Cooking lessons

Melanzane in Tasca


Knife, cutting board, oven, sauce pan.
2 round eggplants
1 sprig of parsley
1 clove of garlic
10 tablespoon of crumbled bread
-(we will need the bread crumb, it is not necessary to look for a loaf with a hard crust, but possibly with a non-rubbery crumb, Tuscan bread does not have salt so we suggest a lightly salted bread so as to balance the salt with the pinches during the recipe )
black pepper
2 tablespoon of parmigiano cheese.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the eggplant into massive slices, consider 2 overlapping fingers as thickness. we will then have to nick these slices again to form a sort of pocket. it is essential that the cut of the notch is not complete so as to form a pocket.

Sprinkle with salt and let the water drain for 20 / 30 minutes.
Chop garlic, parsley and bread and mix everything in a bowl
Season with salt pepper and cheese and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to give consistency to the stuffing.
The eggplant pockets covered with salt will emit water thanks to the salt. Should be well dried with simple kitchen paper, this step is to eliminate the bitter taste of eggplants.

Clean the eggplants and stuff them, not too much because eggplants will reduce in size, a drizzle of olive oil and place them on a baking tin.
Bake for 25 minutes 400F.

melanzane in tasca eggplant in a pocket


Large pan,
chopping knife,
cutting board.
1 free range chicken (in 8 pieces)
1 handful Black olives,
2 cloves of Garlic,
1 handful of Sage
1 handful of Sundried tomatoes
Olive oil extravergine Salt and black pepper
1 glass of White wine
Water around 0,5 liters


sundry tomato

Start chopping garlic and sage very fine, same thing with the tomato and put it aside. Warm up 3 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan, when it’s hot brow the chicken pieces both sides, then add the garlic and sage and let it go with high flame for a couple of minutes, before the garlic brown add the wine and let it reduce.
Now we can add the olives and the tomato, mix and add the water to almost cover the meat, let it simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, it will depend from te meat.
As the liquid will be reduced in a thick sauce, the chicken cacciatore is ready!

Bruschetta al pomodoro con fagioli cannellini

Ingredients for 4 people
2 spoonfuls of cannellini beans
2 red tomatoes ripened in the sun
4 leaves of fresh basil
1 clove of fresh garlic
2 three-fingered pinches of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 spoonfuls of extravirgin olive oil
4 slices of Tuscan bread each
1 finger thick
A wooden chopping board, one smooth-bladed and one saw-bladed knife, a bowl to mix the ingredients in and an oven to toast the bread.
Isn’t it wonderful to have all those lovely colors on the table. Can’t you smell the perfume of the basil? In Tuscany bruschettare means to toast, especially bread. The best known bruschetta in our area is made with oil, and it is also used to taste new oil just come out of the olive press. You make it by rubbing some garlic on a lightly toasted piece of bread and then generously pouring out the best extravirgin olive oil, and finally adding a pinch of salt. But let us go back to our tomato bruschetta.
First heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Chop the garlic into very small pieces and put them in the bowl, break up the basil leaves with your fingers so they don’t get dark. Use the saw-bladed knife to cut the tomato into cubes the size of the nail of your little finger, and put all the ingredients into the bowl, then add salt, pepper and oil. Take a spoon to mix from the inside of the rim of the bowl moving towards the center, going all around the rim. This will give you a soft and complete mix.
Let the mix rest to get flavor and toast the bread for 10 minutes. The way you toast the bread is important: it must be crisp outside, but soft inside. This way, when you bite into the bruschetta, the bread will stick onto your palate, and give you its full taste. Now mix the seasoning again, and use a spoon to pick up both the pieces and the seasoning, then spread them generously over the slice of bread. Serve immediately so the bread has the right texture!!!


Ingredients for 6 people:
250ml fresh cream,
250 ml whole milk,
5 tablespoons of sugar,
1 bag (13 g) of gelatine,
1/2 vanilla pod ,
organic lemon juice and zest,
strawberries (about 300g)

Cooking Tools:
A knife, a pot, glass jars or glasses for single portion
In the pot, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the jelly, vanilla seeds and also the pod. Add a little milk and mix well to obtain a smooth mixture without lumps. Add all the milk and the cream and continuously stirring, bring to a boil.

As soon as it starts to curdle, turn off the heat and pour the panna cotta into small containers (glass jars) up to half. Let it to cool at room temperature and store in the refrigerator. Prepare a fruit salad with strawberries, lemon zest and juice and sugar. Stir gently and refrigerate.
Before serving, season the panna cotta with strawberries on top and if you like, garnish with a fresh mint leaf

For “Chocolate Lovers” there is a version of the Pannacotta that we made during the Cookingclasses and now I’ll give you the recipe:

Chocolate topping for panna cotta

pannacotta al cioccolato

Ingredients for 6 people 
Water 200 g 

Liquid fresh cream 80 gr 

A pinch of salt 

Dark chocolate 450 g 

Sugar 150 g 

How you do it 

First, chop the chocolate , then pour water and sugar into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and as soon as it starts to boil add the cream. Let it boil again and add half of the dark chocolate, then always mix with the whisk and add the remaining chocolate. Stir again and as soon as it starts boiling again, transfer it to a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Mix and leave to cool at room temperature at 30-32°, until thick. It will take about 15-20 minutes. 

pannacotta al cioccolato

Filetto di maiale all’antica

Ingredients for 4 people
400 g of pork fillet
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 twigs of fresh rosemary
4 spoonfuls of olive oil
4 three-fingered pinches of salt
2 three-fingered pinches of black pepper
½ cup of red wine (the same wine you serve at the table)

You need a frying pan to hold all the meat, a chopping board and a smooth bladed knife.
Look carefully to make sure each ingredient is at its place on the table. Alright, now you’ve got everything, let’s start. First prepare a dry marinade this way: chop rosemary and garlic fine then add salt and pepper, then mix it all well with your fingers. Pour this mix out onto the chopping board and roll the fillet so all the seasoning sticks on.
Dry marinade is much stronger than liquid marinade, and takes less time to confer flavor on the meat. After 10-15 minutes, turn the gas on under the frying pan with the oil and a sprig of rosemary.

Check the temperature of the oil: when the sprig sizzles, it means the temperature of the oil is perfect. In the meantime, you have cut one-finger high fillet medallions which you place one next to the other in the frying pan, being careful not to let them overlap.
On a lively fire, brown the first side of each medallion, then turn them all over.When the other face is brown too, add the wine, then turn over once again – you will see how the meat has not only taken on the flavor, but also the lovely color of Chianti.
Just wait for the wine to vanish and for what you are cooking to shrink a bit, then put it on the table – even directly in the frying pan. This recipe is so simple and quick, it will take you longer to read it than to cook it!


I suggest you prepare the pastella , then the filling and finally fill the flowers before frying them.

If you only want to appreciate the flavor of the Zucchini flowers, skip the filling step and go directly to the preparation of the pastella.

Ingredients for the filling:
ricotta cheese
black truffle
egg yolk
Proces for filling :
take a bowl and put the ricotta, the egg yolk, a pinch of salt and pepper, a spoonful of Parmigiano and a little nutmeg, mix everything then grate the black truffle and mix it again. when the preparation is homogeneous, taste and balance with the salt. do not overdo it with salt because then you will have to salt the courgette flowers after you have fried them. open the flowers and put 1/2 tablespoons of filling inside then seal the flower with a light pressure of the tida on top of the flower where the filling ends, being careful not to break the flower

Ingredients for pastella :

Zucchini flowers, minimum 2 per person,
1 ice cube
1 egg
flour 00
fresh sparkling water
extra virgin olive oil

Blotting paper to put on a tray or plate
Pliers to rotate the leaves
Basin to make the Pastella


Proces for pastella :
take the basin and pour in 2 tablespoons of flour, an egg and mix, add an ice cube to cool the batter and stretch with cold sparkling water until the consistency of the Pastella is light, it sticks to the zucchini flower but not the totally covers.
prepare all the leaves by dipping them several times in the batter.
Take the pan with oil and put it on the fire, drop a drop of Pastella inside, it will give us the signal for a good temperature of the oil as soon as it starts to sizzle. fry several flower at the same time keeping the oil temperature low. as soon as the flower turn a golden color, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate with absorbent paper.
Add a pinch of salt and your appetizer is ready.
a nice bottle of wine and have fun 😉

Zucchini Flower Fried


Ingredients for 8 people
250 g of mascarpone
3 full spoonfuls of sugar
3 whole eggs
2 spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa powder
16 Savoiardi cookies (ladyfingers)
1 cup of Italian espresso coffee
You will need an electric or manual whisk, a bowl and a rectangular oven serving dish
measuring about 30×15 cm.
Making this dessert, which everybody will like, is really easy and quick.
Separate the white of the egg from the yolk and use the whisk to beat it into stiff peaks
(like a meringue).
Then add the yolks and go on beating, then add the sugar and finally the mascarpone,
beating more slowly.
If you beat it too long, it will make the mix too thick.
Now the mascarpone cream is ready. Soak half of each Savoiardi in it along its length.
This way, half the cookie will absorb coffee and the other half will absorb the cream.
Place the cookies with the dry side pointing upward, one next to the other, so as to make
a compact layer, without letting the cookies overlap.
Now pour all the mascarpone cream and level the surface using a paddle.
Distribute the cocoa powder so it covers the surface of the cream perfectly.
Put it in the fridge. You must wait at least 2 hours but no more than one day to eat it.
You will find a lovely contrast of flavors between the bitterness of the
cocoa and the sweetness of the cream, creating a perfect balance.
Other recipes for this dessert suggest adding liqueur to the coffee, but
I think the liqueur should be put in your glass to drink, perhaps as you
taste my tiramisù!


200 ml of water
400 gr of “00” flour
1 pinch of salt
1 drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of Aglione or 4 cloves of garlic
500 gr of ripe cherry tomatoes
a few basil leaves
a pinch of salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

PROCEDURE for the sauce

Cut the tomato into cubes, in the case of cherry tomatoes cut them into 2 or 4 pieces according to the size. Heat the finely chopped garlic with the oil.As soon as bubbles form around the garlic, put the tomato and basil in the pan.The tomato plays an important role because it reduces the temperature of the oil, avoiding burning the garlic. Season with salt and pepper during cooking. Cook for a short time so as not to lose the freshness of the tomato.


PROCEDURE for the pasta

Make a well in the flour, add water in the center, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to form a circle and a pinch of salt.
Knead well until you get a smooth and elastic mixture.
Cover the dough with a cotton cloth and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
We can make pici with a pasta machine or make them by hand by creating small snakes.
Cook in salted water for 3/4 minutes and then toss in a pan with the sauce previously prepared before serving.
I recommend adding a few tablespoons of water from cooking the pici to the pan before tossing the pici.
Serve with grated Parmigiano and fresh basil.

Pici All’Aglione Fresh Pasta

Aglio, olio & peperoncino, the trinity of midnight spaghetti.

When thinking to pasta the first that comes to my mind is spaghetti, and when thinking to spaghetti the first is with tomato sauce, but the second is Aglio Olio e Peperoncino, because is the recipe good for any occasion, is the pasta that feed everybody and make everybody happy, and most important is the pasta that you can make when your pantry is empty.

That’s why if you ask any italian about this pasta, it will recall memories of an unexpected visit and improvised meal, a late night “spaghettata” after a hangout with friends or the everyday pasta when you don’t have time or you don’t want to cook anything too sophisticated.

The Ingredients

When your pantry is empty and your fridge is lonely, when you live in Italy, you still have a bottle of olive oil, a clove of garlic forgotten somewhere, dry chilly pepper or powder and of course spaghetti!

Like for any simple recipe it’s essecial the quality of the ingredients and the quality of execution, here we are talking about extravirgin olive oil and pasta al dente.

– serve 4 people

  • 6 tablespoon evoo
  • 2 clove of garlic
  • 1 chilly pepper
  • 400gr spaghetti

The Procedure (watch the video)

In a pan warm up the oil togheter with the cloves of garlic crashed and the chilly pepper at taste, turn off the heat just before the garlic brown, to avoid the bitter taste.

In abundant boiling water add one handfull of salt and cook the spaghetti, strain one minute before the timing reported on the package and put your pasta in the pan with the hot olive oil, saute for a minute adding a cup of the pasta water. as the sauce reduce  little bit is time to serve.

Now there are several versions and opinions on the last garnish, never forget it’s a pasta made with what you have at home, so you can add fresh parsley or parmigiano on top, at your taste.

An honourable mention goes to the spicy mix made in Tuscany from a friend, you add 2 teaspoon of this dry mix to the oil and the job is done, we tried last weekend and is very surprising and hot!

Buon Appetito

Panzanella – Traditional Tuscan bread salad

Ingredients for 6 people

600 g of two-day old Tuscan bread

6 Ripe but firm tomatoes

1 Red onion

1 Cucumber of your favorite kind

A handful of basil leaves

6 Spoonfuls of red wine vinegar

3 Four-finger pinches of salt

The secret to get a good Panzanella lies in knowing how to soak the bread having good olive oil extravirgin and excellent vinegar.

but if you follow my instructions you will all become master panzanella makers!



On the table in front of you, from left to right (if you are right-handed, otherwise do it the opposite) put: the old bread cut in slices one finger high; the basin full of cold water, and the empty salad bowl.

Soak the slices one at a time for 5 seconds, then use your hands to squeeze all the water out.

Then break the bread up into big chunks in the salad bowl.

The bread must be wet, but also soft and spongy; if you keep it in the water too long, you will end up with a pulp which will not blend well with the fresh vegetables.

Now you have done most of the job! Cut the tomatoes into thumb-sized pieces, slice the onion into thin rings, break the basil with your fingers, peel and cut the cucumber into thin round slices.

Now you just need to add the seasoning – oil, salt and vinegar.

Mix softly using your hands, so as not to spoil the texture.

Let it cool off in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.

Farmers used to make this dish during the harvest season to refresh themselves, and it was often brought directly to the fields by their wives, not to waste time going back home for lunch.

A poor dish, often accompanied by wine diluted with water, was good to slake thirst without being heavy. The recipe is very old: 700 years ago, Giovanni Boccaccio, poet of our town, used to call it “Pan lavato”, “washed bread”. Tomatoes were added after the discovery of the new world. The name seems to be a combination of “pane”, bread and “alzanella”, an old word for large salad bowl.