"...We come directly to your holiday home in Tuscany for Private Cookery Courses and Dinners..." info@cuocheinvacanza.it

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#Risotto with baby Cuttlefish and Tuscan Pumpkin

Risotto baby Cuttlefish and Pumpkin
The idea for this recipe comes from my daughter Virginia. She is a real foodie and love to try new dishes. A few days ago he Told me that he tasted this Risotto while she was with her aunt Marianna, at a restaurant in Pisa downtown. "Mom, souch a delicious risotto!" continued to say while her eyes were shining. Yesterday a farmer gave me a beautiful pumpkin from his garden.
Well, at this point I took the advantage and I developed the plate in my own way. This is my version, Buon Appetito! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#cookery courses in Lucca: Mini Croissants Cookies by Nonna Rossy, deliciously stuffed with Nutella or Jam

cookery course mini croissants
Who is Nonna Rossy ?
She's my mother in law and one of my best partners in our job: CuocheinVacanza.
She has always been a housewife taking care of her family. 
Since I started my job of cooking classes trainer and chef at home, I asked her to come with me directly to the holiday homes of our students and guests. This was probably one of the most intelligent ideas I never had: now, at 5 years from the birth of my company CuocheinVacanza, I'm grateful to her for the precious tips and advices. 

Although I attented to the Italian Academy for Professional Chefs in Florence, I can truly say that her teachings, with those from my Grandma, are the most important school for me.
In fact everyone can learn tecniques, but few people are so lucky to be followed from someone who put her heart in cooking and thinks to the guests first of all.
Obviously she's a really fantastic chef, a marvellous person and she's always ready to teach everyone the finest art of cooking, that's why she's so requested in our Cookery Courses around Tuscany.
Here is one of her "little bakery" cookie.
You're going to abtain a really elegant cookie, worth of the best bakeries, but so easy to make!
Few words: success is guaranteed!

cookery course mini croissants

Mini Croissants Cookies

Recipe by Erika Elia (CuocheinVacanza.it)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

  • 500 gr flour
  • 250 gr unsalted butter
  • 250 gr yogurt
  • 2 tsp bakery powder
For the filling 
  • Nutella  (250gr)
  • Any kind of Jam (250gr)
To decorate
  • Icing Sugar or Cocoa Powder  
Cooking Directions
  1. Soft the butter, start kneading (you can use a mixer as well) the flour with the butter, add the yogurt continuing to knead, add the bakery powder at last.
  2. When you obtained a soft and beautiful dough ball, cover with a film and leave it to rest half an hour in the fridge.
  3. Passed the time, take your rolling pin or, if you prefer, set your pasta machine on the table.
  4. Roll your dough to extra thin stripes
  5. Each stripe size: 10 cm widht...the lenght doesn't matter
  6. help you with a pastry wheeler and form many triangles over these stripes. I found a special tool for "mini-croissants" in a bakery shop: you've just to pass it over the stripe of dough, pressing a bit. It's not necessary at all, but I love buying everything dealing with cooking...it's one of my weak points.
  7. A small trick that thaught me Rossy: the triangles must be longer than large...is much easier to roll up for a croissant
  8. Once you've your triangles, you can fill them starting from the base; put a nut of Nutella (or your favourite jam) very close to the base.
  9. Roll up the croissants starting from the base to the apex of the triangle: did you obtain a mini croissant? Good Job!
  10. Make a lots of them and put in oven 180°C for about 20 minutes.
  11. Until they'll have a pale golden color, don't brown them.
  12. Once they're ready and cold...sprinkle with icing sugar (I prefer this version) or cocoa powder.
Let taste them by your children or friends for a tea time...they'll always remember you, talking about a very good pastry chef. Despite of your easy and fast work you obtained very elegant and amazing cookies. 

Print Recipe

cookery course mini croissants

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tuscany: authentic experience on holiday: herb-gathering cookery course and nature trail with CuocheinVacanza and a herbalist.

brindisi wild herbs cooking class
Brindisi at the wild herbs cooking class

Listening to our customers, one of the best experiences here in Tuscany is our herb-gathering cooking class. It's a pleasant walk inside the tuscan Nature, with me and a very experienced herbalist, Maurizio.

The purpose is to recognise the wild edible plants and herbs you can find here, to pick up them along our way and ending in a very old stone house where we can enjoy the meal together.

small river

This is a very original and particular experience, dedicated to all ones who're looking for an authentic experience, far from clichés of entertainment tourism. 
You can share it with family or friends, all you need is confortamble shoes.
Few days ago I was lucky to meet 4 girls coming from around the world who liked to partecipate to the wild-edible herbs cooking class. 

walking in the nature

October is one of the best months for this: young plants are growing up after the Summer and the first rains and the colors of Autumn, here in Tuscany, are absolutely gorgeous and stunning. 

recognizing wild edible herbs

I think it was one of the best working day I've ever had: the company was fantastic, beautiful people to stay! We walked in nature for a while, picking up the herbs, observing and comparing them with other kind of plants. We talked about how cooking them and tasting them in the best way. 

wild edible herbs

You can find different herbs following the change of seasons; in October:
catmint, star grass, thyme, silene, wild carrot, dandelion etc

homemade bread natural yeast

If you're interested to watch the pictures of some herbs that you can find during our course, you can have a look to another post about herb-gathering that I wrote last year, just Click here , read and look for a slide show.

pasta sauce with tuna and wild edible herbs

After 1 hour trip, we arrived at a stone house surrounded by olive trees and we started to prepare our meal. 


Every ingredient is organic: vegetables from Maurizio's garden, the bread (by natural mother yeast) is baked in a old wood oven, wine and extra vergin olive oil from Monti Pisani and the pasta is from the organic farm Floriddia).

wild herbs and extra virgin olive oil

We spent the time together laughing and talking a lot. At the end of our lunch we tasted some cookies and we drunk a smal glass of Grappa too.

our lunch

During the afternoon we came back to our cars, walking across the nice village of Calci, famous all over  the world for his Chartrehouse.
pouring extra virgin oil

I asked to one of the girls to write something about their cookery, nature trail and wild edible herbs course and I'm posting her comment just below, so that you could understand what kind of experience is, not only from me, but directly from a customer-friend.
our lunch

Here's the Rieview:

When my friends and I booked a cooking class with Erika, we had a few expectations. We knew the food would be good, and we would have fun. What we didn’t know was that it would end up being one of the most memorable things we’d ever done. The class we selected was not typical in the least bit; it was the herb gathering, nature hike class. In all honesty I assumed we would meet Erika at a garden somewhere, pick a few well-arranged, familiar herbs then cook for a bit.
When we arrived at our meeting spot, I suspected my assumptions were incorrect. We were in a small parking lot, amid the huge, glorious Tuscan Hills, not a stationed garden in sight. 


Erika introduced herself and Maurizio, the herbalist accompanying us. Both looked well-equipped for some more serious adventuring, and I wondered if maybe I had worn the wrong shoes. Erika had us follow her by car to a more suitable parking lot, and we soon began our trek. Maurizio, who was friendly but seemed shy at first, handed us each a tote and kitchen knife. Then he pointed to a distant cottage high on a mountain top and told us, that, was where we were headed. I had definitely worn the wrong shoes…

We walked up. It was a smooth, steady climb upward through the local village. We were surrounded by lovely houses and fantastic, old buildings. Erika and Maurizio took turns offering bits of information about the places we were seeing. They were both so kind and well-informed, the conversation was never boring. 

We soon found ourselves among the olive trees. The road had turned to a path that soon disappeared. Maurizio was busy finding various wild greens and herbs for our feast. He always took a moment to tell us what he had found, and explain the plant’s use. His knowledge and skill were extraordinary. I was so captivated by the views, eager to find the desirable plants, and entertained by the conversation, I didn’t want it to end. The trails passed glorious scenic overlooks. There were also beautiful walls made from layered stones, and interesting houses as we continued up. With all the sights, nothing compared to the view from Maurizio’s house. We were able to see downtown Pisa, and Erika said on a clear day you could see the Leaning Tower and the seaside.

Maurizio’s home was enchanting. He was a wonderful host, and went out of his way to make us feel welcomed. We set our collection of greens on the counter. Before he began, Maurizio asked our food preferences and dietary restrictions. Then he got busy working. Maurizio took great care in his cooking. His passion for natural ingredients was obvious, as everything he used was organic. We enjoyed some wonderful wines, and handpicked grapes from Maurizio’s vines. We helped when there was an opportunity, but for the most part we just relaxed. 
our lunch

The first course was magnificent. There was a bed of cheese topped with fresh greens. We ate it with Maurizio’s homemade bread. It was baked in his home’s ancient, built-in, stone oven. It was drizzled in the most wonderful olive oil. We also had a delicious bruschetta. The main course was pasta with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and tuna. It was fantastic, light and full of flavor. We finished with little sandwich cookies, espresso, and Italian liquors.

The walk back to the car was very quick, and the perfect end to a perfect afternoon. We left completely satisfied from the food, magic, and friendship we encountered. My words do it no justice. It is for anyone hoping to make unique memories, and do a little work for an exceptional meal. My only advice for those interested is to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring bug spray.

Grazie, Erika and Maurizio! We are so grateful for everything you did for us. We will never forget it!

(By Heather Zirkle)

wild herbs cooking class: the group
Thanks to all of you girls, we shared with you a beautiful experience... hoping to meet you soon in Tuscany!

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