The countdown has begun: in a month it’s Christmas and – raise your hand if you haven’t already done- we begin to think about the menu of the Holidays. It is an irresistible temptation: guessing how to surprise your guests is the spirit that unites the hosts. From the simplest to more elaborate of the dishes, the best thing is to taste everything good is brought to the table, accompanying with fine Chianti wines, it goes without saying …

And even if it seems far away, if the weather is not exactly that of the cold winter we are used when December 25 is around the corner, Santa Claus has long legs! In less than no time he will knock on the door and we don’t want to be unprepared, right? So: 3, 2, 1 … let’s rekindle the fires, the flames, the ovens, and let’s start our roundup of ideas for the Christmas table: a first, a second and a dessert, just to start. One thing: if you want to try these dishes before Christmas, you can do it, of course. You will find that such dishes are good all year round! Just try.

Gnudi ricotta and spinach
Serves 4

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250 grams of cooked spinach, well drained
250 grams of fresh ricotta
10 grams of Parmesan
1 egg
4 sprigs of marjoram
flour
A pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

For the sauce:
a knob of butter
a few sprigs of sage

First, you have to cook spinach before using them, then you must squeeze well. This operation is essential in order to obtain a dough not too watery and difficult to model. In a bowl, combine the spinach to an equal amount of ricotta and mix well. Add the grated Parmesan cheese, chopped marjoram, nutmeg. A pinch of salt and pepper, then the egg and mix it all. Now we have to form balls helping us with flour. Bake the gnudi in salt water, throwing a few at a time into the boiling water: once cooked rise to the surface. They are perfect with melted butter, sage and a sprinkling of pecorino toscano:-) Uncork a good Chianti Riserva, a structured wine perfect for a first course with a strong flavor.

Chicken with honey and orange
Serves 4

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780 grams of chicken thigh
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon mustard
1 small red pepper
juice of 1 ½ orange
a clove of garlic
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
salt
extra virgin olive oil

Put the chicken thigh in a baking dish and sprinkle with the juice of an orange, with a small pepper cut into slices, mix well and let it sit for a couple of hours. After this time, remove the chicken from the marinade and fry in a pan with a clove of garlic and a little oil. It’s time to add the chicken thigh and make them brown very well. We now add a tablespoon of honey, the orange juice gradually. Season with salt and hours over low heat, before adding the remaining orange juice and then some water if necessary. When the meat is cooked we withdraw the sauce and add the fresh thyme leaves. Again, with a Chianti Riserva you’ll go on the safe side: a red and decided with a good tannin is ideal for traditional dishes.

Apple pie (if you want, you can call it apple pie)
For the pastry

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300 grams of flour
150 grams of butter, softened
130 grams of sugar
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
1 package yeast

For the filling

1 kg of apples
1 lemon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

Mix the sugar with the butter, add flour, eggs and the yeast. continue to work until we get a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour. Meanwhile, peel the apples and cut them into thick slices, let’s leave them in a bowl with spices, lemon juice and brown sugar. Get out the  pastry and roll out in a round baking pan, let about 1/3 of the dough aside to cover. Fill the cake with apples, roll out the pastry and cover. We put in the oven at 140 ° for about 35 minutes. Accompany with a young and fragrant vin santo, soft and pleasant to the palate.