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Magnets on a Fridge #5
A random collection of links, books, and recipes
Ciao, and welcome to the fifth issue of Magnets on a Fridge, a random collection of things worth reading/cooking.
For the newbies, Magnets on a Fridge owes its name to Tommaso: when we want to remember something, we pin it to our fridge, along with magnets bought during our holidays, Livia’s drawings from pre-school, and my reliable recipe for farro pancakes. That’s why here you’ll find a random collection of things worth reading, cooking, listening to, or watching. Please feel free to add links and inspirations in the comment section, to make this an uplifting space for everyone. We so need it now.
November is the beginning of our low season for cooking classes. It doesn’t mean we’ll stop and go on vacation (if only!), but we will slowly shift our focus to writing and developing recipes. Even though I have to confess that when I do not have several classes per week and I can wear an extra layer when working in the kitchen, it does feel a bit like a holiday.
We’re also getting ready for our 3-day Seasonal Cooking Masterclass, for a deep dive into Italian cuisine: having classes in the summer is getting more and more challenging, so we want to offer a new immersive experience for the autumn and winter months. This will happen once a month through the colder season. Read more about them here, we have some spots left in November and December (share the news with friends!) and you can already book your experience for 2024.
And now, let’s start, I collected something to share with you. This is going to be a long list, so get comfortable and enjoy reading!
This post is too long for the email format (I told you it was going to be a long list) so click at the bottom to read it in the browser or download the Substack App where you can read all your favourite newsletters without crowding your mailbox.
Something to read or listen to about Cucina Povera
Seven months have passed since the publication of Cucina Povera, and my stomach is still fluttering with butterflies every time you post a recipe you made from it. Thank you!
Here you can read and listen to something that has been published about Cucina Povera in the last month:
l loved being a guest in’s podcast, Cooking the Books, talking about Cucina Povera and the respect for the ingenuity of peasant cooking which reveals the soul of Italian food at its best.
Here on the blog all the links to pick your copy of Cucina Povera. And if you spot the book in a bookstore, please snap a pic for us, it will be like travelling vicariously through your photos!
If you love it, leave it a review on Amazon (whether you purchased it there or not) which makes it easier for others to find our book. Thank you!
Four recipes for when you need comfort in the kitchen, now
Lasagna with roasted squash, taleggio, and guanciale. What screams conviviality to me is lasagna, because I can make it in advance and just reheat it before serving, thus meaning I will be part of that convivial scene of people sitting at a table, chatting, and sharing the food, rather than being confined in the kitchen to give the last touches to a dish. Lasagna is also the embodiment of traditional family gatherings around long tables, of a crowd-pleasing food, that delights both those who like the crips corners and those who go for the creamy, buttery central pieces.
Focaccine with white button mushrooms and taleggio. Focaccine have a crisp, oily bottom and a soft crumb. You can enjoy them as they are, still hot from the oven, standing in your kitchen next to the stove with an unapologetic look, or you can bring them to the table along with a board of cheese and cold cuts.
Butternut squash pizzette. The recipes that save your dinner are brilliant ideas to use common ingredients and turn them into a meal. These butternut squash pizzette are a good example. If you have a few slices of butternut squash, a jar of peeled datterini, and some mozzarella, your dinner can instantly improve. It won’t be a pizza, but the taste is so similar that you’ll want to cook these pizzette more often, not just to save your dinner at the very last minute.
Butternut squash cake. Wherever you may stir up the ingredients, or grease a cake pan, choose the flavours and bake a cake that is home, your home, at least for those moments when the cake bakes in the oven and the good smell of butter and sugar lingers in the kitchen. This butternut squash cake reminds me of the good smell of home, of a welcoming kitchen, of a quiet breakfast at the kitchen table.
Eating out in our corner of Tuscany
We had been postponing celebrations for months—too busy, too tired, too hot, too much under the weather—but we’re finally trying to catch up with birthdays and anniversaries. Lately, we decided to skip material gifts and give each other an experience, a way to spend some time together when we are not working, enjoying each other’s company.
On an especially tough Saturday, we decided on a whim to have dinner at L’Oste di Borgo, a small trattoria in the medieval centre of Colle Val d’Elsa. The food was uncomplicated and seasonal, I loved their take on panzanella, served on a warm squash purèe, the porcini tagliatelle, and a delicate potato and broccoli soup with pasta and toasted almonds.
To celebrate my birthday (it was in July!), we booked at Il Frantoio, located next to the duomo in the medieval centre, in an old olive oil cellar. Here you can find a modern take on traditional Tuscan recipes, but also more unusual recipes such as their smoked spaghetti with black garlic, dried capers, yuzu zest, butter, and anchovy sauce.
You can find out more about other restaurants in Colle Val d’Elsa by reading the foodie guide to my hometown here.
Tommaso picked Indigeno for his birthday. The restaurant opened this year on the premises of Salcheto, an interesting off-the-grid winery perched on a hill in front of Montepulciano. Here you can get their bread, dips, foraged greens, game, and backyard geese. I had the best salad I have ever tasted, with a symphony of textures, flavours, and colours.
Now where are we going to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, which was end of September? You will probably discover it in the next Magnets on a Fridge!
What I’m reading right now
When days get shorter, I feel a pull towards cosy books.
If Christmas time is all about detective stories—even better if they take place in a muddy English countryside—, the beginning of the colder season calls for introspective books that reflect my urge to slow down.
I love reading child books with Livia, especially since we befriended the owner of the child bookshop in Colle Val d’Elsa (L’Ornitorinco, if you are in town please pay them a visit, they have extraordinary books). The delicate drawings of some of her favourite books soothe the enormous anxiety coming from ongoing terrible news.
After finding her newsletter here on Substack,, I started reading her Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. Every page revealed something about how I am feeling at the moment, bringing to light my desire, and urge, to live a proper winter, to rest and retreat.
“Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.”
This is also the time to pull out of your shelves Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles. It is the perfect match for Wintering.
It is a collection of notes, stories and recipes for midwinter. And this is probably what I like the most about this book, the fact that it is not just focused on Christmas: it is Nigel’s diary, with glimpses of life, memories and recipes, from the 1st of November to the 2nd of February, it embraces the whole magical season of winter: there are stories about decorations, gardening, trips to Japan and Vienna, about choosing the perfect fir to decorate, he talks about panettone and panforte, about making a wreath for your door, or wrapping up Christmas presents.
I came late to discover a love for winter. Growing up, it was summer the season when I felt free, invincible. Now I, a July girl, thrive in winter, in the season of fireplaces, hearty stews, frozen mornings, Christmas lights, candles, and woollen scarves. I love every single page of this book, every recipe I have cooked, and each description, emotion, and memory. It is a book to treasure.
Have you read, cooked or watched anything interesting lately that you want to share with us all?
Announcement! The November Cook-Along
We will meet SUNDAY, November 5th at 9.00 pm CET - 3.00 pm EDT - 12.00 pm PDT. What are we going to cook? That’s up to you! Is it going to be homemade tagliatelle with Tuscan kale, almond and pecorino pesto, or homemade cavatelli cooked as in pasta e fagioli, a soup with cannellini beans? Either way, we’re going to make fresh pasta! You have three days to cast your vote.
This is an event designed for those who subscribed to Letters from Tuscany: we’re slowly building friendships and shared memories and having lots of fun!
As always, it will be a moment when we cook together, but you can join just to have a chat, or a laugh, ask questions, share stories, or simply listen while having a good cup of tea (or wine, according to where you are!)
Keep your eyes peeled for a newsletter with ingredients and the link to join us on Friday!
Why upgrade your subscription?
We’re trying to keep things as free as possible, but if you are at a point in your life to support our newsletter becoming a paid subscriber, this would be a perfect time, as there is great content coming in the next months.
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Exclusive content inspired by ingredients, seasons, or traditions every week. Just a few examples of recipes we already shared: rice puddings tartlets, Artichoke and pecorino tart, saffron tagliatelle with artichokes, ham and mozzarella stuffed thin focaccia from Siena, and many more.
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Favourite dishes during the Fall classes
Here you can find some of the recipes we’ve been cooking in recent classes, something you could replicate at home for a Fall gathering:
Pecorino cheese and pear crostoni. I reintroduced these pear and pecorino crostoni in the past weeks, a seasonal appetizer that substitutes fried zucchini blossoms, tomato and mozzarella caprese salads, and prosciutto and melon. Prepare the crostoni in advance, and stash them in the oven when you’re almost ready to eat: it could be a treat for dinner or a quick appetizer for a gathering with friends. When you smell the roasted rosemary and the melting cheese, they are ready.
Tuscan kale pesto, with pici, tagliatelle, or even gnocchi. Sturdy cavolo nero stands in for summery basil leaves, while a handful of almonds is a good replacement for more expensive pine nuts. The result is a dark green, nutty, and slightly bitter pesto that you can toss into a bowl of spaghetti or tagliatelle for a quick weeknight meal. Use it as it is, or top it with toasted almond slivers, crunchy pancetta bits, or crumbled fresh goat cheese.
Cappellacci stuffed with roasted squash and chestnuts. A cute shape, a seasonal filling and a dish fitted for a gathering with friends. The detailed recipe is coming next week for the newsletter's paid subscribers.
Involtini. A recipe so humble and domestic that you rarely find it outside of a household. Yet, I’ve had involtini at least once a week for a large part of my life, as they are easy to make and really quick. Something a mother who works all day can effortlessly whip up for the family even at the very last minute, as my mum would do. And usually, even the pickiest child – like my sister – loves them.
Roasted pork loin with apples and onions. If the Tuscan arista alla Fiorentina, roasted pork loin with herbs and white wine, was the traditional Sunday roast in our family, the roast pork loin with apples quickly became our favourite. Let’s face it: pork and apples are a marriage made in heaven.
Pears poached in red wine. The tiny summer pears poached in a light white wine syrup were swiftly substituted with Kaiser pears poached in a spiced syrup made of red wine, water, sugar, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon. We could smell Fall in the air, like in a spell conceived to lure the new season in.
Cooking Experiences in Tuscany with us
Do you know we also offer in-person cooking classes and edible experiences in Tuscany? Almost 400 people have already booked a class this year. Bookings for 2024 are already open!
Every meal will be an excuse to travel through Tuscany thanks to local recipes, memories and stories. Learn more about our cooking classes here.
We also launched our 3-day Seasonal Cooking Masterclass, for a deep dive into Italian cuisine.
These masterclasses are thought to highlight the seasonality of local produce, recipes, food traditions and cultural habits. Learn more about the Three-day Masterclass here.
2023-2024 Masterclass Dates
15-17 November 2023 [4 spots left]
13-15 December 2023 [2 spots left]
10-12 January 2024 [3 spots left]
7-9 February 2024
6-8 March 2024
13-15 November 2024
11-13 December 2024
“The Market to Table Cooking class day with Giulia was my favorite day of our 2-week trip to Italy. Her and Tommaso were charming and welcoming as they hosted us at their scenic home. Giulia was patient with everyone and truly has the heart of a teacher. I loved going to the local farmers market and butcher to select our menu and ingredients. She is clearly passionate about the local growers, making meaningful food, her region’s history, and telling the stories of all these intertwined. Take a class with Giulia, you won’t regret it!”