Me with Amanda from Australia [left] and cookery teacher Katia [centre] at loveSicily.
Lois from the USA [right] with Katia and Amanda.
Bright and early yesterday morning [for 8.30 am is very bright and early for me] your intrepid blogger trotted off to Modica Bassa to join Katia of loveSicily and two other adventurous participants for the first cookery class of the week.
The School is situated in the Cartellone district of Modica Bassa and you have to climb up some very steep steps to reach it. Once there, however, you are greeted by Katia and offered refreshment, though it is refreshment enough just to look at the stunning views from the School's balconies:
Once we had all introduced ourselves and were chatting easily about the meaning of "life, the universe and everything", Katia revealed the lunch menu which we were to cook: cavatelli [cavatieddi in dialect] pasta with a broccoli sauce alla siracusana, chicken with Modican chocolate and tiramisù made with ricotta rather than mascarpone.
So, first, the pasta: Katia used durum wheat rimacinata flour and mixed it with salt and water to make a dough:
Then we were each given a portion of dough to roll into a thin sausage shape and cut:
Next Katia presented each of us with one of these implements. [I've been unable to find out what they are called. If there are any Sicilians reading this, please can you tell me?] You are supposed to sort of roll the pieces of pasta down the thingamy to get the cavatieddi shape. It takes a bit of practice!
Once the shapes are made, they can be put aside until you are ready to cook them. Cover them with kitchen paper if you are going to leave them for a long time.
Now for the sauce: First, soak some sultanas in water until they plump up.
Wash and separate the florets of purple-sprouting or white broccoli. This purple-sprouting broccoli was freshly delivered to Katia's door:
Simmer the broccoli in water with a little salt.
Grate some semi-matured and matured ragusano cheese:
Brown a garlic clove in olive oil and add the broccoli. When the broccoli is done add the drained sultana and season with black pepper.
Cook the pasta for a minute or two in the broccoli water and drain.
Add the broccoli and cheese to the pasta and stir.
Should you, dear reader, decide to participate in one of Katia's enjoyable and interesting courses, you will partake of this and the other dishes for lunch on the balcony. However, another school and my eager students awaited your galloping gourmet blogger, so Katia popped my portions in a bag and I had a very special evening meal. I did not, however, take home a portion of pasta as I feared its fate on a bus travelling through narrow, twisting streets in the lunchtime chaos. Therefore I cannot show you a picture of the finished dish.
For the chicken dish, Katia had marinated some chicken thighs in prosecco:
She chopped half an enormous Giarratana white onion and let it sweat in olive oil. When it was soft, she added the drained chicken portions and let them brown:
Meanwhile, she ground two squares of 100% cocoa Modican chocolate
with 2 cloves and some fennel seeds:
She added this mixture to the pan with 3 dessertspoons of white wine vinegar and 1 dessertspoon of sugar. She then let it all cook on the hob for 30 minutes. It was delicious!
And finally, our tiramisù, made the Modican way with ricotta: For 5 ramekins of tiramisù, Katia mixed 2 x 12 oz tubs of ricotta with caster sugar, giving it a final blast with the hand blender:
Then we dipped savoiardi biscuits in cold Italian coffee and fitted them into the bases of ramekins:
We spread ricotta on top of this and sprinkled over a mixture of cocoa powder and cinnamon. The tiramisù was left to chill.
Cincin, readers. Thank you for your company, Amanda and Lois. E grazie a Katia per la lezione divertente.