This week I was given some bad news about my cookbook. It’s release will be delayed. For those who know already the process behind the making of a cookbook (or any book for that matter), it can take months and years of work but also a lot of patience and waiting around. I thought I was quite lucky that my book was going to be released just a year after being offered the deal, but the downside to that was an extremely tight deadline. The manuscript is all in, all edited and all that’s left is a photo shoot for the book’s recipes. But then I got the email from the publisher to say that instead of August 2015, I’ll be waiting until April 2016 for the release of Florentine.
I can’t deny that my heart sank when I heard I’d have to wait an extra eight months to see the book, but as it turns out every cloud does have a silver lining. In this case, more time waiting means more time fine-tuning. I can now create some food illustrations to include throughout the book. And now I have time to go back and look at my recipes, all 80 of them, and retest them again. Just to be sure. They’ve already been triple tested (or more) by me in my kitchen but because I was writing to such a tight deadline, I didn’t have time to get any of my recipes tested by other people in their kitchens. So now’s my chance!
This is where I turn to the lovely readers who have made this blog what it is and who hopefully enjoy not only reading along but also cooking from here too – who wants to test a recipe or two in their kitchen and let me know how it turned out? I can’t offer anything for your time or expenses except a thank you mention in the book and an imaginary hug. But I’m hoping you’ll enjoy making and eating these dishes that you might otherwise only get a chance to taste when in Florence.
How to sign up? Shoot me an email at email@example.com noting the information below:
- Your preference for a recipe out of the following categories: Pastry, Bread, Pasta, Vegetables, Meat, Antipasti and Snacks, Panini, Desserts
- Any dietary requirements I should know about? (gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian etc)
- How many recipes you would like to test (even one is great!)?
And if you’re willing to cook with offal and love it, do mention it, as Florentine cuisine has quite a bit of it!
Once I get your email, I’ll send you back a recipe based on your answers. Then afterwards, I would love to hear how you went with the recipe, how it turned out and perhaps even send me a photo if you like (and if you’re on instagram, don’t forget to tag it #florentinethecookbook). And your name will be immortalised amongst the acknowledgments of my cookbook!
I leave you with a classic Florentine roast pork known as arista. This version that I posted for my Regional Italian Food column on Food52 is a little different to the one I have in the cookbook but the essentials are there. It’s a simple, slow roasted pork that has been on Florentine tables since at least the Renaissance, likely even longer. Although some records indicate that arista was mentioned even in the 1200s, the favourite story on its origins takes this dish back to the time of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1439 when, in Florence, during the banquet of an important assembly of bishops and cardinals, this pork roast was served. One of the guests exclaimed “Aristos!” (which, in Greek, means “the best”) and the name stuck.
While the essential flavours to this roast are garlic, sage and rosemary, the lemon zest – an idea taken from Fabio Picchi, author, chef and owner of Florence’s Cibreo restaurant – is a wonderful (but optional) addition that gives the pork a zingy lift. Pellegrino Artusi in his 1891 recipe also adds cloves, stuck into the little incisions made all over the surface along with the rosemary. He also prefers it cold, the next day, claiming it’s even better than when served hot. It’s still found this way in some traditional Florentine trattorie.
If you’re not roasting peeled and chopped potatoes in the juices of this roast that collect on the bottom of the pan, you are missing out on one of the best kept secrets of Tuscan cuisine. Some blanched greens (Tuscan kale, silverbeet or any other sturdy green leaf) or cooked cannellini beans tossed through those juices make wonderful sides to this dish too.
Arista (Tuscan pork roast)
- 1.3 kg bone-in pork loin/rib roast
- 3 tablespoons or so extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
- 5 sage leaves, finely chopped
- 250 ml water (or white wine)
See my full recipe (with US measurements too!) over at Food52 here.