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



All the tidbits of vegetables that are hiding out in the back of your refrigerator make excellent stock. It cooks itself and makes the house smell great. I think vegetable stock needs spices so add what you have liberally. If you are making chicken stock do the same thing as vegetable and add the bones of last nights chicken. Add the rind of your remaining Parmesan, the one that is so hard you cannot cut it with a ax, just add it to the simmering stock for a fantastic flavor addition. I keep all the Parmesan rinds in the freezer to add to stock or pasta sauce.
Let it simmer all day long. Adjust the seasoning at the end with a little salt and pepper. Then put it into ice cube trays for use later on when you are tired and need a cube of something good to help what ever else you are making. After freezing, pop out the little cubes of deliciousness and place in one layer in freezer bags.



All the little bits of cheese in the back depths of your cheese drawer can be put to great use to make a delicious cheese spread.

Put them all in the blender, yes all of them together, add some cream or stock or water and blend away.

This is a delicious way to use the tidbits for cheese spread, cheese sandwiches or a cheese dip. If the flavor is what you like, this may be a great mac-n-cheese addition.

To vary the flavor add your favorite herbs or spices, Go slowly, you can always add more, but you cannot take it away. Even a little lemon juice for acidity will be a good addition. Add the spices as you are blending. Taste as you go along to make sure the spices are correct. Salt and pepper to your taste.

OR fold in some diced spring onions for color and texture . Use the cheese, it will thank you.

30 Minute Mole

30 Minute Mole

1 kg water
2.25 g Butter
150 g sweet onion, diced
75 g peanuts, shelled
50 g dark chocolate
50 g tomato paste
3 cinnamon sticks
20 g pumpkin seed
20 g Garlic
17 g Salt
CHILI’s dried, seeds removed
15 g Ancho Chili 15 g Pasilla chili
15 g Mulato chili
15 g Guajillo chili
15 g Chipotle Meco chili
15 g Chipotle Morita chili
10 g sesame seed
5 g cumin
4.5 g Oregano fresh
2.5 G Caraway seed
2.5 g Thyme, fresh
1.8 g Mace
0.5 G clove

Pressure cooker

Put all ingredients in pressure cooker
Cook at Full Pressure for 30 minutes
Remove cinnamon sticks and put all contents in blender
Blend until smooth
Serve with Turkey, chicken or pork.

Adapted from Chef’s Steps by Raul Solario, Chef IL Fiorello
Serve with 24 hour sous vide pork shoulder at 140 ° F
Drizzle with IL Fiorello Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Tomato Water

We serving palate cleansers after all of our olive oil tastings. They freshen and delight your mouth.  It is like an adult shooter.  Paired with our Balsamic Vinegar Reductions, the palate cleanser is usually served with fresh squeezed grape juice at harvest time, or cranberry juice at Christmas or Apple juice during the Fall. It is fun to make the Balsamic Reduction and very fun to pair it with different flavors.

During August, we always make tomato water, and serve it with our Signature Balsamic reduction.  TOMATO WATER.  What is that?” everyone says. This is delicious, everyone says. Not many people can easily identify the origin of the flavor. It is a fun discussion about what this water, that tastes familiar, really is, and why we serve it frozen.

Wine glass with clear tomato water

So here is our not-so-secret recipe plan.

First, go to Peets Coffee, and plead with them to give you a very large coffee filter, or 5 in our case.  Usually they laugh at me, but are always accommodating when I buy coffee.  Certainly, you can do this in smaller filters, but we make lots of tomato water!

You begin with tomatoes, lots and lots of large tomatoes, big beefy red juicy tomatoes.

Go to Larry’s Produce in Suisun Valley or Castaneda Brothers in Vacaville, or your back yard, and get big tomatoes, and put them all in the blender.  Blend the heck out of them, no large bits.

Then you place the blended tomatoes in the filter, in the strainer, over a bowl.  Then you wait.




What comes out is crystal clear beautiful juice. The very essence of the tomato. This liquid can be used to flavor soups, stews, cocktails.  The sky is the limit.  I then take the remainder of the tomatoes and freeze the pulp for use during the Fall and Winter.  So delicious for pasta, stews, and on pizza. The remaining tomato pulp makes a very concentrated flavor addition to your cooking.

So there it is, tomato water.


Happy Baking from IL Fiorello

Tuscan Pan Forte is an ancient, and may I say better, version of today’s fruitcake. Very delicious with lots of unique flavors, easy to make, and even easier to eat.  A colleague in Italy, Judy Witts Francini, (, posted a recipe that she loves.  She has a wonderful blog and cooking school near Florence, Italy.  She is American, went to Italy, and never looked back.  We took cooking lessons from her almost 10 years ago in her apartment in Florence. We toured the Centrale Market, and enjoyed her unbridled enthusiasm for all great food in Italy.  I am hoping she comes to IL Fiorello to share her amazing talents.  She has one of the best blogs in Italy, and great cookbooks.  (Hint, her cookbooks make great Christmas gifts.)

I, of course, took the challenge of making Pan Forte, but added and subtracted a bit to suite my tastes, and what is available in California.  I added crystalized ginger, and lots of homemade candied lemon and orange peel.  Explore Judy’s website for her original recipe at the link above.  Here is my version from IL Fiorello’s Kitchen in the Grove for you. Accept the challenge, try the recipe, and add you own twist.

Merry Christmas! May you enjoy Panforte with a glass of Vin Santo.

Ciao Ann

IL Fiorello Pan Forte


1 lb. toasted nuts (equal amounts of walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pecans)

1 lb. mixed dried fruits, cut into small pieces

(Use equal amounts of dried figs, candied lemon, candied orange peel, dried sour cherries, apricots, and candied ginger in whatever percentage you love)

1 tsp finely ground black pepper

(I use half black pepper and half long pepper for fragrance)

4 tablespoons total of the following spices ground together

Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cardamom seeds

(Use 2 tablespoons for the Pan Forte and reserve 2 tablespoons for the topping)

1 tablespoon bitter sweet cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup honey, I love dark bitter Chestnut honey for this cake.

1 and ½ cups AP (All Purpose) flour


¼ cup flour

2 tbsp. of the seasoning mixture (see above ingredients)

2 tbsp. bitter sweet cocoa powder


  1. Toast the nuts, either in a pan on the stove, or under the broiler. Watch carefully that they do not burn
  2. Mix the fruit and nuts together
  3. Add the flour, spice mixture, pepper, and cocoa powder and mix well
  4. Heat the sugar and honey together until combined
  5. Add the sugar and honey mixture to the fruits and nuts
  6. Mix together

I use a marble top surface and just mix and mix and mix by hand

  1. Add a few drops of water until the entire mixture just comes together
  2. Form into logs, or press into a single layer round cake pan
  3. Sprinkle with the topping of cocoa, flour and spices
  4. Bake at 350 °F for about 15 minutes.


Serve in thin slices with a glass of Vin Santo or a cup of espresso


The completed dry mixture before forming into the logs.






Form the dough into logs then sprinkle with the topping mixture before baking.







Merry Christmas

Spring 2017


It is finally Spring! Happy Spring!

Spring is for seeds, chickens, eggs, plants, gardens, blossoms, and fun.

Seeds are in the ground, seeds and plants are in the greenhouse, and baby chickens huddle under a warm light in the coop. They look as if they are under a grow light; each day they grow bigger and eat more.

The new baby girls are a Barnvelder, a Barred Rock, an Egyptian Fayoumi, a couple of Golden Hens, a white Delaware and a couple of Bantams with feathered feet. They are sooo little and look like they are walking on fuzz and shavings. Keeping them hydrated and fed is a three times a day job. The little girls need so much food at this time of their little life.

The new yellow portable chicken coop is almost built and now the older girls can go out into the grove to bug and scratch. It has a sign that says “Last One in is a Rotten Egg”! They have warm nest boxes and a lot of room to scratch in the grass. It will be a fun addition to the Farm. You will be able to meet them when you book a Farm Tour!

The older girls give us white, brown, and blue eggs. These are well used by our Sous Chef Darren in Kitchen in the Grove. The frittatas are marvelous, let alone the French omelets and pickled eggs.

Executive Chef Gloria will teach a Spring Brunch class on April 9 and use eggs in almost every dish; Hollandaise, Sabayon, egg white frittata. I will provide a “surprise egg” for the class that everyone will enjoy. It will be an egg-cellent day!

We have two organic gardens at our Farm. The herb garden is located in the back of the Visitors Center, while the main garden is located near the mill and groves.

The herb garden is used for edible flowers and herbs for the Kitchen in the Grove. Yesterday I planted Johnny jump ups, marigolds, parsley, and thyme. Seeds for bush beans and wax beans went in just before the rain.  Nasturtiums in many colors will pop up very soon and will be delicious on our tasting plates. The delightful color and taste of edible flowers make everything in life better. The oregano, upright pine rosemary, borage and lemon grass have overwintered very well and love their spots. Basil, sorrel, chives, and chervil will be going in very soon.  The mint surprisingly needs replanting, but this is after 5 years. The mint at our other farm grew right through the asphalt driveway! Hint: always plant mint by itself in its very own box to prevent it from growing over the house!

Many of our plants come from Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville. It is a great resource for really healthy and diverse herbs and plants. We will partner with them in June for the Vacaville Lavender Days. Save the Date for June 3. Il Fiorello will host an all Lavender Dinner in the Pavilion, presented by our Executive Chef, Culinary Curator, Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls.

We planted Fava Beans in December; they are now 4 feet tall and full of blossoms. We will be serving different Fava dishes until next year! Fava puree, Fava beans with oil, Parmesan cheese & salt, Fava bean with fresh pasta, Favas with oil and crostini… the list goes on!

(Read further for one of our favorite Fava Recipes)

Aphids love the fava beans, so we have little red lady bugs doing their job to combat the problem. Tiny red finches are also having a great time cleaning the beans.

Down in the main organic garden, the artichoke plants are HUGE. Our friend Denis from Italy said this would not be an Italian garden without artichokes, so now we are “official’. We also have red and yellow onions, garlic, and leeks. The potatoes are loving the rain- we will have great yellow, red and blue ones! Two very small but healthy caper bushes are growing slowly, and hopefully will reward us with capers to pickle for charcuterie plates. Zucchini is in abundance, especially the delicious ones with yellow stripes. Pumpkins and melons will come later this summer, but watch out- we have 10 varieties of each!

Nick has gone wild in the greenhouse with melons, squash, cucumbers, beans, and lots more. We even have a Desi and Delicata squash popping up. We started small, white, flavorful French beans called Tarbias for next winter’s French cassoulet. At 5 days the beans are sprouting and healthy. I am looking forward to that spectacular presentation. The scarlet runner beans and borlotti beans are growing well. They have been a consistent winner on our tasting plates. We even have Chinese long beans this year! Our beans come from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Look in their Whole Seed catalog for many great varieties.

We are also growing watermelon cucumbers. These tiny round cucumbers look like miniature watermelons. They are so cute and very delicious when fresh, but even better when pickled. Kuri Squash is an easy grower that produces a deep red-orange teardrop-like squash. My friend Colleen and I use this squash instead of pumpkin in a chocolate Bundt cake recipe. It produces an extra moist and deep dark delicious flavor. We make this over and over for all our guests. Colleen made this cake for dessert at Thanksgiving. A spectacular and delicious presentation!

Sunflowers are growing, preparing to grace our tables for dinners and luncheons, and also to help feed the birds. We have 7 different varieties: short, tall, yellow, red, and crimson. So beautiful!

The tomatoes will go in the ground in two weeks. We have 30 different varieties, including red current, and blue cherries for our tasting plates. We will coordinate with the Downtown Fairfield Tomato Festival with an onsite tomato demonstration and tastings. So much fun to look forward to!

Our Farm wouldn’t be complete without our olives beginning to set blossoms. It is looking like a great year so far!

Come visit and see for yourself and see how we are growing.



Recipe: Oil Drenched Fava Beans with Parmesan

Prepare Fava beans:

  1. Hull the beans from their large furry pod (the pods are good for our compost)
  2. Cook the beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes
  3. Rinse in cool water until you are able to touch them
  4. Pop out the beans from their jackets (the jackets go into compost also)
  5. Dress in a robust oil, I prefer Frantoio, add salt, pepper to taste
  6. Dress with thin shavings of Parmesan cheese

Serve with fresh bread and a glass of crisp, dry white wine. We are currently pouring a lovely 2016 Albarino from Turkovich Family Wines- come by for a taste.






Citrus at IL Fiorello


The gift of sun. The citrus at IL Fiorello are wonderful. They seem to love the sun at the farm and give us fabulous fruit. We use all of our fruit in our Kitchen in the Grove for our dinners, tasting menus, and cooking classes.


We have many varieties here on our farm. Eureka lemons, Meyer lemons, Variegated pink lemons, Genoa and Femminello Santa Teresa lemons, Buddha’s Hand, French Bouquet de Fleur, Seville Sour orange, Valencia orange, Kefir limes and sweet kumquats. Pomelos that grow as huge as softballs. Moro and Sanguinella Blood oranges. The unusual and beautiful Australian Fingerling limes, and we hope to have Calamansi to plant this coming year.

So what do you do with all those lemons, oranges and limes? Eat the oranges, make orange marmalade, and use the limes in your favorite drinks. We squeeze blood oranges making deep red juice and mix it with sparkling wine on New Year’s Day or even tonight or Sunday brunch.

Our Sous Chef Darren has been making candied lemon and orange peels. We also have been drying the citrus in our dehydrator and grinding it for citrus powder. It is just great on popcorn paired with our olive oils.

The process of candying the citrus is pure kitchen chemistry and gives a fabulous result.  It is not for the faint of heart dealing with sugar and water and the resulting very hot caramel. Dissolve one cup sugar and one cup water and heat until dissolved. Continue heating the mixture until the sugar and water is fully combined and starting to look slightly golden.  Carefully add the slices of oranges or lemons and then continue cooking over medium heat until the citrus is cooked through and translucent. When the caramel it is just turning from light brown to dark brown remove from the heat. Be careful as the caramel is very hot and sticky. With a fork, gently remove the slices and place on a drying tray. Leave until thoroughly dry and fully cool. Make a mixture of melted dark chocolate and your favorite olive oil and dip the cooled citrus to make a delicious dessert. Enjoy.

Another hint from the kitchen, we love affogato, espresso poured over vanilla gelato, topped with whipped cream and garnished with bits of candied orange peel.


And best of all, make Limoncello


This quintessential Italian drink is made with the greatest care and tradition with beautiful sun ripened lemons.

Mark and I have been making Limoncello for 30 years. It is such a treat to live in California and have an abundance of lemons. Choose your most favorite lemon and enjoy making your own Limoncello.



Making Limoncello

This is what you will need:

The peels of 6 or 7 large organic lemons (no pith)

1 quart of pure grain alcohol (Everclear will do just fine)

4 cups water

3 cups sugar or more sugar if you like a sweeter Limoncello.



Soak the lemon peels (no white pith) in the pure grain alcohol.

Yes the very potent stuff. DON’T use vodka. The vodka imparts an off taste. Use only the pure stuff.

This must sit for at least 6-8 weeks. Longer is no problem if you forget it in the back of the pantry.

Combine the sugar and water until it is completely dissolved

Drain the infused alcohol into a lovely bottle

Discard the lemon peel (or it save for roasting inside a chicken)

Combine the alcohol with simple syrup the usual proportion is half and half

Adjust to your taste

Chill and enjoy.


The proportions are up to you, sweeter, more simple syrup or a more concentrated simple syrup; tangier let the lemon peel soak for a little longer. Keep in a cool dark place until the perfect moment to enjoy a glass.

Serve ice cold in beautiful tasting glasses at the end of a perfect meal.

Serve with a little sparkling wine mixed half and half for a very refreshing aperitif

Sunshine in a glass.








Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Jalapeno – Co-Milled Oils



A hallmark time at IL Fiorello is when all the extra virgin olive oil is finished and “put to bed” so to speak, and we can have fun making our co-milled oils.

Our promise to you is that we will never make infused oils, only co-milled.  Co-milling is when we run beautiful olives and luscious citrus fruit and jalapenos through the entire milling process.

10,000 lbs. of olives and lots of eureka lemons, tangelos, Bearss limes, and finally 800 lbs. of jalapenos arrive at the mill at the same time. SO much fruit to cut and prepare and enjoy. The best is having a small fire and roasting jalapenos for our lunch. I put one on my hamburger, delicious.




The interesting part of making co-milled oils is to find all the perfect fruit and then match the fruit with the best olives. The proportion will change each year depending on the flavor of the fruit and the flavor of the olives. There is no magic proportion. We run the mill slowly and carefully to extract as much fruit flavor as possible.

The aroma is fantastic. The opportunities for pairing with food is unlimited.

We celebrate at the completion of the milling as this long milling season has come to an end. Thank you to our growers. Congratulations all around. Beautiful oil. Great flavor of co-milled oils.

Great friendships and an incredible work ethic from our staff.

Thanks to all. Happy Holidays


Here are some ideas for using our co-milled oils:

Lemon co-milled oil over our olive oil Gelato, add salt and this is perfect taste treat.
Just ask any of our staff or guests!

Lemon co-milled oil on roast chicken to brighten the flavor. I use lemon oil in baking for
cakes and our traditional pizzelles.

Jalapeno-Lime co-milled oil over scrambled eggs, tacos, and huevos rancheros.
Or simply just drizzle on a half of an avocado with a little salt. Perfect.

Mandarin co-milled oil mixed with our honey, then warmed, serve over French toast
or English muffins

Mandarin co-milled oil to finish a Butternut squash soup or on baked pumpkin, squash
or sweet potatoes

Lime co-milled oil on sushi, or fish tacos, or grilled halibut. Our Lime brightens and
adds flavor to roast chicken and any vegetable dish.








Yield: approximately 1 to 1½ Gallons

10 large yellow tomatoes, cut into halves
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 jalapeno, stem removed and chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
½ cup dry sherry or white wine
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups chicken stock or water

  • In a baking dish, coat the tomatoes with the garlic, 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 Teaspoon of salt. Roast them at 450°F for 40-45 minutes until they begin to caramelize on top.
  • Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, heat the remaining olive oil and sauté the onions and jalapeños until soft.
  • Add the orange juice and zest, sherry, cumin and remaining salt.
  • Bring to a boil, add the chicken stock or water, and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • Using a blender, puree the soup base.  This soup is equally delicious smooth or chunky…make it the way you like it!
  • Strain or leave it chunky, and chill before adding the vegetable garnish.
  • Re-season after chilling by adjusting salt, and adding lime juice to taste.

golden gazpacho soup with avocado lime creme fraiche


(Choose 2-3)

1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 jalapenos, seeds removed, diced small
1 cup red tomatoes, diced small
1 yellow bell pepper, diced small
2 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
1 bunch green onions, diced small
½ Teaspoon chopped mint
2 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 Teaspoon orange zest
1/3 cup lime juice
½ Teaspoon salt


1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbs buttermilk
1 avocado
1 lime, zested and juiced

Mix whipping cream and buttermilk in a glass jar, cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours until thickened.
Using a food processor mix in avocado and lime.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days



cherry tommies


It is tomato time, as all you gardeners well know. The gardens are overflowing with beautiful fruit.
There are tomato festivals everywhere, and so many different kinds of tomatoes to eat.
Red, green, striped, cherry, pear, yellow and even a purple one.

The bigger question is, what to do with this bounty? Here are some of our suggestions:


  • Sun-dried tomatoes to freeze and use all winter, in soups, stews, polenta and on pizzas. We have a small dehydrator and it only takes about 24 hours on low temperature to have a finished product. We will be serving dried tomatoes with goat cheese as snacks.
  • Yellow tomato gazpacho for a cooling refreshment. We will be serving this at our Suisun Valley Harvest festival August 28. The finishing touch will be avocado crema and a hint of something hot for the adventurous taster.
  • Red gazpacho for the more traditional look and taste, combined with cucumbers, peppers and lots of salt and olive oil this is a classic Spanish dish. Serve with toasted bread for the perfect evening meal. This is a make ahead and let it sit overnight to make the flavors better. Serve with sliced avocado as a topping.
  • A simple composed salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese and olives.
  • Tomato sauce cooked down to a beautiful thick paste and then frozen for use the entire year.
  • Tomato tart, a luscious tart with a pastry crust, fresh ricotta, and layers of lovely tomatoes. Baked early in the morning and served at dinner tonight.
  • Pure delicious tomatoes with salt just warm from the garden. Better yet take the salt and a knife and go to the garden and eat a tomato while you admire your bounty.
  • Sandwiches of thick tomato slices, garlic, cucumbers homemade bread and homemade mayonnaise.


Here is my recipe for homemade mayonnaise. Easy as pie to make and very delicious. Only 5-10 minutes to make this silky and luscious mayo. Leccino adds a lovely fragrance, and Mission will make it quite bold.
If at the end you add two stalks of cooked asparagus, it makes the mayo brilliant green.
Kids and adults will love the color. Fun with food is our motto!




1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon mustard Dijon is good but you can use any favorite mustard

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, Leccino or Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon white pepper, finely ground



  • Whisk together the room temperature egg yolk, the mustard, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt, and combine well
  • Add about 1/4 cup oil very slowly, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
  • Whisk in the vinegar and the lemon juice
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended
  • Continue vigorously whisking until smooth, and all the oil is incorporated
  • Whisk in salt and white pepper to taste.

This makes about a cup. This can also be made in a blender, but it is more fun to whisk this in a bowl.
The vinegar and the lemon juice add the balance and the acidity to the finished mayo. Eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. Healthy, delicious with super good olive oil- it is a perfect treat!


composed photo



Spring Food- Radishes 2016


Right out of the garden, nothing is better than a fresh radish.

radishes in the garden 2016 2

My Great Aunt, A Francophile and French teacher, taught me an old French method to serve beautiful fresh radishes. Slice the radish and serve with bread, the best butter and salt. Add a little olive oil of course, and you have the perfect afternoon snack. Try this as a first course or a simple hors d’oeuvre, appetizer in French.

Radish Insta

Simply delicious.

When you have too many radishes, as we do (10 different kinds!), we pickle them. A quick pickle and you have a marvelous snack to use right away! Great on salads, hamburgers, or just plain right out the jar. Here is how to make them:

Harvest and slice about 4 cups of fresh radishes.


Standard Pickling Liquid
2 cups White Wine Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
10 Whole Black Peppercorns
Dill to taste
Combine all ingredients in a noncorrosive saucepan
Bring the liquid to a rolling boil
Stir to just dissolve the sugar and salt
Remove from heat, add radishes and allow mixture to cool
Cool & refrigerate
Use tonight or this weekend
If covered and refrigerated, will keep for 6-8 weeks

The vinegar will be red because of the radishes beautiful color. Delicious, tangy, with a little heat & lots of flavor. Enjoy Spring!



Pickled Insta