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....