Thursday, 8 August 2013

Discovering Umbrian "cucina"

Today I had the chance to have a cooking lesson with Jennifer McIlvaine, who has been a world class professional chef for over 15 years across the world. But 8 years ago met her husband to be and decided to move from America to Italy, and has now set up home and started a family. 

The cooking class was held in a gorgeous 16th century villa in a small village called Cannara, near Assisi. 

We started by making the dessert of summer peach tiramisu. Using white wine and white rum for the marinade, yum yum!

We then went on to start the pasta making!! Today we made a pasta called 'Stringozzi' which is is a traditional Umbrian noodles. This pasta is different to the tagliatelle which I have previously made, as it only used 1 egg (usually more eggs are used in pasta making) and type "0" flour which is coarser than the finer type "00" flour usually used for pasta making. 

We began by making and kneading the dough in to a small ball and left it rest whilst we prepared the antipasti of Fried Zucchini Blossoms.
These are the flowers of the zucchini plant (courgettes) stuffed with a cube of mozzarella and anchovies, and rolled in batter and deep fried. They were very tasty!
After the pasta dough had rested for about 10 mins we cut it in to two pieces and rolled each piece out to form a pasta sheet. We then cut these very finely into strips of pasta. 

We then made a basic tomato and basil sauce to accompany the Stringozzi pasta, called a Sugo Finto which means fake sauce in English as there's no meat added!
For such a simple sauce it was unbelievably tasty! 

We then prepared the main dish of Umbrian sausages (pork with garlic and cracked black pepper) with grapes in a white wine sauce, which was unusually tasty as the sweetness of the grapes contrasted the richness of the Umbrian sausages! 

Of course after all this cooking we couldn't let it all go to waste - so to the delight of all the participants of the cooking class, we devoured the lot! Delicious it was too!!

The results of our day cooking:

Thank you Jennifer for an amazing experience and sharing some Umbrian recipes with me, which I will in no doubt be making when I'm back home in the UK.
The motto of the day I will always remember "the sauce is only a condiment to the pasta" - Jennefier Mcllvaine.

On our travels back to our country house, we stopped in Assisi which was a very pretty historical town.

Also took a pretty panoramic shot just outside Montesprello, which is famous for its wines.

We came back to the country house and watched the sunset, a perfect way to end a perfect day! Loving the Italian lifestyle :)


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