In response to a reader request, I’m posting the remainder of Chef Andrea’s Italian cooking class recipes, plus his suggested wine pairings. Hopefully these wines or suitable substitutes are available locally. The home made Gnocchi (see recipe in previous post) is served with Bolognese style meat sauce. The recipe follows; for non-meat eaters, Chef recommends marinara.
Wintersong notes: While the chef specifies San Marzano style fresh tomatoes for these recipes, there are alternatives for Americans. The Marzano is a variety of plum tomato considered to be the best paste tomato. Comparable to the Roma, Marzanos are thinner and more pointed, and the flesh much thicker with fewer seeds with a stronger, less acidic taste. They have a longer growing season than other paste varieties which make them more suitable for warmer climates, thus understandably unavailable in colder areas of the country. Canned San Marzano canned tomatoes grown in Italy may be ordered in bulk online, but can be quite expensive. I make my sauces using canned Marzano-style tomatoes grown in California. They’re available in some but not all American supermarkets. In my own taste test experiments, I find that the extra time spent in finding and using the best paste tomato you can find, canned or fresh, is well worth the effort and extra expense.
As for “Spelt,” it’s one of those things that sounds–to me anyway–like something it’s NOT. (Does it sound like a type of fish to you?) It’s a whole grain with a nutty taste and texture, a “cousin” to wheat. Due to several health benefits–more protein than wheat for instance–it’s an excellent source of essential nutrients, and is available in many grocery stores (like Whole Foods) and can be found in health food stores year-round.
The eggplant used in the cooking class was the Italian variety which are usually smaller than American eggplants which can weigh a pound each, and 4 would obviously be too much eggplant (in my opinion). I choose the smaller purple eggplant more in line with the size of slices in the picture above the recipe. They generally have less seed also.
In the Tiramisù dessert, Chef doesn’t specify type or quantity of chocolate chips. He intended you to use your own judgement and personal taste I’m sure. Each recipe serves 4 people with hearty appetites.
Appetizer: Insalta di Farro (Spelt Salad)
2 cups spelt
8 tomatoes green and not very ripe
black olives pitted
2 bunches of arugola
extra virgin olive oil
Cook the spelt in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Cool well under cold water, drain well and place in a large bowl. Add all other cut ingredients, making sure that they will have a nice shape and good presentation. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow about 10 minutes to rest and season well before serving.
Suggested wine pairing: Frascati Spumante – it’s a pure Malvasia grapes Spumante, handmade produced with the Champenoise Method from the local Winery San Marco from the Lazio region ed. 2009.
Ingredients for Bolognese meat sauce:
1 lb of grounded mixed meat (70% beef and 30% pork)
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
one carrot, one stalk of celery, one onion
1 cup of dry white wine (Frascati is preferred)
1 lb of whole peeled tomatoes (like San Marzano quality)
fresh herbs like rosemary, bay leaves, and sage
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (or Parmesan cheese, as you prefer)
In a large frying pan over low heat, stir in the “soffritto” made from carrots, celery and onion with olive oil (extra-virgin) and cook until it starts to brown. Then you can add minced beef mixing with minced pork. Let it cook for about 10 minutes. When it’s browned, turn the heat to medium-high and stir in some dry white wine and cook it until it evaporates (please never use any sweet wine, it’s disgusting!). Now you can add your chopped tomatoes (boil them first and get rid of the skin). Cook it for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours (depending on how much sauce you’re cooking). Saute your gnocchi with the ragù sauce (or marinara), drizzle with Parmesan cheese to coat your dish. Serve hot. It’s gonna be delicious!!!
Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane)
5 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggplant, cut into thin slices
200 ml/2 cups sun flower oil to deep-fry
1kg./1/2 lb italian fresh tomato skinned-chopped (Tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes are the best types that you can get back home)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh organic basil
9 Oz. fresh (250 gr.) mozzarella cheese, shredded (I’d suggest normal mozzarella and not the buffalo one because it’s drier and will not release too much liquid to the Parmigiana)
3.5 Oz. (100 gr.) grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the sauce first. In a large frying pan over low heat, stir in the clove of garlic (remember to keep the skin on, just smash it an saute into extra virgin olive oil) and cook until it starts to brown. Boil the fresh San Marzano tomatoes and remove the skin, then chop them and add to the frying pan. Cook it for about 15 minutes, then add salt and freshly chopped basil leaves. In the meantime place the eggplant sliced into circle in a colander and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Let drain for 1 hour (we skipped this in the class, because we didn’t have time, but it’s okay because the eggplant I got for you at the market were very small and seedless). Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan until very hot. Shake the salt off the eggplant and fry ub small batches until golden brown, 5-7 minutes per batch. Drain onto paper towels. Add salt.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a medium baking dish. Spread a layer of eggplant in baking dish, top with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, few leaves of fresh organic basil and top it with Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Bake the tray of eggplant until hot and bubbly (about 10 minutes) and serve it covered in Parmesan cheese. Decorate with fresh basil. Can be served hot or cold.
Wine Pairing: Cesanese di Olevano Romano – it’s a pure Cesanese (the typical red grapes from Lazio Region) aged in small barrels from the Winery Azienda Agricola Proietti ed. 2009
Side dish: Broccoli Romaneschi (Roman Style Broccoli)
1 clove garlic (don’t forget to keep the skin on it while you’re sauteing with extra virgin olive oil)
2 heads of roman broccoli (about 2lb/1kg)
First clean and wash the broccoli. Remove the bottom of the plant, leaving the smaller leaves and cutting it into smaller pieces. Let the broccoli cook in salted boiling water for a few minutes, until each piece is tender and soft. Then in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, leave garlic to brown with extra virgin olive oil. Once the garlic is brown, take it out (the garlic taste is still there) toss in your boiled broccoli, leave to simmer with garlic until everything is nicely sauteed. Season your dish with saltl Add chili flakes if you’d like. Serve warm.
4 tablespoon of confectioner sugar
250gr (about 9 oz) mascarpone cheese (it’s an imported product in the States, so I’m using the Italian measurement so you will know how much to get!)
ladyfingers or savoiardi biscuits
200ml (about 2 cups) espresso coffee
Make some coffee to dip the lady fingers in and set aside. To make the cream mixture, separate 4 egg yolks from the whites, use an electric whisk to whip the 4 egg whites with 2 spoons of confectioner sugar and a few grains of salt–until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl beat the 4 yolks and 2 spoons of confectioners sugar until very thick and light in color. With a wooden spoon, stir in 250 gr of mascarpone cheese until smooth. As soon as both of the creams are ready, fold them from the bottom to the top with a spatula (so the egg whites will maintain their consistency). To assemble, dip half of the ladyfingers, one at a time, into the coffee mixture and line a long flat serving dish with them. Spoon a layer of the cream mixture over these. Add another layer of dipped ladyfingers and some chocolate chips, then spoon the remaining cream over the top. We prepared only one layer of ladyfinger, even if the quantity of cream was enough to make two layers. Cover with a thick layer of grated unsweetened chocolate/cocoa powder and leave it chilling in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. If you want, this dish can be made up to one day in advance. In this case sprinkle cocoa powder only before serving and not in advance. It will be delicious!!
Finally, in Chef Andrea’s own words, Have fun cooking and a great dinner!!! And when you’re planning a trip to Rome, be sure and consider signing up for one of his cooking classes yourself. Here’s a link to learn more.