Duomo, central Florence
Chef Riccardo Pinzani
Based upon my visit to the central market yesterday afternoon, today I decided to take a cooking class specializing in the foods of Florence. The class consisted of 3 young ladies from Canada on holiday during their summer break, a mother and daughter from Minnesota and myself. Given the look of terror in the eyes of my classmates, it appeared that the Minnesota mother and I were the only ones to have ever used a knife before. We made it through class with no one burned beyond recognition, no one bleeding to death or other such wounds. The chef, at the ripe old age of 20, has been working in restaurants and cooking since the age of 11. He is the son of a famous chef from Tuscany and took great delight in informing us that both Tiramisu and gelato are originally from Florence: Might explain all of the gelato shops in town. The menu for the class and our lunch was: Bruschetta (an antipasto from consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper), meat ragu Florence style, fresh made pasta and, for dessert, tiramisu. Whilst I thought the ragu could use some garlic, when I made the (innocent) suggestion of adding some, Chef exclaimed, “NO! there is enough garlic in the Bruschetta.” I disagreed but left it out anyway. The tiramisu was worth the class in and of itself. If you want to make it at home, here’s the recipe:
Yield: 12 servings
Recipe courtesy of Chef Riccardo Pinzani
6 large eggs
10 tablespoons sugar
500 grams (approximately 1.1 pounds) mascarpone cheese at room temperature
Approximately 30 lady fingers (depending on size)
350 ml (approximately 12 ounces) espresso coffee, cooled
2 tablespoons rum or cognac (optional)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Separate the eggs with yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of sugar to each bowl. Starting with the whites, beat until soft peaks form and the mixture does not move when the bowl is turned over. Beat the yolks until pale yellow and the sugar has dissolved. Slowly beat the mascarpone cheese into the yolk mixture until well incorporated. Fold in the beaten whites, about 1/3 of the whites at a time, folding just until no streaks of whites show.
Combine the espresso coffee and rum or cognac if using. Quickly dip enough individual lady fingers into the cooled espresso coffee mixture to line the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan. Top the lady fingers with 1/2 of the mascarpone cheese mixture and spread smooth. Sift half of the cocoa powder over the mascarpone. Quickly dip enough of the remaining lady fingers to form a single layer over the mascarpone cheese/cocoa layer. Top with the remaining mascarpone cheese mixture and sift the remaining cocoa powder over the top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut into squares of sweet creamy goodness and serve.