Tag Archives: cooking class

In the kitchen with Loredana Betti

By Zara McDowell

Video 1:

MU food writers arrive at the cooking class at Tenuta di Spannocchia, hosted by Loredana Betti. Everyone was handed an apron and a recipe book that included all of the dishes that we were going to make. First, the group started by making the dessert, tiramisu, so it had time to chill in the fridge. Laredona Betti a has been making this dessert for 30 years, yet she showed us step-by-step on how to make it, and then made sure we all sampled our creation half way through the process.

Video 2:
After Loredana Betti’s step-by-step instruction, she let the MU food writers make our own personal tiramisu dish. Needless to say, they were not as pretty as hers, but they still tasted delicious. After making tiramisu, chicken stuffed omelet and asparagus, potatoes with sesame seeds and homemade tagliatelle pasta, Loredana carried out each dish with a smile and sat down to eat with us. She then brought out the tiramisu and everyone indulged in their creation.

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Filed under dessert, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Spannocchia

Cooking with an Italian grandmamma

By Jennifer Severson

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The author, Jennifer Severson, makes the first stage of tagliatelle noodles with Italian cooking expert Loredana Betti at Spannocchia. Photo by Nina Furstenau

CHIUSDINO, Italy – Loredana Betti, an Italian grandmamma and exceptional cook, leads classes at the Tenuta di Spannocchia after retiring from being the farm head cook. Lucky us. During our stay at the farm, the study abroad family was able to participate in said cooking classes where we were guided through a five course Italian meal:

Antipasti (appetizer): Crostone al Pomodoro (tomato crostone)

Primo (first course): Tagliatelle all’Ortolana (fresh tagliatelle pasta with gardener’s sauce)

Secondo (second course): Rotolo di Petto di Pollo (stuffed and baked chicken roll)

Contorno (side): Patate al sesame (potatoes with sesame seeds)

Dolce (dessert): Tiramisù

The class started with creating the last part, the tiramisù, as it needed time to chill in the fridge. We were each given bowls to assemble our own mini treats and watched as Loredana demonstrated the process of creating the tiramisu components. Each bowl was topped with different cookie decorations to mark whose tiramisu it was.

After the dessert we started the chicken roll, with a majority of our time spent just watching Loredana cook with eyes full of adoration. To prepare the chicken roll, Loredana first used a sharp knife to butterfly a boneless chicken breast, place a half an omelet across it plus steamed asparagus before rolling the stack and securing it with kitchen twine. It was then cooked in the oven with a mixture of herbs, butter, olive oil, lemon and white wine.

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Chicken breast rolled with an egg omelete and asparagus ready to bake with olive oil and white wine. Photo by Nina Furstenau

Up next was the crostone, also commonly called bruschetta. We were all given very official cutting boards and knives to chop the tomatoes for the mixture. The topping was made and Loredana recruited a few of us to rub cloves of garlic right onto the toasted bread to transfer the taste in a subtle way.

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Fresh tomato, garlic and basil top toasted bread at Loredana Betti’s cooking class, Spannocchia. Photo by Jenna Severson

Our hard work thus far warranted a break, so after we assembled the crostone, our group was brought to the outdoor patio where there were glasses of crisp white wine and refreshing elder flower juice waiting for us.

The last, but certainly best part of the class was learning how to make fresh pasta – something I did not realize was a lot easier than it seemed. Everyone in the room had smiles on their faces as they assisted Loredana in the flattening and formation of the tagliatelle noodles. Life was good.

Finally, class ended with us back on the patio, enjoying the fruits of our labor. Grazie mille Loredana for enlightening all of us about the joys of cooking a true Italian meal – it will not be forgotten.

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Filed under Chiusdino, MU Journalism Abroad, pasta, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Spannocchia

Noodle notes at Spannocchia

By Hannah Dustman

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Loredana Betti of Spannocchia and Hannah Dustman, MU food writer, at work making pasta. Photo by Zara McDowell

CHUISDINO, Italy – “Olive oil,” “garlic,” “pizza,” “cannoli,” we shouted in response to Sara Silvertri’s question, “What foods do you think of when you think about Italy, besides pasta?”

Silvestri, education director at Tenuta di Spannocchia, talked about the regional foods of Italy at the head of a long wooden table as our mouths began to water. Pasta, she said, is believed to have originated in as early as the first century A.D. among the Etruscans and Romans.

But there were differences. Pasta, then called “lagane,” was not boiled like it is today, but baked in the oven over a fire. The Etrusco-Roman noodle was created from the same durum wheat that is used for modern pasta.

Silvestri explained there are many types of pasta noodles created today, each type dependent on the kind of wheat used and where it is produced. She pointed out soft wheat is more commonly produced in the north while hard wheat is more popular in the south due to the warmer and drier growing climate.

Pappardelle, made from hard wheat to keep the wide and thick noodles from falling apart, originates from the central region of Tuscany, yet follows the hard-wheat trend of the southern regions.

The two types of wheat have different protein levels. Hard wheat contains more gluten protein than soft, and this develops with kneading.

Drying time was another factor important to pasta, Silvestri said, especially regarding texture. Pasta produced for mass production in a commercial setting is dried at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while pasta produced the more traditional way is hung to dry at approximately 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit for a longer period of time.

Silvestri noted the cooks at Spannocchia primarily use dried pasta because of the ease it provides when serving a large group of guests. However, visitors can create fresh soft wheat pasta during scheduled cooking classes while on the farm.

But creating pasta is no small task. During my cooking class, the pile of flour, shaped to hold a drizzle of olive oil and a fresh egg was tidy until I rolled up my sleeves and began kneading. Flakes stuck to my fingers until I formed a potato-sized lump.

Next Loredana Betti, long-time cook and teacher at Spannocchia, pulled out the small, silver pasta press, and that’s when things got exciting.

Smooth, fragile yet flexible three foot stretches of durum wheat tethered me to the pasta press. I broke free when I carried the golden noodle to the waiting cloth-covered table to be cut. The wide noodles were serrated into a dozen or more strips for future lunches.

Warning: tagliatelle is not for faint of appetite.

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The finished product: tagliatelle a la Mizzou. Photo Hannah Dustman

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Filed under MU Journalism Abroad, pasta, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Spannocchia

Tiramisu: heavenly homemade celebration

By: Kaitlynn Martin

CHIUSDINO, Italy- Although the green-shuttered window was open, the air stood still and refused to venture into the brick-ceiling kitchen. Dark, rich lakes of espresso sat silently in clear bowls arranged on the kitchen’s island. Their surface stillness shattered with a splash from a long Pavesini cookie. Tiramisu was underway.

The clinking of spoons against mixing bowls with fluffy egg whites orchestrated an early afternoon melody. Dark chocolate shavings kissed the tops of ladyfinger-like cookies layered above a mascarpone cheese and egg mixture. Sweet layers piled to create the Italian dessert of tiramisu.

Loredana Betti, the leader of the Italian cooking class, watched as her students carefully scooped and sprinkled ingredients. She knew little English, so smooth Italian spilled from her mouth and filled the kitchen with instructions and jokes.

With a dusting of cocoa powder over the final white layer, the individual tiramisu cups were completed. Two hours set and chilled the layers to create a delicious combination of bold espresso and bitter chocolate.

Tiramisu in Italian translates to “pick-me-up,” most likely a reference to its content of coffee and sugar. The layered cake with ingredients of eggs, sugar, mascarpone cheese, ladyfinger cookies, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso and rum, is one of Italy’s most popular desserts, but is not always served after meals. A typical Italian dinner concludes with fresh fruit. If an elegant slice of tiramisu is presented, it usually calls for a celebration.

The mid-June afternoon in the Tuscan countryside was not designated as a special holiday, but individual round bowls of tiramisu were made nonetheless. Sometimes the greatest holidays are not printed in bold ink on calendars. They are instead, simple celebrations of life.

The first three layers of tiramisu are complete and ready for layering.

The first three layers of tiramisu are complete and ready for layering.

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Filed under Spannocchia, tiramisu