Christine teaches all-day cooking classes in her kitchen just a couple blocks away from our apartment. We found her on-line before leaving the United States and signed up. Today we spent seven hours learning some of her favorite Umbrian specialties. At 10:00, Ray and I joined her for grocery shopping so we could see all the cool little stores she visits. We met a black truffle forager, an herb and nut vendor, a pasta maker, a cheese seller, a greengrocer, and according to Christine, the best butcher in all of Perugia. After 2 ½ hours of grocery shopping, we met Tom and Matt back at her house and began preparations for our six course feast and olive oil tasting.
Here are some of the recipes for the dishes we made:
Grilled Shrimp with herbs and lemon
½ cup brined capers, rinsed
½ cup fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary, mint and marjoram
2 garlic cloves minced
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ½ pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- To make the sauce: Finely chop the capers with the herbs and garlic. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in ½ cup of the olive oil along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.
- To make the shrimp: Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Thread the shrimp onto skewers and grill over high heat, turning once, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and transfer them to a platter.
- Spoon the sauce on top and serve with bread.
Black Truffle Sauce with Tagliatelle
2 fresh or bottled black truffles
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Tagliatelle or other pasta
- Mince one of the truffles and place in a mortal and pestle. Pound to a fine paste. Add the garlic and a little salt and pound again to integrate the ingredients. And a few grindings of black pepper, mix in the softened butter and set aside.
- Cut the remaining truffle into paper-thin rounds using a truffle slicer or sharp mandoline. In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over low heat, add the truffle slices and set aside to steep for about 10 minutes.
- Cook 2 large or 4 small servings of pasta until al dente. Remove the pasta from the water and place in a wide sauté pan. Add the truffle butter mixture to the pan and toss lightly to heat.
- Serve at once, drizzling each portion with some of the reserved truffle slices.
Pork Scaloppine in Caper Sauce
1 pound (8 slices) pork from a tenderloin, sliced about ½ inch thick.
1/3 cup flour
¼- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons finely minced capers
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
salt and pepper
- Lightly pound the meat slices until they are about 1/8-inch thick. Dry well with paper towels and place in a plastic bag with the flour. Shake the bag to coat the slices evenly. Shake off the excess flour and set the meat aside.
- Lightly coat a sauté pan with olive oil, and when it begins to shimmer, brown the meat slices in batches. Work quickly and do not overcook them or they will toughen. Transfer to a heatproof dish and keep warm in the oven.
- Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pan and cook, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the capers and parsley and cook a minute more just to thicken the sauce a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the pork and serve immediately.
This recipe also works well with veal or chicken.
Mixed Greens with Herbs, Figs, and Walnuts
½ cup lightly toasted walnuts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 oz. dried black mission figs or Calmyrna figs thinly sliced (2/3 cup)
8 cups mixed greens
½ cup flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
2 tablespoons shredded basil
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 oz fresh pecorino, shaved
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 10 min; let cool then chop coarsely.
- In a large bowl, put the figs, greens, herbs, pecorino and walnuts and toss gently.
- Sprinkle with enough extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat all of the ingredients and toss. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss again. Repeat with the vinegar; taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve right away
Wine Poached Chocolate Pears with Marscapone Cream Sauce
6 ripe but firm Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou pears
1/3 cup sugar
12 inch piece cinnamon stick
4 cups white or red wine
1 cup high quality dark chocolate (60-70 %)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Fresh mint for garnish
- Peel and core the pears leaving them whole with the stems intact. Cut a small slice from the bottom of each pear so they stand upright.
- Place the pears in a saucepan just large enough to accommodate them snuggly. Add the wine and enough water to cover the pears. Squeeze the half lemon to top of the pears and cut off a slice of peel, adding it to the pot. Add the cinnamon stick.
- Cover tightly and let simmer slowly for about 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick after 20 minutes. When the pears are well cooked, but still firm, remove with a slotted spoon to a dish and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Put the sauce back on the stove and briskly cook down to make a syrup.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate and heavy cream in a small saucepan over (but not in) simmering water. Stir until the chocolate and cream are well combined, shiny and smooth.
- Hold the pears by the stem over the chocolate then dip a fork in the chocolate and drizzle it over the tops of the pears. Place the pears in serving dishes and let rest a few minutes before garnishing with mint leaves.
- Whip the Marscapone cream. Add it and some of the syrup on top and around the pears. Serve.
Christine offers cooking classes until September and then again in May. I will be taking more.