Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Panetonne ~ Just out of our Cooking Vacations' oven! ~Italian Christmas Bread

Panetonne is a sweet Christmas bread that was first created in Milan in a small bakery for love. Noble man, Ugheto Atellani, had fallen in love with the poor baker’s daughter, Adalgisa. In order to win her love, he disguised himself as a peasant and offered to work in the bakery. With is wealth, he added lots of butter and candied fruit to the recipe and before you knew it, the simple Medieval bread became a hit. Word of mouth spread, and soon there were a line around the small bakery for Panettone. Eventually the baker, Ugheto confessed what he had done, asked for Adalgisa’s hand in marriage and the couple set their engagement. The duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza arranged the wedding and even Leonardo da Vinci attended. Panetonne was served as the wedding cake and the couple lived happily ever after. Shaped in the form of a cupola, Panetonne recipes vary using pistachio, lemon and orange zest, rum, and even Strega liquer then elaborately decorated.

Cooking Vacations

For the Starter

• 3/4 cup of flour

• 1/16 teaspoon (just a pinch) instant yeast

• 1/3 cup cool water

For the Dough

• All of the starter (mixture from above)

• 2 1/4 cups flour

• 1/4 cup lukewarm water

• 2 large eggs

• 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter

• 1 vanilla bean, slit open

• 1 tablespoon instant yeast

• 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

• 1/3 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup raisins, pre~soaked in rum or Vin Santo is better!

• 1/2 cup lemon or orange naturally candied fruit

• 1/4 cup of crushed almonds, unshelled

• 1/4 cup of crushed pistachios, unshelled

A handful of whole almonds for garnishing

• 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, from an unwaxed lemon

Sugar pearls for decorating


Mix together all the ingredients for the starter in a wide mixing bowl. When well mixed, leave to rest overnight.

For the Dough

Combine all of the ingredients for the except the fruit, and mix and knead them together by preferably in a mixer with a hoop or by hand, until the dough is soft and workable.

Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It will be light and airy.

Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits and zest.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a panettone paper lining. Cover and let the dough rise until it's just crested over the rim for approximately 1 hour. Sprinkle a handful of almonds and course sugar, before putting in the oven, on top of the bread.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. When baked, remove the panettone from the oven and leave to cool. Slice and serve with a hot cappuccino or cold Prosecco.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Semifreddo Alla Fruita ~ Fruit Ice Cream Cake

Semifreddo Alla Fruita ~ Fruit Ice Cream Cake
Courtesy of Chef Raffaele, Positano 

3 Eggs
300 g of Mascarpone
300 g Whipped Cream
200 g Sugar
300 g / Red fruits, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries/ Peaches, peeled and remove pit
10 Mint Leaves to garnish
50 g Vodka

Separate egg whites from the yolks.  Save egg whites for later use. Whip the yolks with 100 g of sugar.  When creamy, add mascarpone and mix for 10 seconds. 

Meanwhile, puree the peach with the mint leaves and vodka until smooth. 

Add peach puree to the mascarpone mixture, then fold in the whipped cream carefully so it does not deflate. 

In a separate bowl whip egg whites with the remaining sugar.  Add this to the mascarpone mixture, always folding so the whites do not deflate. 

Place in molds and chill in the freezer for at least 1 day.

By Chloe:)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Italian Sunday: Summertime Gelato!

Special Italian Sunday: Summertime Gelato!
What better way to start Summer than with some homemade gelato!?
Gelato ~ Italian Ice Cream
200g sugar
6 egg yolks
1 liter milk
200g whipped cream
4g carob flour thickener or 4 sheets natural gelatin
3 parts ice
1 part rock salt
Prep time 30 minutes
In a large saucepan, beat sugar and egg yolks together until it becomes a light color. Add milk slowly, mixing as you add. Heat until just before boiling, remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients.
In a large bowl, add salt to ice and mash together. Use a thin steal or copper bowl and anchor it firmly into the bowl of salt and ice, so that there is ice below and around the sides. Place a dishtowel around the edge over the ice.
Pour in milk mixture and stir vigorously. Use a spatula to clean sides of bowl and stir until gelato is frozen to your taste. Add desired flavoring such as 200g pistachios (chopped finely to almost a flour), espresso, American coffee, etc. Taste and add sugar and flavoring as needed. Serve immediately or store in the freezer.
By Chloe

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Italian Sunday! Pizza Neapolitano

The margarita pizza was created in Naples on June 11, 1889 in honor of Queen Magarita. The basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella represent the colors of the Italian flag; red, white, and green.

Neapolitan Pizza
1 L Water, warm
25 g Yeast
30 g Salt
30 g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 kg ‘00’ Flour

In a large bowl, mix the yeast in the warm water until fully dissolved. Add the salt and olive oil.
Add the flour, a little at a time and start to mix by hand until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
Divide the dough into smaller balls, about the size of a fist and work briefly to make into round balls. Cover and leave on a floured surface to rise for about an hour.
Now, your dough is ready and can be used for the next 5 hours. Flatten the ball into a circle and stretch to form a thin disk. Add toppings as desired.
In a wood-burning oven (about 300 °C) cook for about 2 ½ minutes.
In a regular oven (highest temperature 280 °C) for about 10-15 minutes.
Variation: If you prepare the dough a day in advance, use less yeast. For this recipe use 5 g of yeast and allow to rise at least 8 hours.
By Chloe:)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Italian Sunday! Crostata di Frutta- Fruit Crostata with Chef Filomena

Italian Sunday! Crostata di Frutta- Italian fruit pie using fresh spring berries with Chef Filomena

Bring in the Summer with a delicious fruit pie!

For the Pastry:
300 g Flour ‘00’
130 g Butter
70 g Sugar
1 Egg + 1 Egg Yolk
Grated peel of One Lemon
A pinch of Salt

For the Cream:
½ ltr Milk
2 Fresh Eggs
4 Spoons of Sugar
2 Spoons of Flour
Grated Peel of One Lemon

For the Topping:
500 g of Strawberry or blueberries or kiwi or black berries.

For the Pastry, put the flour on the table and make a hole in the middle, in the hole put the eggs, the butter cut into little cubes, the sugar, the grated peel of lemon and the salt and mix with your hands for 10 minutes so you can make a ball. Then put it in a cloth in the fridge for 15 minutes.
When it is firm, put on the table with the flour and spread it with a rolling pin.

For the Cream, in a casserole put the sugar with the eggs and mix all with a wooden spoon so as to form an even mixture, then add the flour slowly while stirring all the time. Slowly add the milk and the grated lemon peel and mix everything.
Put the casserole on the fire and continue to stir. When the mixture begins to boil the cream is ready.


By Chloe

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Italian Sunday: Pasta Alla Compagnola ~ Pasta With Fava Beans & Sausage

Pasta Alla Compagnola ~ Pasta With Fava Beans & Sausage

 An Italian Spring Favorite!

Serves 4

1 kg fava beans, boiled until tender and half pureed, half kept whole
1 cup olive oil
1/2 kg fresh onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
150g fresh sausage- out of casing
50 g Pecorino, grated
100 g Parmigiano, grated
Fresh Parsley
500g Tubettoni pasta- large short tubes
1/2 cup White Wine

In a large pan, heat olive oil and add chopped onion and garlic clove.  Sauté until blond, then add sausage and sauté together to brown.  Add the whole fava beans.  Be careful not to burn the fresh onion, and add a bit of the fava-water as needed.

Sauté together for a few minutes, then add the white wine and allow to evaporate. 

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just barely al dente (the pasta finishes cooking in the pan with the sauce, so it should be very al dente).

Add the pureed fave and stir together - adding a bit more of the fava-water if needed.  Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce.  Toss together and just before serving, add the pecorino and fresh parsley.  Serve with grated Parmigiano on top.

By Chloe

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Italian Sunday: Spring Risotto!
Risotto Alla Primavera ~ Spring Vegetable Risotto
Serves 6
2 tbsp butter
1 white onion, chopped finely
500 g risotto rice such as Vialone Nano or Carnaroli
Approx 1 L vegetable broth (in cold water, add 2 carrots, 2 onions and a celery stalk, salt and bring to a boil- or use broth cube)
300 g Peas
4 Carrots, chopped
4 Zucchini, chopped
1 glass White wine
Handful Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
2 tbsp butter
Salt, to taste

In a large shallow pot, melt 2 tbsp butter and add the chopped onion. Add the peas and carrots and a couple of spoons broth and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Add the rice and toast for a moment. A trick is to touch the top of the rice with your hand, when the rice grains are hot: it’s ready. Add the glass of white wine and allow to evaporate. Start to add the broth, stirring continuously and adding broth as it absorbs over low heat. At about halfway (about 8-10 minutes) add the chopped zucchini and taste for salt, add to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes (16-2o minutes total), stirring constantly.

Allow to rest for 2 minutes, then add a handful of Parmigiano and a pat of butter.

Serve with a garish of grated Parmigiano on top, if desired.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Italian Stallion Chefs at Cooking Vacations

New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs roll up their sleeves for Cooking Vacations classes!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Slow Food Fast Cars

Recipes & Food News - Piedmont
Barolo, Barbaresco, Fast Cars & Chocolate! 

Benvenuti and welcome to Piedmont, a land rich in food culture, wine and cars. Spanning an area of 25,402 square kilometres or 9,808 square miles, this fertile agricultural of Italy is a great wine producing region. Say the word Piedmont and visions of Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbara and Dolcetto come to mind.
And it doesn't stop with wine! Alba is the home of Ferrero's chocolates, makers of deep, rich chocolate, of pralines and hazelnut creams made the old fashioned way and its famed truffles!

It's also a food haven, and home to Slow Food and Terra Madre. Driving through green landscapes means passing by dreamy castles, vineyards and romantic hills shrouded in mist. Surrounded by the Alps, this lovely region of Piedmont translates to 'at the foot of the mountain'. And in between the sipping and swirling, try agnolotti, fresh stuffed pasta ribbons folded into delicate bites, cavolo verza ripieno, stuffed Savoy cabbage, and a baci di dama (a dame's kiss), but don't worry, it's a cookie!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Meatballs – Healthy Mediterranean Style

Just out of our test kitchen-
½ pound of 93% ground sirloin organic farm raised
½ pound of lean veal, grounded also organic farm raised
1 egg, organic
½ cup of black Gaeta olives without pits and cut up in pieces
1/2 cup of Almond milk, organic
1 tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano, or more to taste
2 slices of seven grain or olive bread soaked in almond milk (remove the crust)
Extra virgin press cold press olive oil
Parsley, a handful fresh and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground rose pepper to taste
½ cup of bread crumbs
½ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Place the meat in a deep bowl, make a well and add the egg, black olives, the tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano, the milk soaked bread, a generous swirl of olive oil, parsley and sea salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients well and form into small balls, size varies on preference. Mix the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano together and place in a plate. Roll each meatball into the mix of cheese and breadcrumbs. Place on a parchment lined pan and bake at 350F until golden brown. The meatballs can go into a sauce or served alone with baby micro greens.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Writer’s Studio ~ Positano ~ October 10-15, 2015

Join Gemma & Lauren and Cooking Vacations for The Writers Studio in gorgeous Positano on the Amalfi Coast. 


"Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. "

- John Steinbeck


Monday, March 9, 2015

Today in Italy is Festa della Donna

Celebrating Women, Women's Rights, giving a Mimosa to someone you love and dolce- dessert of course!
To all the women around the world! Viva le donne!

Le chiacchiere
makes enough for a party 20 servings

12 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup baking powder
12 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart oil for frying
2 cups confectioners' sugar for dusting

Heat oil in deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla and melted butter until well blended. Mix in the salt and baking powder. Gradually stir in flour with a wooden spoon until dough is stiff. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead in as much flour as necessary to make a smooth stiff dough. Dough should not be sticky. Roll the dough out paper thin and cut into 3 inch squares.
Fry in the hot oil, turning once until golden. Drain in colander and place them into a waxed paper lined bushel basket. Dust with confectioners' sugar when cool.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Magic Of Modena Tastes Of Italia

An off-the-radar trattoria in the city's historical center attracts locals and tourists alike with hospitality and exceptional food.

By Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli
Click HERE for full article... 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pack Your Bags & Don’t Forget Your Writing Journals!

Join Gemma & Lauren and Cooking Vacations for The Writers Studio in gorgeous Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This extraordinary Literary & Culinary Week, is set for October 10 to 15, 2015.

Through the use of unique in-class exercises and longer assignments you will learn how to make your pages come alive. We provide a safe environment where you can write, expand, surprise, delight, free your creativity, and give a gift to your soul.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Saint Valentines

Thanking the man Saint Valentino-who was a Roman saint and not afraid to claim his amore- so he wrote a love letter to prove it breaking the rules -circa the 3rd century! 


Happy Hearts to everyone!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Coastal Living Magazine features Cooking Vacations

Rated a top vacation that will change your life!!!

Why come to Italy to learn what can be gleaned from cookbooks, videos, and nonstop food television? Well, first, it's the setting: seashell-colored towns clinging to granite cliffs, airy and expansive villas perched hundreds of feet above the sea, and a cosmopolitan culture that puts la dolce vita in luxury's lap... READ MORE

Monday, January 26, 2015

Renaissance Cooking

...learn how at Cooking Vacations


Almond Polenta Cake

Serves 6

For the cake:
8 oz Butter, softened
2 Lemon rinds finely grated
1 cup Caster Sugar (fine sugar)
3 Eggs, separated
¼ cup Lemon juice
1 - ½ cups ground Almonds
1 cup fine Polenta (cornmeal)

For the syrup:
¼ cup Lemon juice
¼ cup Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a bowl, beat the butter, rind, and sugar, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg yolks, beating well. Stir in the juice, ground almonds, and polenta.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Carefully fold into the batter mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the syrup, boil the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Spoon the syrup over the hot cake wedges.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Friday Is Frutti Di Mare Al Gratin ~ Seafood Gratin

Serves 4

1 kg Shellfish, such as mussels and clams
1 clove Garlic
100 g Breadcrumbs
50 g Capers
1 bunch fresh Parsley
1 glass Spumante
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as needed
1 Lemon

In a large pan, add the shellfish and a ladleful of water and cover. Cook over high heat until the shellfish open. Remove the shells and set the cooked shellfish aside in a baking pan.
Chop the garlic, parsley and capers together and mix with the breadcrumbs. Add a little bit of olive oil, then the Spumante and mix until well combined. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the shellfish.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200° C ( about 400 ° F) for about 6 minutes until golden. Serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top