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The Jovial Blog

A Week of Gluten Free Pleasure in Tuscany

We have all been swept away by our week in Lucca- the nice people, the beautiful surroundings, wonderful food and new friends. Take a look at the week in pictures and enjoy an informative gluten free pizza cooking class with the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.

That pizza really was delicious. Here is the recipe so you can enjoy it at home.


  • 125g buckwheat flour
  • 125g brown rice flour
  • 125g white rice flour
  • 125g white corn flour
  • 300g warm water
  • 1½ tsp. dry active yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg (optional)


  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes until yeast is activated.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt.
  3. Beat olive oil and egg together and add to yeast and water Stir in flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil a baking sheet and carefully spread out the dough with your hands.
  6. Bake the crust without topping for 8-10 minutes until firm, being careful not to brown the crust.
  7. Add your favorite topping and return to the hot oven until crispy, about 15 minutes.

The week kicked off with a traditional Tuscan dinner made by our local chef, Aurelio.

Chef Aurelio harvested wild asparagus himself on Sunday morning, and that evening, we enjoyed an unforgettable risotto agli asparagus.

Dinner was served, starting with a yummy buffet and all the kids gathered together and became instant best friends.

Crispy polenta crostini with porcini mushrooms.

These crostini were made with local chestnut flour and served with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta.

This simple vegetable pie made with zucchini and green beans was one of the highlights of dinner, recipe coming soon.

Here is our sweepstakes winner Liz, who traveled with her sister Melissa. For Liz, this trip was a special gift and she really made the best of it. The two sisters know how to travel and appreciate life. After each day trip, they returned all smiles and full of energy.

Everyone was anxious to take part in Shauna and Danny’s breakfast cooking class. Shauna is fantastic and does an amazing job of discussing gluten free flours and baking. When Danny gets his apron on, he is all business and on this morning, he prepared a delicious frittata for us, served with buckwheat crepes filled with fresh apricots and apricot preserves.

Lucy is a bright and independent little girl. She weaves around her parents  quietly while they work, keeping herself very busy. She is already at ease in the kitchen and she is also a very good eater.

Chestnut-buckwheat crepes with fresh local apricots, apricot preserves and honey. The contrast between the sweet flavor of the preserves and the tart flavor of the fresh fruit was really unforgettable inside these hearty whole grain, gluten free crepes.

All of us enjoyed Shauna and Danny’s cooking classes, even more than we expected. Shauna is a natural in front a group of students and her knowledge of gluten free baking and cooking in general is impressive. Now that we have spent a week with her, we understand why she is so well-liked.

Meet Carole, who is helping Shauna prepare pizza. I will never forget the day Carole arrived, crying and crying over the beauty of the villa. If any friends or relatives out there are looking for suggestions for a nice birthday present for her, we can tell you that a big Tuscan kitchen moves her to tears.

Our second cooking class with Shauna included kale pizza, jovial pasta with spring veggies, Naan and an amazing salad made with fennel and sweet cherries.

Who says eating gluten free is a sacrifice? Here is the dinner that was served to welcome our guests to Lucca- local, traditional and gluten free.

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