After the dreaded wine debacle, we were ready to break up with our guide Patricio.
Honestly, how dare he take us to such a horrific winery. He’d offered us such goodies from the Italian food gods all week long, and this??.
We simply agreed to disagree on what constituted good wine at this point in the trip.
But his opinions were redeemed in the lovely lunch we were offered in the beautiful town of Atina. The food was amazing.
The jury was still out on Patricio’s fun meter, though, based on the car karaoke wars. I mean, seriously, this was Patricio’s face when we would jokingly sit in the driver’s seat waiting for him to come back to the car.
Cute and all, but clearly a WTF are you doing in my seat kinda look.
Clearly, we were annoying him on some level.
I also know we were humoring him immensely. He couldn’t hold his brooding little smile back all the time.
When we arrived back at Casa Gregorio, we began our cooking lessons on more pasta, pork, and the most luscious tiramisù I may have ever tasted.
Our chef Valerio was a gem: funny, patient, knowledgable. He was also a perfectionist. Fair enough, but look at the following series of pictures.
Like we try to make. Valerio fix. We try again. Valerio fix again.
He was a perfectionist after my own heart when I bake with someone else.
We started with this in front of us:
Ended with this:
And the kitchen goddesses dressed it up like this for presentation after dinner:
It was sinfully delicious. And the recipe from someone’s Nonna is below.
- 5 LARGE EGGS, DIVIDED
- 5 TABLESPOONS GRANULATED SUGAR
- 1 CONTAINER (500 GR.) MASCARPONE CHEESE
- 2 CUPS (16 OZ.) EXPRESSO COFFEE, COOLED
- 1⁄2 CUP KAHLUA OR TIA MARIA LIQUOR
- 1-3 TEASPOONS SUGAR TO TASTE (OPTIONAL)
- 2 PACKAGES SAVOIARDI COOKIES OR LADY FINGERS
In large bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks with sugar until thick and lemon colored, approximately 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and blend well. In a separate bowl, using electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into yolk/cheese mixture until well blended. Mix cold expresso coffee and liquor in shallow dish. Add sugar to taste. Use a 13×9 dish. *Quickly dip each cookie in coffee mixture and line bottom of dish lengthwise to form first layer. Spread 1⁄2 of filling on top of layer. Place second layer of cookie dipped in coffee mixture widthwise to form second layer. Spread top with remaining 1⁄2 of filling. Dust top layer with unsweetened cocoa powder using sifter or sieve or top dessert with chocolate bar shavings. Refrigerate at least 4-6 hours to set. Best to refrigerate overnight.
*Note: Dip each cookie no more than 3 seconds in order to prevent crumbling.
We should’ve eaten dessert first, but maybe this is an American ideal. Besides, the tiramisù needed to good in the fridge to set, so we set out to make an actual dinner.
We set out to make more pasta – get yourself a pasta machine… no way you are rolling this dough as thin as it needs to be with a rolling pin – and the sauce.
First the Béchamel Sauce. Trust me this is soooo easy to make. Just sounds fancy 😉
Then add the Béchamel Sauce to the Marinara Sauce. The recipe below doesn’t say this, but the two sauces marry in each layer, so it saves a step.
Build your layers, upon layers, upon layers…Bake, and VOILÀ! GORGEOUS and DELICIOUS lasagna.
Pop it outta the tin, and cut in half, and you will have this amazing delight where people will ooooohhhh and aaaaahhhh over your skills.
Go ahead and get all artsy, like Alessandra did, and put the Béchamel Sauce in a piping bag and pipe out your initial.
Your guests will say exactly what we did when we were presented with our food, OOOOOOOOOOOOO, fancy.
Yeah, notice the title includes the fact that this is someone’s Nonna’s recipe.
Again, you’re welcome.
NONNA’S LASAGNA FARCITA
- 10 OZ. PACKAGES FROZEN CHOPPED
- SPINACH, THAWED AND WELL DRAINED (SQUEEZE OUT LIQUID WITH WOODEN SPOON)
- 3/4 POUND GROUND PORK
- 3/4 POUND GROUND BEEF
- 1 TEASPOON SALT
- 1 CUP CHOPPED ONIONS
- 2 CLOVES OF FRESH GARLIC OR 1 TEASPOON GARLIC POWDER
- 2 TABLESPOONS MINCED PARSLEY OR 1 TABLESPOON OF DRIED PARSLEY IF FRESH ISN’T AVAILABLE.
- 16 OZ. RICOTTA (DRAIN IF WATERY)
- 1/2 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
- 1/2 TEASPOON DRIED BASIL
- 2 EGGS (BEATEN)
- 1/2 TEASPOON NUTMEG
- 2 GRATED RIND FROM 2 LEMONS
- 32 lasagna squares (16 spinach noodle, 16 egg) fresh or no bake, however noodles need to be slightly boiled removed from water and patted dry. (you can use the basic recipe in this post)
- 24 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 12 ounces grated Parmesan
- Marinara Sauce
- 1 quart of milk
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/3 cup of flour
- pinch of salt
- dash of nutmeg
- 4 TBSP of grated Parmesan
Melt butter, whisk in flour to form a roux and add warm milk and continue to whisk until thicken.
Sauté onions in butter and oil. When onions are getting soft, add ground meats, garlic,
salt and some black pepper and cook until browned. Take off burner and add chopped spinach, parsley and basil, stir and let mixture cool down.
When meat mixture has cooled, add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, lemon rind add the two beaten eggs. Stir and then fold in ricotta cheese.
The lasagna has four layers. In small tins , start by adding a small amount of marinara sauce and béchamel and the place in first layer. Add more sauce, béchamel, a heaping tablespoon of meat filling, sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella. Repeat layers. The 4th and last layer has marinara sauce, parmesan and mozzarella.
Bake 350F (175 degrees C) – 35 minutes.
To serve, cool for 5 minutes, flip trays on a cutting board and cut lasagna at a diagonal.
God forbid we only eat one course at any given meal, so of course we had to make Pork Scallopini.
This dish was ridiculously easy to make:
SCALOPPINE DI MAIALE ALLE MELE (Apple Scaloppini)
- 1 LB BONELESS PORK MEDALLIONS, THINLY SLICED FOR SCALOPPINI
- 1/4 C BUTTER
- SALT & PEPPER
- 1/4 CUPS MARSALA OR MADERA WINE
- 1/4 C LEMON JUICE MIXED W/ 1/4 C OF WATER
- 2 GRANNY SMITH APPLES, PEELED AND MADE INTO SMALL BALLS WITH MELON SCOOP
- Peel and scoop apples into small balls and place in bowl with wine, lemon and water.
- Season pork slices with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.
- Dredge lightly in flour.
- Heat butter in saute pan and when butter just begins to sizzle add pork slices and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until pork is done.
- Remove from skillet and place in a glass baking dish.
- Deglaze the pan juices with wine, lemon juice, water and apples.
- Pour sauce over pork slices and place in preheated oven (350f) for 20 minutes.
You can see Carolina in the picture below doing the last step of taking the apples from the bowl and adding them to the pan the pork was fried in to deglaze it.
When we made this, Carolina did the apples separate, I think for time’s sake, so the meal could come out faster. Having said this, deglazing your pan with all the goodness of the apples and the wine mixture will only add another layer of flavor to an already delicious dish.
Please remember, too, them be a whole lotta apples cause we fed a whole lotta people.
Note how thinly pounded the pork is. Pounding food is good therapy. It’s better than pounding a person. Just sayin’.
The final product was served with a cauliflower side deliciousness that we’re still digging through the cookbook for…
This meal was savory, slightly sweet, filling, delicious comfort food. A must to make here now that I’m home.
One of the best parts of the whole week was watching our Kitchen Goddesses and our Chef banter and sass each other. I managed to actually capture a moment 😉
This was to be our final dinner in house for the week, and it was beautiful how the staff presented it. We ate in the ancient olive mill in the basement via candlelight, semi al fresco, as the doors opened up into the cooler night air of the medieval village.
It truly was a magical dinner setting. The three other ladies on the trip outside our group had become lovely new friends with whom we still stay in touch, and we still had one more day together.
At the end of the meal, we continued to celebrate one of our companion’s birthday, as we had done earlier in the day, and the staff of Casa Gregorio fantastically sang Happy Birthday in Italian to our friend.
We all feel more in love with them in this moment.
They truly had made this experience an amazing one.
The night was yet to be done, as we all had noted throughout the week the lively nightlife of the cafe at the top of the village. We decided to join the locals for some drinks and conversation.
The village was beautiful in the evening with the lights making the village mysterious and magical.
We continued to celebrate my friend’s birthday late into the evening. We loved the locals and their tolerance of our loud group.
We sent this blurry picture to our guide Patricio about 12am, and told him he might be in for a rough morning with us. He quickly responded with that holy shit faced emoji.
As I felt like I might be gaining a drinking problem with the amount of libations I had consumed so far on this trip, coupled with the late hour, I decided on simply water.
The waiter’s delivery of my water was endearing. Trying to convince me he was sending a message, my friends kept teasing me, but I simply reminded them like Max our waiter in Venice, the term Cougar Hunter wasn’t a literal translation in the Italian language.
He really wasn’t that cute. Besides, I could’ve been his mama, and ewwwww.
We continued our birthday celebrations with a pineapple slice???
Yeah. We thought it weird, too.
Here’s to incredible journeys, no matter where they are, and to new friends.