The Movie: Under the Tuscan Sun
More of a ‘rom’ than a ‘com’, this movie probably is ‘one for the girls’, so impress your girlfriend by watching it!
Diane Lane plays Frances, a writer and book critic, who due to her clear and honest reviews of literary works, finds out from a vengeful author (that she slammed) her husband is having an affair with a much younger woman – who is also pregnant.
Frances’s life spirals downwards with rapidity – her husband files for divorce, she loses her home and moves into a depressing apartment. Only her best friend can rescue her by offering her tickets for a tour of Tuscany, which after deliberation, she accepts.
Tuscany reveals her inner soul, so much so that she purchases a rundown villa and decides never to return to San Francisco. From this point, various characters enter her life, including a bunch of Polish immigrant builders, who she forms a great attachment to. Sexual fascinations occur with various handsome Italians, but it isn’t until towards the end that Frances feels she may have found love….
An excellent appearance of English actress Lindsay Duncan as Katherine (neighbor) gives the movie some more reality and depth of performance that is maybe a little lacking. Delicious movie though if you like love stories!
Available on: Apple iTunes, Google Play, and Netflix (DVD only)
The Menu: Tuscan Lamb and Vegetable Minestrone Style Stew
This is so mouth-watering, it can be served as a stew in a larger portion, or even as a minestrone-style soup. This is a recipe from the shepherds up in the Tuscan hills which we have adopted to a lamb recipe, whereas they tend to use anything and everything meat-wise that they shoot or kill in some form or fashion (rabbits, pigeon etc). It is very rich and filling, served with lovely Italian crusty bread.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 ½ hours
- 2 or 3tbsp olive oil
- 1lb cooked leftover lamb, or 1½lb of neck fillet, stewed for 1 hr 30 minutes, cut into small cubes or shredded
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 large leeks, cut into 4 lengthways and shredded
- 4 large white onions, finely diced
- 3 sticks celery, chopped
- 8oz small pasta shapes, such as Anellini
- 6oz green beans, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 x 8oz canned cannellini beans
- 16oz high-quality chicken or lamb stock plus 1 stock cube
- Extra water if needed
- 2 stalks rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
- Seasoning to taste
- In a large pan, gently sauté the garlic, onions, green beans, celery and carrots in the olive oil. Add the leeks and continue to ‘sweat’ the vegetables. Add the tomatoes and stir all together.
- In a separate pan, cook the pasta as per packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, and mix in with the vegetables.
- Pour the stock into the pan add the lamb and rosemary. Add the additional stock cube, stir all the mix together.
- Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer (no lid). After 10 minutes, add the rosemary and a little more water to prevent drying, and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Taste, and adjust seasoning if required.
- Serve with chunks of crusty bread either as a soup or as a stew with boiled potatoes.