Today I am off back to ‘sunny’ England but not until I complete one more class with the lovely Anna-Rita, and the two comedians Giuliano & Angelo!
I was waiting at the kitchen door and hey presto, there was Anna-Rita with her trusty bible of family secrets, I wondered was the plan was for today. Angelo and Giuliano were not around to interpret so we just carried on until they arrived.
Cavatelli Ai Frutti Di Mare was on the menu today, Cavatelli are another Semolina based pasta, but with a smaller squashed up shell shape! The Frutti Di Mare was a mix of Langoustine, Mussels, Prawns and Squid.
The Limonchello needed filtering and a water/sugar mixture added to temper the 95% proof alcohol we had used to extract the flavour and ‘cook’ the lemon peel and leaves.
We were also going to bake a Bass, with white Onion, Cherry Tomatoes and baby potatoes, and also make a couple of Focaccia from Scratch, I was particular looking forward to this lesson.
Pouring the liquid through a sieve and muslin cloth or coffee filter to remove any bits and you have a beautiful coloured liquid. Different families have different proportions of water to sugar and syrup to alcohol. Whatever proportion the sugar has to be dissolved in the heated water first, and then cooled down before adding to the lemon essence. It needs a further week before you can drink it to allow the sugar and alcohol to work their magic.
For the baked fish, we had a gutted and descaled Bass that was very fresh, we covered in sliced white Onion, quartered cherry Tomatoes, Parsley a little sea salt and grated Parmesan cheese. The Frutti Di Mare required olive oil to be flavoured with Garlic, and then the Garlic removed. Add quartered cherry Tomatoes, Pepper, NO salt as there is some in the juice of the seafood mix which has salt in it. Another option is to not use the brine, or make you own mix, and use wine, burning off the alcohol.
The Focaccia was really tricky. Whack the ingredients in a Kenwood Chef, Cover and leave to proove in a warm place. Slit the mixture between two REALLY well olive oiled trays. Smother you hands in olive oil and gently spread the mixture. Poke in your toppings of choice, we had Rosemary and Cherry Tomato and Oregano, remembering to squirt some more olive oil on top, and then leave to proove some more. Bake at fan oven 180 for 15 – 20 mins.
The last 8 days have been a real adventure seeing the sights of Puglia, learning about the food culture, having a pop star as a guide and interpreter, going to an ex-pat birthday party and chilling out with a great bunch of guys at Doppio Passe, Angelo’s private bar.
Thanks to Giuliano, Anna-Rita, Angelo, Maura, Veronica and all the team at Masseria Montenapoleone for making my stay so fantastic and especially Anna-Rita for teaching me so much about Puglian food that has been passed down over many generations.
I will be going back.