Just a few spots left in my Fall Cooking Classes

cooking class

cooking class

These classes listed below have a few openings left!

 

Renaissance Tastes – Wednesday October 2, 6:30 pm

Cocoa-Flavored Fresh Pasta w Spicy-Cinnamon Beef Ragu

Fennel, Frisee & Escarole Salad w Parmigiano Vinaigrette

Amaretti Cake w Spiced Almonds and Lemon Glaze

 

Lunch in Perugia – Saturday October 19, 12:30pm

Fresh-Made Orecchiette Pasta (little ears) w Savory Sausage Ragu

Fennel Parmigiano Braised in Milk

Sweet Rosemary & Grape Clafoutis (Cake)

 

Cozy Hilltown Night – Wednesday October 23, 6:30 pm

Baked Sausage, Peppers & Potatoes w Rosemary Cannellini Beans

Sautéed Garlicky Escarole w Pine Nuts, Currants & Marjoram-Infused Olive Oil

Pear & Almond Mini-Cakes w Vanilla Glaze

 

Comfort Favorites – Wednesday October 30, 6:30 pm

Spiced Shrimp in Lemony Cream Sauce w Baby-Penne

Artichokes Stuffed w Garlic & Herbed-Panko

Fresh-Baked Focaccia w Asparagus, Red Onion, & Hot Pepper

 

Greek Island Cruise – Saturday November 2, 12:30 pm

Lemony Hummus

Smoky Eggplant Babaganouj

Spinach & Feta Pies

Walnut & Honey Baklava

 

Fireside Supper – Wednesday November 6, 6:30 pm

Gorgonzola Polenta w Fennel-Scented Lamb Ragu

Roman Peas & Asparagus w Pancetta & Onions

Pumpkin-Ricotta Mini-Pies

 

Home Cooked Italian – Saturday November 23, 12:30 pm

Sautéed Crispy Peppery Pork Scallopine Cutlets

Aunt Mary’s Sweet Peppers w Walnuts & Capers

Buttery Mashed Potatoes w String Beans & Parsley

Tender-Crust Hand-Pies w Mascarpone & Blueberries

 

Christmas Cookie Bake (Take-Home Tins!) Wednesday, December 18, 6:30 pm

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Biscotti Regina – Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies

Chocolate Mini-Biscotti w Craisins & Pistachio Nuts

A Quick Recipe for Fresh Figs (They’re in season!)

Ripening fig in the backyard

Ripening fig in the backyard

I LOVE fresh figs. Night and day between fresh figs and dried figs. Different animals entirely. (Different taste, too.) Dried figs are tough, leathery, brown. Fresh figs, are soft, pink, luscious, Quite sensual, actually. We’ve got a fig tree in our backyard–not huge–but this is the first year more than three figs have ripened. I’m getting 5-6 spectacular figs a week.

But I remember a giant fig tree in Italy. As large as a 2-story building. It grew in the tiniest of hilltowns in Emilia Romagna. I was visiting a friend of the family, Marco, who lived in one room on the second floor of a small stone building. A single bed, nightstand, a few shelves of books, a hot plate with an espresso pot, and a heavy wooden dining table in the middle of the room were all the furniture and amenities he had. Downstairs in an adjacent building was a bathroom he shared with his parents who lived in the building across the way.

Dinner was brought up the steps on platters by his mother (remind me to tell you the mammoni story one day: about middle-aged Italian men who still live with their parents!). She brought a pile of locally made pasta in a deep delicious tomato sauce. And for dessert: a 5-inch high cake of fresh ricotta with local honey. And, of course, crusty bread.

As we sat at the table for a few hours, eating, drinking, and espresso then brewing, I was entranced by the open window. It framed the tall, full, laden-with-fruit fig tree. Next to it a bright street lamp lit the tree attracting moths. Bats zigzagged through the light, catching moths, while the fig tree stood witness to the splendid night (as did I).

Fresh Fig Recipe 1-2-3

5-6 fresh figs, cut in half or quarters if very large

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup minced mint

1/4 cup honey

1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto

salt to taste

Smear a little mascarpone on top of each cut fig piece. Sprinkle with a little salt. Sprinkle with some minced mint. Add a small dollop of honey. Wrap fig in a piece of prosciutto cut to fit the size of the fig piece. Serve.

Fig Tree

Fig Tree

When Spaghetti Hangs Around With Eggs. In Rome.

 

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I lived in Rome for a year while completing my third year in college. Actually, school was just an excuse to live there. My parents visited Rome for the first time a couple of years before. They were bowled over and came back booking the next trip to bring my sister and I. On my very first night in Rome I felt the world closing in around my heart and head. It was too much. I wanted out. I felt that crush of culture shock while that tug of “I know this very well” rushed underneath me.

By morning. I was in love. With Rome. I finagled a year there under the guise of going to school. My Roman roommate, Grazia (later to be called Enrica), was a free-spirited Roman, much to the chagrin of her parents. She moved out of her family home at 17 to live on her own. No one moved out of their family home unless they were getting married. Her dad disowned her for a few years but softened later.

Many adventures for me ensued under the wings of Grazia, but also within my college circle. But here I’d like to show you a recipe that made my jaw drop when I first saw Grazia make it. Spaghetti Frittata. Yes, spaghetti fried with eggs. A spaghetti omelet if you will. I loved it at first bite but was supremely skeptical till then.

This works best with leftover spaghetti in its leftover sauce — whatever it is! My favorite has turned out to be leftover spaghetti in a tomato shrimp sauce (yes, including the shrimp).

about 2-3 cups leftover spaghetti in sauce

5 large eggs

1/4 cup grated parmigiano or pecorino

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

In a mixing bowl, mix together the spaghetti, eggs, and cheese until well combined. Season with salt & pepper (remember, the spaghetti might be already seasoned, but the eggs need some). Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium oven-proof skillet…enough so the frittata won’t stick, or use a non-stick pan.  Heat until hot. Pour the egg-spaghetti mixture in and gently spread so it covers the width of the pan. Let cook a few minutes until the bottom is set, and then put under a broiler. Broil till top is set and golden. (Be carfeul taking out skillet from oven. When placing it out of the oven be sure to leave a pot holder on the handle so you don’t forget it’s hot!) With a spatula loosen frittata and slide onto a plate. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Serve warm or at room temp.

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