This morning, the family went to a half-day cooking class with Nonna Ciana just outside of Siena. What an amazing morning with us arriving at 10am for the class. Of course, classical Tuscan-style cooking must take place in a Tuscan-style home. Here is the home of Nonna that she shares with her son and grandchildren:
Why wouldn't you start off with dessert? Well, because we had to let it set. Making a traditional custard for tiramisu with egg whites, yolks, sugar, salt, and marscapone cheese.
Dessert Fact: Do not allow yolk to mix in with the whites (it's okay the other way around). When you are fluffing the whites you need "nice snowy peaks" and the yolk interferes with getting the right peaks. Seriously.
Three types of bruchetta (pronounced with a "k"):
Garlic rubbed and olive oil
Traditional "con pomodoro" with tomatoes, basil, garlic
Cheese, honey, and olive oil
'The acid is removed from the tomatoes.'
These are what we ended up with, seriously good appetizers:
An amazing amount of salt is used because the bread is unsalted. In additional, the Italian salt is not as "salty" as our salts back at home.
Italians love the taste of garlic but don't typically leave in the dish. They will rub it on the bread, they will cook out the oils, etc but then remove from the dish!
Traditionally, with Italian cooking, the acid is removed from the tomatoes! How is this done? They will mound up the cut tomatoes in a bowl, pour salt (lots of it) over the top, drawing out the acid/liquid. It forms an acidic liquid around the mound that can be drained off after ~half-hour. The more you know...
'This place smells amazing!'
Mara, on the smell of cooking garlic, basil, and tomatoes
Hand-made pasta. No machines. Just flour and egg. The girls learned traditionally methods for getting "elastic pasta", kneeding it countless times:
At this point (above), Siena was still wondering:
'Where does the pasta come from?'
Nonna showing the different types of pasta that can be hand-made. She also showed ravioli and tortelinni.
Of course, gotta show the cooking of the Napoli (tomatoes, basic, garlic, oil, salt, and sugar):
Pasta with napoli! Yum!!!!
Our second course was extremely simple. Chicken, wine, oil, salt (again). Flavorful. Amazing. Unfortunately, don't have pictures of the chicken (I ate it all). So instead, have a picture of the girls with Nonna! She was hilarious and very grandma-like! At one point, she was saying "no, no, no!" to Siena. It was extremely memorable!