Hosted by accomplished cook Luciana Masci, you will experience the traditional culture of Italy’s central region of Abruzzo and southern Italy. Working closely with Luciana, you will prepare authentic recipes passed down through the generations of her family and her Italian friends.
Create an Italian banquet from ANTIPASTI, PASTA and delicious DOLCE.
Date: Sunday, April 11, 2021 Time: 9.30 am – 2.30/3.00 pm Venue: Holland Park West Cost:$135 per person (limited places)
ANTIPASTI:Selection of various antipasti –
* grilled zucchini with goat’s cheese and tomatoes
* stuffed vegetables (zucchini and capsicum) PRIMO:Spaghetti al limone DOLCE:Torta di Ricotta
Luciana, who is passionate about Italian cuisine and culture has taught authentic Italian cooking for many years in Brisbane and also as part of her small group boutique tours to Abruzzo and southern Italy.
Luciana’s Italian cooking classes fill quickly, so book now to be part of this special event.
The menu is vegetarian and contains gluten and dairy.
We will be using wonderful fresh ingredients and working with goats cheese, mascarpone and fresh ricotta. We will be enjoying Italian wines which will complement the menu.
The experience includes – welcome coffee, sit down lunch of food we have cooked together served with Italian wine, hands-on tuition, ingredients, recipe details, a Touring Abruzzo apron* and the opportunity to savour your own authentic Italian creations.
(*Return guests, please bring your Touring Abruzzo apron)
In these troubling times since February our lives have had a big shake up and change. With my yearly tours to Italy everything has come to a halt, just like that overnight.
After 16 years of travelling to Italy to lead the tours it is so disastrous and sad that I cannot be there this year.
I am based in Brisbane, Australia and spend part of each year in Italy where I am based in Abruzzo.
As we cannot travel within Australia or out of Australia it has given me much time to reflect on my life and work. There are things which do give me comfort and solace in these sad times.
As I isolate and do my best to stay home I enjoy:
My beautiful things around me…
Over a lifetime of travelling I collect beautiful pieces especially c eramics. The ceramic sea urchins are from my visit to the Amalfi Coast and I explored the famous ceramic village of Vietri.
The coaster is a piece from Castelli, in Abruzzo and the ceramic and cork mat is from Portugal way back in 1986!
I have also been fortunate to know wonderful Australian friends who have gifted me special pieces like the blue and white teapot from Vietnam and my prized Royal Crown Derby teacup and saucer both from Rosemary. I will treasure these pieces forever as she is no longer with us.
2) Tea tea and more tea…
For an Italian is it strange to say that I don’t drink coffee?? I am a green tea drinker. I love the fragrant jasmine green teas, sencha tea and also herbal teas like peppermint.
I take it outdoors, indoors and also on my bed with a warm wool blanket…that is super comforting.
3) Cooking and Baking ….
I love to pull out my old recipes and also find new recipes to try out on my family and friends.
I find comfort in making my traditional Abruzzese and Italian recipes like gnocchi, chicken soup, spaghetti alla chitarra with a slow cooked lamb sauce.
Here is a new sponge cake recipe my cousin Loredana shared with me from Abruzzo over a Whats App chat!
I will share it with you here – it has only 3 ingredients and it works every time. In this recipe I cut it in half and sprinkled it with coffee and a liqueur I had in my cupboard (like cointreau or frangelico)., then filled it with homemade nutella spread and whipped chantilly cream!
Italian Sponge Cake(Pan di Spagna) by Loredana
150 gr sugar
180 gr plain flour (sifted and add 2 teaspoons baking powder)
In a mixer bowl add the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for around 20 mins until the mixture is pale and creamy and with lots of volume. This is how the air is introduced into the sponge mix.
Turn the mixer off and gently fold in the sifted flour with a spatula or wooden spoon, careful not to overwork the folding.
Place in a greased springform cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170 deg and bake for 30 – 35 mins. It should be soft to touch and the cake come away from the sides.
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.
With my Italian heritage gardening and growing food is part of our DNA! Coming from family who have always farmed in rural Abruzzo, I have always grown up with a vegetable garden.
Here is my pumpkin plant growing which I will harvest soon in our autumn season here in Australia. At the moment I am growing tomatoes, herbs and some greens as well as eggplants.
I also enjoy growing some flowers like this hibiscus called Lemon Delight and my yellow chrysanthemums which come from our nonna Liberata’s garden and we saved the plants and pass it onto all our family now.
My newest passion is trying to learn to paint. I have always loved sketching but over the years as I become more busy it was something that got forgotten. I have recently got out my old sketch book and seen the things I drew… Now I have picked up paint brush and put paint to canvas.
This is my latest effort. I have called it “Reaching into the Light”.. What do you think?
I have drawn inspiration from our first people here, our aboriginal people with their rich culture and design.
I hope to do more, as I find it really zones me out and it is such a mindful practice that I can get lost in my world for a while. It actually has been so good for my mind, body and soul, I wish I can do more and try out different techniques and perhaps learn to mix and blend colours..
Well these are a few of my favourite things, when I am not travelling and working in Italy.
Thanks to Maria Laura from Laura Selection who has inspired me and encouraged me to write a few word on Comfort and Tea in these times.
I am looking forward to our collaboration with Maria Laura from Molise region which is just below our beloved Abruzzo. We have created and curated a superb new tour programme “Back Roads of Molise” which was ready to launch this year 2020, however it is on hold for 2021 and we are ready to go with it.
It will be 8 magnificent days exploring the little known region of Molise together with Luciana and Maria Laura!
There are so many traditional recipes in Italy as every region has their own version of a particular recipe or their own special recipe only in that region.. Abruzzo is no exception. I have been asked many times for the recipe to this delicious Olive oil cake.
There are many versions where you can add fresh ricotta or almonds. Sometimes I can even add yoghurt if I have some in the fridge… or lime zest instead of lemon.. Once you know the basic method you can modernise the recipe! Good luck and start baking..
TARALLO ABRUZZESE – Lemon and Olive Oil Cake
250 gr sugar
200 gr s.r flour and some extra baking powder 1 tspn
180 gr fresh ricotta
½ cup water (or milk)
½ cup of oil
Lemon zest of 1 lemon or orange zest
Separate eggs, beat egg whites until stiff – for about 2 mins or so.
Add sugar, continue beating.
Add the 4 egg yolks, continue beating. Up to this point, should be beaten for about 8 mins in total to allow air to get in.
Add the lemon zest and some vanilla essence, add the ricotta and beat until smooth.
Add the sifted S.R flour, baking powder, the water and the oil and fold through. If it is too runny add a spoon of flour at a time. If it is too thick, add a spoon of milk or water at a time. Mixture should be thick ribbons runny when you lift it off the whisk or spoon.
These delicious Italian pastries have a long history – being first mentioned in the 14th century in the Piemonte region of north west Italy. It was created in honour of the visit of the King of France.
This is a traditional cake made in Abruzzo, especially around Pescara.
The typical shape is a dome shaped cake. You can buy the moulds in any market in Abruzzo or kitchen shop in Abruzzo.
It is made using semolina instead of flour and along with the ground almonds it makes it a cake with a lot of texture…and great taste!
The semolina used here is the fine ground white wheat. You can substitute it with fine white polenta for gluten free cooking.
Have a go and make it and relive your Italian heritage or your Italy travels. It is always a sensation when we make it and serve it. We made it in one of our recent Italian cooking classes this year.
If you do not have the right round dome mould then you can use any shape really.
250 gr (9oz) sugar
150 gr (5 oz) almond meal, or ground almonds with skins on better Zest of 1 lemon
150 gr (5oz) semolina
2 tspns baking powder
Chocolate Ganache Topping – melted dark choc and butter or olive oil
* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C/350 F
* Beat egg whites separately with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, add egg yolks, one at a time.
* Add the rest of the ingredients starting with sugar and beat until sugar dissolved
* Then gently fold in almonds, baking powder, semolina and lemon zest. Keep mixture aerated as there is no flour in this recipe.
* Cook in slow oven, 160 deg C/ 320 deg F for 45 -50 mins approx. Traditionally this is baked in a dome shaped baking tin, if not a round cake tin will be fine. Or can divide into small round tins, cooking time will be much less, ie 15 mins..
* When cake has cooled down – melt 200 gr dark chocolate and approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter and cover top of the cooled cake. (90z)
Read our latest issue of our e-Newsletter for Italy Travel with Touring Abruzzo.
See what is new in 2018!
TOUR ITALY with Touring Abruzzo.
Lots of reasons & regions to discover this summer.
We are so proud to celebrate 14 years of travel to ABRUZZO, Italy – sharing the best the region has to offer with other like minded guests. Whether it is to explore something new in Italy or to rediscover your Italian heritage, Abruzzo offers so much. Luciana and her team of local specialists provide the best Italy experience…ever. An Italy vacation to remember.
Whether you want to walk in any of the three national parks…treasure hunt for truffles…reconnect with your ancestral village or simply observe typical village life, then look no further than beautiful Abruzzo…
Departures for Abruzzo this summer:
June 3-6; June 17-20: Tastes of Abruzzo (4 days)
June 3-12: Grand Tour of Abruzzo (10 days)** this is the most popular of all our Abruzzo tour programmes.
PRIVATE DAY TOURS IN ABRUZZO are available year round (from USD $200 pp)
PRIVATE HERITAGE SERVICES IN ABRUZZO are available year round
MARCHEregion is the exciting new region to be added to Touring Abruzzo’s tour programmes in 2018. Launching this month the inaugural departure is for May 23.
Located just above Abruzzo, it is also a wonderful central Italian region often little known to those travelling to Italy. Luciana and colleague Guido have personally created a wonderful 6 day programme including:
visits to medieval centres for paper making in Fabriano
visits to piano accordion makers, wine and olive oil producers of Marche region
visits to the birthplaces and homes of composer Rossini in Pesaro and Renaissance master Raphael or Raffello Sanzio of Urbino.
fabulous local cuisine of the Marche …
2018 Dates: May 23 -28; June 21-26; September 21-26.
PERFECT PUGLIA: June, September & October departures.
Many options to choose from – 4, 8 or 10 days in Puglia.
Travel with Fabio your Puglia tour specialist.PRIVATE DAY TOURS available also – LEARN MORE HERE PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXCITING TRAVEL TO ITALY’S SOUTH
BACK ROADS OF BASILICATA: September 1 & October 17 departures.
8 days of exploring the deep south of Italy. Travel with Fabio your Basilicata tour specialist.PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXPLORE MORE OF ITALY ON YOUR NEXT VACATION
FEATURE RECIPE:TARTUFINI (Little Chocolate Truffles)
I am putting this recipe in as it is back by popular demand. I know a few of you have made it and they taste great!
Happy Cooking and many happy memories of Italy too!
250gr (8 oz) whole almonds with skin on – ground
200gr (7 oz) sugar
1/2 coffee cup (1.5-2.0 fluid oz) of liqueur eg Tia Maria
1 tbspn dark cocoa
400gr (14 oz)sponge cake or plain soft cake, crumbled
Espresso coffee as needed
In a bowl, crumble the sponge cake into fine crumbs, add the ground almonds,
sugar and cocoa.
Add the liqueur slowly, then add the espresso coffee – enough to make a firm
dough and not too wet.
Need to roll into round walnut sized shapes to resemble truffles.
Roll in powdered sifted cocoa or in choc shavings or choc hail.
When cooled in fridge and ready to serve, place in small patty cases.
Visit the Touring Abruzzo Online Shop today to see the wonderful items from Abruzzo which are available. Choose from a boutique range of ceramics, traditional silver jewellery, aprons, tea towels, canvas art and books… Order online today and it will be shipped to you anywhere in the world.
Eggplants are wonderful vegetables and are used a lot in Italian and also in Asian cooking. Also known as aubergine, they belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes.
I grow them in my garden in the Australian summer and with the subtropical climate in Brisbane it is a great plant and you have abundant crops with only one plant.
HEALTH BENEFITS: Eggplants have a lot of fibre, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B-6 as well as are high in antioxidants.
Here is a great Sicilian recipe below which I was given when I visited the fabulous Aeolian Islands. Give it a try it is simple and tastes fabulous. I love the balance of the sweet and the acidity and the freshness of the mint. We made this recipe in one of my Italian cooking classes earlier this year.
MELANZANE IN AGRODOLCE: Sweet and Sour Eggplants with Mint
This is a lovely recipe to make in summer when eggplants and mint are in abundance.
Once made keep this dish at room temperature to serve.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
Wash the eggplant and dice in walnut size cubes.
Place in a dish and salt them generously and leave for 30 mins. This helps remove any bitterness from the eggplant (usually more so if eggplants are large or older).
In a non stick frypan, add the oil and the chopped onion – sautée and do not burn the onion, just sweat it down.
Drain the salted eggplant and pat dry with clean tea towel or absorbent towel.
Add the eggplant and stir until eggplant cooked and browned.
In a cup add the vinegar and the sugar, stir to dissolve sugar. Pour this over the eggplant in the frypan.
Stir gently until the vinegar evaporates. When done, add half the mint leaves(tear them) and mix through gently.
Place on a dish and put the extra mint leaves on top.
VARIATIONS: You can also do this with zucchini. Slice in round slices and salt as above.
Another great group of wonderful cooks came together over the weekend to cook up a storm. Italian cooking is fun when cooking together especially when making pasta from scratch and making many other traditional dishes. We made dishes like veal involtini filled with a parsley frittata – a recipe shown to me by by Abruzzese family. Once you fill the veal with the frittata it is rolled up and secured with a toothpick, the meat is browned then it is placed into the tomato sauce for the pasta and gently simmers there for a while. Of course the great flavours soak into the veal rolls. So you have a primo dish of pasta, then the secondo or meat dish is ready also!
Pasta alla Norma – a great dish from Sicily.
The pasta sauce we made was an eggplant, tomato and basil with ricotta – a great traditional Sicilian dish from the town of Catania. They call it Pasta alla Norma – as legend says that the composer Vincenzo Bellini ordered this dish often and so it was named after his great opera ‘Norma’.
Brutti ma Buoni – hazelnut meringues
Here is a biscuit I love to make – these are delicious Hazelnut Meringues, known as Brutti ma Buoni (‘Ugly but Good’!). They do not look ugly to me, but taste sublime. They originate from the north of Italy from the 1800’s, some say from Lombardia region and others say from the Piemonte region as there are many hazelnuts found there. Why not try them yourselves? Quite simple to make using basically 3 ingredients!
BRUTTI MA BUONI – Makes about 20 biscuits 75 gr (2.65 oz) egg whites (about 3 eggs) 150 gr (5.0 oz) roasted ground coarsely hazelnuts 140 gr (about 5oz) (or less) caster sugar vanilla bean scraped or paste
* Preheat oven 150 deg. * In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with about half the sugar to form stiff meringue, add the vanilla. * Blend the other half of the sugar with the whole hazelnuts. * Place the meringue mixture and add the hazelnuts into a saucepan and stir until the mixture starts to thicken (about 10 mins or so). You will need to stir as it will stick. * Remove from heat and cool. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto tray lined with baking paper. * Bake for at least 15-20 mins until golden brown. VARIATION – add 2 tbsp dark cocoa to the meringue mix to make chocolate hazelnut biscuits, a great combination.
BATTERED SAGE LEAVES
This is such a simple batter to make and it is great for many vegetables.. think of it as an Italian tempura batter.
I like to use it with sage leaves – sometimes they are in abundance and a great aperitivo snack to go with your crisp white Italian summer wine.
Other vegetables work equally well – such as zucchini flowers, eggplant slices (not too thick), zucchini and red capsicums (peppers) strips or julienne. In season I have also tried using elderflower blossoms and also acacia (robinia robusta) flowers. They are great!
Have a go and impress your friends!BATTER for coating vegetables:
This is the most popular version used in Abruzzo:
150 gr (5 oz) plain flour
150 ml (5 oz) water (plain or soda water)
Good pinch of salt
In a bowl:
Mix together with a fork in a bowl, until it turns into soft batter and is free of lumps.
Dip the desired vegetable or edible flowers.
If using eggplant best to steam them a little to soften. Drain and dry on a cloth before dipping into the batter and frying.