Tiramisù with strawberries from my garden

 

A few years ago I read an interview with Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement. He said, ‘ to grow your own edible garden is a revolutionary act, ’ and that idea has stuck in my head ever since.

It takes time to grow your own food. It’s tiring and frustrating but also hugely satisfying. To go out your door, and then wander around the garden picking vegetables, herbs and fruit is amazing. It’s about being active in your choices, to create what you love instead of just buying it.

My garden has always taught me lessons about life. It taught me that in every seed there is powerful potential, but only care allows it to grow into a strong plant. I learned that rhubarb isn’t gone when the stalks and leaves die away when fall arrives; it proves its resilience when it sprouts again in the spring. A harder lesson that I’m still learning is that success comes slowly, with trust and perseverance, and careful tending along the way.

For this recipe I used fresh strawberries from my garden, but you can substitute raspberries or any other berries that you have available. What matters is taking what you have, and creating simple, everyday magic.

 

Ingredients for 6 single servings :

3 very fresh eggs
5 ounces of sugar
17 ounces Mascarpone (I like the BelGioioso brand, which is made in Wisconsin!)
24 lady fingers
2 cups of fresh strawberries or other berries
half a lemon

Method :

To make the mascarpone cream, first separate the yolks and the whites into two medium bowls.
Then whip the sugar with the egg yolks until you have a pale and creamy mixture. Add the mascarpone and gently mix it all with a wooden spoon. Whisk the egg whites until firm (to check, you can turn the bowl upside down , and if the egg white mixture holds its shape then they’ve reached the perfect consistency).

Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into the mascarpone cream until it’s smooth. Then add the remainder of the whites and mix again until smooth. .

Prepare 6 glasses or a serving plate if you like a cake shape instead of single servings.

Cut the strawberries in halves and cook them gently for two minutes in a saucepan with two tablespoons of sugar and the juice of half a lemon, until there’s a nice sauce and the strawberries are soft. Leave a few of the cooked strawberries on the side for decorating and blend the rest in a blender until smooth, then put it in a bowl to cool down.

In your glasses pour two tablespoons of mascarpone cream and then dip the the ladyfingers one at the time in the strawberry blend until are all coated with the juice. Put the ladyfingers on top of the cream and then cover them with another thick layer of cream.
Repeat layering the ladyfingers and the cream again. I usually make two layers, but if you prefer you can make more. Finishing with a layer of mascarpone cream and then put one table spoon of strawberry juice on top and if you like the crunch crumble one lady finger on top . Finish by adding some of the cooked strawberries that you left on the side earlier.

Leave in the fridge for 4 hours (if you can resist). Enjoy!

Note: Tiramisù is made with raw eggs and mascarpone cheese, which are both very delicate and easily perishable. Once you make the Tiramisù you should keep it in the fridge and eat it in one day or two. In my house Tiramisù doesn’t last more than a couple of hours 🙂

An Introvert-friendly guide to downtown Florence

Every time I meet someone new, they always tell me how lucky I am to have lived in such a beautiful town. I know that I’m lucky, but living in one of the most touristed places in the world can be challenging too. I love walking, getting lost in fields and streets — it’s the easiest way to recharge my internal batteries.   But walking downtown Florence can often be more overwhelming than relaxing.

I have always had the feeling that Florence is not for Florentines, but for tourists.

My beautiful friend Mary introduced me for the first time to this hidden path 2 weeks ago during my stay in Florence and I enjoyed it so much that I did it again, alone this time.

Porta Romana is a noisy place, full of cars, buses and people. but as soon as you enter the park of the Art School (Liceo Artistico Statale) you forget where you were two minutes ago and start enjoying the view of kids playing in the playground, old people walking dogs, art students struggling with a new art work, young couples kissing on the bench.

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You’re silently enter a space where people are living their ordinary life, like they would do in a small village or in a town that doesn’t have to deal every day with so much history and art like Florence.

At the end of the Viale dei Cipressi I enter Via Madonna della Pace and I notice things that I could never see if I wandered in the most trafficked part of Florence : there are kids bikes parked outside the houses, in Via del Bobolino an old man is walking his dog and a lady on the street is complaining to another lady who’s looking out the window of a house about her son and his bad grades in school. I keep going, smiling at this moment of ordinary life where the street become an intimate place where people can talk loudly feeling safe that nobody is listening.

While walking in via del Bobolino I’m surprised by the silence of the road. How is that possible in a city like Florence, always crowded, always full of noise? In this part of the town you can only smell the jasmine and the silence.

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Then I turn in Via Giovanni Schiapparelli and I’m hit by the deep pink of the houses and walls that run along the street. I end up in a tiny stone street and I wonder, am I still downtown?

Because behind the wall I can see so many olives trees, and I tiptoe to see what else is behind the wall but it stays hidden. The wall is tall enough to prevent you from seeing what’s behind but short enough that you can see some details of the life behind it.

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Walking down the street a house window is open and I can hear the sounds of pots and pans on the stove and smell something delicious. I’d forgotten — it’s lunchtime, and I guess that a parent is preparing lunch for the kids coming back from school, or a grandma is cooking for her husband.

Via San Leonardo has so little traffic, I can walk in the middle of the street, I don’t pass anyone, except a few cars that force me to move to a sidewalk that is not as as wide as my shoes.

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I soak in this calm atmosphere and I want to be quiet even if it’s a public street. No commercial shops, no museums, no peddlers. Just beautiful, colorful villas, inhabited all year around by ordinary people.

The street is so narrow at some point that I have to lean against the wall and let a car pass. At that moment my sight shifts in another direction and I notice a sign carved into the stone wall, slightly hidden by the olive tree’s branches : ‘rebuilt in the year 1879’.

I keep walking, along the wall, stopping to admire the decorations carved into the wall, the caper plants that grow out of the wall, with some leafy olive branch or grape vine above the wall, proving that behind the wall there is something beautiful and hidden.

Beyond the curve I see the bell tower of the San Leonardo in Arcetri Church and I wonder how such beauty can go completely unnoticed. There is no line of people waiting outside. It has the feeling of a village church where people gather on Sunday mornings.

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Once I arrive at Forte Belvedere I cross Porta San Giorgio and I start the descent that runs along the Bardini Garden.

I find myself in front of one of the houses where Galileo Galilei lived and I picture him building his telescope and watching the sky during clear nights at the beginning of the 17 century.

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Before turning into Via del Canneto I stop to enjoy a glimpse of the Dome and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio. I’m still far from the crowds. In via del Canneto time seems to have stopped. I walk under the arches through one of the less beaten streets of Oltrarno.

Once I approach the end of the slope of Costa San Giorgio I feel I’m entering a different world, the Florence of the tourists, with the sudden noise of a mass of tourists heading to the Old Bridge. It’s like Florence had two different dimensions that never cross each other. One for the tourists and one for the Florentines.