Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How do you make Tirimisu?


Lunedi: Tonight I had my Italian cooking class! It was amazing. We made from scratch Ravioli di spinaci al burro e salvia, Tagliolini al pomodoro e basilico, Tagliatelle ai peperoni, e Tiramisu!!

I was in the group that made Tirimisu, then the Tagliolini and Tagliatelle. The group next to us first made the dough, and then we all cranked it through a small hand-crank pasta machine (Imperia is the brand of the machine; excellente). Our dough was egg dough made with simply eggs, flour, salt and olive oil. In fact, the flour used was half white flour and half hard wheat flour called semola.

To process the dough into the pasta, we used the hand-crank machine to flatten it. First we ran it through ten cranks at setting one, then put it successively through settings two through five, then floured both sides, cut it in half, and cranked each dough half through setting six. We then let the dough sit for a little bit, then placed on the attachment for turning the flat, long and silky soft dough into pasta noodles. Taking turns we fed the pasta dough into the machine while cranking… and out came beautiful noodles!! We first made the taglionini, then the tagliatelle. The tagliatelle noodles are smaller, like angel hair, quite graceful and delicate looking! When making pasta it is very important to separate and toss lightly the noodles with a bit of flour to keep them from sticking to one another. (If you wish to cut the pasta with a knife, put a lot of extra flour over each side of the flattened dough and roll it up loosely; then cut the roll into the desired thickness and unroll into noodles!) Separate and spread the noodles out on your marble table-top. (Use marble because it is porous (has small holes) and thus can be easily washed. The only thing you should keep away from marble are foods such as lemons and lemon juice because the citrus is corrosive to the marble and eats it away.) Lucky for me, the table-top in my apartment here in Firenze is marble, so I can use it to cook!

Making Tirimisu is incredibly easy and fun, and requires no baking. The simple ingredients needed: eggs, mascarpone cheese (this is from cows and is probably one of the fattiest and heaviest cheeses), sugar, Savoiardi biscuits (or any simple, plain cookie), coffee (or whatever you prefer, you can use cherry sauce, chocolate, etc; it's is what the biscuits are to be dipped in), and cocoa powder (to dress the dessert). If you're curious, a recipe that serves otto: cinque uovi, cinquecento grammo formaggio di mascarpone, centocinquanta gramma zucchero, duecentocinquanta gramma biscotti, tre decilitro caffe, e dieci gramma polvere di cacao.

First take your eggs (usually roughly one egg for two people) and crack them over a large bowl. The game is to make sure to let the egg whites go into the bowl but not the egg yolks: toss the egg yolks back and forth in the split shell halves to shake out the whites; then toss the yolks in a second bowl. Add the sugar into the egg yolks (don't be bashful, add really heaping spoonfuls!) and beat lightly so to make sure it becomes soft and smooth; do so until it becomes light yellow (actually you can beat this as long as you want). Once at the desired color and consistency, carefully add the mascarpone cheese to create cream. Don't whip this new combination too fast or too long, or else the result will be full of chunks of butter that have formed! On the other hand, for the egg whites, it's okay to whip them into fluffy clouds! Then slowly and delicately pour the whipped egg whites into your cheese, sugar and egg yolk mix... do this slowly in order to keep the egg whites fluffy; we want to retain the air-filled pockets. Whip carefully by taking your spatula and running it under the mix and then bringing it to the side and out to the top--this method helps to retain the air and volume.

Next is the construction stage: take out a fairly deep dish (preferably a clear one so you can see your layered formation from the sides; but we used foil tins which work, too!) and splat down and spread out a little bit of our creamy egg and cheese fluff to keep the final structure from sticking to the bottom of the dish. Now get to those biscuit cookies and dip each one into a bowl of coffee (or whatever you'd like) till soaked well but not falling apart. Place the biscuits down in your dish as a neatly-laid foundation. When finished, pour in a nice layer of egg and cheese cream mixture to neatly cover the biscuits. Layer this with another spread of the coffee-soaked biscuits, this time in a perpendicular pattern from what you laid down at the bottom. It is important to place this biscuit layer in a perpendicular pattern not for taste but for presentation: it keeps the tirimisu from falling apart when served!! Pour over the second layer of biscuits another layer of egg and cheese cream mixture, again generously covering the entire level. At this point you can call it quits or add some chocolate chips or something else for fun and add more layers. We let it chill with our four layers, and placed our fresh Tirimisu in the fridge for a couple hours. Usually you'd want to leave it in the fridge for at least three… heck, even leaving it overnight to eat the next day works well, too! (In fact, you can save the Tirimisu (covered, of course) in the fridge for a couple days and it will keep. Tirimisu also freezes very well for keeping longer.) In any case, after leaving in the fridge for a few hours, take it out and sprinkle the top with your cocoa powder... now it's ready to be devoured with delicate grace at the end of a long and filling Italian meal! :)

While slowly and consciously eating the pasta we made, something occurred to me. It first came to me while I was turning the pasta around, looking at the sauce's colors and the texture seen from the light. I was savoring the bell pepper fragments sprinkled over its orange-reddish hue layered above its egg-yellow pasta. I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "the joy of cooking"? Cooking is promoted for all and should be embraced by all... so why not think of architecture and space the same way? Why not, "the joy of architecture"? "The joy of space and place?" Why isn't architecture appreciation promoted as much as food? It should be!! Architecture, like food, is something experienced, used, and needed by all. Fall in love with architecture's delectable tastes; savor, satisfy and share... just like cooking.

...And on the same note, at the beginning of my program here in Firenze, one of the professors in the welcome reception spoke of "SLOW LOOKING": like Slow Food, look and inquire about what ingredients went into the artwork and architecture!


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Anonymous said...

I'm relly enjoying your blog, it's nice to see my own city with stranger's eyes.

In Florence we generally have the prejudice that american students don't really care about the city, the culture ... they only like beer/wine they can't have in the u.s.

I changed my mind about that