Italy Pt. 3- Cooking at the Castle

Finally, to the cooking part of my cooking trip! We headed to a small town called Spongano the morning after our welcome dinner in Lecce. This is where the castle was located. Some people may call this a manor house, but call it what you want. There were like 20 bedrooms and bathrooms and an awesome pool and a garden filled with all sorts of fruit trees… I’d call that a castle. (Also, thanks to my mom, the host of the trip, for most of these photos! I was too preoccupied to take pictures most of the week. If you think you would like to go on this trip next time she takes people, check out her site here!)

Um, castle.

Lemon, lime, orange, fig and pomegranate trees

Each day had the same schedule- eat a small breakfast, meet for our lesson, cook lunch, eat lunch, nap, meet for our lesson, cook dinner, eat dinner sleep. It was hard to me to eat a small breakfast each morning, partially because I usually have a big breakfast at home and partially because of these things called Rusticos- puff pastries with mozzarella, tomatoes and béchamel. SO addicting!

The Kitchen

The Lunch & Dinner Table

We made a bunch of different shaped pastas. Southern Italian cooking uses only water based pastas, most of your egg pastas come from the North.

Southern Italian cuisine also uses a LOT of raw olive oil. They cook with very little or no olive oil, then finish the dishes with a healthy splash. This technique is much healthier and is one thing that I have been trying to work on since coming home.

They also use a lot of red chili flakes instead of black pepper. One of the first nights we asked for pepper and they brought us the crappiest store bought pepper, it was kind of funny. They also used a lot of vanilla infused sugar for desserts, so delicious! It is really easy to make too, all you have to do is get a few sticks of vanilla, chop them finely, and add to your sugar.

Our meals consisted of FIVE courses:

  1. Antipasto
  2. Primo (which was usually a pasta)
  3. Secondo (which was usually a vegetable)
  4. Contorno (meat or fish)
  5. Doce (Fruit or dessert)

I can’t talk about each thing we made because there are just too many, but here is the list:

  • Frisse (bread salad)
  • Pepperonata
  • Burrata
  • Fennel Salad w/ lemon and olive oil
  • Le Orecchiette con le cima di rape (ear shaped pasta w/ broccoli rabe)
  • Cappaletti Messicana (Mexican hats) w/ tomato compote, arugula and aged ricotta
  • Ciceri e Tria (chickpea soup w/ pappardelle pasta- gum shaped)
  • La Stuffatu (stweed vegetables, like ratatoullie without tomato)
  • Swiss Chard w/ olive oil
  • Zucchini alla Poveretta (Grilled zucchini w/ mint lemon vinaigrette)
  • Grilled Eggplant w/ olive oil mint and chili flakes
  • Pan Seared Cabbage (Caramelized Cabbage in olive oil)
  • Patate al Forno (Sandy Potatoes)
  • La Salsiccie Freshe (Fresh sausage)
  • Brodetto di Pesce (Fish Stew)
  • Chicken, rabbit, lamb sautéed w/ rosemary and olives
  • Mpepata (Steamed Mussels)
  • Polpetone (Meatloaf)
  • Vanilla Sugar Roasted Pears w/ Sweetened Ricotta
  • Vanilla Sugar Frozen Grapes
  • Staccadenti (Almond Nugget Cookies)
  • La Cupeta (Almond Brittle)

I will be posting a few of these recipes on my blog eventually. If you are just dying for one of the recipes feel free to leave me a comment and I can send it to you.

I think this photo sums up how I felt after the week was over…

This entry was posted in Appetizers, Dessert, Fruit, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Recipes, Salad, Sauces, Seafood, Side Dishes, Travel, Vegetables and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Italy Pt. 3- Cooking at the Castle

  1. What a beautiful trip and I can understand why you would be so very tired. Thanks to your mom for providind the lovely pictures. I don’t know if you are planning on posting the recipe, but I would love the one for staccadenti

  2. michelle says:

    amazing pasta! what eats!

  3. This post has me salivating! Everything looks just incredible!

  4. Eliot says:

    I am so envious, I can’t hardly even type. What a trip!

  5. Ann says:

    FANTASTIC! I can’t wait to see / read more about it! The food looks amazing!

  6. AMAZING! I’m a little jealous… OK, I’m totally green with envy! Oh, this food… Incredible!

  7. Cool trip! Thanks for mentioning details particular to Southern Italian cooking like egg versus water and chili pepper flakes in place of black pepper.

  8. molly says:

    Eating, drinking and cooking is EXHAUSTING. Hope you’re doing well and loving the snow!

  9. Pingback: The Awaiting Table School of Cookery in Italy » Savour the Senses