Friday, May 19, 2017

Mama Isa's Cooking School - Cooking Classes in Italy Venice area - Making Fresh Pasta from scratch

The Art of Making Fresh Pasta from scratch | Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy Venice

Cooking Classes in Venice
Making fresh pasta by hand | Mama Isa Cooking Classes in Venice Italy

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Filled Artichokes - Carciofi Ripieni | Mama Isa's Cooking School

Welcome back to the Mama Isa's Cooking School and to her blog!

Filled artichokes | Carciofi ripieni 

Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, early as the 5th century BC. 
Artichoke comes from the Venetian word "articiocco". The name in Venetian is "articiocco" ("arti" means high and "ciocco" means stump) and is from Arabic al-hursufa "artichoke. In Italian the name is "carciofo".

Artichokes are very popular in Italy. 
 I love artichokes; they are very digestible and light and can be cooked in so many different ways. This is a slow-cooked stove-top dish! I love to stuff with a tasty mixture of breadcrumbs, and parmigiano.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
4 mamme romane (globe artichokes)
juice of an organic lemon
fine sea salt


for the filling
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tbsp dried breadcrumbs  
a handful of fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
50 g of Parmigiano Reggiano (aged 24 months) finely grated
freshly ground black pepper

First clean and prepare the artichokes: using a very sharp knife, remove the outer leaves   and cut off the stalks (keep going through the layers until you reach the greenish-yellow leaves).  Trim the base so the bottom is flat and the artichoke can stand upright.  With your fingers, open out the artichoke leaves until you can see the hairy choke (remove and discard the hairy choke). As you prepare each artichoke, rub all of its with one of the squeezed lemon halves, then place in the big bowl of lemony water in order to prevent discoloration while you prepare the filling.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan, add the 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped) and a tablespoons of fresh parsley (chopped) until the smell is nice (the coulour must be translucent not brown). Remove and set aside. 

To make the filling, 
Add the remaining garlic in another bowl and combine with the remaining parsley, parmesan, black pepper and 4 tbsp of evoo.

Remove the artichokes from the lemony water and turn them upside down to drain. 

Open them up and fill the cavity with the mixture; tie with string to ensure the filling does not fall out (be careful). 
Place in the large saucepan the artichokes. Sprinkle the artichokes with a little fine sea salt, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and fill the pan with water to come halfway up the artichokes. 
Put the large saucepan on a medium–high heat and bring to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes (till they are soft). 

Serve one per person, with a little of the juice from the saucepan.

And don’t forget to eat the potato and carrot.

Buon Appetito!

Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice
Mamme Romane - Globe Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes

Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Italy Venice
How to prepare the artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Italy Venice

Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice
Fresh Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Italy Venice

Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice
Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking School Venice Italy

Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice
Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice

Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes Italy Venice
Filled Artichokes at Mama Isa's Cooking School Italy Venice

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Venetian Apple Cake | Mama Isa's Cooking School

Welcome back to the Mama Isa's Cooking School and to her blog!

Today A Venetian Apple Cake

Torta di mele

A classic!
At first glance it may seem like a huge ratio of apple to dough. Don’t! They magically meld into the batter, and you’ll love the result. This is a very simple recipe that yields exceptional and delicious results.

Butter 2 tablespoons
00 wheat flour 150 grams (plus extra flour for the cake pan)
Sugar 150 g + 50 g with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Egg 1 (organic or free range)
Milk 80-120 milliliters
50 g of raisins (soaked in warm water)
a pinch of salt
1 shot glass of Grappa
Baking powder 15 g
Apples 5 small (about 1000 grams) peeled,cored and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a 20-centimeter round cake pan.
In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat the 150 grams of sugar, a pinch of salt, the egg, the flour, milk, baking powder; add the raisins and the grappa, and mix very well.
Peel and core the apples.
Dice one and sprinkle it over the batter. Cut the remaining apples into thin slices and spread them in a neat pattern over the diced apples in the pan. Mix and with a spatula pour in the prepared cake pan.
Sprinkle with the remaining 50 g of sugar mixed with the cinnamon. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until dark golden.

Torta di Mele | Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy near Venice
A Venetian Apple Cake | Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy near Venice
Torta di Mele - A Venetian Apple Cake at Mama Isa's Cooking School
Recipe of the day - A Venetian Apple Cake at Mama Isa's Cooking School 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bigoli | Mama Isa's Cooking School in Venice area Italy

Cooking Classes in Venice Italy Bigoli Fresh pasta master class
Bigoli at Mama Isa's Cooking School
Welcome back to the Mama Isa's Cooking School and to her blog!

Today we talk about Bigoli, one of the most famous fresh pasta in the Veneto region. They look like a thick spaghetti but, are quite rough on the outside, which means they hold sauces well. They originate from the Veneto region. The bigoli dough is made with semolina flour, eggs, salt, and a little bit of water.

Bigoli have been made and eaten here since the time of the Venetian Republic. In 1604 Bartolomio Veronese (nickname "Abundance") a pasta maker from Padova, applied to the city council for a patent for a machine he had invented which made long pasta ("bigolaro"). This machine was made of cylindrical and wood shape. It allowed the pasta dough, which was inserted from above, to be compressed using a piston and then passed through a perforated filter. The result was a long pasta similar to Neapolitan spaghetti, but much larger (2.5 mm in diameter) and quite coarse on the surface.

The name ‘Bigoli’ derives from the Venitian dialect word ‘bigat’, which means caterpillar. Other historians think that the ‘bigoli’ refers to the curved rod with a hook at each end, which was carried on the shoulders and used to transport buckets of sweet water.

The bigolaro or torchio (the pasta bigoli extruder) is fixed to a stool on which the person operating the bigolaro would sit.

Bigoli at Pasta MasterClass at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes near Venice Italy
Bigoli and Bigolaro Torchio at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Venice area Italy

Pasta Master Class and Bigoli at Mama Isa's Cooking School in Venice Italy
Bigoli - Pasta Master Class at Mama Isa's Cooking School in Venice area Italy

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Risotto - a classic dish. Today Risotto with Green Asparagus

Welcome back to the Mama Isa's Cooking School and to her blog!

We talk about one of the classic dishes of the Italian culinary landscape, an irresistible treat for all those who love tasty and healthy food. Risotto plays a role as pasta in Italian kitchens, and it is considered a PRIMO PIATTO.

The Italian Risotto was born in Milan in 1574, when its great gothic Cathedral (Il Duomo) was under construction. The Flemish glassmaker master – Valerio from Perfundavalle – worked on the stained-glass windows of the Duomo, and he used to add saffron to enhance his paint pigments and when mixing his colors. In 1574 the apprentice Zafferano (Saffron) married the Valerio's daughter and held the wedding banquet in the coiser behind the Duomo's apse. As a joke the groom's friends added saffron to a pot of rice. The wedding guests relished the saffron riso, and “risotto allo zafferano” quickly grew popular throughout Milan and Lombardia and Italy.

 Undoubtedly, despite the fact that Italy is not among the oldest and the largest producers of rice in the world, the Italians have created many variations of risotto recipes known all over the world. As a matter of fact, the recipe is a masterpiece and cooking risotto needs patience. For Mama Isa is very relaxing!

At Mama Isa Cooking Classes you will learn that using the starch naturally contained in rice (Mama Isa uses or Vialone Nano or Carnaroli or Arborio rice).

 All risotto is prepared the same way: where rice is coated in the “soffritto” in unsalted butter or evoo, then hot stock – which has been simmering on the gas stove – is added to it, a ladle at a time and the risotto is stirred over a low heat (please add stock only when all the liquid has been absorbed).
The method continues till the rice is tender and creamy, but still retains a bite, approximately 20 minutes.
 The final touch and the most important technique for making a creamy risotto is called in Italy “mantecatura”, which means add a dash of butter or evoo, (when necessary Parmigiano reggiano cheese) off the heat, and cover for a couple of minutes. This makes the risotto really creamy!

The result is a harmonious, creamy, elegant and exquisite dish that has little in common with the simple rice, often boiled, used in many cultures around the globe. The cooking process itself is quite elaborate. It starts with a soffritto, then the toasting of the rice that allows the grains to become translucent and release an intense fragrance. Once that’s done, liquids enter the scene, added gradually so that the grains can absorb them. The final touch is called mantecatura – i.e. the introduction of fat combined with vapour that invites the flavours to blend. Types ot Risotto

During the hot summer, risotto can absorb the perfume of the sun, with the help of plum tomatoes from Sicily. In the autumn days, the smell of wild porcini mushrooms will fill the palate of aromas. During the winter, a risotto strictly served hot, with bitter radicchio trevigiano and a Parmigiano reggiano cheese. With the arrival of spring, here is the risotto with the flavour of green asparagus.

Mistake to avoid
If you wash the rice you remove the starch which is indispensible for a creamy risotto.

 Mama Isa's Risotto with Green Asparagus 

INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)
1 kg of fresh green asparagus
Enough Basic Homemade Asparagus Broth (in a pan that can accommodate all the asparagus lying flat. Put in enough water – min. 1 ½ lt, and 2 tablespoons salt. Turn on the heat to medium high and when the water boils, slip in the asparagus and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes after the water returns to a boil, depending on the freshness and thickness of the stalks. Drain the asparagus when tender, but still firm, without discarding their water. Set aside to cool. The broth is ready to make the risotto)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot chopped very fine
1 glass of good white wine (not cooking wine!!!)
2 cups Vialone Nano or Arborio or Carnaroli rice
black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
Parmigiano reggiano cheese, freshly grated (12 tablespoons)
a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, cold press

Cut off 2 cm or more from the butt end of the green asparagus spears to expose the moist part of each stalk, then pare the asparagus and wash it. When the green asparagus is cool enough to handle, cut off the tips of the spears about 3-4 cm from the top and set aside, and cut the rest of the spears into ½ cm pieces, discarding any portion of the bottoms that seems particularly tough hard.

Bring the broth to a very slow simmer on a burner near where you’ll be cooking the risotto.
Put 3 tablespoon of unsalted butter, and the chopped shallot in a risotto pot, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook the shallot, stirring, until it becomes translucent.
Add the cut-up asparagus stalks (but not the spear tips).

Add the wine and let it evaporate. Then cook, stirring constantly with a risotto spoon (with a large hole in the middle to enable you to stir rice constantly without breaking any grains), wiping the sides and bottom of the risotto pot clean as you stir, until all the broth is gone.
You must never stop stirring and you must be sure to wipe the bottom of the risotto pot clean frequently, or the rice will stick to it.
When there is no more broth in the risotto pot, add another half cup, continuing always to stir it. Cook the rice until it is tender, but firm to the bite, with barely enough broth remaining to make the consistency somewhat runny.
Off heat, add the reserved asparagus tips, a few grindings of fresh black pepper, the remainings tablespoons of unsalted butter, and all the grated Parmigiano reggiano, and stir thoroughly until the cheese melts and clings to the rice.
Taste and correct for salt if necessary. Transfer to a platter,add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and serve hot!
The art of risotto making at Mama Isa's Cooking School - Risotto with green asparagus

Buon Appetito!