An Italian Feast
This post is a little different from my usual ones, because this time I am writing to promote a good cause — childhood literacy — that my friend Orsola is supporting here!
She is raising money for a charity called Room To Read, which provides equality in education for children. She will cycle over 300 km from Paris to London this weekend!
Orsola hosted an Italian feast and shared her grandma’s recipes with my friends and I, and I am now going to share with you this memorable Italian experience!
She greeted us with some delicious Spritz and a classic Italian appetizer — the bruschetta.
It reminded me of the Catalonian tapa Pan Con Tomate, which my Spanish friends introduced me to 2 years ago when I visited Barcelona.
She showed us how to make bruschetta and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. All you need is a couple of freshly chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil and some olive oil and slices of toasted baguette or rustic bread!
All recipes are for 6 people:
– First, chop 5 to 6 tomatoes in dice as small as you can.
– Toast the bread
– Use half of hunk of a raw garlic to rub one side of the bread, then paint it with olive oil
– Pile the tomato mixture and add some basil leaves onto the freshly toasted bread.
And done! Then we climbed up to her secret terrace — “secret” because there is literally a trap at the bathroom’s ceiling with a ladder, which you need to pull down — and enjoyed the view and our yummy appetizer!
Then, next on the menu was lasagna!
Let’s start with the Bolognese sauce, so what do you need?
0.5 kg of meat, the classic recipe would be pork and beef but any type of meat would do.
2 tins of chopped tomato
– Chop onions in small pieces
– Fry them in a pan until softened, then add water in order to make them release more water
– Stir until it’s softened again, then add meat.
– Cook until the meat becomes brownish, after that add salt and chopped tomato
– Let it cook for 3 to 4 hours slowly
Now the Béchamel sauce:
100 g of butter
100 g of flour
L 1 of milk at room temperature
– Melt butter in a saucepan
– Add flour to the melted butter
– Stir to make it smooth and become a thick paste
– Add milk
It should look very liquid but it will become denser.
– Add nutmeg, pepper and salt
– Cook slowly, it will take a couple of minutes for it to become grainy and thick
As for pasta:
– Boil water and cook pasta for 5 to 10 min
Use a lasagna sheet cooker if you have one, if not you can add oil into water to separate the sheets
– Preheat the oven temperature to 160C/180C
– Arrange one layer of lasagna sheets at the bottom, then add a layer of meat sauce, a layer of béchamel, another layer of lasagna sheets and so on.
Remember to finish of with the meat and béchamel sauces on top so that we can sprinkle over some cheese.
– Put it in the oven for 30min.
In the meantime, we prepared tiramisu:
10 to 15 tablespoons of sugar
500 g of mascarpone
6 cups of coffee
1/2 glass of amaretto liquor
2 to 3 packs of lady fingers
– Separate egg white and yolk
– Beat egg yolks with sugar until it’s thick and pale, around 3 to 5 minutes.
– Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Then fold the egg whites into the previous mixture.
– Add mascarpone and whisk well together.
– Place the coffee in a bowl and add liquor
– Dip each biscuit into the coffee and arrange them tightly in the plate.
– Spread some of the mascarpone cream mixture on top into an even layer, repeat the process.
– Finish with cream on top and spread into an even layer
– Dust cocoa powder and refrigerate for about two hours or until firm
Then, time to eat!
Right out of the oven, the lasagna smelled like meaty tomato sauce. Although its aroma was already very tempting, my friends knew that (with me) the camera always eats it first. So we moved the table, explored different lightning and played with angles to take satisfying food pictures.
The lasagna covered with cheese looked good. Once plated, the sauce had a nice red colour, the meat appeared succulent and tender, and the pasta was beautifully layered with plenty of cheese on top. The inside was moist and juicy, and the melted cheese gave more creamy texture to the outside. And it tasted as good as it looked, very flavourful!
Now dessert, doesn’t the tiramisu look flawless? The dessert was light and soft, with a cool mascarpone cream, a rich coffee taste and a hint of liquor.
The cooking class was a success, I have learnt so much (and I hope you too). Thanks for taking part of the fun and please support Orsola in her cause! She will organise another cooking event soon, so stay tuned.
Fun fact: Given the fact that none of us was actually from London, we asked ourselves what our most memorable dinner in London was. Surprisingly, we ALL had a memorable – best or worse – dinner in London!
Written by Lucia Chauvet