My latest cookbook recommendation is Il Libro Della Vera Cucina Fiorentina, which translates to "The Book of the Real Florentine Kitchen." The book is written in Italian, I should be clear, but the recipes are so straightforward that honestly I think even non-Italian speakers could follow it with a dictionary to translate the food words. The book catalogues all the classic Florentian recipes that one finds in real home kitchens in Florence, from pasta favorites to stewed rabbit to liver crostini (some dishes are more appealing to me than others, honestly ...), presented in an easily managable way.
The book has a collection of Tuscan soups - we made the zuppa di poro (leek soup) and a Renaissance soup similar to French onion soup but using parmesan instead, of course, and with ground almonds and a pinch of cinnamon for sweetness. It may sound odd but it's surprisingly delightful. There are also a range of proteins, naturally, from stewed boar to roasted pheasant; we chose to make Italian baccala (white fish with leeks and stewed tomatoes):
The slow-cooked tomatoes were so decadent and paired perfectly with the strong-textured white fish (we used cod) that you wanted to lick the pan. Who knew fish could be so satisfying?
As for another kind of fish, we made pesce finto, a "fake fish" dish originating from the 19th century, when Tuscan peasants used starches to stretch the amount of proteins available. (Hence the popular World War II-era meatloaf in the U.S., think about it.) This dish combines boiled potatoes, canned tuna, and hard-boiled egg to create a fish loaf, which is then traditionally shaped into the mold of a fish shape, here decorated with capers, mayonnaise, and red pepper flakes. This is a great dish to make with children, who will have fun with the whimsical fish decorating!