Please be aware that I do not wish to have my photographs published , pinned or repinned on Pinterest.

copyright notice

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Italy the beautiful, Part II

Is it work or is it play?

How many Chefs will let you into their kitchen and knead dough for the evening's dinner guests?  

Chef Marina of the Relais Sant'Elena, Bibbona, Italy did just that.

Ready to go to work.

We began by combining ingredients for their famous
 Ragu'Di Chianina. 
Made with  meat from the famous white Cattle of which the Relais has a large herd.

Ingredients include olive oil, carrots, onions. celery, tomatoes, tomatoe paste, salt and pepper, cook for about an hour.  

Ugo the bull and his heifers usually roam the countryside but it was a little too cool for the young ones. we were told.

Chianina are one of the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds.

They have been raised for at least 2000 years and have been used not only for the famous bistecca alla fiorentina but also for agricultural power.  

The Totelli dough should look like this after about 20 minutes of kneading. .
For the Tortelli Maremmani we used Semolina Flour. I was surprised how difficult it was to knead this dough.  I am used to kneading my bread dough made with whole wheat flour.  
It is much easier.  

Now the fun begins. 
Rolling the dough through the machine on the first setting. then on number 3 and finally on number 7.  
Filling is made with cooked chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, and a little nutmeg.  

Place 1 TB of filling 2 inches apart and between 2 layers of dough and trim with special wheel.  Let sit for a little while and boil in water for about 10 minutes, and just before serving. 

For dessert we made Tiramisu.
Chef Marina soaked ladyfingers in very strong, hot coffee.  
She then added a mixture made up of whipping cream, muscarpone cheese, eggs and sugar. 

She layered these ingredients into a glass dish and placed it into the refrigerator.

And speaking of eating...
remember when I told you about the Marina di Bibbona 
fishing shack?  It held a secret. 

It has received a Michelin Star.  

 It wasn't easy but we were able to make reservations for Dinner. 

Chef Luciano Zazzeri of  "Ristorante La Pineta" is a Fisherman turned Chef and now a famous chef. 

What we didn't realize is that the restaurant serves only fish.  

There were several Antipasti courses all containing raw fish.

Then a Primi Piatti of fish, then a Secondo Piatto yes, you guessed it, of fish. 

I like fish, but in moderation. 


The Secondo Piatto served is known worldwide as a gourmet delicacy. 
Black Squid Ink Pasta, a dish I could not eat.


Back Home at the lovely Relais Sant'Elena. 
Happy Mother's Day dear Friends,



  1. Oh, Gina!
    What fun to be allowed into a chef's kitchen to learn how to make pasta dough. You and Gene look like pros.I do not know if I would even take a bite of that Black Ink Squid Pasta, but my husband would love everything at the fishing shack with a Michelin star...............made a Tuna Tartar for him tonight.
    Hugs, Sieglinde

  2. Dear Sieglinde, I would love your Tuna Tartar. Working with Chef Marina in her kitchen was a lot of fun. We ate the Tortelli for dinner that very night. It was truly delicious. Next time we go to the big city I need to look for Semolina flour.

  3. Gina it looks like you are having a fabulous time in Italy. I wanted to let you know my painting of your tulips was accepted to the juried show and are now up for final judging. Around 400 paintings are accepted out of several thousand entries so it's quite remarkable to me that I was accepted so thank you again for the inspiration.

    1. Dear Bonnie, I am so pleased that your painting was accepted to the juried show. Now I will keep my fingers crossed for you to win the big prize.
      I would love to see your painting. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers and it would be interesting, for me, to see your interpretation.

  4. Dear Gina - it must have been lots of fun making pasta, something that I have never done, but my youngest son and his wife make their own from time to time.
    Not keen on squid ink pasta myself - I am not a great squid or calamari fan or mussels for that matter either.

    1. Dear Rosemary, We have made noodles with regular flour at our house. I thought that it would be similar when using Semolina flour. The process is the same but the business of kneading the dough is totally different. It is hard work, but I'm going to give it a go.
      I'm with you on not appreciating some of the sea creatures offered in some restaurants. I do love Spaghetti a la vongole. In fact, Mr G is going to the big city today to pick up an order of clams.

  5. Oh Gina, what fun it must have been to have a cooking lesson from an expert chef. I've never used semolina to produce dough, and will have to do some research about that concept. The ravolini look fabulous, and it's interesting that your chef used the traditional way to cut the squares rather than using a sort of top and bottom press device. Good for him!
    Tiramisu is so delicious. Your have reminded me of how much I love it, and how many of the NYC places where I have ordered it have now closed. The older Italian owners retired and the next generation didn't carry on the tradition.
    Ink squid pasta does appeal to me. I've put it on the list.


    1. Dear Frances, Watching Chef Marina make hand made Tortelli was a real treat. She was so quick, a press could not have done it faster. I can't wait to try it out before I forget how she did it. I know that there are many recipes for Tiramisu. I don't think that I knowingly ate Tiramisu which included soaking ladyfingers in hot coffee.
      What I love about this particular cooking class is that all of the steps for all the recipes were simple and doable.

    2. Gina, the class just looks wonderful. I once had a boyfriend whose grandmother was from Italy and was a fabulous cook, who made everything from scratch. Going to her house was a real treat. Although in the family power structure of the house, she would not pass along any of her cooking methods to her three daughters, she would share some tips with me. These are treasured memories. xo

  6. Loved seeing you and Gene up to your elbows in dough, hahah!!!!
    Wonderful - I can see your trip was truly awesome my dear.

    I'm behind in my prep for Ireland, and we leave Wed., so much left to do. Weather related stuff, kids, grandkids, and an adorable new great-grandson, all took up far too much time the past week or so. . . . . . . . so I must run and get my skates on now!!!!

    Hugs - Mary

    1. Dear Mary, You are such a pro when it comes to travel and packing for travel. I know that you will get it all done in good time. Nothing is more important than spending time with your family and especially a sweet and adorable new grandson.

  7. You all are doing a good job. Yummy!

    1. Thank you Weekend Windup. Thank you also for your visit.