01 October 2009

Diary of a Tuscan Chef


At age thirteen, Cesare Casella began working in his family’s restaurant, Il Vipore, tucked in the Tuscan hills. Casella stayed on in the family kitchen, eventually taking over the restaurant and leading it to its first Michelin star. The restaurant also developed a line of its Tuscan specialities.


Then, Cesare Casella traveled across the ocean to New York City to work for Pino Loungo. Diary of a Tuscan Chef is just that, a diary of year in the life of a chef, a town, a new city, and a bounty of food. Along the way we meet Casella’s family and the recipes he learned to cook at his mother’s knee.

The recipes are divided into seasonal sections with menus for an assortment of outings, including going to the market with dad, a road trip to the Piedmont, and apartment hunting.

In these recipes one can taste the Tuscan soil. Here is a great example in a warm, fall dish.

Radicchio Trevisano Brasato

1 pound Treviso radicchio, cleaned and quartered (if you can’t find Treviso radicchio, which is long and thin, use the round Verona radicchio)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine
3 1/2 tablespoons homemade beef broth

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the radicchio in a roasting pan and sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the radicchio for 20 to 25 minutes. It should be wilted. Serve immediately.

A simple comforting dish that will brighten up any winter dinner. Serve it with some bread and cheese and make a meal out of it.

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