Tag Archives: Italy

Tuscan-style Sausage & Bean Soup

We’ve become a bit of a laughing stock among our friends for our soup obsession – they’re just so comforting, easy and good for you! They are also one of the most flexible meals out there, they can be light or hearty, winter-y or summer-y and can incorporate nearly any ingredients you have lying around. This one was partly inspired by the flavours in one of our favourite pasta dishes and partly by the fact that we bought 10 sausages when they were on offer and then divided them up and froze them, it’s been a sausage fest here lately *snigger*.

Ingredients for 2 people:

  • 2 sausages
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • (optional: a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 1 tin of butter beans
  • 1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 beef stock cube made up with about 200ml hot water

Start by taking the skins off the sausages, squidging all of the meat up and then rolling into small balls. Pop them in the fridge for later.

Tuscan Sausage Meatballs
Fats tries once more to make raw meat look appealing… getting closer?

Tuscan Stew - Chopped Celery and Onion

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and celery together for about 5 minutes. Add in the fennel seeds (and chilli flakes if you’re using) and cook for a further minute until they smell beautifully aromatic.

Tuscan Sausage Stew In Progress

Tip in the butter beans, the tomatoes and the beef stock, topping up with a little more water if necessary. Bring to the boil and cook for around 10 minutes, then drop in the sausage meat balls. Don’t stir for the first 5 minutes while the meat cooks or you’ll break them up. Cook for about 15 minutes then season to taste and serve. It’s extra good with some crusty homemade sourdough!

Tuscan Sausage Stew Finished

Advertisements

Top 10 Foodie Moments (Part 2)

Ok so here we are carrying on with our top foodie moments. Check out our post from yesterday to see our numbers 10 – 6. These five were really hard to come up with, we’ve had so many incredible moments, hopefully in another few years we’ll have a whole bunch more memories jostling for top spot!

5. Balcony food in Montefrio, Spain

We have the extreme good fortune of having a family friend who let us stay in her beautiful house in Spain for two weeks in September 2011. Bird had been before with her parents in 2009 and was so excited to show Fats the incredible view from the balcony! We cooked a lot while we were there – the dish in the photo is some chicken fajitas (we think!) but the stand out dish we made while there was a delicious pork and chorizo stew which is basically made the same as this recipe we posted recently, only using some of the region’s famously tasty pork. We ate in candlelight so as to attract as few insects as possible but it also added a little something to the meal! The place we were staying in was not touristy at all; it was a typical Andalucian village, and the food we got was wonderful – especially the pork and chorizo! Going on a self catering holiday is such a world away from staying in hotels, you really get to get stuck in and get a feel for the local food – perfect for us.

Chicken Fajitas on the balcony... Simply wonderful
Chicken Fajitas on the balcony… Simply wonderful
Yes, this was the view while we were eating dinner! The stunning Montefrio
Yes, this was the view while we were eating dinner! The stunning Montefrio

4. Spiced lamb meatballs on our first night in Marrakech

We’ve described how to make these beautiful little meatballs in this post from a while back, as well as the drama of arriving in Morocco! Our riad was a perfect haven, once we’d established we were getting dinner we were seated in one of the recesses off the indoor courtyard, on low seats, dimly lit and served some of the simplest, but most beautiful food we’ve ever had. We started with a salad consisting of lettuce, red pepper and olives with a citrusy dressing. Then onto the main event – a tagine was brought out and the lid was whisked off dramatically to reveal the meatballs covered in baked eggs with their little flecks of smoked paprika. We barely said a word to each other for the first few minutes, we were so busy stuffing our faces! This is one of the dishes we’ve managed to recreate most successfully and still make regularly, we had some friends over for dinner on Tuesday and this made up part of the Middle Eastern spread we served them. The heady mix of relief, extraordinary surroundings and delicious food make this one of our best memories.

This was the view from the roof terrace of our riad. The smoke in the distance is from the food stalls in the Djema el-Fna (the main square) - spectacular!
This was the view from the roof terrace of our riad. The smoke in the distance is from the food stalls in the Djema el-Fna (the main square) – spectacular!

3. Macarons and Champagne in Paris

Yeah, we know, it’s a tad pretentious right? But it also had to be done! We went to Paris in February 2012, right in the middle of a severe cold snap, it didn’t get above freezing the whole time we were there. This was a bit of a double edged sword – it meant no queuing times, we got to the front of the queue for the Eiffel Tower in less than 10 minutes which is practically unheard of! It also meant that we couldn’t bear to be outside for long, our wonderful weekend consisted of dashing from museum to cafe to art gallery to cafe to the hotel to dinner. Not that we’re complaining, there’s never enough opportunities for an espresso  in Paris! This day we’d ventured to Ladurée – famous as one of the best macaron makers in the world. We passed up on the ruinously expensive (but surely worth it!) afternoon tea in favour of a box of macarons packaged in a beautiful pistachio green box to take back to our hotel room. The flavours we went for were rose, dark chocolate, salted caramel and pear and chestnut – all were amazing but we think the rose and salted caramel were our favourites. We also happened to get a free dinky bottle of champagne from the hotel so we had an indulgent half an hour snaffling macarons, sipping champagne and watching the snow from our window.

Brrr... Winter in Paris
Brrr… Winter in Paris
Mmmm..... Slightly pretentiously arrayed champagne and macarons. We were destined to be food bloggers from this moment!
Mmmm….. Slightly pretentiously arrayed champagne and macarons. We were destined to be food bloggers from this moment!

2. Wine tasting on Santorini

So for those of you who haven’t been or drooled over pictures, Santorini was once a large circular island, and was blown up by the volcano in it’s centre which, after a few eruptions left a stunning crescent moon shaped island complete with a jawdropping caldera. Perched on top of the middle of this caldera we found a vineyard with wine tasting facilities. This was actually on the same day as our no. 8 moment – mixed meze – what an amazing day! For the bargain price of €12 we were served 5 generous glasses of wine, 4 normal wines of the region and 1 glass of the local vinsanto – a syrupy sweet dessert wine. Along with this came breadsticks, cheese and olives – amazing value. Perhaps our brains were a bit fuddled even before the wine but we forgot to snap a picture until we’d drunk most of it! We also had the terrace completely to ourselves for about an hour, we made a hasty retreat as a coach party turned up. It was one of the most tranquil hours, sipping beautiful local wine with great conversation, perfect weather and the craziest view!

That view is simply breathtaking - we're so lucky!
That view is simply breathtaking – we’re so lucky!

1. Picnic in a storm in Florence

We’ve already touched on this one in this post but it really is our favourite memory. Funny how the most humble meals can be the most memorable. The day started with a trip to an absolutely beautiful food market in Florence – the Mercato di San Lorenzo – just north of the Duomo. After managing to stop ourselves from buying everything we laid eyes on we ended up with some vine tomatoes, fresh ricotta, a creamy gorgonzola, two slices of different foccacias and some plums. We then hiked up to the other side of the Arno to get the best view of the city. Climbing up through rose gardens to be greeted with one of the most famous vistas.

We were up on the Piazzale Michelangelo admiring David’s turquoise arse when a serious storm rolled slowly in, so of course we hung around watching the spectacle until fat drops of rain started landing on us. Hastily packing up the camera (Fats) and clamping arms down to save flashing everyone as the wind howled (Bird) we scurried down the hill. Sheltering under a tower for a few minutes we eventually decided to just make a dash for it and aim for the arches of the Uffizi gallery.

David's arse has never looked more dramatic!
David’s arse has never looked more dramatic!
Yep, it's heading straight for us. Just a few more snaps!
Yep, it’s heading straight for us. Just a few more snaps!

We made it there just as the heavens fully opened, the sort of rain which causes flash flooding! It was busy with many other trapped tourists… however none of them had brought a picnic along! We opened our beautiful brown-paper-wrapped packages and had the best picnic either of us has ever had. The tomatoes were like nothing we’d ever experienced before – the sweetest, most flavourful tomatoes imaginable (we had been promised as much by the lovely Italian lady who sold them to us), and they complimented the cheeses perfectly. Wherever you go on holiday we fully recommend ditching the restaurants and cafes in favour of a simple picnic from a market for at least a few meals – local, fresh food at it’s best!

The remains of our lunch in our Florence hotel room. What an amazing day!
The remains of our lunch in our Florence hotel room. What an amazing day!

So, those were our top 10 foodie moments so far – they were so much fun to write, and a great way to celebrate our 100th post – here’s to many more! What are your top foodie moments?