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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Art of Cheese Making with Mama Isa

     The Art of Cheese Making in Italy

By Chef Mama Isa



Milk: You can use a wide variety of milks, from TB certified raw cow's milk, pasteurized homogenized cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep milk. All will make cheese, each with its unique flavor and taste. Cheese can be made from "latte intero" (whole milk 3.5%), or from "latte scremato" (skimmed milk 2%), but the richness of flavor of the cheese is related to the amount of butterfat in the milk. We prefer to use TB certified raw milk, because if we make cheese with pasteurized homogenized milk, we need to add a small amount of calcium chloride to aid coagulation and form curd.

Starter: Bacteria must be added to acidify the milk so that the rennet will work, and to aid in the curing. Yogurt serves as a thermophilic starter (it prefers warmer temperatures). We prefer the flavor of cheese made from bacterially acidified milk.

Rennet: An enzyme rennin converts milk protein (in Italian "caseina" - casein) from a soluble to an insoluble material, causing the milk to gel. It will only work well in acidified milk. We purchase liquid rennet (we use "caglio di vitello" calf rennet) from a cheese makers supply house. The amount to use will vary on the condition of the milk, season and type of cheese we are making.

1- Heavy stainless steel pot (with A heavy bottom) with lid (never aluminum, because the acidifying milk can dissolve pot);

2- A cover is needed for the steps when the milk must sit for periods of time;

3- An accurate thermometer which reads in the range between freezing and boiling for water (0°C to 100° C): the temperature is very important, because the texture of the cheese depends a great deal on achieving a temperature to within one degree;

4- Whisk thorough mixing of starter and rennet is important;

5- Cheese Cotton Cloth: The purpose of "cheese cloth" is to catch the curd (in Italian "cagliata") and allow the whey to drain out. If your curd is fine, it passes through. Even if it is large curd, the curd can become enmeshed in the coarse weave;

6- Cheese press for the hard cheeses;

7- Cheese molds, used to form and consolidate curds, giving a finished cheese its desired shape.

Cheese Making in Italy
The art of cheese making with Mama Isa in Italy

Cheese making with Mama Isa in Italy
The art of cheese making in Italy

Ricotta Cheese Making with Mama Isa
Fresh Ricotta Homemade with Mama Isa

And if you learn how to make cheese at home, take a cooking class in Italy near Venice with Mama Isa!

BOOK a cooking class now! See the website or become Mama Isa's fan

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Philosophy | Mama Isa

Philosophy | Mama Isa

I have a strong love for Italian Regional Cuisine: I am a cooking class instructor.

I try to maintain the values of my work and my family’s cooking traditions (for three generations, mother to son)must have my roots, my feet, planted firmly in the cooking traditions!!!

This is me: my name is Isa.

My knowledge has been handed down to me primarily from my mother, Paola, but also from other women in my ancestry, my paternal and maternal grandmothers (Ninetta and Elisa).  

My techniques are based in classical Italian Regional Cooking.

I am not a convert to the food processor. I am convinced that the food processor is not the true way to facility with nearly all doughs (i.e. fresh egg pasta dough, pizza dough, bread dough, focaccia dough....) If you mix the dough in the processor and if you kneading it by machine, the taste and texture of the dough will not be the same. Perfect fresh egg pasta is a delicate balance of wheat flour 00, eggs and kneading. "Kneading the fresh egg pasta dough, rolling it out, cooking and saucing it" helps me to connect to the essence of the real and traditional Italian Cooking.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting at the kitchen table and watching my grandma Elisa make pasta. Elisa rolled pasta with a long rolling pin, but she used other pasta accessories: a special wooden board and a rectangular kitchen knife. Of course she used other tools to help work faster and better: "tagliatortellini", "Tagliaravioli", "grattuggia per gnocchi", a special comb to make garganelli - a sort of fresh penne, or a special coin to make corzetti, a fresh pasta from Liguria.
I use the same tools!
Fresh Pasta Accessories at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Italy near Venice
Pasta Accessories  | Mama Isa 
Pasta Tools  | Mama Isa
Pasta Tools  | Mama Isa 

I don't remember when exactly I started rolling out the pasta dough..... maybe I was too young!

Mama Isa rolls the fresh pasta with a rolling pin
Rolling pasta with a long rolling pin  | Mama Isa

Rolling Potato Gnocchi | Mama Isa
Rolling Potato Gnocchi | Mama Isa
Shaping Potato Gnocchi with the Parmesan Grater | Mama Isa

All the techinques I used is from the family. Unfortunately the industrial production of fresh or dried pasta is increasing, and young women will not do fresh pasta by hand now. However I continously encourage chefs and my audience to not abandon the classics, and the classical Italian Regional recipes.

My passion is to share with people the art of Italian cooking in the traditional way.
Of course I teach how to make fresh pasta dough with varying ratios of different kinds of wheat flour and eggs, or sometimes with water or milk. I persist to use the old recipes and I love the old poor way to make the traditional cooking.

My whole philosophy and approach is centered around something very authentic and humble. I select simple, fresh, seasonable ingredients.

Butter is certainly present in my cooking, but less than in the past. Unsalted butter is the predominant fat for cooking "risotto", but I love and use extra virgin olive oil as the main fat.
My cuisine is noted for its diversity, abundance of difference in taste, but the tradition is very important.

I love the "cucina povera": "the humble cuisine". I am certainly patriotic, but I love Italian Regional food for all the fascinations it offers, and I love to cook the huge variety of Italian cuisine. You cannot understand the cooking in Italy without seeing it in relation to the history of the country, based on more civilizations that flourished here: The Greek (Magna Grecia), the Etruscan...... then the Arab/Saracen.

During the Renaissance, the Italian Cuisine emerged as the one that influenced the whole of Europe. The first cookbooks were written in Italy (at the end of the 14th century: "ricettari" -recipe books).

But not only history is important for the Italian Regional gastronomy, but also another source. It sustains the appeal, and the variety: the family. So my cooking is a distillation of my personal experiences: I take example from my ancestors. Now in Italy there is a new generation of cooks or chefs with new concerns: they don't have much of a "tradizione" (tradition).  I worry about the death of Italian Regional Gastronomy.

My philosophy on cooking is my philosophy on life: I promote the traditions. All that I cook is the fruit of my work and that of my family!

Become Mama Isa's fan

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mastering Pasta in Italy

Mastering Pasta in Italy

with Mama Isa

Mastering Pasta in Italy
Date/Time: every day all the year
Location: Italy near Venice in Padova
Limited to 8 guests.

Join the "maestra" for an intimate cooking class at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes near Venice Padova in Italy.
The Art and Practice of Handmade Fresh Pasta.
This class starts with special 00 flour and special eggs for pasta and ends with plates of fantastic pasta.

Isa will teach you about the history and nutrition of wheat and also demonstrate techniques for making  hand-rolled pasta and extruded pasta.
Guests will enjoy pasta courses and house wines available throughout the event.

This is the ultimate pasta-making experience in Italy!
The Art and Practice of Handmade Fresh Pasta
Pasta Class in Italy

Pasta Making Class
Pasta Class in Italy
The collection about the pasta tools
Pasta Tools 

The art of pasta making - fresh penne from scratch
Making Penne
Pasta Workshop in Italy - Fresh Pasta Penne
Fresh Penne 

Isa says: "Pastamaking is an art! It involves technique as well as balance. It's a dance or a  symphony!!!!"

See the official website or become Mama Isa's fan

Monday, March 9, 2015

Crostata with Crema al limone e fragole - Strawberry Crostata with Lemon Cream (recipe courtesy of Mama Isa)

Crostata with Crema al limone e fragole- Strawberry Crostata with Lemon Cream (recipe courtesy of Mama Isa)

INGREDIENTS for Pasta Frolla Sweet Pastry Dough (serves 8 people):
500 g Wheat Flour 00
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature for hand mixing
250 g of sugar
2 organic eggs + 1 organic egg yolk
lemon zest
1 pinch of salt
1 package of vanillina

1 organic lemons
300 g of fresh strawberries or berries
30 g of unsalted butter
2 organic eggs
65 g of sugar
powdered sugar

How to make “Pasta frolla dough”: In a board make a “vulcano” with Wheat Flour, add the unsalted butter,  add egg yolk and eggs, sugar and lemon zest; mix until dough is completely moistened. Place “pasta frolla” dough on a flat surface and work into a ball quickly. Don't overkneading. Wrap in a cling film and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 C°.
On a floured surface roll out the “pasta frolla”  with the rolling pin to a big circle.
Spread the unsalted butter over the interior of the tart pan being careful to cover the entire interior.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of wheat flour 00  to the greased tart pan. Pick the pan up and tilt it about, allowing the wheat flour to distribute and cover the entire interior of the tart pan. The wheat flour will stick to any greased surface. Invert the tart pan over the garbage or a sink and tap it gently with your hand to remove any excess flour.
Place pastry dough in a tart pan. Fill with rice or dried beans. Bake shell in middle of oven 15 minutes. Remove rice or beans and foil and bake shell until golden, about 8-10 minutes more. Cool shell in tart pan on a rack.
Zest the lemon. In a pan put sugar, eggs, lemon juice, zest of lemon,
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar using an electric beater until light and airy, then add the lemon juice, the melted butter, the zest of lemon, continuing to whisk.
Place over a saucepan of just-simmering water (it shouldn’t boil) and whisk the mixture for about 5-10 minutes to thicken. To cool the pastry cream, dip the base of the bowl in iced water and stir it gently and regularly. Then put it in fridge.
Fill the crostata with the pastry cream, using a spatula to level the surface and distribute the cream evenly. Spread on the top fresh strawberries or berries and dust with powdered sugar.
Cut into slices and serve.

Crostata with Pastry Cream and Strawberries (recipe courtesy by Mama Isa)
Crostata at Mama Isa's Cooking Classes near Venice in Italy
Enjoy from Mama Isa's Cooking Classes in Venice Italy!!!!

And if you learn how to make some famous desserts, take a cooking class in Italy near Venice with Mama Isa!

BOOK a cooking class now! See the website or become Mama Isa's fan