Friday, October 24, 2008

Tuscan Cooking Demonstration (video)

This week Hippocrene has the distinct pleasure of following up on our previous entries on Tuscan cooking from authors Madeline Armillotta and Diane Nocentini with a video cooking demonstration. Here's what Diane has to say:

For the first time in six years my family and I had the opportunity to return to my childhood home in Victoria for our summer vacation. We had a memorable holiday, which included a wonderful highlight: my husband Paolo and I gave a cooking demonstration to a class at the Cooking and Lifestyle Centre of Thrifty Foods, in the newly constructed Tuscan Village. The coordinator and “in house” chef, Eva Cherneff, welcomed and helped us settle into their fabulous little kitchen. Prior to the arrival of the students, Eva set the mood with some appropriate music and, with Andrea Bocelli playing in the background, we commenced preparation. As this was a new experience, I admit to being “slightly nervous” during the presentation (saying things like fishes instead of fish, not the kind of thing an English teacher should be doing!) but the family atmosphere and kind group made the event a genuine pleasure. Paolo was an excellent assistant and, with a little Italian flare, we demonstrated and served a delicious first class meal. The menu included; Tomato and Herb Crostini, Mini Pizzas, Smoked Salmon and Cream with Butterfly Pasta, and a modified version of Sea Bass Baked in Foil. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the food, Italian banter and music, and the lively conversation throughout the demonstration. In the end, I was presented with a lovely bouquet of sunflowers and a heartfelt round of applause. Many of the students ordered extra books, as they wanted to share Tastes from a Tuscan Kitchen with family and friends. Needless to say, I finished with a great feeling of relief and satisfaction, and was thrilled that the presentation had been such a success! I hope you will all enjoy the attached video footage and photos taken during this event. The two crostini dishes and the pasta dish are simple to prepare, as you will see on the video, but I have added photos of the preparation and presentation of the Sea Bass Baked in Foil. We modified this recipe during the demonstration due to time limits, and I want all of our readers to see how it is traditionally served. This is a family recipe which Mimmo, Madelaine’s husband, shared with us. It originates from the region of Puglia, and is a very tasty specialty which is served year round.

The video, in three parts, is below, and the three recipes features will be added to the blog over the next three days.

Also, Diane and Madeline recently informed us that Thrifty's, the location for the demonstration, has recently decided to offer Tuscan gift baskets--filled with key Italian cooking ingredients and a copy of Tastes from a Tuscan Kitchen--for Christmas. If you would be interested in learning how to contact Thrifty's or how to put these baskets together to give or sell yourself, please contact us at

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