The Cesarines of Italy! Pronounced with a ch-, they are the “little old ladies who stay in the kitchen and cook all day”.
Let me tell you: they are neither old, nor are they still in the kitchen. In fact, they recently did a mini-USA tour, sharing their recipes and techniques in Miami, LA, and NYC — and promoting their regional cookbook, too!
I had the privilege of rolling out some dough with these talented ladies, and I’d love to introduce them (from left to right):
Paola, from Bologna… Flavia, from Rome… and Louise, from Tuscany…
In Italy, they host travelers in their homes, on select evenings each month, for 5-course homemade meals, spotlighting their family’s recipes and showcasing local ingredients — down to the Nocina, an after-dinner liqueur homemade from green walnuts!
In NYC, Paola showed us how to make ravioli and tortelloni, just as her grandma had taught her as a 7-year-old.
You start with 00-flour (unlike our all-purpose) and 2 eggs. Cici, here, who’s a producer for a Chinese TV Food show, maybe knows more about “eating” than “mixing” foods, but we all– novices and cesarines alike — had fun!
Paola was the expert at rolling the dough so thin, that you could read the newspaper through it! And an amazing fact I learned: it is important to roll dough on a wood board, with a wooden pin, because the textures of the wood make actual tiny holes in the dough, which help the noodles absorb the flavors of the sauce more fully! Who would have thought?
In fact, you can even put the filling into small squares, fold ’em into triangles, pinch the sides, and give ’em a twist, and you have tortelloni!
The simplest recipe is sometimes the best! Tortelloni are cooked, when they rise to the top of the water in the boiling pot (only a minute or so). Fresh sage leaves and butter make a perfect sauce, topped with fresh parmigiana!
For your own cooking classes, or to enjoy a dinner party in the home of a local when you’re traveling in Italy, give me a shout: Email me or call 609.923.0304!