I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic cook (as my husband and kids will attest), but I do love Italian food. So, when I was invited to an Italian cookery masterclass showcasing the new food and wine packages on offer in Lazio with Bookings For You, I was happy to accept.
Bookings For You
Bookings For You offer more than 300 holiday rental villas and apartments in the Italian lakes, Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche, Puglia, the Amalfi Coast and Lazio, and are starting to expand into France and Croatia. Founder and owner Jo Mackay is proud of the excellent customer service provided by Bookings For You, and the company has won several awards for this. One of the most recent additions to the properties offered by Bookings For You is Palazzo Tronconi.
Palazzo Tronconi is in the small medieval village of Arce in the Lazio region of Italy, just over an hour’s drive from Rome, and it has five double B&B rooms. Owner Marco Marrocco is passionate about food and wine, and about sharing local culture with his guests. Visitors to Palazzo Tronconi can sign up for cookery lessons, wine tastings, wine tours, and cultural and culinary day trips during their stay. Trips and experiences are tailored to the guests’ requirements, and cooking classes are available for children as well as adults.
Cooking classes at Palazzo Tronconi are run by chef Leonardo Grimaldi. I went along to meet Leonardo, Marco and pizza chef Giuseppe for a cookery lesson at Jo’s house in Surrey. The Italians are proud of the high quality local ingredients which they use, and they had brought absolutely everything that they needed for the class with them on their flight from Italy, including eggs (laid by ‘wild hens’), salt and an enormous saucepan. Leonardo and Marco explained that their cooking classes are all about showing people how to make simple dishes which can be made easily at home.
I picked up quite a few useful tips from Leonardo: for example, he says that if you remove the ‘heart’ (which I think means the greenish bit in the middle) of a garlic clove before cooking, it’s easier to digest. He also says that the egg in a carbonara sauce is meant to be runny, which I didn’t know at all.
The menu for the day started with creamed cod fishcakes with Avezzano potatoes dusted with Pontecorvo peppers, followed by a classic carbonara of rigatoni with Caserta black pig and anconetana eggs, then a main course of black pig stew from Caserta cooked in Zitore wine. Dessert was Kaiser pears cooked in Mocevò wine with a scent of organic Italian lemons. I don’t eat meat, so I couldn’t try the main course, but the fishcakes and the carbonara (I had a meat-free portion) were delicious. Below is Leonardo’s fishcake recipe, in case you’d like to try it.
Over to you
Have you ever tried a cookery class on your travels? If so, how was it? If not, is it something which you’d like to do? To find out more about Palazzo Tronconi, pop over to the Bookings For You website.
Recipe for creamed cod fishcakes with potatoes dusted with peppers
Ingredients for 10 people
- 2kg potatoes
- 1kg unsalted cod (i.e. salted cod, soaked and rinsed for up to two days to remove the salt)
- 30g pepper powder
- 10 dried and fried peppers
- 1litre milk
- 250ml soya oil
- A pinch of white pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 100g butter
- 200ml cream
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, sage, rosemary)
- In a saucepan, place the milk, bay leaves, bouquet garni and three cloves of garlic. Add the cod and cook over a low heat for about 50 minutes.
- Once the cod is cooked, drain off the milk then remove the garlic, bay leaves and bouquet garni.
- Once it is dry, put the cod in a food processor, add salt to taste, white pepper, nutmeg and soya oil and mix together until soft and fluffy.
- Peel the potatoes, cut into quarters and rinse under cold water to remove the starch.
- Put the potatoes straight into a pot of water and bring to the boil, seasoning to taste, and cook until they are soft (around 20 minutes).
- Drain the potatoes and cover with butter. Add nutmeg and white pepper and salt if needed then mix with a hand whisk. Once the mixture is ready, add the cream.
- Layer the ingredients in individual dishes or in one large dish: start with a layer of potatoes, then a layer of cod, top with a dried pepper and dust the plate with pepper powder.
Here are some more of my posts about cooking and recipes:
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bookings For You, but all opinions are my own.