"...We come directly to your Holiday Home in Tuscany..."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cookery Course and tips: #Spaghetti with Clams (white or red sauce), a classic dish from Italian Cuisine

spaghetti with clams

All Italians like Spaghetti with Clams (Spaghetti alle Vongole). Here in Tuscany, when I can take advantage of a beautiful sunny day, I feel the need to go to the beach, take a nice walk and have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Marina di Pisa or in Viareggio. I always look for a place right on the sea, with the lapping of the waves and the smell of saltiness foretelling the arrival of Summer.
I mostly order spaghetti with clams, one of my favorite pasta dishes.
I was only a child when Miretta, a friend of my grandmother gave us her famous "sauce with clams" ; it was inside some glass jars, under vacuum. She made so much sauce at one go and then kept as a spare until it was over.

Whenever I noticed those jars on the kitchen pantry, my eyes began to shine for joy, as if I had been in front to the most precious treasure.
And in fact for me it was it! And I could not wait to sit at the table to taste a good dish of pasta seasoned with that delicious sauce ... it is thanks to these memories too that I love this dish, so much.

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Since our activity consists in cooking courses for foreigners I often surf around the web to look curiously how preparing Italian recipes abroad; I saw that some people add the butter to the sauce, others use even 7 cloves of garlic every 4 persons (OMG), other rinse the clams when cooked.
I strongly advise against it.  
However, if you want to be sure about the creaminess of the sauce, you can dissolve a teaspoon every 4 persons of potato starch (or flour) in a bit of liquid from the clams and add it to the rest of the liquid previously filtered.

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My tips for spaghetti with clams:

1. purge the clams in salted water
2. Check that there is no sand even after cooking
3. filter the liquid
4. throw away the clams remained shut after cooking (means they are dead)
5. never cook the clams for too long, because they tend to become gummy or worse, to dry
6. salt should not be added almost never because the clams are already tasty. If you add, do it just before placing the pasta in the pan
7. the  most suitable
pasta shapes are: spaghetti big (no spaghettini!), vermicelli and linguine

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spaghetti with clams6
Recipe by Erika Elia (CuocheinVacanza.it)
Prep time: at least 1 hour to spurge them + 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes + pasta cooking time
Total time: 45 minutes

  • 12 oz Spaghetti or Vermicelli*
  • 2,2 lbs clams
  • 8 cherry tomatoes (or 4 oz tomato sauce): optional
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • to taste salt
  • 1 pinch red chilly pepper flakes
  • to taste pepper
  • 5 tbsp  extra virgin olive oil (just to cover the pan bottom)
Cooking Directions
  1. Wash clams under water to remove grit and mud.
  2. Drown clams in fresh salted water (in a bowl) for at least 1 hour, to get the sand and the grit out of clams. You can leave them in water as long as there is oxygen in your water. Overnight in the fridge is what you can do if you have time. Never leave your clams too long in salted water, because they suffocate and die.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saute pan on medium heat
  4. add the minced garlic, the red chilly pepper flakes, a handful of minced parsley (and chopped cherry tomatoes if you like a red sauce)
  5. wait just 10 seconds and add the clams
  6. add the white wine
  7. stir well hearing the sound of the shells mixing with the wine
  8. cover and simmer until clams have opened (for 5 to 8 minutes)
  9. filter the clams with their liquid into a a fine strainer and put again the liquid in the saute pan
  10. heat the liquid on medium heat for about 5 minutes (should not be too watery)
  11. meanwhile take half of the clams and remove these ones from the shells and put them in the saute pan with their liquid
  12. add the other half of clams with their shells
  13. stir well
  14. turn off the heat
  15. bring a large pot of salted water to boil (cooking pasta directions here)
  16. add spaghetti stirring constantly in the beginning
  17. set the timer 1 or 2 minutes less than recommended time (it depends from the pasta brand)
  18. drain spaghetti in a colander few seconds and
  19. immediately place the pasta into the saute pan and mix thoroughly high heat 1 minute
  20. sprinkle with fresh parsley
  21. serve immediately 
Print The Recipe

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cooking at home in Tuscany: #Meatloaf Florentine Style. An old, mouthwatering dish to impress yuor guests!


Here is a typical italian dish that all my students appreciate and ask me how preparing.
And I'm very keen to put it in Cuoche in Vacanza cookery courses.
Reading here and there in the historical notebooks about Italian and Tuscan cuisine, I found that meatloaf was born in 1300, and then it was developed in 1700 as "chopped meat, mixed with cheese, pine nuts, raisins, spices, breadcrumbs, egg whites"; in 1800 the use of spices, pine nuts and raisins (used by the upper classes), was left to address this dish to the tables of the middle class or the lower classes.
In fact the history of meatloaf leaves no doubt: it is a dish from poor and rural; it's the King of leftovers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

#Private Dinners and Cooking Classes: Zuppa Inglese, Trifle, a new Dessert directly to your holiday home in Tuscany

zuppa inglese: trifle

Here's the dessert added just this year to our cooking classes. It is a typical Italian one, belonging to Tuscan tradition. It 'very simple to make and quick too: no more than 30 minutes ... I timed the time because of the courses ... 
In my family, only my grandmother cooked and it is from her that I learned the love of cooking, the passion for ingredients, always in season, always local. Instead from my mother-in-law, the legendary Rossy I learned the love for cakes and desserts, to prepare them, I mean.  
Yet neither of them has ever made me taste the famous "Zuppa Inglese"! This dessert, amazing and envolving in colors and flavors...is however familiar to me ... maybe because it reminds me the ice cream I ate when I was child?
The Trifle is part of that range of "soft" desserts which are absolutely my favorite ones. What can I do about? From Tiramisu to the Bavarese, I always love to sink the spoon in their creamy texture and slowly savor their taste, melting under the tongue.
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