Anna Maria’s Dinner

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This is Anna Maria. She was the chef that cooked for us twice while we were staying at the Podere Scopicciolo in Tuscany this past week. The first meal was on the night we arrived. It was a great dinner, which included probably the best lasagna I’ve ever had, and it really wasn’t matched by anything we ate until four nights later when we hired to cook for us again.

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We arrived to the Podere after a long day of sight seeing and found her in the beautiful kitchen putting the finishing touches on our dinner. We quickly sat down, like little children coming in from playing outside all day, hungry for their mom’s home cooked meal. She started us off with a baked casserole of shredded zucchini and spinach with a crunchy topping.
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It was probably the best thing we ate in Tuscany all week. I can’t even begin to describe the richness of flavor and the contrast of textures, between the crunchy top, the soft interior, and the crusty bottom. We licked that casserole dish clean. Even Anna Maria was impressed.

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The next dish, the primi, was another baked dish. This time it was crespelle, small crepes that were stuffed with ricotta and spinach and cooked with tomatoes. It was another comforting dish that easily let each ingredient shine.

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Our next course, the secondi, was a traditional beef stew called peposo. Tender chunks of beef were cooked in a wine sauce, flavored simply with whole black peppercorns and bay leaves. Once again, it was a simple dish that was full of concentrated flavors, perfect with the Chianti wine we drank.

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And for the finale, she made a panna cotta with chocolate sauce, something I noticed was available in many Tuscan restaurants. She also prepared a fruit tart for us but by then we were so full, we barely touched it.

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On our last night, someone in our group asked everyone to name their favorite dishes from the week in Tuscany. Anna Maria’s lasagna and zucchini/spinach casserole were unanimously placed at the top of the list.