Friday, January 15, 2016

Bartolomeo Scappi | The art of Pasta making during the Renaissance - by Mama Isa

Bartolomeo Scappi | The art of Pasta making during the Renaissance - by Mama Isa

Bartolomeo Scappi (1500- 1577) was a Renaissance Italian author and a master cook for three cardinals and two popes.

He acquired fame in 1570 when his monumental cookbook "Opera dell'arte del cucinare" was published in Venice.

This "Opera" is considered the most extensive cookbook of the Renaissance.
Bartolomeo Scappi "Opera dell'arte del cucinare" (1570)

It's a legend that Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) - the famous  Venetian merchant and adventurer, who traveled from Europe to Asia - has imported from China the art of pasta making.
In fact fresh pasta was already known. The pasta making dated from Roman Times.

Today I want to write a post about Bartolomeo Scappi and the art of fresh pasta making.

He wrote how to make fresh egg pasta dough and how to use the special rolling pin (in old Italian "bastone") to roll the pasta, and  how to cut the pasta "tagliatelle" with a long knife.
Bartolomeo Scappi - How to make fresh egg pasta dough Tagliatelle

English Translation:
To prepare Fresh Egg Pasta and "Tagliatelle".
Work two pounds of wheat flour, three eggs and warm water into a pasta dough, kneading it very well on a table for a quarter of an hour.
Roll it out thin with a rolling-pin ("bastone") and let the pasta sheet ("sfloglio") of dough dry a little, with a pasta cutter ("sperone") away the irregular parts, the fringes.
When pasta sheet has dried, though not too much because it would break up, sprinkle it with wheat flour through the flour-sifter so it will not stick.
Then take the pasta rolling pin ("bastone della pasta") and, beginning at one end, wrap the whole pasta sheet loosely onto the rolling pin, draw the rolling pin out and cut the rolled-up pasta dough crosswise with a broad, thin knife.
When they ("tagliatelli") are cut, broaden them.
Let them dry out a little and, when they are dry, filter off the excess wheat flour through a sieve.

Bartolomeo Scappi - How to roll fresh egg pasta

I am a cooking class instructor and an historian. Today I share with other people the art of pasta making (as Bartolomeo Scappi taught) and I teach how to make fresh pasta by hand during my pasta workshop!
Pasta Workshop at Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy near Venice
The art of pasta making | Mama Isa's Cooking School in Italy near Venice

I offer pasta workshop to learn the old art of pasta making! Here is the link about my cooking school:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Cacio e Pepe Sauce - Recipe by Mama Isa

Cacio e Pepe Sauce - Recipe by Mama Isa

This is the simplest and one of the tastiest pasta dishes in the Roman repertoire, served at home. “Cacio e Pepe” means “with cheese and pepper.” 

INGREDIENTS (to serve 6 people)
salt (about 20 g)
400 g fresh pasta tonnarelli or maccheroni alla chitarra (just if you don't have fresh pasta, you can use dried Spaghetti)
about 2 and 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 heaping tablespoons freshly ground black pepper per person

The trick to making this recipe work is to  a technique called "mantecare", meaning to mix and meld.
Bring at least 4 liters of water to a boil in a large pot and add salt. 
Drop in the pasta, stir. When the water returns to a boil, cook, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente. 
Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
Return the still-dripping pasta to the pot in which it was boiled. 
Away from any direct source of heat, stir in the reserved pasta water (this water is a very important step in order to get a creamy sauce) and toss vigorously while sprinkling the cheese (about 1 and 1/2 cups) and the pepper: but please if the sauce becomes too watery, add Pecorino Romano cheese; if it becomes too dry, add water.

Serve immediately in pasta bowls with the remaining 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese on the sid!  Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Buon Appetito!

1- Usually keep in mind that for 100 g of pasta, you should use 10 grs of salt and 1 liter of water, but Pecorino Romano cheese is very salt, therefore Mama Isa's tip is to add half of the amount of salt for boiling pasta....... just 20 g)
2- Please gradually add Pecorino Romano cheese and water tossing vigorously until you get a creamy consistency.

Fresh Pasta Workshop - Cooking Classes in Italy about the art of pasta making Tonnarelli
The art of fresh pasta making at Mama Isa Cooking School in Italy - Tonnarelli

Cacio e Pepe Sauce at Mama Isa Cooking School | Recipe
Cacio e Pepe Sauce at Mama Isa Cooking School

Friday, November 6, 2015

Prawns in Busara Style - Recipe by Mama Isa

Prawns in Busara Style - Recipe by Mama Isa

Prawns in Busara's style Buzara or Busara (in Venice) is not originally from Venice itself, but from Istria. During the Middle Age Venice gradually dominated Istria (until 1797). The different food of the Istrian tradition have been influenced by the Venetian Dominion. Of course in Venice we have adopted many Istrian recipes. But this is a recipe that takes me back to when my mother Paola used to make this for me and my family a lot. She passed away many years ago, but she lives in my heart every day. Paola has shared with me this old family recipe. Now I want to share it with you! In Venice this dish is made traditionally with scampi, langoustine, but large prawns work very well. Prawns are gently simmered in wine, tomatoes, garlic and herbs,finished with breadcrumbs. This dish is a perfect “secondo piatto”, but it makes a great appetizer or a light meal when served with salad and toasted bread, and of course a good wine!!!!! 

INGREDIENTS ( serve 4 people) 
4-5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1/2 yellow onion, minced 
16 large prawns, raw and without the head 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tablespoon of dry bread crumbs 
1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste 
1 glass of white wine (good white wine, not cooking wine) 
1 glass of fish stock 
Fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped 
Black Pepper, freshly grounded 
salt to taste 

Heat the evoo in a large pan. Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and solve it. 
Then add the white wine and let it evaporate. After add fish stock (hot) and seasoning with salt. Let it reduce over medium heat. Place the prawns and cook both sides until the prawns turn pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and mix. 
Cook another minute, then sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley, chopped. Sprinkle black pepper and more extra virgin olive oil. 

Serve immediately. 

Buon Appetito!

TIP: Choose the best fresh prawns. They should smell fresh and clean, not fishy, and should look moist.

Red Prawns | Mama Isa Cooking Classes near Venice Italy
Red Prawns | Mama Isa Cooking School

Prawns in Busara Style | Mama Isa Cooking Classes in Venice area Italy

Monday, October 26, 2015

Classic Minestrone - Recipe by Mama Isa

Classic Minestrone - Recipe by Mama Isa

Surprise someone special with one of Mama Isa's favorite soup!!!

Classic Minestrone: one of the most traditional vegetable and lovely soup in Italy. Minestrone means "big soup". Minestrone is a thick vegetable soup, delicious in winter.
Minestrone varies widely across Italy and in every region you can find a different recipe. Here is Classic Minestrone in Mama Isa's style.

2 Potatoes
2 Carrots
1 yellow Onion
100 g of Cauliflower, but only the flowers
2 stalk of Celery
40 g of Peas
100 g of Spinach leaves
100 g of Zucchini
100 g of Borlotti Beans
100 g of Broccoli, but only the flowers
50 g of Green or Red Cabbage
100 g of Tomatoes
50 g of Zucca (Marina Chioggia Squash)
Vegetable stock (1 liter or more)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Classic Minestrone at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Venice Italy

Chop onion, carrots and stalk of celery. Cut potatoes, zucchini, Marina Chioggia squash, tomatoes in small cubes. Separate cauliflower and broccoli flowers from the stem and cut in small pieces. Cut green or red cabbage. In a large pot heat EVOO and add stalk of celery, carrots and onions (soffritto) without browning. Let them cook till the soffritto becames translucent. Classic Minestrone Soup in Mama Isa's Style
Add 1 liter or more of vegetable stock.
Add potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, green cabbage - but not spinach and peas. Cook on low temperature about 30 min. If you see that the minestrone is too dense, add more vegetable stock.
After 30 min. add spinach, borlotti beans and peas and cook again for 10 min. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Serve warm and sprinkle with EVOO and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Buon Appetito!

TIP: Minestrone can also be made in advance and served for parties. 

Classic Minestrone

Classic Minestrone - Recipe by Mama Isa
Classic Minestrone - Recipe by Mama Isa

Friday, October 9, 2015

Baked Pasta "Pasta al Forno" - Recipe by Mama Isa

MAMA ISA'S PASTA AL FORNO (Baked Pasta) - Recipe by Mama Isa

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 -7 people)

(Pasta al forno is traditionally considered a PRIMO PIATTO in Italy, but it's a meal in itself!!!)

500 g short, dried pasta (I only use Gragnano pasta which may take also 12-15 minutes to cook, tubular pastas like Rigatoni)

1 recipe of Mama Isa's Bolognese sauce (in Italian Ragù alla Bolognese)
1 recipe of Mama Isa's Béchamel sauce (in Italian Besciamella)
100 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese( aged 24 months) plus a bit more for topping
salt to taste
a few pats of unsalted butter

Cook the pasta in well salted water as you normally would (al dente) and drain the pasta into a colander. 
Pour the drained pasta into a large bowl, add the meat sauce (Ragù Bolognese sauce) and mix well. Then add half of Béchamel sauce (if the bésciamelle is a bit dry or sticky, add some milk), add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and mix. 
Take a large baking dish and pour a few pats of unsalted butter here and there and 4-5 spoonfuls of Béchamel. Pout the contents of the large bowl into a baking dish. Top with all the Béchamel and a few pats of butter here and there.

Taste and adjust for seasoning; the mixture should be quite savory.
Preheat the oven (200 °C).
Bake in a hot oven (200°C) for about 30 minutes, until the top is nicely golden - browned.
Let the dish rest at least 5 minutes before serving and if you like, add more Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese grated on the top.
Serve warm!

TIP: Baked Pasta can also be made in advance and served for parties or on picnics

Baked Pasta - Pasta al Forno (recipe courtesy by Mama Isa)
Baked Pasta - Pasta al forno - recipe by Mama Isa

Mama Isa's Baked Pasta