A Mother’s Day Meal Inspired By Italian Nonnas

Looking for some inspiration for a delicious Mother’s Day meal that will make her smile? Look no further! The Tuscan Women Cook cookbook is a gift, in and of itself, that shares amazing recipes, traditions, and memories. These recipes are delicious and will make you want to try your hand at all of them. I know after reading through them, I have some big plans of learning how to make real classic Italian meals that my family will be sure to love.

For a knock her socks off kind of meal for Mother’s Day, I suggest two of these incredible recipes featured in this cookbook.

Carré di Agnello

Carré di Agnello

Rack of Lamb

We love taking our guests to the historic hill town of Montepulciano. We drop them at the tip top of the village and they slowly meander down the curvy road lined with gorgeous shops, wine bars, and cafés. At the base of Montepulciano is the Church of San Biagio, a massive cathedral that beckons. Our guests leave awestruck by Antonio da Sangallo’s 16th century architectural masterpiece.

Ristorante La Grotta is located right across the road. It’s simple, elegant decor provides a welcoming ambiance. The heady aromas emanating from the kitchen introduce our guests to an evening of fine wine and a chef ’s menu where their rack of lamb takes center stage. The lamb is perfectly seasoned, cooked, and plated. We take our first bite and wonder “Why doesn’t my lamb taste like this at home?” You’re about to find out. We are grateful to La Grotta’s owner Davide Mazzuoli and his family who kindly shared their treasured recipe.

Serves 6

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Two 2-3 pound racks of lamb, trimmed and frenched

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons each chopped thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf, and marjoram

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

½ cup dried breadcrumbs

¼ cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rack of lamb and sear it on all sides for 3 minutes.

Remove the lamb from pan and set aside. Heat 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil and sear the other rack of lamb. When cool enough to handle, cut each rack into 2- and 3-rib portions.

Mix the mustard with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a thin paste.

Combine the herbs, fennel seeds, and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Moisten the mixture with a tablespoon or two of the wine.

Brush the portions of lamb with the mustard paste. Then roll them in the herb mixture until evenly coated.

Return the lamb back into the pan. Bake until the lamb is just pink in the center, for 12-16 minutes.

Tiramisù alle Fragole

Tiramisù alle Fragole

Strawberry Tiramisù


Our guests who don’t like the flavor of coffee always have the same expression when they find out the evening’s dessert will be Italian tiramisù. A small, almost imperceptible shrug of the shoulder and a flash of sadness crosses their face. No one wants to miss out on any course in the magnificent restaurants where we dine, especially the dessert course. But when Albo Stefanucci, the owner of Ristorante 13 Gobbi, presents our guests with his fresh strawberry tiramisù, everyone perks up. The combination of strawberries and the traditional layers of creamy mascarpone and Italian ladyfingers is a refreshing spin on the classic. Serve it in summer when fresh strawberries are at their peak.

Serves 8

For the strawberries

2½ cups of strawberries, chopped

₁⁄₃ cup Alchermes*, Fragoli, or Chambord liqueur

1 tablespoon sugar

2-3 tablespoons rum 1 cup orange juice

For the cream

5 egg yolks

¾ cups granulated sugar

2¼ cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature 2¼ cups heavy cream

1 package dry ladyfingers (Pavesini brand preferred, available online)

Fresh strawberries

Powdered sugar

* Alchermes is a scarlet colored Italian liqueur made by infusing neutral spirits with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, and other herbs, and kermes, a small parasitic insect used as a red dye. Fragoli is made from wild strawberries. Chambord is made from raspberries.

Put the strawberries, liqueur, sugar, rum, and orange juice in a bowl. Set aside while preparing the cream.

Beat the egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, and heavy cream with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until creamy, for 5-10 minutes.

Strain the strawberries over a small bowl to capture the juice. So that it doesn’t become soggy, quickly dip a ladyfinger in the juice. Place it on the bottom of a baking dish. Continue dipping ladyfingers and arranging them in the baking dish until the bottom is covered. Spread half of the cream mixture over the ladyfingers, then cover with the chopped strawberries. Make another layer of dipped ladyfingers and cover with remaining cream mixture.

Chill for 2-3 hours before serving. Just before serving decorate the tiramisù with strawberries and dust with powdered sugar. Refrigerated it will keep for up to 2 days.


Who wouldn’t love to sit in the sun at an outdoor café in Italy sipping a chilled glass of wine and eating a favorite Italian meal? Unfortunately, these days international travel is tricky or non-existent. But that doesn’t mean we can’t create a bit of Italy in our own kitchens. Coleen Kirnan, the owner, and host of Tuscan Women Cook, the unique and popular culinary vacation located in the heart of Tuscany, bring the cuisine and culture of Italy to home kitchens with her new cookbook, Tuscan Women Cook: Nonnas ▪ Memories ▪ Recipes.  Each recipe will transport you to the sun-dappled Tuscan fields where farm-to-table cuisine is commonplace.

Tuscan Women Cook shares generational recipes from the “nonnas” of Montefollonico.

“The Tuscan Women Cook cookbook is a very personal project for me. This book is a collection of delicious recipes for sure. But it also contains favorite memories associated with cooking and our glorious days spent in Montefollonico, Italy,” says Coleen.  “Our marvelous memories mingle with those of our beautiful nonnas, who have generously shared family secrets that are also, coincidentally, treasured family recipes. Most of these dishes were created centuries before we ever tasted them, refined by each generation of family cooks who adjusted the ingredients to the agricultural and technological changes that inevitably took place with each new branch of every family’s tree.”

Filled with beautiful photos of Montefollonico and recipes, chapters cover Starters, Soups, Pasta, Meat, Vegetables, Desserts, and Drinks. Some of the recipes featured in Tuscan Women Cook include:
–    Cantucci Salati e Fegatini di Pollo (Cantucci and Chicken Liver Mousse)
–    Carpaccio di Zucchine (Zucchini Carpaccio)
–    Zuppa di Stracci (Stracciatella Soup)
–    Pici
–    Pasta con Salsiccia e Pomodoro (Pasta with Sausage and Tomato)
–    Spaghetti con Rigatino e Cipolla (Spaghetti with Bacon and Onion)
–    Ravioli alla Crema di Pecorino e Tartufo (Ravioli with Truffle Pecorino Cream)
–    Filetto di Maiale con Prugne e Pistachio (Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce)
–    Ossobuco (Veal Shanks with Vegetables)
–    Cinghiale Veloce (Quick Wild Boar)
–    Pollo al Contadino (Chicken Farmer’s Style)
–    Fiori di Zucca Farciti con Ricotta e Fritti (Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta)
–    Panna Cota
–    Crostata di Meringa alla Frutta in Pietra (Stone Fruit Meringue Tart)
–    Aperol Spritz
–    Negroni

Want a taste of Tuscany without renewing your passport? Tie on an apron and try delicious and authentic recipes from the Tuscan Women Cook cookbook which have been handed down from generations of the best family cooks in Montefollonico, Italy.

Los Angeles-based Coleen Kirnan and Rhonda Vilardo are two inventive business dynamos who decided to take a career risk that changed their lives.  In 2016 they purchased Tuscan Women Cook, a unique culinary immersion vacation where participants learn to cook authentic Italian meals from legendary women in the Tuscan village of Montefollonico. This change in career has been extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally, for both women.  This is their first cookbook.

For more information on Tuscan Women Cook, visit their website, www.TuscanWomenCook.com

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