Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fragile, Delicious, and Very Italian--Titina's Homegrown Figs

This week in Titina's kitchen, figs are in season--and Titina loves this fruit.

She she has two fig trees--one in her herb garden at Capri Flavors retail store--another beside her home.

If you're lucky, you might find some of her homegrown figs for sale in the store.

Ripe figs must be handled very gently. She packs them on leaves in plastic containers.

How should you eat figs? Wash, dry and slice in half

A plate of figs makes a nice finish to meal, especially with salty cheeses.

Lots of recipes combine figs with balsamic--but fig Vincotto is a more common Italian choice.

If you've never tried Vincotto, don't wait any longer to sample this line of sweet grape must products. They enhance so many things. There's nothing like them in the states.

Titina's favorite way to sever her figs is as a starter. Ripe figs and prosciutto make a perfect summer antipasti. Simple, delicious and elegant, it's a classic Italian combo.

Or you get a little more complicated. In this recipe from Epicurious, figs and prosciutto become a pizza topping.

But ripe figs really need nothing. It's one of the lessons Titina teaches her cooking class students-

Always use the best ingredients, and let them shine--

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Titina's Lemon Sorbet and other Crowd Pleasers from Capri

A classic cool treat from the beautiful Isle of Capri--For an elegant presentation, try serving Titina's Limon Sorbet in one of the juiced lemon shells

One of the world's most beautiful spots, Chef Titina's home Island of Capri has attracted the rich and famous since Roman times.

So when Titina shares a recipe or kitchen technique--it is crowd pleaser. After all, she grew up in the kichen of a famous family restaturat--the same kitchen where the now world famous Caprese Salad was born.

Her Fall Capri Menu showcases the best of the island--a small rock in a very blue sea-- famous for its lemons, tomatoes, seafood and simple but elegant dishes.

Limoncello --Lemon Liquor
Spaghetti Sciue’-Sciue’ --Spaghetti in Marinara
Aragosta Marinara--Lobster in Red Sauce
Carciofi e Patate-- Artichoke and Potato Saute
Torta di Capri --Almond and Chocolate Cake

Limoncello is one of Titina's classics. She serves this potent drink ice cold in tiny cups after every meal. It is said to aid digetstion.

Another classic lemon dish is from the region is limon sorbet. Here is how Titina makes it to serve at home on these hot summer days. Note: the beaten egg white is an unusual addition. Titina says it keeps the sorbet soft--and she's right!

Limon Sorbet for 4 ( the portions are small--you may want to double)

2 large lemons, juiced
4 TBS sugar
1 cup water
1 TBS vodka
1 egg white beaten

Combine all in a bowl, stiring every few minutes until sugar dissolves completely. Then chill and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Here's a link for all of Titina's new menus for fall. If you'd like to know more about her popular cooking classes, call Capri Flavors at 919 462-9255 or book your space on the Capri Flavors web site.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Make Friends with a Farmer--And Titina's New Class Schedule

Freshness matters in Titina's kitchen. It matters a lot. And while she may have a month off from classes, that doesn't mean Titina isn't cooking. Titina is always cooking. Lined up on the kitchen counter yesterday--pounds of heirloom tomatoes and three fresh melons, all off a local farm.

Not farm stand or farmer's market-Titina has a relationship with a local farmer who picks her produce right from the fields. He's a good friend to have--because summer vegetables start losing flavor as soon as they are harvested.

The farmer grows peaches too. Titina will freeze these juicy summer fruits in vacuum packs to use through out the year in her popular cooking classes--which resume in August.
Let's Cook with Titina menus and dates follow--plus a cool-off recipe for summer--from this fall's Sorrento Menu, Ice Cream Drowned Espresso


Limoncello Lemon Liquor

Spaghetti Sciue’-Sciue’ Spaghetti in Marinara

Aragosta Marinara Lobster in Red Sauce

Carciofi e Patate Artichoke and Potato Saute

Torta di Capri Almond and Chocolate Cake

Capri Dates Monday: 8/2, 8/30, 9/27, 10/27 Friday: 8/6, 9/3, 10/1, 10/29

Firenze Menu

Crespelle al Formaggio e Prosciutto Cheese and Ham filled Crepes

Pollo al Finocchio Chicken with Fennel

Cavolofiori Gratinati Cauliflower Au Gratin

Torta della Nonna Grandmother Apple Cake

Firenze Dates Monday: 8/16, 9/13, 10/11, 11/8, Friday: 8/20, 9/17, 10/15, 11/12

Genova Menu

Penne alla Genovese Penne with Genovese Sauce

Filetto di Manzo alle Castagne Fillet of Beef with Chestnuts

Piselli al Prosciutto Peas with Prosciutto

Crema Caramellata Cream Caramel

Genova Dates Monday: 8/23, 9/20, 10/18, 11/15 Friday: 8/27, 9/24, 10/22, 11/19

Sorrento Menu

Gnocchi con Ragu’ Gnocchi in Heavy Sauce

Braciole al Ragu’ Beef Rolls in Heavy Sauce

Cannellini e Scarole Cannellini Beans and Escarole Saute’

Affogato al Caffe’ Espresso Espresso Drowned Ice Cream

Sorrento Dates Monday: 8/9, 9/6, 10/4, 11/1 Friday: 8/13, 9/10, 10/8, 11/5

Affogato al Caffe Espresso
Ice Cream drowned in Espresso

4 eggs, separated
4 ounces icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ pint double cream, whipped
cognac or brandy

Serves 8; Preparation: 30 minutes; Cooking: 20 minutes; Level of Difficulty: Medium

Whisk the egg whites until stiff in a bowl. Add the icing sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time with the vanilla essence.

Carefully fold in the cream.

Pour the mixture into a large container or into 8 small dishes. Cover and freeze until firm. If frozen in a large container, transfer to the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving and scoop round balls of ice cream into serving bowls. Top with espresso mixed with cognac or brandy.