Monthly Archives: January 2013
A short break in postcards from Italy to talk about my latest cheese adventure. Today I made paneer, a bland cheese, made at high temperature so produces a non melting cheese which is perfect for curries. Also as no rennet is used it is an excellent vegetarian cheese. Today’s recipe used yogurt and white vinegar to make the curds,
then washing draining and tying in a knot before pressing lightly
– the end result is a springy mass which is easily cut into cubes for cooking.
As before the milk came from Calf at Foot Dairy, ethically produced raw milk – I’m looking forward to sag paneer (lovely fresh spinach from Roger at Framlingham Market) and a sweet paneer dish maybe using some nuts and rose syrup….
This summer one of the great things was being introduced to Yle. This lovely lady is Puglian through and through; she loves the slow life and understands what makes the area so special. She is also prepared to share, and being well connected can introduce you to a range of experiences. Through Debbie and Bob a fantastic day was organised; Yle had set up a cooking experience (or pool day and eating for those who didn’t want to cook) at the stunning Masseria Provenzani.
Under the tutelage of Mama Julia we learnt to make orechiette and the tubes of pasta that together make ‘married’ pasta. As you will see from our pasta tray some were more uniform than others!
We also learnt the art of pastacciotto, chaos cakes, not the little versions that are eaten with coffee in Lecce; a larger family sized version for the whole group to eat. Then there were various breads, a tomato sauce and lovely faro polpette. The atmosphere throughout the morning was wonderful, gentle chatter, learning how to use the palestra della cucina, the kitchen gym – all that exercise, philosophy and opportunities to set the world right, some wine, more chat and the smells of the cooking filling the room.
There was the opportunity to look around the beautiful Masseria too, decorated in Salento style, simply bringing together modern tastes with rural history the effect is effortlessly tasteful.
By mid afternoon everyone was able to sit out, around a long table and tuck into the food that we had created, joined by the non cooking members of the group. Once the meal was digested the rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in circles around the olive tree island. An amazing day; you can see more of the type of days Yle can arrange for you at her Cooking in Puglia site.
The snow is deep outside and I am finally checking through the pictures from last year’s trip to Puglia. No train this year as we travelled via Greece using the bus, ferries and train to get from Skiathos to Brindisi. As in previous years we stayed with Bob and Debbie at Casa Mare, Contrada Cipolla a few miles south of Brindisi and right on the Adriatic. With Bob and Debbie you are always assured of a fantastic welcome, great welcome basket and they have now become good friends. Sadly my camera is broken but Debbie gave me the use of hers, I’m tempted to adopt it! Over the next few evenings I will write my ‘Postcards from Puglia’, they may give you some ideas of great things to do in the region. This one though is just to give you a feel for Casa Mare, a fantastic base for a holiday, with all the key areas readily accessible from glorious beaches to ancient towns, food festivals for the greedy and water-sports or cycling for the energetic. During out time at Casa Mare we had some great meals with friends old and new and I’ll own up to not writing any new stories about the Onion Cats, far to busy taking part in cook schools, wine tours, carta pesta classes and the like, pictures to follow in the next postcards. If you are interested in staying at Casa Mare or Debbie and Bob’s other property Villa Rosa at nearby Casalabatte I would recommend taking a look at the websites for full details and booking sooner rather than later as they will fill quickly with repeat visitors in the next few weeks.
Today as the snow started to fall again I decided to make my marmalade. There is nothing like sitting snipping at peels, whilst squirts of acrid juice pop into your eye to aid contemplation. As I peeled each flabby Seville orange, trying to make one continuous piece, for luck, I thought about the french peau d’orange and my current lack of decision on whether or not to enter any big events this year. The two things are not unrelated, cycling and swimming certainly improve the appearance of the skin on the thighs, but do I want to commit to putting in the miles in preparation for another Great East Swim or Dunwich Dynamo? Basically I’ve calculated that if I don’t kick myself into touch next week there will not be enough weeks to be on form for the events.
There is another name for cellulite, ‘cottage cheese thighs’ and therein lies another part of my dilemma I’ve become distracted by cheese. Back in the summer I had the pleasure of visiting a mozzarella shop in Lecce; part of a great day out with Yle of Yltour, I’ll write more about this another day, now I’ve got my blogging mojo back. Later on returning home to Suffolk I discovered that Fi of Calf at Foot Dairy is selling milk for her lovely grass fed Jersey cows in Framlingham Market. The milk is unpasteurised and unhomogonised making it ideal for artisan cheese making. Armed with rennet and some muslin I made my first batch of mozzarella, took it back to the market for people there to try and on seeing how yellow it turned out rechristened it mozzayella! Since then I’ve tried making, feta, quark, ricotta, halloumi and my one real disaster cottage cheese…. So, I’m off to a cheese course later in the year, looking forward to learning how to make hard cheeses. Then all I’ll need is a house cow, a pig to eat the excess whey, a dairy, a cave to store my maturing wheels in and life will be complete…