Apple custard tart

Apple Tart - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

For the dough:
2 Eggs
100g Butter
100g Granulated white sugar
250g All purpose flour
1 tsp Baking powder
50g Pine nuts
1 Apple
1 tsp Cinnamon
30g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp Icing sugar

For the custard:
2 Yolks
100g Corn flour
100g Granulated white sugar
200 ml Milk
½ tsp Vanilla extract

For the tart dough: Mix the flour and the baking powder in a large bowl, then add softened butter, eggs and sugar and mix manually until smooth and soft (don’t overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.). Round the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour until firm.

For the custard: in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk. Meanwhile whisk the yolks with the sugar in a large bowl, then add corn flour and vanilla extract and mix throughly. Pour the mixture into the milk and stir constantly until thick. Let the custard cool down at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Assemble tart: Peel, core, and slice the apples into 3 mm thick slices.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 30 cm diameter circle that is about 3 mm thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). When the pastry is the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten. Then pour the custard over the cooled tart shell. Arrange carefully the apple wedges in concentric circles on top of the custard. Sprinkle lightly with the pine nuts, cinnamon and demerara sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes. Let the tart cool down, then sprinkle with icing sugar.

Serve and enjoy!

Mini Apple Tarts

Applecake - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

350g Pie crust dough
2 Granny Smith apples
70 g Peach or apricot jam
1 Egg yolk
30 g Water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Peel and core the apples, cut in halves and then in thin slices (approximately 4 mm thick). Soak the apples’ slices in cold water with lemon juice to prevent apples from browning. Mix the jam and the water in a small pot and bring it to a boil, stirring with a spatula. Remove from the heat and sieve it.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pie dough (be sure to flatten any creases) and cut circles from the pie crust with a cookie cutter, re-rolling the dough if necessary. Arrange 6-7 apple slices on prepared dough circles, leaving the edges of the dough uncovered. Brush the apples with jam. In a bowl whisk the yolk with a table spoon of water and brush the edges of the dough.
Line a backing sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tarts.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
According to taste add cinnamon! Buon appetito!

Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

spaghetti - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

4 servings
320 g Spaghetti
400g Ripe cherry tomatoes
400g San Marzano tomatoes
10 Fresh basil leaves
2 Gloves of garlic
Grated parmesan cheese
Grounded chilli pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Wash the San Marzano tomatoes and drop them into the boiling water for few seconds. Move the tomatoes to a bowl with ice-cooled water to block the cooking. Remove the skin as it starts to slip off. In a large pan heat a table spoon of olive oil and sauté two gloves of garlic and some chilli pepper. Add the chopped San Marzano tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes cut in halves in the pan and adjust the salt.
While the sauce simmers, heat the water for the pasta. Cook the spaghetti in salted water about half of the way cooked. Drain, reserving some of the water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente. If the sauce is over-reduced, use the pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.
At the last moment, remove the pan from the heat; add the fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly. Remove to a platter and serve.

Orange and Lemon plumcake (gluten-free, sugar-free, yeast-free)

Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

200g Unsalted butter
4 Eggs
240g Almond flour
140g Corn flour
2 Lemons (zest and juice)
2 Oranges (zest and juice)
1 tsp Baking soda
2 tbsb Honey
4-5 tbsp Caster sugar
1 cup Water
Cake pan

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Grease a cake pan, and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper.
Soften the butter to room temperature, then add the honey and mix thoroughly. Once well mixed, beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in almond and corn flours, soda, lemon juice and zest. Combine well until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a prepared cake pan. Bake in the preheat oven for about 45 minutes, until browned.
Meanwhile, to make the orange syrup, use a small sharp knife to remove the pith from the rind and cut the rind into very thin strips. Stir the orange zest, sugar, orange juice and water in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.
When the cake is ready, remove from the oven, soak with orange syrup and leave it flavouring for 30 minutes. Slice and serve it with orange syrup and zest.

Biscotti with Almonds – Original Cantuccini

Cantuccini e vin santo Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

– 750 grams or 3 cups of unsalted whole almonds roasted in a frying pan
– 1 kilo of single zero flour
– 800 grams of sugar
– pinch of salt
– 7 eggs
– 2 teaspoon of vanilla
– 1/2 packet of yeast
– 20 grams of baking powder
– 150 grams of melted butter

On a large flat surface like a counter or table, create a circle of the flour with a “hole” in the middle, add the sugar in the hole and also 7 eggs broken. Then scoop up the flour around the mixture to hold the eggs/whites in the “hole”, whip the eggs in the middle of the flour then mix the dry ingredients into the eggs mixture a little at a time with your hand until fully incorporated. Add 1/2 of the pan of roasted whole almonds to mixture and more flour to make better consistency. Now add the rest of the almonds, fold in repeatedly and place mixture in a large bowl to rest in the refrigerator until chilled. Roll our dough into 6 long rolls approximately 1 1/2 feet long by 1 1/2 inch in diameter and lay on a parchment paper lined “cookie” sheet. Brush water or egg water onto the rolls, sprinkle with sugar to your taste and place in oven on both shelves at 180 C or 350F (do not bake twice). Cut into pieces immediately out of the oven, serve them with Vinsanto and BUON APPETITO!

Ricotta-stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Ricotta-stuffed Zucchini Flowers Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

1 Cup Ricotta, fresh if possible, or sheep’s milk ricotta
12-16 fresh zucchini flowers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon minced fresh basil

If your ricotta is watery, drain it in a sieve to remove excess whey. Soak the zucchini flowers in cool water, then spin-dry in a salad spinner. Removing the stamens is unnecessary.
Pack the ricotta into a pastry bag- I use a disposable one and a simply cut the tip off the end. Insert the end of the pastry bag into the zucchini flowers and pipe one or two spoonfuls of ricotta into each.
Drizzle 1 Tablespoon extra virgin in a large nonstick skillet. Place the stuffed flowers in the skillet in a single layer and place the pan over the highest heat. When the pan heats and the oil begins to sizzle, cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the flowers are hot, steamed by the moisture of the ricotta. Transfer to a serving dish and top with pepper, sea salt, minced basil and the remaining extra virgin.

Buon Appetito!

How to prepare a perfect Vegetable broth

Vegetable broth - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

2l water,
1 large carrot,
1 whole red onion,
1 whole celery stick,

Place the water, the whole carrot, the red onion and the celery stick in a large pot and bring it to boil covered on a high heat. When the water starts boiling add a table spoon of salt, turn the heat to medium and leave cooking for 60 minutes without closing the lid completely to allow a small evaporation of the water. Once the broth is ready, remove the vegetables and ladle it.

Buon Appetito!

Courgette and gorgonzola cheese risotto with a drizzle of truffle oil

truffle risotto - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

INGREDIENTS- 2 servings
180 g Arborio rice
1 L vegetable broth
3 Courgettes
50 g Gorgonzola cheese (Italian blue cheese)
200 ml Fresh single cream
1 Shallot
Extra virgin olive oil
Truffle-flavoured extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano

Peel and chop the shallot finely. Prepare a litre of vegetable broth and bring it slowly to boil. Gently heat a couple of table spoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-based pot. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add in the rice and cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins to let it toast a bit. Start adding the vegetable broth a little at a time to cook the rice, continuously stirring. Cut two courgettes into julienne strips. After few ladles of broth add the courgettes to the rice and continue pouring broth and stirring until the ingredients are well mixed and cooked. Separately pour the single cream in a small pot and slowly heat it on a low heat, add the gorgonzola cheese and let it melt in the single cream. When the grains of rice still have an element of bite in the middle, add one last ladle of broth and then the cream and gorgonzola cheese well melted. When the risotto is ready and all the ingredients are well mixed and smooth add some drops of truffle-flavoured extra virgin olive oil and some parmigiano reggiano, give a final stir and remove it from the heat. Meanwhile slice the last courgette in round thin layers and let them sauté in a pan with a drizzle of extravirgin olive oil. Serve the risotto garnishing it with the sautéed courgette’s slices and top with grated parmigiano reggiano and a basil leaf.


Pappa al pomodoro – Bread and tomato soup

pappa al pomodoro - Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

300 g Fresh cherry tomatoes, peeled, chopped
500 g Good quality tinned tomato sauce
500 g Stale rustic bread, chopped in thumb-size chunks
1 Carrot
1 Onion
1 Celery rib
1 Bunch of fresh basil
35 g Extra virgin olive oil
2 Cloves garlic
2 g Salt
2 g Ground black pepper

Place 1 liter of water in a large pot. Rinse well the carrot, the onion and the celery rib, then add to pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook covered for 35 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and let it sauté slowly. Then add peeled fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stale bread and ladle the vegetable broth little at a time. Simmer for 35-40 minutes until bread is completely softened and custardy, stirring frequently to allow even cooking. Add salt and pepper. At the end turn off the stove and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve hot with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Evviva la pappa al pomodoro!

Baccalà alla livornese – Livornese style cod

Faeto Country House b&b in Florence Tuscany

• 800 g Cod loin or fillet, desalted
• 50g Cherry tomatoes or canned peeled tomatoes
• Plain flour
• Parsley, finely chopped
• 2 Clove garlic
• Black pepper
• Salt
• Extra virgin olive oil

Chop the cod into 100g chuncks. In a large pan pour some extravirgin olive oil and add crushed garlic. Let it brown on medium heat and then add tomatoes and adjust with salt and pepper and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Once cooked add the parsley, mix thoroughly and switch off the heating.
Separately dust the cod fillets with flour on both sides, knocking off the excess. Put the cod fillets on a fry-pan with some olive oil, turning the heat up to medium and brown it on both sides until a nice, golden colour. Once brown put the cod into the pan with tomatoes and garlic and cover the fillets with the sauce. Serve immediately.