Do you know Emiko Davies? If not, let me introduce you. Emiko is an Australian (actually half Japanese, half Australian) who made Italy her home. Having lived there for many years and married to an Italian, this passionate cook has a blog that chronicles her love for the food of Tuscany, specifically that of her adopted home-Florence. I’ve been following her exploits in the kitchen for quite some time and so when she put out the word looking for recipe testers for the cookbook she was writing, I didn’t hesitate to sign up.
Her book-Florentine-was released earlier this year. As soon as I got my hands on a copy I tackled cornetti–the Italian version of croissants. It’s probably one of the more complicated recipes in the book, but it was certainly worth the effort. The recipes I tested were far less detailed and both would make lovely dinners.
The first recipe I cooked was Braciole Rifatte-a dish of thinly sliced breaded beef cooked in a tomato sauce. You’ll want to serve this with crusty bread to soak up the leftover savory sauce. The second was Carabaccia-a soup that hails from the Renaissance and was said to be a favorite of Leonardo da Vinci. This more modern version relies less on spices and more on the natural earthiness of slow cooked onions. The vegetable stock could definitely be made ahead of time making this a meal you could put together fairly quickly. Once again, a good crusty bread is essential and topped with a poached egg, this soup makes for a simple, yet comforting supper.
Do take a look at Emiko’s book-it would make the perfect gift for the Italy lover in your life. Or you could take them to Florence…
2 lbs. 3 oz. red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 sage leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
4 thick slices crusty bread, grilled or toasted
1 small brown onion, halved
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
1-2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
To make the stock, put the onion, vegetable chunks, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt into a large stockpot with 2 litres water. Simmer for about 1 hour, covered. Remove the vegetables (or use for something else) and strain the stock.
Have 4 cups of the vegetable stock at the ready. In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, gently sauté the onions over the lowest heat in the olive oil with the sage leaves and salt. Sweat them, without letting them colour, to draw out the sweetness, for about 30 minutes. If they begin to get dry or stick, add some of the stock. Add the rest of the stock and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
About 5 minutes before the soup is ready, crack the eggs into the soup, top with cheese and cover, without stirring. The whites should be cooked and the yolks runny and the top covered with melted cheese.
Divide the grilled bread among four bowls and ladle the soup, along with a poached egg, into each bowl, over the top of the bread. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Serves:4