Fresh pasta from scratch. Authentic Italian sauces using the best ingredients from Italy and Manila. Italian wine pairing. Vital cooking tips and techniques. Essential kitchen tools.
These are just some of the things people will learn from Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016 Margarita “Gaita” Fores and Casa Artusi’s executive chef Carla Brigliadori as they jointly hold hands-on classes on Italian cuisine tomorrow, Dec. 1, and Dec. 3, 2 p.m., at Ascott Bonifacio Global City (BGC) Manila, Taguig City.
Fores and Brigliadori have been offering Artusi classes since Ascott BGC opened three years ago. The classes, in a ballroom-type setting, allow students to move around and get closer to see how the masters whip up their kitchen creations.
Casa Artusi classes started in 2012 at Whitespace in Makati. Fores now holds classes both in Makati and BGC.
“Since Casa Artusi opened in Ascott, it’s been really good,” she says. “We’ve been able to share a bit more of Italian food and culture to the Manila market, especially the region of Emilia Romagna where Casa Artusi is.”
Casa Artusi is the famous Italian school in Forlimpopoli, Italy, that teaches the art of Italian cooking. The school pays homage to Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911), the Italian writer and merchant who wrote the definitive manual on modern Italian cookery, “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene” or the “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.”
The book is a compilation of heirloom recipes of home cooks from every corner of Italy in the late 1800s.
“Those recipes in the book are the embodiment of Italian cuisine as it evolved through the years,” Fores says. “Artusi started the book even before Italy became united as a country. He started with 390-plus recipes that he documented and numbered.”
The book became so successful that every household in Italy had a copy of it. Later on, Italian women who had read the first edition book would send Artusi their own recipes. He would kitchen-test them and include them in his book.
The book went through 14 different revisions until his death in 1890s. By the time he passed away, the book had 795 recipes.
Artusi’s book has been translated into five languages, and remains the quintessential handbook for Italian cooking to this day.
“What’s nice about the book is that you can still use the recipes up to now,” Fores says. “It’s still very relevant.”
Interestingly, the book is not just strictly recipes. Artusi also wrote social commentary on what life was like during his time. He would write tips or advice on how to eat healthy, or how to effectively use fresh ingredients. Artusi was uncompromising about the quality and freshness of ingredients. He said nothing good comes from bad ingredients.
The Artusi classes advocate home-style cooking, which is the heart of Italian cuisine. The classes are always fun and not intimidating.
Brigliadori and Fores teach some of the recipes from the book, while updating it with today’s ingredients.
“We also make replacements for ingredients that we cannot find here,” she says.
For instance, the classic recipe Piselli col Proscuitto (Proscuitto and Peas) calls for fresh peas. The
Philippines doesn’t have fresh peas. So, Fores and Brigliadori toured Farmers Market in Cubao and found sitsaro or sweet pea pod.
“Brigliadori was amazed with the sweetness of sitsaro,” Fores says. “So we did Proscuitto col Pisselli using the inner pea of sitsaro. It’s very sweet compared to the Italian peas, but it’s quite tedious to make since you have to open each one of them.”
In the Artusi class, Fores will translate for Brigliadori who can’t speak fluently in English.
“But, her hands are really good with fresh pasta, which I am not so gifted with. It’s nice to see her do that work while I help with the sauces and translate for her,” she says.
Brigliadori, a certified sommelier, will also talk about wines and wine pairing.
The four-hour hands-on course will also showcase essential kitchen tools, such as rolling pins and garganelli. Students will be taught different pasta sauces and various pasta shapes, such as farfalle, pappardelle, cappelletti, ravioli and tagliatter, to name some. Basic preparation for piadina or the famed Italian flatbread will also be taught.
Artusi’s book will also be on sale.
The following are recipes taken from Pellegrino Artusi’s all-time bestseller, the “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.”
Piselli col Proscuitto(Peas with Ham)
“Cut in half lengthwise one or two spring onions (depending on the amount of peas), and put them on the fire with oil and a generous amount of untrimmed smoked ham diced into small cubes.
“Fry lightly until the ham shrinks, then toss in the peas, seasoning them with little or no salt and a pinch of pepper; stir, and finish cooking with broth, adding a little butter.
“Serve either alone as a vegetable course, or as a side dish; but first discard all the onion.”
“I present this not as a refined dish, but as one suitable for family cooking. Take a domestic duck, put it into a saucepan with some butter, season with salt and pepper, and when it begins to brown, add a battuto made with prosciutto, onion, celery and carrot, which you will place under the bird to cook.
“Remember to turn the duck regularly. Then remove most of the fat, as it will make the dish excessively heavy, and continue cooking with broth and water, which you will add a little at a time and in such quantity as will yield enough sauce to season the pappardelle.
“Take a small piece of spleen, preferably veal spleen, cut it open and scrape the inside clean with a knife. Then place the spleen under the duck to boil. It will add flavor to the sauce, which it is a good idea to season with a little tomato and a dash of nutmeg.
“Make a dough with only flour and eggs, and roll it out in a rather thick sheet as for tagliatelle. Use a pastry wheel with a scalloped edge to cut the dough into strips somewhat wide than a finger. Boil these for a short time and toss with sauce, the duck’s liver cut into tiny pieces, Parmesan cheese and some butter, if necessary. The pappardelle will be the pasta course, and the duck the main dish.”
Salsiccia Coll’uva (Sausage with Grapes)
“This is trivial and ordinary dish, but I mention because sausages, combined with the bittersweet taste of grapes, might tickle someone’s taste buds.
Poke the sausages with the tines of a fork and then place them whole in a kettle with a little lard or butter. When done, add a reasonable amount of whole grapes, and simmer until these have lost half their volume.
If they are to be eaten alone, sausages can be grilled or boiled whole in a pot with a little