September 29, 2012

Counting My Blessings

I really adore having my photography to remind me of where I have been, with whom and how lucky I am. I feel already blessed to be living in Tuscany and be able to travel around Italy for work with my fellow Italophiles.

Fall is always busy in Italy, I think it is one of the best seasons. Right now traffic slows down on the roads as we are always finding trucks filled with grapes from the harvest on their way to the cantina's to be crushed.  Visiting wineries, finds them busy at work.



Although I am back in Tuscany, my mind is still absorbing two weeks in Sicily with my Divina Cucina Culinary Adventures. The mix of cooking and touring is one of my favorites. Sharing my old friends with my new friends and creating memories. Not just another cooking class.



When I taught the American college students in Florence, Culture through Cooking, it brings a reality of a place into focus. Learning how people live makes us all closer. Understanding a life-style and getting an insider's look at daily life. Having recipes to bring home a real souvenir of where you have been and a daily reminder of the new friends you have made.



Sicily fills your heart and soul. I can't wait to go back in November, when the new oil is harvested and the seasons change. Each tour I tend to add something new for myself and some of the old true favorites stay the same.

I am working on the Rianata recipe to get on the next blog post.


In the Tuscan classes, we have just cooked with the first porcini mushrooms. I saw the first white truffles in the market and fall vegetables are exciting me! We made some vegetable flans this week, using Italian pumpkins and also did a spinach and ricotta. Gilding the lily, we served with a truffled fonduta sauce. I adore flans and am seeing them more and more on the menu's here.

Originally called sformati, vegetables are cooked then finely chopped or pureed and often mixed with either bechamel sauce or ricotta, bound with egg and seasoned with parmesan. Baking them in a water bath gives a moister result and they can be made in any size and become an antipasto, a first course, perhaps served with a richer sauce or a side to a main course.

our roasted pumpkin flan with truffled fonduta and walnut sauce








Every class feels like iron chef, the market changes and we jump at the chance to use the seasonal best. I don't repeat lessons week after week or I would be bored to tears. This week I was asked to make fresh pasta and show how to make ravioli, the porcini inspired a simple mushroom filling and while making ravioli, we used the extra pasta to show how to make some spaghetti alla chittara by rolling the dough thicker and using the special cutter which comes with the machines.
( I also have the original "guitar string" pasta cutter from Abruzzo)

roll the pasta thicker for a chewier bite to the dough



we rolled out a very delicate dough to create oversized ravioli

Thanks to my students, every class is special!


Next big trip is to Sorrento for our Slow Food Kansas City tour. Every other year I take this convivium from Kansas City with  Chef Jasper Mirabile to explore the pleasures of the table.
This year we will drink wine, see buffalo mozzarella being made, have a fabulous pasta experience in Gragnano and get a lesson on the REAL San Marzano tomatoes.

The secret to good cooking are good ingredients and we go to the source to learn why.

In American you have great resources such as Gustiamo! tell Beatrice that you are friends of Divina Cucina....


6 comments:

  1. Oh Judy,

    Indeed you have lots to count. And as much as you get from your work, one look at your students, and you can see that this is the trip of a lifetime for them. They have the advantage of really getting to know Italy under the tutelage of an insider. A luck bunch, one and all!

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  2. My lord, you do have so much to be happy about. I know how hard you work to make everything perfect for your clients. I hope in the midst of all the loveliness you take some time to nourish YOUR soul and make you happy!

    we're looking forward to seeing you again in December!

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  3. I want to eat a huge bowl of pasta now. I will have to get my kitchen aid out and roll me some dough!

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  4. That last picture is just wow! The pasta is perfectly thin and delicate, just the right width. I'm salivating just looking at these pictures

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  5. Sharing my old friends with my new friends and creating memories. Not just another cooking class.

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  6. When I taught the American college students in Florence, Culture through Cooking, it brings a reality of a place into focus. Learning how people live makes us all closer. Understanding a life-style and getting an insider's look at daily life. Having recipes to bring home a real souvenir of where you have been and a daily reminder of the new friends you have made.

    ReplyDelete