One couple presented us with a nice gift of candied Italian chestnuts which they had brought from Europe. The other, with whom we share an interest in wines, brought a nice bottle of Passo dei Caprioli (Passage of the Deer), a Toscana IGT red from Montalcino.
The dishes I prepared were:
1. Fettunta (also called Panunto or Bruschetta). I used a recipe from the cookbook "Tuscany, the Beautiful Cookbook" by Lorenza de Medici. I was not happy with the results. The results were nowhere near as tasty as what I have had in Tuscany. I'm not sure what I did wrong.
2. Ribollita, the famous Tuscan soup whose name means "reboiled." There are many versions of this soup. The version I made was from page 61 of the same cookbook as the Fettunta. I was very happy with the results. It was much tastier than a version we had in Siena last October. Like many Tuscan soups, one of the ingredients is slices of toasted or day-old bread. It also had cannellini beans, savoy cabbage, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, olive oil, & tomato paste. Making it was a bit of work - but well worth the effort.
3. Arista alla Fiorentina (Florentine-style pork roast). I found this recipe on the web page - http://www.tuscanrecipes.com/recipes/arista-fiorentina.html It was edlicious and very easy to make. There are several stories regarding the origin of the name of the dish. One is that it was served to a Byzantine Patriarch visiting Florence for an ecumenical council in 1439. The patriarch was so delighted with the dish that he exclaimed in Greek, "Aristos!" meaning, "The best."
4. Cipolle alla Grossetana (Grosseto-style Onions). This dish was delicious. It involves stuffing yellow onion with Italian sausage, beef, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and egg, and then baking in white wine, olive oil, and water. (I used Vernaccia di San Gimignano white wine to add to the Tuscan flavor.) This recipe is on page 190 of the same cookbook as the Fettunta and Ribollita. (The town of Grosseto is near the southwestern coast of Tuscany.
5. Panna Cotta al Caramello (Panna Cotta). This was the only dish I had made before. I love it and it's very easy to make. I cheated and used store-bought caramel sauce. The recipe can be found at
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2009/04/perfect_panna_cotta.html (Some say this dish is originally fro Tuscany and others from the Piedmont.)