Category Archives: Recipes

“You learn what to cook so you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” – Julia Child



We just had a wonderful class on pasta, led by our Chef Marvin Martin. It was so popular we may do another! Everyone ate well, laughed well, and went home with the recipes to try their hand at making homemade pasta. I grew up making pasta by hand, in class we made pasta with an electric pasta roller. The small Atlas hand cranked pasta makers are just fine to use to make dinner at home. For ease of making lasagna, we recommend Barilla or De Cecco pre made pasta. The Barilla oven ready pasta sheets are fabulous for making lots of lasagna for your party.
pasta blogWhen you make dough, feel free to add spices to the dough itself to add layers of flavor. In class the pasta dough was flavored with finely diced green olives, Castelvetrano, Nocellara del Belice olives, from Sicily. You can purchase these olives locally in Northern California, at Nugget Market, Whole Foods, and Costco. If you cannot find this product in your local store, ask your grocer to purchase some for you to try.
In Italy, each town, each Grandmother, has their own pasta recipe and their own sauce. Books have been written about how to pair just the right sauce with just the right type and shape of pasta. Different shapes are usually indicative of regional preferences and how to pair their local sauces. Here is a beautiful example of corzetti or coins, the wood hand press cuts the dough and the engraved characters on the disc are pressed into the pasta coins. The designs helps hold more sauce. In Liguria, where Taggiasca olive oil is plentiful, I have had corzetti served with oil, toasted pine nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. It is common in Liguria to add a little wine to the pasta dough.

pasta blog 2
Speaking of pasta, yesterday our staff attended Tri Biccheri in San Francisco, we tasted our way through over 100 premium Italian wines. This was a wonderful experience to talk to the wine makers and distributors from Italy. So many amazing wines. Beautiful Amarone from Nagar near Verona. Fresh sparkling white wines from the Veneto region, and gorgeous dessert wines from Sicily and Sardinia. Of course all the Chianti was so drinkable. Great fun to discuss wines with your friends and plan meals around the best wines from Italy. After the tasting we went to La Ciccia, “the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco” according to the food critics in the city. Their pasta dishes are spectacular. The sauces are really out of this world. Olive oil, lemon, and dried tuna over fresh pasta over spaghetti. A ragu with lamb, tomatoes and herbs served over tiny gnocchi. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I would love to go back there tonight. The owners, Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan are so friendly and gracious to every single person who comes in the door.

In preparing for the class, I did some research on pasta and would like to share the list of dried and fresh pasta names with you. Pasta the noble Maccherone
From The Silver Spoon Pasta
There is no more natural and simple food than pasta, which is made from tow ingredients only – flour and water. Simply drying the product makes it last for much longer, while its natural coloring is already full of the sun’s brightness, absorbed by the wheat grains as they grow in the fields. The Queen of fresh pasta is egg pasta. Pasta is one of the most balanced foods in terms of human nutrition. Every city, town, region and village in Italy has its own method of making pasta: the shape, sauce, filling, and even the dough varies. Pastario, the atlas of Italian pasta, says that pasta is music to your mouth.
The oldest evidence dates back to 3,000 years BC. The ancient Greeks and Etruscans produced and ate the first types of pasta. The oldest documentary evidence for the use of dried pasta dates to 1316 and was found in Genoa, naming the first pasta make in history, Maria Borgogno, owner of a house in which lasagna was made.
For Italians the only way pasta can be cooked is “al dente” or “vierde vierde”, as they say in Naples, and overcooked pasta is considered uneatable. “Al dente” literally means “to the tooth”, while “vierde vierde” means “very green” or “unripened”, both describing pasta that is tender but still firm to the bite. Here is a compilation of some of the names of pastas from the Silver Spoon pasta book and Pastario.
Pastario, Atlante Delle Paste Alimentari Italiane, Eugenio Medagliani e Alessi, Crusinallo 1985

pasta chart





















Click here for recipe: Fresh Egg Pasta Dough a la Chef Marvin Martin at IL Fiorello

Making pasta is fun. Eating pasta is even more fun. Experiment with types of pasta and types of sauces. Go to La Ciccia and learn how the real experts make spectacular pasta. Then go home and use the recipes and make your own.
Mangia Mangia.

Fruit Pizza from Our Pizza Oven

Cooking again on the pizza oven at IL Fiorello.  We hosted 12 guests for a corporate luncheon and served our homemade pizzas on the back patio. The day was sunny, warm, beautiful, and it is November by the way. I love being in California. I spoke to my friend in Boston this morning and it was snowing! Yikes!  pizza

Anyway, I digress, this pizza oven is marvelous. Cooks pizza in 2 to 3 minutes! Gets up to 450° to 500° C. (842°F to 932°F) in less than an hour. Thank you to our Chef Marvin Martin who found this wonderful oven for us to use here. Amazing. It is a wood burning oven with convection. Very efficient to use.

While we waited for the guests to have lunch, Lani, our support Chef, and I were bored. So out to the garden, harvested eggplants and zucchini, roasted them in the oven and made roasted soup for service in the tasting room. Pretty cool.

Although you may not have a pizza oven with this capability, pizzas can be made
on the backyard grill or in a regular oven.




2 cups “00” flour
2 cups AP “all purpose” flour
2 packages instant rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil mild
Warm water at 160° F about a cup (more if needed to make the dough)


1 quart ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Fresh peaches, pears, or apples. The fruit should be soft to melt into the pizza.



For the dough

Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil into the bowl of a mixer.
Add the warm water slowly until the dough comes together and is just slightly firm
Roll into a ball and place in a stainless steel bowl cover with a light coating of oil and then clear kitchen wrap.
Put in a warm draft free place to rise for about 1-2 hours until at least doubled.
Punch down measure out each individual pizza amounts and let rise again.

For the Ricotta Cheese

Place the quart of ricotta cheese, the powdered sugar and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whip until almost doubled in size. Sometimes adding ½ cup heavy cream makes it whip more easily. Do this at the last minute to maintain the fluffiness of the cheese.

For the fruit

Halve the peaches, remove the stone and slice the peaches into eights


Roll out the pizza dough into a personal size dessert pizza or larger if you are inclined to share.
Spread the fluffy ricotta over the pizza
Carefully place the sliced peaches in concentric circles to almost cover the ricotta


Place the pizza into the pizza oven for about 2 minutes, more or less depending on the heat of the over. Ours cooks well at 450° to 500° C. (842°F to 932°F).
Drizzle on the White Peach Balsamic Vinegar Reduction after cooking.

Serves about 10 large slices.

 ©IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company

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What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello: Calabrian Beans

At the Green Valley Farmers Market and at IL Fiorello we presented a beautiful dish of Cici Beans, or chick peas, cooked with a soffrito and olive oil. This recipe was presented to a group of Chefs from the Michael Mina Group restaurant RN74 during a comparative oil tasting. We paired the dish with a very robust Mission Olive Oil and it was very well received.

We wanted you to have the recipe. Feel free to change up the ingredients to suit your taste profile.

Begin with soaking dry cici beans in lots of fresh water over night, at least 12 hours.

In the morning rinse the beans thoroughly with fresh water.

Next chop a white onion, a red onion, celery, garlic, and gently sauté in olive oil until the vegetables are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is called a soffrito in Italian and a mirpoix in French. The amounts are about a cup of each of the onions and celery and 2-4 heads of garlic or more to taste.

The next step is to combine the soaked cici beans with the soffrito, add more olive oil to cover and let cook in a crock pot for at least 10 hours or until tender but not soft. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of herbs or cheese or cut fresh tomatoes. This dish gets even better the next day as the herbs have time to soak into the dish.



What Do You Eat When You’re Alone!

I collect cookbooks and one of my favorite books is What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. Deborah Madison is the author of many cookbooks; all are very good. Deborah is the former owner of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and a Chef who, when we were talking about cooking, described herself to me as a vegophile.

This book was published in 2009 and the forward reads “This book is dedicated to all who find themselves alone at the table. May your solitary meals be delicious and the company just as good.” What a wonderful statement! Madison goes on to say, ”Our relationship with food is one of the defining and intimate relationships of our lives; it says a lot about who we are and how we live.” This book is a sneak preview into the private lives of people, all kinds, some who cook and some who don’t, but the book is more of a thoughtful, funny, presentation of human behavior surrounding food. The illustrations are wonderful and done by her husband Patrick McFarlin. This is a really good read, not unlike another favorite author MFK Fisher. But I will write more about MFK Fisher and her tangerine segments on the radiator in another blog.

So why am I eating alone?

Last week Mark went to a private financial meeting in San Francisco and I got to eat alone. Rather, sort of alone, but for the company of 8 cats and one dog, all of whom follow me everywhere. But the crew aside, I do love a solitary evening just to relax and think and cook. Just follow the pictures and you will have a nourishing dinner. So away you go into my solitary meal. Enjoy.

Take Three ingredients out of the pantry.

Take three ingredients out of the pantry.

And a very good olive oil!

And a very good olive oil!

Don't forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta

Don’t forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta












While the pasta is cooking make a salad or just have perfect tomatoes for a snack.

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Fresh tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes








Now back to the pasta

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!






Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company






















What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello

The garden is in full gear and we need to use some of the Bright Lights Chard and fresh sweet tomatoes: add goat cheese and life is good.

IL Fiorello hosted Keith and Kathy, Kathy’s Mom, and Brandon for a visit and tour on Sunday. Keith and Kathy are friends of IL Fiorello and we have been San Francisco Symphony partners since 1981. A long time. They live and practice ENT in the peninsula area where they grew up. We first met at UC Davis when Keith was in the ENT residency program and we worked very closely together. They have heard all the stories about the olives and the mill, so an actual visit to our Olive Farm was long overdue.

Sunday brunch is such a fun meal where everyone is relaxed, happy, and can drive home early to watch baseball, play golf in the afternoon, or in teen age Brandon’s case play computer games. After a walking tour of the hospitality center, the groves, the culinary gardens, and our new olive mill, everyone needed food. As Kathy says exercise is for people who want to chow. Yes! Yes! Yes! We agree.

We began brunch with Girl on the Hill Malbec Rose’ perfectly chilled light and fresh. This wine is my definition of a classic summer Sunday Brunch wine. We served puff pastry tarts, with goat cheese. One tart had chard and leeks and the other fresh very sweet tomatoes from our culinary garden. The chard and leek tart was finished with our International award winning Frantoio oil to balance the tartness of the chard. The tomato tart was finished with our other award winning Leccino oil. Not a crumb was left and everyone was satisfied.

Dessert was vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb compote finished with our Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. This is an easy sweet and tart combination that works with any fruit and our balsamic vinegar reductions.


Bright Lights Chard and Leek Tart

Pre boil the sliced leeks until tender, about 6 minutes.

Sauté the Chard in the olive oil until tender.

Prepare the goat cheese the same way as for the tomato tart

Spread it on the pre- baked puff pastry

Add the leeks and the chard and bake at 425 F for 22 minutes or until leeks and chard are tender.


As I was making quite a few tarts and the oven was hot, I just added all the extra left over ingredients into a tart for my dinner. After a long day at the Olive Farm coming home to a lovely dinner and a glass of crisp white wine is the prefect ending to a perfect day.

Beyond Bread and Salad

More innovative uses of IL Fiorello Extra Virgin Olive Oil


We all love dipping fresh bread in olive oil with a little vinegar. We all love olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a fresh salad dressing. But think beyond bread and salad and expand the uses of bread, olive oil and vinegars.

Try toasting slices of bread in the broiler or outside over the hot grill, rub with a raw garlic clove and sprinkle with olive oil. When we are milling olives, we always have a fire in the outdoor grill and dinner is toasted bread and fresh oil. If we are lucky Joe from across the street joins us with his wine and roasted chestnuts. Other options are a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil Italian variety on red or white gazpacho or Tuscan bean soup. Or just bake or sauté beans and drizzle with oil at table.

We all love extra virgin olive oil on salads but let us think beyond salad greens. Try sprinkling olive oil on freshly grilled zucchini or tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over a fresh avocado, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of mission lemon oil and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Sauté spinach or collard greens with lemon and garlic and drizzle with Mission variety oil at the table. See the recipe section for how to do this dish in ten minutes.

At the end of a long day just cook spaghetti, drizzle with olive oil and the zest and juice of one lemon. Open a bottle of Girl on the Hill Red Wine blend and enjoy life. Simple, easy, healthy and delightful.

Saving the best for last is olive oil ice cream made for us by Executive Chef Marvin Martin. We especially like his vanilla bean made with Leccino variety oil and chocolate with tangelo. Just melt in your mouth wonderful.

Think beyond just dipping bread in oil and expand your horizons to further enjoy the many uses of extra virgin olive oil. Look ahead in the next blog for expanded uses of balsamic vinegars beyond just salad greens.

Irish Soda Bread for the Irish in All of Us

Il Fiorello took a walk through history on Sunday (which also just happened to be St. Patrick’s Day) when Ann gave cooking demonstrations on Irish soda bread. Guests had a treat as they tasted the different breads Ann made.

She made raisin with Irish whiskey, walnut, dried cherry and oat bran. Later in the day, cranberry soda bread came out of the ovens of Il Fiorello’s Kitchen in the Grove.

It was a fun way to celebrate an Irish tradition that actually didn’t begin with the Irish, according to historical documents.

“Just like the bagpipes weren’t invented by the Scots, the chemical reaction that makes Soda Bread what it is wasn’t invented by the Irish. The earliest reference to using soda ash in baking bread seems to be credited to American Indians using it to leaven their bread. Pearl Ash was used prior to 1800 to make cakes by combining it with an acidic ingredient in the dough. However, as the Scots have made the bagpipe their instrument, the Irish have made Soda Bread theirs. Not by choice, but by a state of poverty that made it the easiest bread to put on the table,” according to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

No matter the history, we enjoy the wonderful texture and flavor of Irish Soda Bread. In case you want to give it a try, we are giving you our recipe. Enjoy!




4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (half all purpose and half whole wheat is also good)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 cups buttermilk

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil



Pre-heat over to 375F

Grease a 12” by 18”baking sheet

Put flour, baking soda, salt in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk or fork to blend

Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together.

Turn out the dough on to a floured work surface e and kneed gently until the dough comes together.

Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches across and slash the top in an X or Cross

Place the dough onto the greased pan

Bake for about 50 minutes.

Wrap into a moist towel until ready to serve.

Serve with fresh Irish butter

OPTIONS: Add Currants, dried cherries, or raisins

IL Fiorello Olive Oil Co. 2013

Get Ready for Valentines Day: Make a Pink and Purple Soup!

After the hectic holiday season where one event is quickly superseded by another, a constant rearrangement of decorations, gift wrap, and cookie trays, it is time to take a restive recess from over the top dinners and decadent dishes. This colorful concoction is easy to prepare, vegetarian, and healthy. No artificial food coloring in this soup! It benefits from natures artistry and sciences subtly to create a fun Valentines Day themed soup appropriate for any age. Try wooing your loved one with some food that not only looks festive but is fun to prepare. Relatively inexpensive and non labor intensive this soup can even be made the day before to ensure you have plenty of time to attend to your loved one on Valentines Day.

Cauliflower is most commonly found in its white form, but can come in orange, green, and purple at many local produce shops. The color in the purple cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin which can be found in red cabbages. The neon pink drops in this soup comes from an acid base reaction between the soup and lemon juice. This is a perfect fusion of science and food!



1 large head purple cauliflower

1 bulb fennel

5 cloves garlic

2 tspn ginger

½ onion – diced

5 cups vegetable stock

2 cups 2% milk

½ cup red wine

1 tspn cayenne

¾ cup Il Fiorello Olive Oil – Amici

Salt and pepper

1 lemon

Fennel greens

4 cups cubed fresh bread

½ cups shredded parmesan



Set oven to 350° F.

Roughly chop 1 bulb fennel and purple cauliflower and lay out on a baking sheet.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, mixing well.

Wrap 3 cloves of garlic in a small tin foil pouch and add to baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower stems can easily be punctured by a knife.


Once vegetables are removed from the oven:

Add 1/2 onion diced, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tspns minced ginger and saute in oil in a large pot.

Once onion becomes translucent add roasted vegetables, roasted garlic, 4 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup 2% milk, and 1/2 cup red wine.

(The remaining 1 cup stock and 1 cup milk should be used to adjust viscosity of the soup to your preference)

Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Let simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender (do this in batches if you blender is not large enough) and puree for 3-4 minutes, or until there soup looks very smooth. (You will likely need to add more stock for blending).

Return puree to large pot, add the zest of one lemon, and juice from 1/2 of a lemon. (and watch science occur!)

Let soup simmer for 10 minutes.


Turn oven to broiler setting.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over 4 cups of cubed fresh bread

Spread evenly over baking sheet and put under broiler for 3-5 minutes

Once bread cubes are out, sprinkle with grated Parmesan while still hot


Taste and season soup before spooning into bowls.

Top with Parmesan bread crumbs, and garnish with fennel greens.

For the final touch squeeze droplets of lemon juice on the soup to add those neon pink accents, and a punch of flavor.



Pickling for Holiday Feasts

Chef Marvin Martin has shared his recipes for beautiful pickled vegetables that will go great for holiday meals. Chef Martin already showed Il Fiorello customers how to pickle during a cooking demonstration here at the Kitchen in the Groves. If you don’t have time to pickle, you may come to Il Fiorello and we have some of Chef Martin’s pickled vegetables for sale for $5. Quantities are limited so come soon!


Here are Chef Martin’s recipes:




Blanch in salted water

Red Pepper Flakes

Bay Leaf

Cover with Pickling liquid



Blanch in Salted water till slightly crisp

1/8 teaspoon yellow toasted Curry

2 All Spice berries

6 Fennel Seeds



Blanch in salted water

Thyme branch

Fennel pollen one pinch

Toasted Coriander



Green and Yellow to choice

Blanch in salted and shock in ice water and drain

Black pepper corns

Red peppercorns

¼ tsp. Harissa



Cut in half and trim

Blanch in salted water

Black pepper corns

Smoked Paprika

Toasted coriander seeds



red and yellow to choice

Roasted and peeled

Fennel pollen

Black peppercorns



Sliced thin NOT blanched

1 ½ cups red wine vinegar

¼ cup sugar


Prepare pickling liquid and keep very hot to pour over prepared vegetables

Have jars and lids very clean and very hot

Keep vegetables refrigerated for up to 8 weeks or water bath 15 minutes for longer use.



2 Cups White Wine or Champagne Vinegar

1 Cup Sugar (Decrease to ½ Cup If Desired)

1 Cup Water

1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

10 Whole Black Pepper Corns

Combine all ingredients in a noncorrosive saucepan.

Bring liquid to a rolling boil while stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.

Remove and cool to room temperature.

Use hot when pouring over vegetables.



Bay leaves


Smoked Paprika

Red pepper flakes

Herb sprigs- thyme, rosemary, oregano



Carrot – Baby or regular size


Fresh beans – green beans and yellow wax beansPearl Onions

Red onions


Red and Yellow Roasted Beets


Celebrate Bastile Day with French Green Lentils

Ann and Mark made a gorgeous French green lentil salad and shared it at the Farmers’ Market in Green Valley on Bastille Day (last Saturday). Lucky folks at the farmers’ market got to enjoy fresh Il Fiorello extra virgin olive oil with their lentil salad.

Ann shares her recipe for the salad below. Enjoy!!!!


French Green Lentil Salad  (serves 8)

In honor of Bastille Day French Independence July 14



1 lb French Green Lentils (2 cups)

6-8 cups of water

½ cup bell pepper finely chopped

½ cup onion finely chopped

½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped

½ cup celery finely chopped

1 cup hard cheese finely chopped

½ cup tomatoes finely chopped

2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind

½ cup Leccino Extra Virgin Olive

½ cup lemon juice (or amount to taste)

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ cup Leccino Extra Virgin Olive Oil for finishing the dish at table.



Sort and wash the lentils.

Place in a large pot filled with the 6-8 cups of water.

Cook until tender about 20 minutes.

Drain and cool the lentils.

While the lentils are cooling chop the vegetables into lentil size pieces.

Place cool lentils into serving bowl and mix with all the above seasonings.

Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs.

Drizzle the lentils with the remaining olive oil and serve as a salad with crusty French bread.