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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Weekend Cooking: Stuffed Stuff

Love weekends when we can fully relax and cook savory cozy meals that speak to the soul and heart.

This is a favorite dish especially for cold winter nights. Yet so easy to make, but sure to delight the senses.
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Ingredients:
2 small yellow peppers
Couple medium sized zucchinis
4-5 medium sized firm tomatoes
1 lb Organic ground beef
1 cup of Organic jasmine rice
3 cloves of fresh pressed garlic
Salt
Olive oil
Black pepper
Red pepper
All spice
Crumbled feta for the top

Was the veggies and hollow them out. Careful not slice your hands open or cut through the veggies. You need both 😉 to enjoy this meal. Using a small melon baller might help, but I use a nice small sharp knife. Goal is to hollow the veggies without damaging the shell that will keep the stuffing.

Put hollowed veggies in a container of water and salt mixture (brine) while you mix up the stuffing.
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Best beef for this is organic and semi fat. Don’t go lean – the dish with be way too dry and tasteless. For vegetarians; omit the beef and use a coarse chop of the hollowed out innards, add mushrooms and viola! Turn the oven on to 475 degrees and get your baking dish ready.

Mix up the beef with spices, rice, and pressed garlic. Use as much spices to your liking and diet. Drizzle olive oil as you are mixing the stuffing – again amount is up to you. We love bathing in it so we go wild!

Stuff each veggie somewhat loosely to allow for the rice expansion as it cooks. Place the veggies upright. Once done stuffing them all. Pour a lukewarm water at the bottom of baking dish – just enough to come up to quarter of the height. With a spoon carefully put some of the lukewarm water into each veggie as well – makes for more moist stuffing.
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Cover up the baking dish with a parchment paper to help it steam while cooking and keep the moisture. Bake for 40 minutes. Then turn off the over, put crumbled feta on top of each veggie and broil till feta is pink and melty.

Pull out let it cool for 2 minutes and serve up!!
Sure to be a hit – enjoy it and let us know what you think after you tried it.
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Live well. Eat well. Love well !

Traditional Aprakh (Wraps)

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Before we start to this traditional family recipe I want to give you a great tip that I learned it from my aunt during summer I collect the fresh grape leaves and just line them on top of each other then wrap them with aluminum foil and put them in freezer bag and freeze them when I took them from freezer I have to be very careful because when they freeze they are very fragile so when you touch them you have to be very careful! and after you de-freeze them they are ready to use &  enjoy sunny summer taste!

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 Are you ready to enjoy?

Organic grape leaves

1 cup organic rice

1/2 cup organic coarsely ground wheat

1 or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbs organic butter or ghee or olive oil
1 tsp pressed organic garlic
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 cups boiling water (you will need more or less water it depends of what type of rice and leaves you use)
For Top ( for 1 person)

1 large organic egg (optional)

1 tbs organic butter, ghee or olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup water

2 tbs fresh green garlic leaves diced very thin I don’t have fresh green garlic leaves so I used normal garlic cloves crushed.

You can use just rice or just wheat or as I do you can mix them.

Rinse rice and wheat.

Mix melted butter, yogurt, garlic and salt to rice and wheat mix them well.( I didn’t have enough yogurt at home so my mixture looks dry but normally should be runny and wet yogurt gives special flavor and character which is the specialty of this recipe.

Then as below you see the photos put some rice and wrap the leaves.

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Line up them in pot the closure side should be faced down.

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When you reach the last row if you have left over leaves you can cover the top of wraps or if you don’t have that’s fine.

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Put pot on high heat.

Very slowly add boiling water.

Cover the lid bring to boil 20-30 min. or until the rice and wheat cooked well.
If you are using very big leaves yo can dived them into 2 pieces or just make big wraps my leaves were very small.

Now our Aprakh is ready carefully take each Aprakh and line it in plate.

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For top
Put butter in pan until heated pour scrambled egg and stir fry put the crushed garlic and salt stir-fry then add boiling water boil it 1-2 min. it should be little water left when you put it over the
aprakh wraps.

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Okay I know its worth it but isn’t it enough we wait… aaawww it smells garlicious!
Give me a moment please! I have to eat and sweep this I stand to much.

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Cauliflower Pasta

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I opened the refrigerator and see I have cauliflower that I bought last week so I start to think what can I create today?? Different, delicious, easy, simple, healthy. Okay I find it! Cauliflower pasta with garlic yogurt mmmm…. sounds good healthy smart

Let’s create

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1 cup pasta

1-1/2 cups cauliflower cut into small pieces

1 cup greek yogurt

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pressed garlic

On top (optional but yummy)

1 tsp hot pepper flakes

1 tsp olive oil

Cook the pasta with water and salt as it says on it’s own package.

Add olive oil and cauliflower stir for 1-2 min.

Add just little bit of boiling water and salt and cover the lid let boil 5-8 min until it gets soft but firm as pasta.

Combine cauliflower and pasta let them cool.

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Combine yogurt and garlic take tablespoon fulls put on top of cauliflower pasta.

In small pot combine olive oil and hot pepper let them 1-2 min to heat then drizzle over the yogurt.

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It looks mouth watering & Tastes fantastic!

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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!

Eggplant Mazza

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This easy-tasty hors d’oeuvres  it’s vegan with simple ingredients you can serve it on top of toasted bread or with crispy sticks or crackers.

This recipe is for summer for your health use all veggies at their season please!

Okay let’s get started

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

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp organic sea salt

1 tbs organic lemon juice

2-3 cloves organic garlic (optional but tasty)

Grill the eggplants on top of grill fire or in the oven

Before doing this please use knife  or use a fork just to make holes in eggplants this will help to stem escape and not exploding while you grill them.

After you grill them immediately remove them from oven and start to peel them for that you can hold them from their stalk if your fingers burning then just divide the eggplant lengthwise and remove the eggplants with spoon.

Immediately add the lemon juice this process will help them stay whiter and prevent them becoming brown.

After you peel them dice them finely or mash them and let them cool completely.

Put salt, and garlic.

Shape it.

Put some scallions or parsley on top drizzle with olive oil.