the creation of rubber molds or plastic molds,” De Castro said. “I prefer to use my hands and some techniques for modeling that use tools that can be sustainable.”
The process of making these eggs is straightforward, but requires precision. De Castro explains in simple terms, one must temper the chocolate, pour it into a molded shape, wait for it to crystallize and place the Easter gift inside before closing and decorating the final product. For now, De Castro works alone on the eggs. However, students in Fedora’s Chocolate Artistry course, starting in FUA’s fourth session on April 4, will assist De Castro in completing his vision and crafting the chocolate carefully for families and gatherings throughout Florence. Through this process, students will not only practice their chocolate crafting skills, but will immerse themselves in Italian culture at one of the most joyous times of year in Italy. To see De Castro’s 2022 chocolate egg collection in-person, visit Fedora between March 22nd and the end of the Easter season.