La Cucina Toscana 1
Today is the first day of our cooking class with Professor Francesco. My classmates looked excited and eager to learn. It’s my pleasure to meet Professor Francesco again since our last course. All my Japanese classmates are now doing the internship all over Italy. And I am now making my dream comes true as a food and travel writer. Today I am here as a student reporter for this Culinary course for Professional chef.
Tuscany is well known for its delicious food and wine. The Tuscan food is unique from the cooking style which is quick and easy. The local ingredients which are fresh and high quality play a big part in turning a simple dish into a special dish.
Today we cooked 4 dishes which are Pappadelle al cinghiale, Cimalino rifatto con carciofi, Faglioli al fiasco and Bistecca alla fiorentina.
Anything Tuscan,you name it,they have it.
A good chef must be good in Time management as each dish requires varied cooking time and working in a big restaurant under time limitation, requirement and rules can send a big impact to the chef. He must plan ahead and be very organized to get everything under control and yet creates the delicious meals.
Professor Francesco taught us to start cooking the slow-cooking dishes first. So in the mean time, we can cook something else and they will be ready almost at the same time.
Fagioli al Fiasco
“Fagioli al fiasco” is a Tuscan styled beans soup. It’s very simple dish and yet very yummy. It is usually served as a side dish of the Bistecca alla fiorentina. The secret of this dish is to select the best quality of the beans , be patient and cook them slowly but surely on the stove.
Cimalino rifatto con carciofi
It’s a tender veal shank salad with artichoke. Usually, it is considered as an appetizer. You can also have this kind of veal shank with green chili sauce. Sometime people use a young pork meat instead of veal to make this dish.Pappadelle al cinghiale
Pappadelle is a type of pasta. If you had some Fettucini pasta before, Pappadelle is a wider version of Fettucini. However, Pappadelle is a typical Tuscan pasta which is often eaten with the wild boar ragu sauce.It’s easy to find wild boar in Tuscany. They are good for this ragu sauce as well as salami. Its meat is more lean as they live in the nature hence they are full of muscles. They love eating juniper so today Professor Francesco used the dry junipers to enhance to aroma of the sauce.His Pappadelle al cinghiale is so far one of the best I had in Florence. The other great one you have to drive to a restaurant in Montepulciano to taste it. In order not to complicate your life, I will give you a brief recipe.
Pasta fresca generica
Making pasta is easy to write but in order to make the perfect ones , you need skills and lot of practices. I think the most important factor of all is Passion. Without Passion, it would be challenging for the chef to carry on practicing.
In fact, I found watching the pasta making process is quite enjoyable.
There are 2 types of flours which are used for making pasta. There is type “0” and type “00”.
“0” flour was used most in the old day. The texture is harder and thicker and it’s more yellow in color, comparing to the type “00”. As it’s harder , you might need to add a bit more water when using this type of flour.
“00” flour’s texture is thinner and more white in color. Nowadays the chefs use a lot of “00” type flour in order to get the silky taste.
Professor Francesco used an equal amount of both types to create a well-balanced effect. His pasta is not too hard and not too soft. It’s chewy and yet silky. You can immediately tell the different of the freshly made pasta and the dry ones. The hand made ones are aromatic, smoother and obviously the freshness is always tempting the food lovers.
Professor Francesco showed us the width of each similar looking pasta like Tagliolini, Fettucini and Tagliatelle. They are in fact more narrow than Pappadelle, especially the Tagliolini which is the smallest of all. The Italians are very particular with their pasta,aren’t they?
Bistecca alla fiorentina
There is a saying of the Florentine that if you eat raw steak, you are the Florentine.
The Florentine steak is one of the simple dish you can ever cook. However, what makes this steak so special is the Florentine chefs choose the best part of beef for their steak. You need a good connection with the Marcello to always keep the best part for your restaurant. If you walk in Florence, you can see many Tuscan restaurants proudly keep the big piece of steak near to their glass window as a tempting display.
Make sure you cut your steak big and thick like the Florentines.
Professor Francesco grilled each side of the steak for 7 mins. If you like it more rare, then only grill each side for 5 mins. After that, you can add salt and pepper thoroughly. If you add salt at the beginning, salt will take too much liquid out of your steak and it won’t be as juicy as it’s supposed so.
The best wine to compliment the Tuscan food is obviously the Heaven-sent Tuscan wine. I have tried other wines. For some reasons, I do agree with Professor Francesco. The Chianti Classico always goes very well with its food from the same region. You need to try it yourself to understand what I mean though.
Try Chianti Classico with the Bistecca alla fiorentina and Fagioli al fiasco on the side. You will love me for revealing the magic combination.