Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cooking with Giuliano Bugialli

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
Both Rick and I love to cook. This past Saturday we did something really enjoyable. We went to a cooking demonstration by Giuliano Bugialli, a world-famous Italian chef in case you haven’t heard of him. He has written many cookbooks, such as The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, and also hosts cooking school vacations in his native Italy. Did we go into NYC to see him? No, amazingly enough, he was at a tiny little cooking school/kitchen supply store right down the street from where Rick works called Adventures in Cooking. We understood that he’s been coming there for years, so he must be a friend of the family or something because why would a famous chef come to Wayne, NJ?

Over the next three hours we watched him bring together a four course luncheon, which of course we got to enjoy after the demonstration. Here is the menu:

************

Focaccia alle Cipolle
(Onion Focaccia)

Pennette al Sugo di Braciola
(Pennette with “Braciola” Sauce)

Involtini di Verza alla Pommarola
(Mozzarella Bundles with Pommarola Sauce)

La Torta di Mandorle di Capri
(Almond/Chocolate Torte)

************

Professional chefs are amazing to watch. How they juggle all four courses on-going at the same time is a mystery to me. Of course he did have help, and as one of his three kitchen assistants quipped “don’t attempt these dishes unelss you have at least 4 assistants.” Amen. They washed and dried as the pots, pans, dishes, etc. were dirtied, fetched tools, measured out ingredients and were kept busy scurrying to and fro.

I took some short videos to try and capture the essence of the demo. If you’ve never been to a cooking demonstration before, there is a mirror mounted above the work space area so everyone can see the food being prepared. Quite a bit of this video is shot looking into that mirror.

Kneading the focaccia dough:

He joked, rolled his eyes when the assistants needed gentle scolding for not stirring the sauce, and was very entertaining. You had to listen closely when he spoke because of his heavy Italian accent.

Both of the tomato based sauces were interesting. One was very simple with whole plum tomatoes which were topped with chopped vegetables. The vegetables cooked on top of the tomatoes; not stirred in! Just shake the pan once in a while to keep the tomatoes from burning, thus allowing the vegetables to steam for a lighter sauce. Once done (in about one hour) everything got put through a food mill. Delicious! The other sauce had braciola (pounded top round of beef spread with a parsley/parmesan paste, then rolled up and tied) at the base of the sauce with tomatoes and beef broth. This sauce went over the pasta and was very different from the first sauce; much heartier due to cooking the meat in the sauce.

In this video you can see the sauces bubbling on the stove, a bowl with the chocolate mixture for the dessert, and the preparation of the mozzarella bundles all going on at the same time.

 

It was obvious that he had quite a following of groupies in the audience that had attended his classes in Italy as he seemed to know quite a few of them. I was beginning to feel a little envious when he told one of the women that he had arranged for them to attend the opera on their visit. It sounds like fun to me. Cooking classes, good food and wine, visits to various places; a perfect combination!

The food was delicious, but the best part was the dessert. Sheer ambrosia! A flourless cake made from a “paste” of ground almonds, walnuts and sugar (which forms a flour of sorts) and chocolate, topped with whipped cream and a crumble of sugared orange rind. I think I could have eaten the whole cake! I got halfway through my piece before I remembered to take a photo ...

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And, of course we remembered to take our cookbooks for an autograph. A very well spent Saturday afternoon indeed.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

 

Next entry: Bunk bed

Previous entry: What will I be?

About

Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved once again, this time to North Carolina. Here I write about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

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