Pennino L’oste del Ponte

a manuscript was found
a manuscript was found

In the Kitchen of Pennino L’oste
During spring cleaning, a few years ago, my friend Franco, in the attic of his house in Ponte a Signa stumbled upon a cowhide bag full of booklets sewn with strings ,among this booklets there was one ,a diary of a Luigi Bicchierai, Called “Pennino that runned an Inn at a river crossing of the Arno in the town of Lastra a Signa very close to Florence . During this days the Arno was a navigable river and the inn was located in a port on the way to Florence ,here meals where served to boatmen and travellers navigating up and down the river. .Pennino learned how to cook from two monks Antonio ,the cook of the monastery from Naples and Leonardi from Modena , in the year 1811 Pennino started to work in the family Inn and in the year 1812 he became the innkeeper .Pennino found the time to write a diary under the form of notes about the daily life, inventory of the tools used in the kitchen and amazing local Tuscan recipes of food served in his “locanda”on the river bank . These hand written recipes were restored , complied and now published .The name of the book is Pennino L’Oste by Franco Tozzi.

Pan Molle : A typical Tuscan salad
a meal for the poor people but also welcomed by priest,officers and gentleman

Essential to the tastiness of it is: top quality extra virgin olive oil, good red wine vinegar, hard Tuscan bread, and of course flavorful tomatoes. Panzanella can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for several hours or taken on picnics. Remove from refrigerator an hour or so before serving.

1/2 lb Italian country style bread 2 days old, in slices 2 inches thick
1/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
3 T good quality red wine vinegar or more to taste
1/3 cup celery
1 1/2 lb fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes, cubed, about 5 cups
1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, washed, drained on paper towels and shredded, a few extra for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the onions in a small bowl with cold water with 1 teaspoon salt for an hour. The soaking helps reduce the sharpness and improve the digestibility of it
Drain the onions on paper towels.
Soak the bread in cold water and cover for about fifteen minutes.
Remove, squeezing out as much moisture as you can.
Coarsely crumble the bread into a large serving bowl.
Add the tomatoes, onion and basil.
Toss.
Drizzle on the olive oil
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss well coating the bread with the oil.
Garnish with a few whole basil leaves.
Before serving add vinegar.