During the Spring 2012 I taught one of many interdisciplinary undergraduate seminars in the Experimental Study Group at MIT. Each class is based on the preparation of a simple delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.
Videography by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

Click here to watch the videos in full resolution.
Buon divertimento!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Crespelle di spinaci

For the videos of this class click here.

Crespelle are essentially crepes; they just tend to be a little smaller (max 20 cm in diameter) and more "wrinkly." This is the recipe for 4 crespelle, but you should make many more: the batter is good for a few days in the fridge. You can also cook the crespelle and store them piled on top of each other in the refrigerator or freeze them.

You can substitute besciamella with ricotta or, if you want a lighter dish, you can leave it out altogether (and skip steps 6-8-9). You can make crespelle with essentially any veggies. If you like meat, you can add ham or chicken (cook it well before filling the crespelle!).

You can also make sweet crespelle: fill them with Nutella, or ice cream, or brown sugar and a little lemon juice, or walnuts and honey, or...

Ingredienti per 4 crespelle

- 1 uovo (egg)
- 60 g di farina (1/2 cup of flour)
- 125 mL di latte (1/2 cup of milk)
- 60 mL di acqua (1/4 cup of water)
- 125 g di spinaci freschi (about 4.5 oz of fresh spinach)
- sale
- burro (butter)
- parmigiano grattuggiato (grated parmisan)
- formaggio tipo fontina (fontina-like cheese)
- spezie (spices)


1) in a ciotola (bowl) whisk the flour (sifted), a pinch of salt, milk, egg and water until smooth. If you have time, allow the batter to rest for 20-30 minutes.
2) Heat a iron or non-stick pan at medium high heat and melt a little butter.
3) Pour a ladle full of batter on the pan. Rotate the pan and use a wooden spoon to distribute the batter evenly.
4) Cook until the edges start to detach from the pan, turn using a spatula.
5) In the meantime, cook the spinach with a little water or in a pan with garlic and olive oil. Add salt and spices at your taste. Remove excess water.
6) Prepare the besciamella (see below).
7) Fill each crespella with spinach, besciamella, grated parmisan and small pieces of fontina cheese (as much or as little as you like). Fold them in triangles, or roll them.
8) Spread some besciamella on a teglia (baking pan). Place the crespelle on top and cover with besciamella and grated parmisan.
9) Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 F.

Ingredenti per la besciamella:

- 20 g di farina (of flour)
- 20 g di burro (of butter)
- 0.2 L di latte (of milk)
- Noce moscata (nutmeg)
- Sale


1) Melt butter at low medium heat
2) Add the flour (medium heat) and cook until golden brown
3) Add warm milk (a little at the time, so it remains smooth), bring to a boil and continue to stir at low flame until creamy (typically it takes just a few minutes, keep stirring!)
4) Add salt and a pinch of nutmeg and remove from the heat
5) The besciamella is ready to be used (if you store it in the fridge, cover with saran wrap)

Lezione numero sette (2/2): la canzone della cucina

For the videos of this class click here.

During the last class we repeated the vocabulary by singing a modified version of the canzone (song) "Old MacDonald had a farm" (in Italian: Nella vecchia fattoria = in the old farm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35ts0avRmT4).

Try to sing along! You have to decide when to use c`è (=there is) or ci sono (= there are).

Nella nuova gran cucina

Nella nuova gran cucina
ia ia oh
c`è un sacco di farina
ia ia oh

ci sono le uo-va, uo-va, uo uo uova
c`è la fa-ri-na, fa-ri-na, fa fa farina

il lat-te
il bur-ro
il sa-le

Nella nuova ...

il for-mag-gio
gli spi-na-ci
le spe-zie
la bi-lan-cia

Nella nuova ..

la cio-to-la (bowl)
le po-sa-te (flatware)
il mes-to-lo (wooden spoon, ladle)
la te-glia (baking pan)

Nella nuova ..


nuova= new (f,s)
gran= poetic for grande = big
un sacco= a sac -> a lot