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 đŸ·đŸ· 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. 

 

VoilĂ !!   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 🇼đŸ‡č
 

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Italy!  Puglia! – Let’s Cook

Can you tell we are counting days and how excited we are for our next adventure!

We will report live from our cooking experience, but wanted to share our research with you.  Very important for any traveller to connect with their host chef and understand what they are signing up for. 

So here we go… 

                To find more Please visit 

cookingexperience.it.com

Honey bee Quince

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My mother told me a lot about how they were happy when they had a chance to get a quince from the tree; they were putting it in their wardrobes between their clothes to give nice smell to their clothes at that times when they did not have perfumes. I can imagine quince scented wardrobes it was very nice, safe and healthy way to smell good…. and she adds those time the quinces and all fruits were smelling really good but now days unfortunately and sadly they didn’t…  and after it begins to getting ripe in the wardrobe they took it and made it into a dessert like this — during those days nothing was to throw but to use it use it reuse it! When she prepare this dessert always as I use to ask her what were they doing that times it’s always nice to hear old quality stories especially during long winter nights.

Favorite winter dessert!

I’m always getting very exited when doing this veryyy simple but amazing dessert. The smell, the taste, the look Oh my GOD it’s terrific!

This is why honey bees like it :)))

First you need fire if you have fire place or stove like me you are very lucky you just have to wait until the log is turn to a nice fire it’s relaxing to sit in front and watch for a while.

Come on get up it’s time to take one nice smelled organic quince wash it well.

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I wish I had a tree.

Wrap it with aluminium foil like this

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Put it on top of the fire-coals. I remember my mom was covering it with fire-coals as well you can do the same or turn it every 10 min. to cook every part of it.

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I check it out. It wasn’t cooked yet it wasn’t soft and the skin should be burned. Cover the foil again put on fire-coals to wait more.

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It should be burned more than the picture more than half of it should be burned. This takes 40 min. with me because I didn’t have enough coals and the quince was big.  If you have enough coal and to cover it with them maybe this will take 15 or 20 min. I think.

Remove it from foil cut it in half first.

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Peel the burned skin. Remove the seeds from the pits. It smells amazing.

Put 1 tsp of honey in each half of quince cut nice slices. If you like more honey drizzle over more honey or you can serve it with scoop of ice cream.

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This is for 2 person but I ate all of it veryyummmmyyyy.

The end…. happily!

Nothing left behind sorry.

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Profiterol from scratch!

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As like me do you think it’s very hard or impossible to make this delicious filled puffs called profiterol because at Istanbul at Inci Profiterol I ate many times this delicious profiterols and every time I ate them I think they are the best profiterols around the world! but when I ask myself how can I make them or at least is it possible to make them at home? The answer was Oh impossible!

Until I tried to make them from scratch very surprisingly  they were very easy to make and this one is guaranteed recipe. When I was serving this to my family and friends always asking me where I bought them but the truth is I made them at home! even still I can’t believe that I can make them at home from scratch.

So here it’s the recipe for you to try and see!

For Puffs

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 -1/4 cups flour

4 large eggs at room temperature

For Filling

1- 1/2 cups heavy cream or whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

For Chocolate

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs flour

1 tbs full cocoa powder

1 cup milk

Chocolate

Put all ingredients in pan stir occasionally, boil (3-5 min.)until it gets thick.

Fillig
Stir all ingredients together until you have thick filling.

Let it set 1 hour in refrigerator or you can prepare it one night before.

The Puffs

preheat oven 200 degrees.

Combine water, butter and salt in medium pan heat until butter melted.

Bring to rolling boil.

Add flour all at once stirring vigorously until smothes out and flows the spoon around pan. (this should take less than 30 seconds)

Remove it from heat cool it 5-10 min. it should be lukewarm.

With mixer beat the eggs one at a time in lukewarm mixture after adding the last egg continue beating 1 minute more.

Take 1 teaspoon full of the dough and drop it on parchment papered pans leave 1 inch between the puffs.

bake them 20 min. when they turn medium golden brown.

Remove them and cut a slit into the sides of puffs.

Return them to oven cook them 5 min. more.

Remove them and let them cool on a rack.

Gently open each puff alone natural fault line.

Fill bottom with 2 teaspoons of filling and replace with the top half.

Put all filled puffs on serving plate pour the chocolate on top put it in refrigerator.

Enjoy with loved ones !

I think it will be your one of the best loved recipe!

Summer Wild Cherry Jam

20130715-205440.jpgIf you have a bountiful wild cherry tree do what our friend Colleen did; share the fruit with friends. She showed up at the studio with bags of cherries. After filling my belly with the tart delicious wild things I wondered what was going to happen with the rest. Colleen told me I could take it all home. I did not ask twice! and took the bag home.

This delightful summer gift is what led to me making jam. So I am sharing the recipe with you all. Hope you enjoy it.

What you need:

  • 6 cups of wild cherries (these were tart mostly)
  • 2 cups of organic white sugar
  • A large pot and wooden spoon
  • Clean jars with good lids; I love using my recycled ones
  • Yes, this is it, no pectin or any other filler ingredient.
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    Step 1:
    Don’t do what I did!! Wash and let the fruit air-dry a little. Then take fruit and a cup for the pits to your COUCH so you can comfortably pit the million cherries. I stood for 2 hour at the sink – not quite sure why. Another good idea is to involve friends or kids in the process – sure to expedite the pitting.

    And do yourself a favor hand-pit the cherries, trying to use a knife — trust me, not such a good idea. I also recommend wearing an apron, in case the cherry juice splatters your clothing won’t get ruined.

    Step 2:
    After the pitting is done, add the sugar on the cherries, stir a bit to ensure they are thoroughly coated. If you are wondering why such little sugar… you don’t need more sugar, less sugar keeps the taste and flavor of the fruit come through.

    Let the mix marinate overnight. Best way is to let it marinate in the sun if you can, otherwise the fridge will do (cover well so other smells don’t taint jam mix. 20130715-210747.jpg
    Step 3:
    Pour the marinated wild cherries into the pot an put on high heat. Bring to boil, and keep boiling for 10 minutes.
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    After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. If you see that your jam is too liquid I would go for 30 minutes.
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    How to test the jam?
    Take a little of the juice and drop it to a plate so you can watch how it flows. The slower it flows the better and that indicates it is ready to be taken off the heat.
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    Mine actually turned out to be little more liquid than I like. Keep in mind that timing of how long to boil is a function of how much juice there is. Since there is no thickener in this recipe we use the reduction method.

    Step 4:
    Let the jam cool; enough so there is no steam coming off it anymore. Use a big spoon or ladle to fill up the jars. Make sure to put on the lids tightly.
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    Tip: you can store this in a cool dark cabinet, but if you are having a hot and humid summer like we are I recommend storing them upside down in the fridge.

    Make this a jamming summer! Thank you Colleen for the wild cherries, you made my day.

    Le Lentil Soup: the Surprisingly Easy One

    This is one of my favorite soups. In many cuisines there are various versions of a good lentil soup. This one happens to be what I call Le Lentil – and the easiest one to make!

    This is a very soothing and healthy soup. Using quality simple ingredients will make a difference. It is perfect soup for fasting; whether you are fasting for Lent or Ramazan. It is gentle on the stomach. This is also a great vegetarian dish. A small cup will work your appetite for the main course.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup red split lentil
    • 3 cups boiling water
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • salt to taste
    • peppercorns as many as you like

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    Garnish: use only ones you like

    • lemon juice
    • dried mint flakes
    • sumac flakes

    Directions:
    Add water to a deep pot and add lentils, bring to gentle boil. This step does take time, but once it starts boiling crack the lid to prevent frothing and spillage. Also start stirring every two minutes an add the peppercorns. I usually add about 4-5.
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    You will know lentils are done when they break up and almost dissolve in the water. You will also notice the soup becomes a golden yellow color. Once you are at this stage add the olive oil and salt, then stir to mix it well. Cook for another 5 minutes in low heat. When I use two different kinds of lentils then I purée the soup before serving. But today since I used one kind I am serving it au naturale!
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    Serve warm in a bowl and garnish as you like. I often use sumac and mint, and sometimes a dash of lemon juice.

    I love this soup, it was my late grandfathers’ favorite soup. Making it always reminds me of him; all the good times when we ate it together with a side of toasted baguette slices.
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    Shrimp a la Vicky style

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    So I just had the last Christmas party of 2012. Yes, this year my dance group decided to have our annual party after the holidays.

    We do a cozy potluck style party every year. This year I had a hard time deciding what to cook; but my dance teacher Vicky came to rescue. She is a Greek firecracker, dance teacher, life guru, animal lover, loyal friend, great cook, composer, … and I love her. She gave me this recipe and everyone loved it tonight. Epharisto Vickymu!!

    Here is the recipe:

  • 2 pounds of deveined organic shrimp
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • handful of sundried tomatoes (this is my improv, you don’t have to use it if you don’t like sundried stuff)
  • organic feta (crumble it by hand)
  • salt, oregano, black pepper (in quantities you like)
  • olive oil (I use a lot, use as little as you like)
  • Coarsely chop the onions and tomatoes. In a pan pour olive oil and lightly sautĂ© the onion, then add the sundried tomatoes – stir for a minute, then add the fresh tomatoes. SautĂ© for 2-3 minutes. In the meantime heat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Wash the shrimp in cold water and let it drain. Prepare a large oven dish/pan – I used a rectangular pyrex dish. Pour the sautĂ©ed mix at the bottom, then add the shrimp and seasoning.
    20130106-231452.jpgMix it all and add half a cup of water. Drizzle with some olive oil. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 5 minutes (watch carefully, don’t overcook the shrimp).
    20130106-232619.jpgTake the shrimp out of the oven and cover the top with crumbled feta. Use as much as you like, I prefer a light coverage. Turn on the broiler on high, put the dish back in the oven till you see feta melt and pieces are golden.
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    This dish is a great appetizer as well as a hefty side dish. If you are a seafood lover you will enjoy this super easy to make healthy dish. Bon Appetit !!