Saturday, October 03, 2009


Cookery teacher Katia [right] and me at loveSicily.

On Thursday morning your galloping gourmet blogger galloped down to Modica Bassa for the last cookery class with Katia of loveSicily. Katia had phoned me beforehand to suggest that I meet her with Lois and Amanda at Bonajuto's Chocolate Factory and Shop, and as time spent in Bonajuto's is time spent in "chocolate heaven", I was very happy to do so.

This is the oldest chocolate making establishment in Sicily and the chocolate is carefully made by traditional methods.

Here Pierpaolo of the Bonajuto family makes sure the display is perfect. Now we can sample some of the many flavours of chocolate. [I always go for the chilli one myself!]

Visitors can see the workroom at the back of the shop:

You will notice that the chocolate in the right-hand tin is smoother. The bubbles disappear when the moulds are shaken by hand:

The items in these cupboards tell the story of chocolate-making:

Chocolate to taste and chocolate to buy:

'Mpanatigghi to sample. You would never think that these delicate, sweet pastries contained beef. [When British people remark that it's weird I ask them how they think mince pies got their name!]

If you are a lover of chocolate - and who isn't? - you must come to Modica at least once in your life!

Lois and Amanda had acquired substantial parcels of chocolate to take home to their lucky friends and relatives so we had a leisurely walk back to the Cookery School, where Katia explained that we were first going to make salame al cioccolato [chocolate salame] for Friday's end-of-course dinner and then calamari for lunch. Don't worry - there's no salame in the chocolate dish! Let's get right to it:

Katia used 100 gr of cinnamon-flavoured chocolate but you could use a different flavour. Katia says that it is possible to use cocoa powder instead, in which case you will need to add some sugar. She crushed the chocolate, then bashed roughly 250 gr biscuits made with a short pastry:

Fork up 100 gr slightly softened unsalted butter and separate 2 eggs. Whisk the whites to the soft peak stage. Now mix the yolks with the butter and chocolate, crushing the chocolate further as you mix:

Next, add the egg whites and mix:

Add the biscuits and mix well:

Keep stirring till the texture changes and you have a nicely amalgamated mixture:

Dollop it all onto a length of baking parchment, roll the paper over the mixture and press with your hands until you have a plump sausage shape. Tie the ends of the paper and refrigerate. [You can freeze this for up to a week.]

Slice when ready to serve. You can see the sliced "salame" towards the end of this post.

Although I am allergic to all types of fish I was interested to learn how to prepare the calamari.

First of all Katia cleaned the squid well:

Then we peeled and chopped 6 tomatoes. Katia runs the blunt side of a blade over the skin, which then comes away more easily:

Peel 4 garlic cloves and chop some parsley and capers. Mix the parsley and capers with the tomatoes.

Chop up the tentacles:

Brown the garlic cloves in oil, then take them out. Add the tomato mixture and tentacles and cook:

Add some fresh breadcrumbs [about 12 dessertsp] to soak up the juices:

Add 3 dessertsp grated ragusano cheese:

Then use the mixture to stuff the squid:

Secure with a skewer:

I had to leave at this point but couldn't have tasted the fish anyway. I asked Katia how she finishes the dish and she told me that she sautés the stuffed squid in olive oil, then adds a splash of wine. She smears some left-over stuffing on the top of the calamari and simmers them for 30 minutes.
UPDATE: 4.10.09. See the finished dish and read Katia's instructions and a story about her grandmother here.

And so to last night's end-of-course dinner. A beautifully set table in a room with a view:

Pasta with pancetta, cream, chanterelles and pistacchi:

Tender and delicious beef fillet steaks which Katia had cooked in a salt crust and flavoured with Bonajuto's salt chocolate:

And the chocolate salame. Don't you like Katia's simple but elegant decoration of cocoa in the top corner of the plate?

Here is Katia

and here we all are, [left to right]: Katia, Amanda, Luisa, me, Lois, Ronald [Katia's husband] and Angelo. Luisa and Angelo work with Ronald and Katia.

Thank you for your company, Lois and Amanda. I hope you are both having safe and pleasant journeys home. Don't eat all that chocolate on the way! And thank you Katia, Ronald, Angelo and Louise for a wonderful week during which I learnt a lot, made new friends and discovered some fabulous new tastes. I recommend loveSicily.


Lucia said...

i ate all the chocolate you sent. OMG...cinnamon flavoured chocolate who knew, my two favourite things together how spectacular to have those shaved on my cappuccino in the morning!!! That salame looks fabulous, i don't like squid but it looking interesting.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi WL, what an a truly amazing week you have had, exciting and new friends as well.

How wonderful to go to the Chocolate place, and see how it is made.

Chocolate and fish...mmmm it is a huge shame that you are allergic, but you still had a wonderful meal at the end. So pleased you met lovely people too!!

CherryPie said...

I have seen chocolate being made in the traditional way when I visited Belgium. It really is an interesting process :-)

I am glad you had a wonderful time on your course.

Ellee Seymour said...

What a wonderful group, they all look so friendly and I'm sure you will have made many new good friends. I would love to try chilli chocolate, it sounds delicious.

jams o donnell said...

So much deliciousness.. as usual Welschakes!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lucia. Yes, cinnamon choc on coffee would be great. The salame was very moreish! I don't like squid either and can't eat it but it was good to learn. Hi, Anne. Yes, amazing. I'd been to the chocolate place before, but a long time ago and they are always bringing out new flavours. Yes, lovely people and a wonderful dinner. Hi, Cherie. It is interesting, isn't it? Modican chocolate is made to the Aztec method. I did have a lovely time. Hi, Ellee. They are very friendly and we had some great laughs! I'll send you some chilli choc.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, jams.

Unknown said...

Thank you Pat, you'll be always welcome.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao, Pierpaolo e grazie. È molto gentile.

Minnie said...

Curses, curses, how could I have missed this gorgeous post, celebrating in true WL style (colourful, detailed and delciously informative) all the goodness of Katia's cuisine? So glad to have found it, anyway.
Fab! Au top, Katia! Thank you, Patrizia (you look lovely in that intro pic, btw).
PS MY kind of salami ... ;-)!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Why thank you, Phidelm. Your words have made my day! Definitely au top, Katia! My kind of salame, too...


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