So the week in short. Monday, We had a test but I already wrote about that. We started the day out with everybody’s favorite: Microbiology, the wide world of Food Borne Illness. I tell you the Italian lady who was teaching the class knew what she was talking about but she wanted to make us feel as stupid as possible her questions were as broad as barn door. I am servesafe certified and like to think I know a thing or two about the science behind FBI’s. But every answer I gave was returned with a Yes but not always answer. After three mind-numbing hours we were done with the class and off to lunch then the test.
Tuesday, Italian lessons with Chef Simone follower by meat cookery for the rest of the morning We made Braised Rabbit, Simple peasant food from Liguria braised in red wine with tomato, Black Tajasche Olives, Olive oil, garlic and rosemary. It normally cooks for three to four hours but we only had it simmering for an hour and a half. WE cut the rabbit into small pieces which helped but with any game meat Time is your friend. The Next Dish was from Puglia in the south of Italy, It is traditionally made with Cavallo(horse) but we made ours with Pork. You Take thick slice of porklion and butterfly it so it is a flat sheet of porky goodness. You then fill it with parsley, garlic and Peccorino Cheese. Carefully roll it up and seal the ends. Sear the roll in smoking hot olive oil to preserve moisture, then you set it to the side, to the pan you add minced red onion, a few capers puree of roasted tomato and a touch of water or wine, cover it and let it cook through. Hit the plate with a bit of the sauce and Slice the roll so you get a pretty spiral and enjoy. The final Meaty dish we made Anata profumicata a Miele e Canella (Duck perfumed with honey and Cinnamon) In the interest of time we used Duck Breast only. You sear the duckbreast in extra virgin olive oil prefumed with sage rosemary and thymeremove most of the oil and pop it onto a hot oven remove when core temp reads 53 Degrees Celcius(if the health dept. comes do what we all do and lie about that core temp, the health dept. kills good cuisine). In a separate pan you heat a bit of butter, raw cane sugar and cinnamon. Caramelize a few slices of apple in the sugar and cinnamon. Remove and set aside the apples are just a garnish. To this caramelly pan you add a health tablespoon of Honey and the drippings from the roasted duck. You then toss the breast into this mix and make sure it gets good and covered with this sweet spicy sauce. Allow the breast to rest for a few minutes before slicing it into a few beautiful slices and plate up with the apples a drizzle of the sauce. After all of this delicious cooking we went to lunch which for obvious reasons I didn't touch.
The Afternoon was filled with three tasty Vegetarian dishes, by the way Vegetarians in Italy eat cheese and eggs, Vegans are SOL sorry guys. An Oldie but a goody, first up was Parmigiana Di Melanzana(Eggplant Parmesean). This one had a slightly different take from the breaded monstrosity we all know and love. We thinly (about 1/4 in.) the eggplant sprinkle with salt on both sides to extract the moisture within the fruit. While the Eggplant is sweating you prepare the sauce Minced onion, Tomatoes blanched and seeded, Whole clove of garlic Torn Basil. slowly saute the onion with the whole clove of garlic to perfume the oil. When the onions have sweated add the tomato and cook through, then add the basil and blend with a blender or pass through a sieve or food mill. With the sauce done Thoroughly wash the salt from the eggplant and press dry. Dredge in flour and deep fry the eggplant in Oilve oil until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Sauce plate, Place a slice of fried eggplant, a bit of sauce a slice of fresh Mozz, a bit pf grated parm and repeat a few times until you have the desired stack size, pop in a hot oven to melt the cheeses and make it look irresistable with it's melty cheese and just browned crust on the top and serve. The next was Gatto, not cat but a traditional street food of Campagna. Coat a timbale dish with buttter and white bread crumbs. Make Mashed potatoes with ground peccorino, small diced mozz, scamorza (alot like smoked gouda) Small dice of Prociutto cotto, beaten eggs and a very basic Bechamel (Butter, flour and cream 1:1:10) salt and pepper to taste adn a pinch of nutmeg, Mix up the mash place in the mold pop into a 180 deg. Celcius oven and bake off until golden brown. Turn out of the mold and serve. These were the stars of the lesson and because I said I would try to keep this short I shall move on to Wednesday.
Riso Gallo was the name of the morning, for those of you not in the know Riso Gallo is the largest rice producer in Italy and accounts for 23 percent of the world market. It has been family owned since about the time that Italy was unified. They produce about as many types of rice as they do pasta and for the most part they don't use rice for anything except Rissoto, and a few soups but they still supply the world with their rices. The Big three are; Arborio which we all know and love as the americans primary rice for the production of Rissoto, A grave mistake I am told, For the best rice for Rissoto is Carnarole, This is the highest quality rice for risotto because of it's starch quantity. The other rice that round out the top three sellers is called Vialone Nanno because it is a smaller grain and holds a good consistency over time when hot held, making it very popular for restaurants. Riso Gallo is available in the states but it goes under the moniker of Riso Bello because of a nasty lawsuit with the Gallo Family of Californian wine fame. The rest of the time at Riso Gallo was spent touring the factory and seeing the various stages of production, quality control, and packaging. The Highlight of this tour was the Meal that we ate afterward. We went to a small family style restaurant and sat downto a traditional Italian Family Feast which lasted about Nine Courses 3 Antipasti, Various deloicatessen and salumi, and bagna cauda a puree of anchovy garlic and olive oil served over roasted peppers. Next was two different types of Risotto, of course made from Riso Gallo Carnarole, followed by two more meat courses and a dessert course. We left fat and happy and everyone slept on the bu on the way home. We Finished the day with an Italian lesson where we learned about asking questions in Italian a good thing to know on this oddessy of mine.
Friday, We had our Italian lesson which involved talking about professions and the titles that are given to those who work in each profession. Interesting to know that a Gelatario is someone who makes gelato in a gelateria. After this invigorating lession which did help to expand my vocabulary we went into the Pasticceria (the Bake shop) for a full day on bread. Over the course of the day we made sixty or so loaves of bread about a hundred rolls from various basic doughs. They were even kind enough to let Olesia sit in on the class because our group has been whittled down to five and would be whittled further because the girls were going to Barcelona that afternoon. A welcome change of pace from her daily routine, the loaned her a jacket and she was Luigi Caputo for the day. The first bread was the Pansemola, a bread made with a special blend of 65%bread and 35%semola flours, yeast, salt, water and a variety of ingredients including sauteed onion, pancetta, and peccorino cheese, The proportions of the ingredients were 1 kg., 30g., 20g, 650ml, respectively. The extra ingredients were added sparingly so we did not have to worry about recalibrating the recipes. The bread was great soft and flavorful it can be made in to bread rolls by simply weighing out 30 gram balls and baking them off but it makes great loaves at 300 grams. The next bread used a flour called panlatte and, you guessed it, it is a mix of bread flour and Dry milk using a Kilo of this combined with 40g yeast, and 470ml of water a bit more flour and honey and slivered almonds we had quite possibly the best breakfast bread you can imagine. the bread was great we measured it out into loaves and would be eating it for breakfast for the next week. After we returned for our afternoon class we were joined by a surprize guest Dominic from the short course. He had returned from his nightmare of an externship for reassignment in Sienna. But that's is another story. So for the rest of the afternoon we explored the various uses for focaccia dough. 2kg Bread Flour, 30g butter, 45g yeast, 25g Malt, and 1L of water, Another versitile dough which is indespensible for the Restaurant chefs Arsenal. I takes well to flavor and can be formed into make shapes and sizes. At the end of the day we horded a few loaves of bread to serve for a few meals for our weekend in Alassio. But this is a longer story for another entry...so ciao for now, stay tuned.
Sorry about the tardiness of this entry but I'll say it once and I'll say it again the internet sucks in Italy