Cooking with Lecce’s best Chef Gianna !

We had been waiting for this cooking experience for weeks. It was important to us to make this travel a learning experience since we love to cook and eat. 

Chef Gianna and Giorgio gave us the full experience of cooking in traditional Lecce style.  We met in the early evening by Piazza del Duomo.  We strolled together to the market in a leisurely way while getting to know more about each other.  We all have a passion for cooking, eating, and enjoying good company as a common characteristic.   

Market experience was fun, we watched how Gianna and Giorgio selected cheese, tomatoes, and other ingredients. The market owner and staff were great.  This is an integral part of feeling and breathing the whole experience.  These are the kinds of memories that are priceless.  We loved it!! 

 

We arrived at the beautiful Cooking Experience kitchen. This is where they cook and entertain the guests.  

 

It is lovely, comfortable, fully equipped with anything needed for cooking a great meal.   

The menu was focaccia, orecchiette, stuffed eggplants, and pastacciotto , which is the local custard desert.  

   
 Drinking wine 🍷🍷 while we cooked made the whole process even more fun. Chef Gianna is full of great tips and lessons. We made the entire dinner from scratch!! 

  
 

Learning how to make the orecchiette was amazing. We made eggless pasta dough that could be used for any type of pasta. Chef Gianna showed us in detail how to make the pasta.
  

We tried our best to follow Chef Gianna’s instructions. Yes! she did use the pasta we made for dinner. She was gracious and kind to say we did well.  We think we need more practice 😉

The fully hand on experience was very satisfying. We made everything together. Giorgio assured us not to worry about taking notes since he send the precise recipes to all the students. This helped us relax, concentrate and have more fun. 

 

Voilà!!   the finished pasta… it was as delicious as it looks.  What’s remarkable is that time flew by, we had great laughs, and a great meal while learning without any strain or intimidation.  Giorgio and Chef Gianna have this easy going style that makes any level cook feel comfortable.  
While we did only one day, you can customize and book several sessions with Chef Gianna.  Start planning your cooking experience; contact Giorgio for details at cookingexperiencelecce@gmail.com 🇮🇹
 

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Find something you love!

Surprise..surprise… not everyone is in love with their job. As a mentor, friend, colleague I always hear variations of:
‘meh it’s ok’
‘I just don’t love this’
‘it’s good money’
‘feeds the family’
‘it’s allright, like the people’
‘it’s just a job’
‘it’s convenient and pays the bills’
‘putting kids through college is not cheap and we are not in Sweden!’
‘ugh, got the golden cuffs on, addicted to my paycheck’
‘it’s boring but I am good at it’
…. and so on…

Reality is this: it is ok that not everyone is head over heels for their job. Yes, despite all LinkedIN articles and HBR catchy headlines, this is reality for millions of people. At some level it is ‘just’ a job and only ‘one’ part of your true life. So my response usually goes ‘ok, but find something you love to do. Not saying find a job … find something in your life that you enjoy doing’. This could be as simple as cooking, writing, jumping off planes, surfing, book club, spending time with your kids, bird watching, traveling, blogging 😉 … you get the idea.

Recently in one of these sessions tables were turned… and I was asked ‘huh ok … so what is that something that you love to do, what is that for you?’. For a moment, which felt like an eternity, I was stumped… was not expecting the question. Before I could open my mouth, visuals of my pottery studio and things I have made popped into my brain. Told her ‘I love making stuff out of clay… oh let me show you’

Here is ‘shooting star’:
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Here is ‘fun’:
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Here is ‘hope’:
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Before boring her I stopped at showing her these 3 clay and porcelain ornaments. She got the point – and was surprised, said she expected that my thing would have been something more lofty or tied to work. Hmmm … Will probe on that next time, but for now let’s adjourn; I have a to run to the pottery studio!!!

So have you found something you love to do??

Almond Meringue Torte

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Some sweet-dreams anyone? Who doesn’t like a sweet-dream like this you don’t have to dream-big to get this sweet! wait!! Surprisingly I made this torte many times and it’s foolproof so don’t be afraid to try it it’s guaranteed recipe but you can be afraid for only to get addicted or addict others unfortunately I made this mistake during one of the Easter time and every Easter when family and friends visiting asking me if I made Easter-famous almond meringue torte. This photo is from last Easter I’m sorry I even couldn’t took another photo to show you when you serve this torte how beautiful it stands in a plate because swept away immediately anyway when you will try it yourself you’ll see how sweet it looks & tastes!

Let’s start hand’s on-to dream-big to get our sweet-dream!

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

4 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbs milk

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup flour

For Top

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 tbs sugar

Filling

1 box instant vanilla pudding

2 tsp vanilla extract

1-3/4 heavy cream

Fresh strawberries, black berries, raspberries, blueberries

Preheat oven 175 c

Line 45 x 35 x 3 cm. pan with non-stick parchment or grease the pan.

Cream together butter, sugar salt and egg yolks

Add vanilla, milk, baking powder and flour beat.

Spread the batter in pan.

Beat egg whites till light.

Continue beating gradually add sugar.

Till meringue is smooth and stiff.

Spread meringue on batter.

Sprinkle almonds then cinnamon and sugar.

Bake it 30 min. till lightly browned.

Remove it from oven cool it 15 min.

Gently loosen the edges measure it cut it into half  then cut one half into half again to make it easier to handle it.

Mix vanilla pudding with heavy cream and vanilla till thick spread it over one half of the cake layer of meringue side.

Add layer of berries I use small strawberries sliced into half.

Top other layer of cake layers meringue side up if almonds will fall off just sprinkle them back on top.

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate till you would like to enjoy it!

organic abu-annuch

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This eggplant recipe was made a day after when I made eggplant mazza so you can grill your eggplants a day before but as you can see they get brown this time because I didn’t soak them in lemon juice and use them immediately anyway the taste is same just the color is darker. If as me you like to eat it simply with bread and yogurt with fresh mint or you can eat it with meat or rice as how you like. Just use your creativity!

What you need to get started is

1/2 cup organic eggplant (2 small or 1 big)

1 egg (optional)

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sea salt

some parsley to decorate

Prepare the eggplants as same as eggplant mazza but don’t soak them into lemon juice use them directly.

Dice them finely or mash them (sometimes I like to cut them in small cubes you can do if you like).

If you use the egg first scramble the egg.

Heat the olive oil.

Put the eggs when they start to take shape stir them to create  small  pieces of eggs. (Like stir fried eggs)

Add eggplants cook them for 5 min.

Add salt and garlic cook 5 min. more.

That’s it it’s ready! it’s easy and quick for a delicious dish isn’t it?

Give it a nice shape decorate it with some parsley or herbs and enjoy!