Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009

Olives. Olives small pearls of green laid out to dry. We picked our olives from emerald colored branches about 2 weeks ago. The leaves of the olive tree with their dark silver hue seem to glimmer in that autumn sun. After almost 10 days in a sea-salt water bath, changed everyday, the olives turn less bitter.

We put them in a big oval basket for their last wash, and rolled them onto our big volcanic top table. The sun had already warmed the table top, and now the gentle wind from the sea is blowing them dry.

Before the next step, the olives need to completely dry. Patting and turning ever so often takes out any moister.

As I write, Rino is preparing the herbs for the next step. Our jars have been boiled in hot water and dried. Peasano garlic & lemons from Positano’ garden and pepperincino-tiny red horn-like shapes with a hot bite, our red hot chilli peppers are our choices for bottling.

Our Process-
Pick (or buy) 3 kilos of fresh olives
Soak in sea salt and water for 10 days-or until soft, changing water each day.
Dry the olives and crack open with a hammer
Put the olives in the water bath and repeat process for 3 days
Lay out to dry on papertowels in the sun
Dry well
Mix your favorite herbs-
Rino’s sea salt, red chilli pepper and garlic
Lauren’s sea salt and lemon zest

Toss herbs and olives
Jar and seal tight

Ready to eat in a week!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Cooking Vacations Positano August 2009

Cooking Vacations

Italian Food News

Summer in Italy is always hot, hot, hot, and this year is no exception. Each morning by 8am the glorious sun rises early over the Tyrannian Sea peeking around Praiano onto Positano and casting temperatures at 30C., or 86Farenheit.

By mezzo giorno it is over 100F, and locals close shop and head to Da Ferdinando at Fornillo Beach. Mamma Celeste, mom to 7, grandma to 13 and great grandma to 3, is the Chef in charge. With her sons Guido & Marco, and grandsons Nando, Ferdinando and Francesco, Mamma is behind the stove and cooking! Local fresh ingredients from her garden fill the the wooden tables set under the shade. Fresh smoked Provolone grilled between lemon leaves, frutti di mare insalata, totani & patate (a local calamari and potato delicacy slow cooked), Paccheri con spada, (wide tube pasta with fresh caught sword fish slow cooked in cherry tomatoes), and lots of green bean and potato salad dressed with our olive oil are lunch specials, and a creamy gelato to follow.

With the world of Italy closing from 1pm to 4pm in the afternoon, why not head down for a beachfront pranzo at Ferdinado’s with Mamma Celestes’ & Company. Beach chairs to follow and an afternoon nap under the sun, is the recipe of the day for our long days of summer on the Amalfi Coast. Front row chairs on the seafront go fast, to reserve call Guido at 089.875.365.

A Note From The Garden

The hot and dry weather on the Amalfi Coast cultivates prolific verdant gardens climbing and cascading everywhere. Heavy pumpkin vines hang over ancient stone walls holding the heat of the summer days, while below country baskets magically suspended catch the almost ready fruit, if you can picture it! We captured a photo for Signore Antonio’s pumpkin. Signore also picked the first watermelon of the summer from our garden, we will bring it down to Ferdinando’s beach and share it -for an afternoon spuntino on the sea.

Read on and discover a few of our local summer recipes, because no matter where you are, we are sending you safe travels and great cooking from sunny Positano!

Buon Appetito!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy July 4th, from Sunny Positano

Happy July 4th from Italy. Summer has graced Italy with temps ranging in the high 90's-that is 31+ centigrade, long lazy days and an abundance of fruit & vegetables from our garden. Signore Antonino comes regularly to our large garden which overlooks the Tyrannian sea to keep an eye on the weeds, and help groom the zealous squash and pumpkin plants that are growing rampant down the wall. Our pumpkin plants are streaming now 10 feet down the wall reaching down to the sea. Ruby red, yellow and green peppers are popping up, squash flowers and zucchinis are abundant, and the basil plants are ever-green perfect. Small cherry tomatoes are clustered tightly on healthy green plants, which Signore Antonino has tied tight and high; they are now 5 feet high and cling on their poles. Chef Consiglia has just put the finishing touches on her strawberry tiramisu (tiramisu, means pull-me-up) and her newly inspired baby squid salad, soaked in fresh picked oranges sliced thin, and topped with crushed walnuts. Healthly, fresh and Mediterraneo style recipes at Cooking Vacations.

Although the weather has cleared, late spring brought us a mix of spritz and sun-but we did see the most beautiful Rainbow arch its way from the hills of Positano to the sea just below, and it lasted for 30 minutes. Sun and light rain mixed to produce a gorgeous palate of colors that only Mother Nature could bring!

So sit back in your beach chair, take a swim and enjoy the recipe of Chef Consiglia's refreshing salad; and fill your glass with a crisp cold Greco di Tufo dei Feudi San Gregorio (southern Italian white wine)! Enjoy the start of your summer and take a few days off!

Friday, June 5, 2009

View From Our Office


Squash Flowers In Our Garden

Even though unseasonably cool temperatures and chilly nights are here, our garden at Cooking Vacations is growing rapidly.  We had our first squash of the season, from each plant whose leaves are 12 inches long, we picked 6 long green spin-stripped squash.  -And not to mention the plump gorgeous squash flowers who raise their head each day to the sun.  

Today we picked some of the ready ones, petals of gold stuffed with sweet white Ricotta. I whipped the Ricotta with  a few sprigs of basil from the garden, and a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano and a dash of sea salt.  After dipping the stuffed flowers in a simple, flour, pinch of salt and a splash of bubbly water mixed well, they were ready to fry (or pan sear for those watching their figure). 

A simple garlic & oil pasta, spiked with fresh red hot chili pepper and lots of parsley, a Caprese salad (fresh Mozzarella cut and separated with fresh basil from our garden, fire-engine red tomatoes from Sicily drizzled with our own Virgin first-cold-pressed olive oil -started our lunch.  The pan was still sizzling with baby artichoke hearts, cleaned & peeled and soaked in fresh Positano lemons.  From the tree to the hot pan, and in no time we were tasting the dark green soft sweet leaves between our lips.  Organic cherries, black and plum red were served for dessert.  We kept their stems and left them in the sun to dry.  The dried stems are the base for a special tea.  

Spring is my favorite season, nature slowly rebirths in all its wonders, especially on the Amalfi Coast.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another sunny day in Italy,...after working until late afternoon we headed into the kitchen for a Traditional Neapolitan Cooking Class with Chef Antonino! Gnocchi, fresh fish and spring desserts-topped off with home-made Limoncello.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Amalfi Coast, where the sun touches down each day, and the long rainy days of spring are now far gone. The gardens are already filled with spring artichokes-spin stripped with violet and green; squash flowers tilting their head to the sun, and sweet cherry tomatoes on our plates!

Our cooking classes, despite a slow economy, are full! We are cooking each in every day-from the small canals of Venice to sea side in Positano.