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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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Buona Pasqua!

Auguri di buona Pasqua a tutti! In Italia everybody is eating agnello (lamb) and ends the
pranzo (lunch) sharing a colomba (literary dove, but in this case it is a cake shaped like a dove, see below).
Domani รจ Pasquetta (lit. little cute Easter i.e. Easter Monday): it is a national holiday and usually people have a picnic with friends...or if it rains, a long meal at the house of friends or at a restaurant.
We have a saying: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi. Christmas with yours (meaning with your parents/family), Easter with who (you) want.
However, when I was living in Italy I loved to stay with both family and friends and celebrate Pasquetta in the vineyard of my nonno: we would eat, walk, nap, sing, eat,...and of course go to church.

(pic taken from http://www.crossingitaly.net/travel/318/colomba-pasquale-the-recipe-of-the-italian-doveshaped-easter-cake/)

Involtini di pollo al latte

For the videos of this class click here.

Ingredienti per 2 persone:

- 500 g (about 1.1 lb) of chicken (pollo) breast (petto-> petto di pollo) thinly sliced
- 2-3 thin slices of prosciutto cotto (ham)
- fontina or scamorza or another tasty cheese
- about 10 fresh sage (salvia) leaves (foglie->foglie di salvia)
- latte (milk)
- olio d'oliva
- sale
- noce moscata


1- Preheat the oven at 200 C/400 F
2- Out of 500 g of petto di pollo you should get about 16 thin slices (you can also buy the chicken breast pre-sliced).
3- Pound the chicken slices to tenderize them
4- Layer each cutlet with a small piece of ham, half a leaf of sage, a small piece of cheese and a few grains of salt
5- Roll up tightly and seal with a toothpick
6- Lightly coat the bottom of a porcelain or pyrex baking pan with olive oil
and place the chicken rolls (involtini di pollo) side by side
7- Let them bake for about 10 minutes, flipping them until some parts get brown
8- Then cover with milk, season with salt and ground nutmeg and bake for another 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the milk is creamy

In alternative you can cook the involtini in a non-stick pan or skillet initially at medium-high, then at medium heat.
When you will be over 21, between steps 6 and 7 you can add a glass of wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

Patate e finocchi al latte

For the videos of this class click here.

Ingredienti (for one baking pan):

-4-5 large patate (e.g. Idaho or Russet are perfect) and/or 2 finocchi (fennel bulbs)
- latte (milk)
- grated parmigiano
- olio d'oliva
(olive oil)
- sale, pepe nero, noce moscata (salt, black pepper, nutmeg)


1- Preheat the oven at 200 C/400 F
2- Peel the potatoes and cut them in disks about 1/2 cm thick (1/5 inch)
3- Wash the fennel bulbs, remove the stalks/leafy part and slice them (there isn't an
ideal thickness, but if you make them thinner they cook faster)
4- Lightly coat the bottom of a porcelain or pyrex baking pan with olive oil
5- Make a few layers of potatoes/fennel and cheese, seasoning with a little salt, nutmeg and black pepper.
6- Add enough milk to cover
7- Top with grated parmigiano
8- Bake until the milk becomes creamy, the patate/finocchi are soft and the top is golden brown (based on the thickness, it usually takes 20-30 minutes)


- you can add sliced onions and some garlic if you like them
- non-vegetarians can add a couple of thin layers of ham
- if you want to reduce the time in the forno (oven), you can boil the potates/fennel before placing them in the baking pan..but you will have one extra pentola (pot) to wash =P, so I do not consider it a time saver after all
- you can add different spices, such as curry (not much used in Italy, but tasty)
- you can use also the stems of the finocchi if you slice them very thin.
- Finocchi
are delicious raw, as a healthy snack, or in a salad.