Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday, Feb 16 Cooking at the Istituto

I love Saturday morning Italian class, held in Westwood Village at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Los Angeles.  It's a 10-week conversation course.  Michele our instructor is from Rome.  We spend two heavenly hours only hearing and speaking (trying our best) Italian.  Twice during the course, we have a cooking contest. In the past we split $20 for cost of materials.

This semester, we divided the class into two cooking teams the week before our kitchen experience.  We played the Italian version of Hasbro's board game TABOO.  The object of the game is to have your teammates guess as many words as possible, within two minutes. Every guessed word advances the team token by one step.  Each card contains a top word, with five taboo words. One cannot use any of these words to describe the target word.

The winning team won a $15 giftcard for Trader Joe's.  It was a close win!

Our team:  Giorgio, Maria, Francesca
Francesca, cook
Giorgio, prep man
Maria, presentation of the dish, with historical notes

I arrived 30 minutes early with all ingredients in two baskets.  Michele dislikes 'confusione'.   Saturday morning I made a torta for dessert. 

Our meal was well received and given Michele's approval, which I strive for.

When he saw my Voiello Pasta, he said, "You brought that from Italy!"  Yes, I come home each trip with a suitcase full of my favorite products.  How can I cook authenically without them?

Michele commented that any sauce made with "panna" (cream) is from Northern Italy, because of its proximity to France.

Nitrate free Pancetta and Guanciale from McCall's


Pasta with Proscuitto Cotto and Pancetta
(Adapted from the Italian magazine "Alice")

serves 4 (Ingredienti per 4 persone)

320 g pennette lisce (g pennette lisce)
250 g half and half (di panna)
1 small red onion (1 cipolla)
100 g ham, nitrate free (di Prosciutto cotto)
100 g pancetta, nitrate free (di pancetta coppata)
100 g crushed canned tomatoes (di pomodori pelati)
½ c white wine (1/2 bicchiere di vino bianco)
2 handfuls fresh cleaned parsley, chopped (2 ciuffi di prezzemolo)
½ dried pepperoncino (1/2 peperoncino)
Olive oil (olio extravergine di oliva)

Affettate sottilmente la cipolla e fatela appassire in una padella con 1 cucchiaio di olio e il peperoncino tritato. Unite le fette di pancetta coppata e di proscuitto, tagliate a listerelle, e fate insaporire per 2-3 minuti; bagnate con il vino e fate ridurre della meta’.

Begin boiling the water for the pasta, making sure the water is properly salted.

Saute the diced onion until translucent in 1 t olive oil.  Add 1/2 dried hot pepper, crushed. Add the diced ham and cook for 2-3 minutes.  In a separate pan, saute the diced pancetta until nicely browned, then drain on a paper towel. Add white wine to onion mixture and cook it down to half.

Aggiungete i pomodori pelati, schiacciateli con una forchetta e proseguite la cottura per 5 minuti. Versate la panna e fate cuocere per altri 10-15 minuti, fino a attenere una salsa morbida ma densa.

Add half the dice parsley and the crushed tomatoes, breaking them up with a fork.  Cook 5 minutes. Add the half and half and cook another 10-15 minutes.  Begin cooking pasta at the appropriate time for it to be done when the sauce is done.  Add the drained pasta to the sauce, add the pancetta and toss on a low flame for 1 minute.  Serve at once, topping with Parmigiano and parsley flakes.

Mentre il sugo e’ in cottura, lessate la pasta in abbondante acqua bollente salata. Scolatela al dente, trasferitela nella padella con il sugo alla panna e spolverizzate con il parmigiano. Mescolate, padellate un minuto e servite.


Torta di Cioccolata, Ricotta e Lamponi
(Chocolate Cake with Ricotta & Raspberries)

From:  Lucullian Delights

4 eggs
2 ½ dl / 1.057 cup sugar
125 g / 4.4 oz fresh ricotta
75 g butter / 2.6 oz butter
200 g / 7 oz powdered cacao
3 ½ dl / 1.5 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
125 g / 4.4 oz fresh raspberries (or drained frozen)

Wisk eggs and sugar in a bowl and then add the mashed ricotta. Mix until smooth.

Melt the butter and add the chocolate.

Pour butter into the egg mixture and stir.

Sift flour, baking powder into a bowl and stir well.

Butter the cake pan. Pour half of the batter into the cake tin, distribute the raspberries over it and cover with the rest of the batter.

Bake in 175° centigrade (350F) for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost dry.  Do not overcook.

Dust lightly with powered sugar.

The BEST powered chocolate in the world, I think.  I bought mine at the Perugina Factory outlet in Perugia

Buon Appetito!!

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