Are we nearly there yet – Day 4 at Masseria Montenapoleone

In between cooking, eating and sight seeing there is enough free time to chill and soak up the sun, swim in the delightful pool, or read a book. I picked up a couple of ‘reads’ before departing , one being the titled ‘Are we nearly there yet’ by Ben Hatch, an absolutely hilarious tale of a family touring around Great Britain writing a commissioned guide about family travel. I have to say I am a decent way through and its a brilliant read, look it up if you fancy something to put a big smile on your face.

This mornings cookery lesson with Anna-Rita was brilliant, and unusually vegetarian. It reads like this;

  • Purea Di Fave
  • Cornaletti Verdi Fritti
  • Zucchine Alla Poverella
  • Strascinate alla Rucola Pesto
  • Anna-Rita’s Torta al Cioccolate

I have had a go at some vegetarian food, a particular favourite being Melanzane Ripiene, Aubergines stuffed with a Cheese and breadcrumb mixture and baked in a Tomato sauce. I use the recipe from Mike Robinson’s book ‘Wild Flavours’.

Purea Di Fave was part of last nights tasting menu, and absolutely delicious so being shown how to make it today was a real privilege.  The end result is a light delicate, but well flavoured puree that is served today with the Cornaletti Verdi Fritti, a dish of sweet peppers in a tomato sauce with a hint of garlic and basil.

Preparing Cornaletti Verdi Fritti

Blitzing the Purea di fave

Anna-Rita was quite strict about the Purea Di Fave, LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 1 1/2 hours, do NOT touch it.  Giuliano the owner got a right telling off after he tried to have a little stir, tut tut.

Once the beans have been cooking for 1 1/2 hours you bring the beans from the side of the saucepan with a spoon to the center GENTLY, creating a mound and add some salt, then continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Once cooked, add a decent glug of olive oil (not extra virgin), and puree with a hand blender. You need to end up with a really smooth  consistency adding more oil if needed.

The dishes complement each other and are traditionally served together and quite beautiful.
Giuliano explained the Italian philosophy for cooking was using the simplest of ingredients and giving them the respect they deserve. Zucchine Alla Poverella is such an example. I won’t describe the process but this is the end result.
On Tuesday, I learnt the art of creating Orecchiette (I spelt it wrong on the previous post, doh!) and now we are progressing to Strascinate, which uses the same mixture of semolina and warm salt water, needed to the right consistency. I am not going to explain how to do it, as it really needs to be shown to you, so you can practice and be corrected if you make mistakes. I am proud to say I can now produce a half decent Orecchiette and Strascinate, get in!
To accompany the Strascinate we made a Wild Rocket Pesto from scratch. I have never been fond of Pesto but the ‘rocket’ version was lovely, I was told you HAD to have a 50/50 mixture of ground Parmesan and Pecorino to make it produce the right flavour, and don’t add any salt.
Strascinate alla rucola Pesto
One of my wishes on this course was to learn to make some quick but tasty deserts, and I’ve been lucky so far, today was just a continuation of the process.
Anna-Rita’s Torta al Cioccolate is a simple chocolate cake, when served warm, with a dusting of icing sugar finishes off the meal above perfectly.
Anna-Rita’s Torta al Cioccolate
This afternoon I am of to visit Locorotondo, and eating in a Pizzeria, el peyote this evening, and tomorrow brings another cookery lesson and I can’t wait.
A Big thank-you to Anna-Rita my tutor chef, Giuliano for the knowledge and Angelo for being so much fun.

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