17 September 2010 – Cooking with Rosetta

This was a bit of an adventure – we took a cooking class with Rosetta Costantino (check out her gorgeous blog) on the theme of peperoncini, a signature ingredient of Calabria (the toe of the Italian boot). I had the feeling D did it mostly to humor me, though he thought it was worth checking out – but he really enjoyed the food and seemed to have a good time with some of the cooking, too.

The main course was a Calabrian sausage that we made during the class (I helped mix in the fennel seed and spicy peppers) though the pork had been ground before we arrived to save time. Along with that we had a sort of stew of red, yellow, and orange sweet peppers, with an admixture of seriously hot peperoncini and some basil.

These were really great, but the first course was the most fun for me. We hand-made the pasta, and this was the one thing that we really didn’t know and couldn’t have gotten from a cookbook (given that we had, in fact, made sausage previously). We had to roll short, 1/2″ thick pieces of pasta dough around a piece of wire (these were highly cleaned former coat hanger bases, in fact) by rolling them back and forth on a counter with the palms of our hands until they made about 8″ long irregular tubes.

These cooked for the time you’d expect for a dried pasta – about 10-12 minutes – and then were drained and dumped into a massive pan holding the sauce. The sauce was tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed, with an imported ” ‘Nduja” (nn DOO yah) – a spreadable hot sausage – added in. This was fantastic!

Perhaps the most surprising dish was the chocolate gelato, made with a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes. This taste turned out to be most excellent.

Rosetta suggested some Calabrian wines, but as far as we could tell, these are not found on the west coast, so we went with her secondary suggestions – Nero d’Avola or merlot. D found a wine at the Bowl that was a combination of the two, and it really went extremely well with the meal. Good times were had by all 🙂

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