When in Rome

We were in Rome, (Italy, yes?) and since when in Rome, you do as the Romans do, we took a cooking class, to cook as the Romans cook.

We made focaccia with prosciutto and honey:

  • 400gr regular flour
  • 200gr bread flour
  • 120gr mashed potatoes (like, leftovers..)
  • 20gr fresh yeast
  • ~500gr water (~2 cups)
  • 30gr olive oil (plus plenty more for the pan)
  • 20gr salt- according to the ‘Roman’ recipe, I recommend to use less, something like 15 gr.
  • 300gr prosciutto, cut to small pieces
  • 200gr honey
  • pinch of sugar…

For this recipe, you need to start with putting the prosciutto in the honey. You don’t have to use prosciutto and honey and can just leave these ingredients out and skip this stage. Then, mix the yeast with warm water, add the potatoes, the olive oil, the prosciutto (that used to be in the honey) and 2tsp of the honey, mix and add the flour, and then the salt. Mix well. You should get a VERY fluid batter (very different than the focaccia recipes we know here, in Israel).

The rise of the focaccia- part I

Now, pour plenty of olive oil into a round (can be square too, okay?) pan. Transfer the batter to the pan, and carefully cover it with some olive oil while helping it to spread in the pan. Let the focaccia rise in a warm and moist place, until double in size (you can cover with a wet towel or nylon wrap. Bake at 250C for 30-60min, or until it is ready (sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom, and golden -brown on the top). Baking time varies according to the size of your pan- and the height of your focaccia of course.

The rise of the focaccia- part I

It is recommended to eat the focaccia while fresh. You should, however, let it cool before you cut it so it won’t be too soft and mushy in the middle, and won’t dry too fast.

We also made pasta, by hand! Without a pasta machine! The ingredients are the same as I use for all other pastas that were presented in the blog: 1 egg for 100gr flour, which is a little more than enough for one person (you get 160gr pasta, and you need 80-120 per person. I usually do 1 egg per person, but always have leftovers. The main thing, I think, for the hand rolled pasta is fine flour. The Italian brand is much finer than the Israeli one, which makes pasta that is much softer. I tried to grind the Israeli pasta flour actually, in a coffee grinder and I was pretty happy with the outcome. You can try it too.

So, to make hand rolled pasta, use fine flour, 100gr flour for 1 egg. Make a pile of flour on your working surface, and make a dent in the middle (like in the above picture). Put the egg in that dent and start mixing it into the dough using a fork. I guess a video would be easier to understand, so, here, a video.

You need to work the dough quite a lot, until you get a nice, smooth pasta dough that is also elastic. what do I mean by elastic? if you gently press it it regains its former shape, like here:

Now leave the dough covered for 15-30min, at room temp or fridge.

Roll out the dough as thin as you want (or can), fold it with plenty of flour and cut out stripes the size you desire. Separate the pasta carefully, and leave covered with plenty of flour until cooking.

Cook in plenty of salted water 3-4min…strain.

We had great carbonara sauce in Rome. This is how they do it:

  • 100gr pancetta
  • 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 100gr pecorino or parmegiano
  • pepper

Fry the pancetta in plenty of olive oil (something like a cup I guess, like in the picture). Fry it thoroughly until it is very crisp. In a bowl, mix the eggs, yolk and finely grated cheese.  Add the strained -and still hot- pasta, mix well. Add the pancetta, with the oil… all of it, yes… Mix again.

Serve with some red Italian wine to block some of the cholesterol…

Buon Appetito!

We did this cooking class in ‘Bocca di dama’.

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