Sunday, November 29, 2015

Saturday Afternoon of Gourmet Food and Wine with Chef Max

I had great fun yesterday afternoon upstairs at Jammin Via Pre indulging in Italian pleasure with paired gourmet food and wines. The cooking demo was by Chef Max, founder of the NERO GROUP in Kuala Lumpur (his restaurants: Nerovivo, Neroteca and Vineria). He was assisted by the 23-year-old Chef Luca from Florence. The food was delicious! I loved the wine selection too.

The event has certainly brought back for me fond memories of Italy when I was there for three months last year in the deep south. The food samplings at the demo were:

The western north: Piedmonte and Liguria
  1. Focaccia Ligure 
  2. Involtini Bresaola
The deep south: Puglia (I was here!) and Sicily
  1. Calzoni Fritti Siciliani
  2. Crema di Melanzane Calabrese

Chef Max explaining how to make the focaccia ligure dough. Tips:
  • Press down the toppings so that they will not detached after they're cooked.
  • Olive oil (OO) is good enough and don't use extra virgin OO as it'll just be a waste (literally up in smoke).
  • When preparing the "growing agent" the less yeast you use the better (7 gram is ideal for a normal-sized dough). 
  • Water and vinegar helps the yeast to grow, and stir it until bubbles form which will help the yeast to grow even more. 
  • Keep working the dough instead of adding water even if it feels "dry" because as you knead it, it will become softer and moist.
  • If the dough still sticks to your hand when you knead it, the dough is not ready.
  • Adding potato into the dough will help it last longer.

This is how the focaccia ligure dough looks like when it's ready for toppings such as salami, cheese, mozzarella, and olive oil.

Chef Max assisted by the young Chef Luca from Firenze (Florence). A variety of toppings being placed on top of the focaccia dough.

The Urbani Tartufi (truffles paste) used for the involtini bresaola (air-dried beef). Chef Max gave two recipes: 1) with tomatoes, anchovies, and rocket salad (Liguria); 2) with truffles, ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano (Piedmonte). Chef Max has warned against using truffle oil which is nothing but chemical. For the ricotta, it is best to buy ready-made instead of attempting to make them yourselves as you could get into tummy troubles if you're not careful.

Chef Max holding a bresaola he's wrapped.

My two versions of the involtini bresaola. Yummy! I especially liked the tomatoes+anchovies+rocket version.

Onward to the calzoni siciliani (stuffed Sicilian patties) and here's one of the many. It looks like a karipap!

Here are the ready-to-eat calzoni siciliani. I also re-posted below a short Instagram video of the panzerotti (similar to calzoni) that I took at the Il Grottino Minervino Murge in Puglia.

A video posted by Alice Teh (@aliceteh) on