Archive for dicembre 2014

Making of Salami - A Day in Cascina

Unisg (University of Gastronomic Sciences) has created close relationships with local producers and farms.
For instance, our mensa (canteen) uses organic ingredients in each meal provided to us.
Thanks to GAS (Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale, so Group of Solidarity Purchase) it's possible to buy fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, beer, directly from the producers, no freight brokers, except for a few students who organize the purchase and the meeting in order to take our food booty.

That's not all.
Making food experiences outside the university sphere is important as much as theoretical lessons and it's still part of our gastronomical education. So, why don't take advantages by spending a Sunday morning in cascina (Piedmontese farm)?
The short trip aimed to show how an artisanal salami or a fresh Salsiccia di Bra is made.
I was ready to wake up early on a non-working day, I was ready to take hundreds pictures and film crucial moments of the preparation, but I wasn't ready to wear a butcher apron and get my hands dirty.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining, in fact, joining the meat preparation in first person has been surprising and instructive, mostly after recognizing my natural incapacity to remove the "bad" fat from the pork meat with a knife.
Let's clarify: industrial salami are made with no concern about providing a product enjoyable from all the 5 senses point of view. Slaughter the pork, cut the meat parts and VOILA', basically you are ready to mince. Meanwhile, in our case it took time to cut off those filaments of fat that you can find in some salami, not palatable at all.

But, hey, let's move on.
While my friends kept helping the butcher boss, I decided to take my camera and do what I'm good at: filming, taking pictures and.. tasting!
Salsiccia di Bra is made with 2 parts of veal and 1 of bacon, and that's the reason why it can be eaten raw with no risk for the health. After seasoning the minced meat with salt, pepper, white wine and water, it's ready to be stuffed into the guts (usually made from small intestine for sausages).
A process harder than you think. Finesse and manual skill are fundamental qualities to obtain an uniform and smooth salsiccia, but my fellow students have aced the test.

Meanwhile, in the courtyard the left-over fat is being boiled to make strutto (lard), a dietary fat used in a few traditional Italian recipes such as Gnocco Fritto. After playing with a sweet kitten (for the records: I go crazy for cats and, whatever happens, as soon as I see one I just want to cuddle him/her) and being present at the plucking of a few hens (already dead), I went back inside to join the salami preparation.
The cold white room turned out to be a massage therapy saloon: two of my friends were gently massaging 92 kg of minced meat while a mixture of Nebbiolo red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon and juniper was spread on it.

After watching all this food in a cold room we started to feel hungry (or hangry?) and fortunately in a blink of an eye we've been called to reach the common room where a delicious homemade Piedmontese lunch was about to be served. Long wood tables full of fresh vegetables from the garden welcomed us, and along with bagna cauda (a Piedmontese dipping sauce made with garlic and anchovies) made the perfect combination.
Our lavish feast ended with a slice of bunet, a sort of pudding made with cocoa and amaretti. Well, in my case, I had more than a slice. Impossibile to resist it!

To see all the pictures took at La Cascina di PiediXTerra, click HERE.

You can find also a short video about this amazing day "All About The Pork":

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Se bazzicate anche voi per i monti innevati nel periodo natalizio (e non solo), vi starete già sognando la vostra pausa bombardino in un rifugio sulle piste da sci.
Caldo, avvolgente, carico e anche facilissimo da riprodurre in casa!
Le varianti sono diverse, dalla più classica al latte a quella con caffeina.

Link alla video ricetta:

- 2 parti di Vov, liquore all'uovo;
- 1 parte di latte caldo o caffè;
- panna montata fresca senza zucchero;
- whisky, brandy o rum (opzionale);

Scaldate sia il liquore all'uovo che il latte; nel frattempo preparate il caffè.

Utilizzate dei bicchierini piccoli e versate prima il Vov caldo, quindi scegliete se aggiungere il latte caldo oppure il caffè.

Se desiderate un bombardino più strong, potete aggiungere anche un goccio di whisky, l'opzione più tradizionale.

Completate con panna montata fresca e una spolverizzata di cacao amaro o cannella in polvere.

Buon appetito!

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Eating is also a matter of choices.

Eating is also a matter of choices.
Thus, as consumers, whenever we go to the supermarket we have the right and the duty to be aware of what we are about to buy.
Most of the times I go to the grocery shops, I spend about 2 minutes on each product (vegetable, fruit, milk, eggs, etc.) that I wrote on my list in order to choose the right one.
What do I mean by ''right''? Since we are in Italy, I think it's fair to help my own country's economy by buying the local or national products. It's not a matter of 'Ítalian food is better and tastier', but rather a issue of supporting those producers who decided to keep working in this land, long all the production chain, regardless of the crisis and the difficulties.
It's common to find well-established Italian food companies that recently started to use raw materials come from abroad. And it's even more common to find misleading labels.

Therefore, it has been a delightful surprise discovering that one of the biggest supermarkets in a little town as Bra actually makes the consumers' life easier.
While there are people intent to choose among ready-made fresh pasta and frozen vegetables, it's possible to see clearly 'km0' labels standing in the milk, eggs, fruits and veggies sections.

One of the funniest things about these local products is the price. Comparing to the most popular ones, they are really cheap and as good as the others, sometimes even better.
Fortunately, the farm market takes place three times a week and there is a wide range of fresh products among which choose. However, it's not always possible to be free on a workday and, moreover, we end up at a big supermaket to buy also something more than fruits and vegetables. Living in a fast society, being busy and thinking that a simple consumer cannot make the difference in this money based world are just excuses not to be responsible of our own decisions.
Consumers are getting more aware about their rights and duties, but the average still includes those people who do not care about this issue. For these reasons, a supermarket that seems to protect small and local entities should inspire other department stores and make people understand that our daily food choices can save the future of a pears or milk's producer, even if it's easier to behave like the majority.

After all, oceans are made by millions and millions of small drops.

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Zuppa di Lenticchie con Spezie #NataleVeg

Le spezie. Un mondo tutto a sé.
Io le adoro e imparare ad usarle mi esalta sempre.
Questa è una ricetta in collaborazione con molti altri YouTuber, un progetto ideato dal canale Il Goloso Mangiar Sano. L'obiettivo comune? Presentarvi un menù natalizio completamente vegano!
Questa è la mia proposta e, se amate le spezie come me, sarà un primo piatto perfetto!

Link alla video ricetta:

Ingredienti per 4-5 persone:
- 300 g di lenticchie rosse;
- 2 spicchi d'aglio;
- 1 cipolla;
- 800 ml di brodo vegetale;
- 1 di cumino;
- 2 di garam masala;
- 1 di coriandolo;
- 1/2 di curry;
- 1 cucchiaio di passata di pomodoro;
- yogurt alla soia;
- succo limone;
- sale;
- pepe;

Per prima cosa mettete a mollo in acqua fredda le lenticchie, per circa 20 minuti.

Nel frattempo tritate finemente gli spicchi d'aglio e la cipolla.

Versate un filo d'olio in una casseruola e fate soffriggere l'aglio e la cipolla per qualche minuto, fino a quando saranno leggermente dorati.

Aggiungete quindi tutte le spezie e la passata di pomodoro. Mescolate e cuocete per un minuto circa.

Versate le lenticchie precedentemente scolate e il brodo vegetale.

Mescolate e portate ad ebollizione. Quindi abbassate la fiamma e cuocete il tutto per una mezz'oretta. Le lenticchie devono essere ben tenere.

Se la zuppa dovesse risultare troppo densa potete versare un bicchiere d'acqua.

Una volta che le lenticchie saranno morbide, frullate il tutto con un minipimer e aggiustate di sale e pepe.

Servite la vostra vellutata di lenticchie, magari accompagnandola con dello yogurt di soia a cui avrete aggiunto qualche goccia di succo di limone (per ottenere l'acidità tipica dello yogurt vaccino e smorzare la dolcezza di quello di soia).

Completate con del prezzemolo fresco.

Buon appetito e Buon Natale!

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A Small Foodie Community

So, the first week is gone.
The master's classes officially got started and I can't find any dark sides so far.
Impossible? Well, I'm gonna explain what I mean.

1. Every morning I wake up and this is the view from my kitchen balcony while I'm having breakfast.
Ok, rainy and foggy days are not contemplated, and I've to admit that we had just a few sunny days so far.. but, come on, I'm about to touch the mountains!

2. Even before beginning the university, my friends and I joined a few foodie events in the city, all organized by students, a way to know new people in the name of food. OF COURSE!
Jessica (my flatmate) and I went to our first Dinner Society that took place at Sebastian (from Argentina) house, just the day after her arrival. We made a tropical dinner together with Bianca, Riccardo (both from Italy), Stephan (from Guatemala) and Luis from Mexico. I don't know if I made you realize how much international the atmosphere is here in Bra.
After a few days my classmates and I went to McJam dinner: two brilliant students organized the second edition of an entire high-quality homemade menù inspired by McDonald's.

Last, but not least, we had the wonderful idea to organize a pre-master dinner at Boccondivino, the osteria founded by Carlin Petrini in 1984.
I think it was during that dinner that we all understood what is the glue between us: food passion. And it's when you feel comfortable to take pictures of every courses before eating that you know to be already a family.

Pre-master dinner
3. My master's family loves food (just to remark the concept) and we are trying to organize short study trips on our owns. An example?
The truffle kingdom AKA the International Truffle Fest held in Alba every year.
If only had been possible I would have taken a picture of the truffle smell at the entrance of the pavilion.

4. I've already told you that Bra is a small city, isn't it? Well, for some people it could sound boring, but for me meeting friends at every street corner is just exciting and lovable. There is the certainty to find them during the town market (MERCATO), intent to buy some fresh and local veggies and fruits, or at one of the three main pubs in Bra, maybe for a wine or cocktails tasting.

5. Any excuse is good to eat delicious food.
Why don't meet for a brunch at Maya and Megumi place to practice Japanese language? DONE.
Why don't join an aperitivo organized by the other master's students to welcome us? DONE.
Why don't invite a few friends to eat homemade tagliatelle with Alba's truffle? DONE.
Why don't celebrate the Thanksgiving with your classmates and eat as if it was your last day? DONE.
And if you prefer to refuse these invitations, well, you can, of course. But then here what happens: you got a 6 hours class about "cured meat". History, production's process, animal's breeds.. TASTINGS.
For the records, we HAD TO taste 14 types of salame (vegetarians and vegans are relieved), Italian and Spanish ham, mortadella, lardo and, YES, there will be an exam about it.

Megumi and Maya homemade crepes' brunch
Me kneading pasta dough for tagliatelle
Welcome Aperitivo Unisg FC16, FC17, FC18
Thanksgiving dinner (plus Cinzia the turkey)
I've just mentioned the fifth reason why I barely find a negative point in this new adventure that I might figure it out: FAT, I think I'll get fat!
Well, I guess I'll need it to face the great Piedmontese winter. 
Meanwhile I think I should also look for a gym.

Thanksgiving dinner

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Cipolle rosse caramellate

Le cipolle sono davvero un ingrediente versatile. Oggi vi propongo una ricetta davvero semplice e golosa.
Le cipolle caramellate sono perfette per accompagnare bolliti e filetti, ma anche per creare delle speciali bruschette.
Conservatele in vasetti di vetro sterilizzati per averle sempre a disposizione!

Link alla video ricetta:

- 930 g di cipolle rosse;
- 175 g di zucchero di canna;
- 30 ml di aceto balsamico;
- burro;
- sale;

Fate sciogliere una noce di burro in una padella.

Aggiungete le cipolle precedentemente tagliate sottili.
Salate e lasciate soffriggere per qualche minuto.

Coprite la padella con il coperchio e cuocete per 10 minuti.

Quindi aggiungete lo zucchero di canna, mescolate, coprite nuovamente e cuocete per altri 10 minuti.

E' il momento di aggiungere l'aceto balsamico. Quindi mescolate e completate la cottura fino a quando i liquidi non saranno evaporati (senza coperchio).

Le cipolle caramellate sono pronte per essere servite oppure conservate in un vasetto di vetro.

Buon appetito!

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Pomodorini secchi sott'olio

Semplici, gustosi, i pomodorini secchi sott'olio racchiudono l'essenza della cucina mediterranea.
Ecco una semplice guida per prepararli in casa.

Link alla video ricetta:

- confezione di pomodorini secchi;
- olio extravergine d'oliva;
- aceto di vino bianco;

Immergete i pomodorini in acqua fredda con una goccia di aceto bianco per una decina di minuti.

Scolateli e asciugateli (potete usare il secchiello per l'insalata).
Disponeteli ordinatamente su una teglia da forno e infornate per 30 minuti a 180° C per asciugarli senza renderli troppo morbidi.

A questo punto potete disporli all'interno di un vasetto di vetro, copriteli con olio d'oliva e pressateli con un cucchiaino per limare eventuali bolle d'aria.

I vostri pomodorini secchi sott'olio sono pronti. Conservateli in frigorifero.

Buon appetito!

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