italyonmymind seasonal lunch – primavera – spring in Chewton

I would love you to join me for a long lunch that celebrates spring (primavera). Just like the family Sunday lunches I used to help mamma make, you will be helping to prepare the 4-course lunch and learning several techniques used in italian cooking – making pasta; stuffing and roasting a spring chicken; making pastry for a rustic fruit tart and making creamy gelato. After all that preparation, we will enjoy sitting down to the lunch we have made and will share in the main dining room at Prospect Cottage, which is light-filled and has glorious views of the property.

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Prospect Cottage is a stone and timber cottage surrounded by woodlands and overlooking a shallow valley. The kitchen has several stoves and a large work area including a long hardwood table where we will be making pasta. There is an outdoor wood fire oven which we will be using to cook the main course. The property has horses, several fruit trees and a little herb garden. One of the owners of Prospect Cottage, Ben, will be your host and will be helping us out in the kitchen.

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When: Sunday 19 October 2014 (9.30 am to 3.30pm approx)
Where: Prospect Cottage, Hoopers Road, Chewton (approx 1.5 hours drive from the Melbourne CBD, map at end of this post)
Cost: $125 to cover your share of the costs of food, beverages, venue hire and recipe booklet (this is a not-for-profit class)
How to book: simply email me with your details at italyonmymind@gmail.com to secure one of the eight spots in the class. I’ll confirm your booking and let you know what to bring and provide the details you will need to find Prospect Cottage.

You can make a weekend of it and re-energise by spending a night or two at the the eco-shack Shack 14 (which is on the property of Prospect Cottage) or at other accommodation in Chewton or nearby Castlemaine. Please contact me on italyonmymind@gmail.com if you would like further information or have any questions.

In preparation for the class I bought a Cuisinart Gelateria ice-cream maker last weekend. It is simply wonderful, I can’t stop making gelato. I am sure I was a gelatiere (icecream maker) in a previous life (or maybe I will be in a future life?!). The home freezer is fast filling up with ice cream experiments but my favourites are the traditional ones. I am sharing a recipe for one of the first ones that I made with you in this post – it is a recipe I found for zabaglione gelato in the David Leibovitz book “The Perfect Scoop”. Zabaglione is such a classic italian flavour and brings back fond memories of my teenage years. I was in a netball team with my friend Lily (whose family is also from Istria and Trieste – a paesana you could say) and before playing we would make zabaglione to give us energy. That is what our mothers told us to do – we would get a couple of egg yolks, some sugar and a good glug of marsala and beat it up with a fork, before downing it in one gulp. Delicious!! We were 15 at the time, and it seemed like the most natural thing to do (I am fairly sure we didn’t share it with the other girls on the team). We used to win quite a bit – maybe the zabaglione really helped!

gelato zabaglione - italy on my mind

Gelato allo zabaglione

Makes about 1 litre

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
2/3 cups (130g) caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 lemon
1 1/2 cups (375ml) thickened cream
6 large eggs (yolks only)
1/2 cup (125ml Marsala)

Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and place the bowl on a silicon matt so it does not slip later on. Set aside.

For the ice bath – place plenty of ice and a tiny bit of water in a large metal bowl and place in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan (to about 40 degrees C). Zest half the lemon directly into the warm milk. Slowly pour the warmed milk into the eggs, whisking continuously as you go so that the eggs do not start to scramble. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to warm over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. In a few minutes the mixture will start to thicken (and reach between 70 – 75 degrees C). You will know this as it will coat the back of a spoon and if you run your finger along, it will not flow back together. DO NOT overcook (as the eggs will be scrambled). Quickly remove from the heat and pour through the wire mesh into the bowl with the cream in it, give it a stir and then add the Marsala.

Remove the water bath from the fridge and quickly place the bowl of custard, cream and marsala over it, stirring gently for about 30 minutes until it has cooled down (the stirring will help it to cool). Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator and then place it in an ice cream maker for churning until it is ready. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, about 4 hours. Remove from the freezer a few minutes before serving.


DIRECTIONS:

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16 comments on “italyonmymind seasonal lunch – primavera – spring in Chewton

    • I would love you to be there too! I am hoping that there will be social-media minded persons there taking photos. I would love to bring a professional photographer in (or even a photography student)…still some planning to do but I am very excited about it!

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  1. Oh, I forgot to mention: my mom and her sisters used to make “uovo battuto” for my sister and me when we were little. Egg yolk beaten with sugar, sometimes with a drop of hot milk beaten in. This was before we were old enough for the splash of Marsala! Wonderful memories.

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    • it’s funny how we both had raw eggs (as encouraged by our mammas) when we were younger – raw egg is often friended upon now. I am sure your mamma and aunts believed they were giving you something that would give you energy and was good for you. I still love that eggy taste. Great memories

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  2. Oh, I just got back to North Queensland from my first trip to Melbourne! This would be a wonderful day! Refering to an earlier comment, my sister and I were also given uovo battuto but with a little more milk – I came to refuse milk and my sister has a lifelong aversion to eggs!! Yes, poor mum thought she was giving us a great energy giving drink! I love the Italian connection and similarities even though we all live so far apart. There is nothing like an Italian upbringing. I enjoyed a visit to Melbourne Museo Italiano recently which was emotional and rewarding. Thank you for your kind comment on my recent post! xx

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    • I love the connections we make through social media – such a small world really. Yes the museo Italiano is fabulous isn’t it? Carlton has again become quite italian after a lull – so many new migrants, most of them young. I love walking down Lygon St and hearing them chatter. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Melbourne and let me know if you are here is town again. Paola xx

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  3. Oh dear, this looks wonderful. I want the rustic tart now. Geez, I would have come for the weekend from Adelaide for this but I just registered for a course at the South Australian Writers Centre – Writing about food – with Barbara Santich! How’s that for irony?! Maybe next time…

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  4. I can’t believe I missed this! October just too busy…
    Any chance of a repeat in the Autumn?
    I live local to Prospect Cottage with good knowledge of wild foods to b foraged including fennel, bramley apples & crabapples so sweet you can eat them off the tree, 19th century mulberry trees w fruit as long as a little finger… Currently I’m busy making up my elderflower cordial for the year; for dry climate & post-alluvial, chewton does pretty well!

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    • sorry I am so tardy in responding to this – YES – there will be more classes in 2015, hopefully late autumn for the first one. I love that you have local knowledge on foraging, and I ADORE elderflower cordial. Yum!! Happy new year

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