If the adventures of the Mystery Box received for the Talent for Food contest were surprising, even more surprising was the news that I was one of the three finalists, so I would like to tell you about my adventure from a slightly different perspective than a mere report: how to try to make the impossible possible.
My Talent For Food 2019 adventure and my Lentil flour dumplings
Let’s start with the fact that in my day-to-day life I am a conference interpreter and CEO of a language service company, Interconsul srl – Benefit Company, based in Parma, so on Friday 11 October, duty called as it does every other day, and at 7.45 a.m., after the kids’ hectic school drop-off, I was expected to review the translations to be sent to customers before the weekend. Oh yes, because convinced that I would never be among the finalists of the Talent from the Veneto region, my schedule continued, ineluctable, so I had to switch to weekend mode at 3.30 p.m. that Friday by picking up my friend and food blogger Cristiana Curri at the station (https://blog.giallozafferano.it/chicchecris/) with whom I had organised a cooking class dedicated to the great pasta classics in Roman cuisine on Saturday 12 October in the afternoon. Also, because I like challenges (this is the conclusion I came to), at 9 a.m. on the same day I had a nice course dedicated to savoury recipes using alternative flours to wheat.
A message on WhatsApp: panic!
So what happens when you get a congratulatory message on WhatsApp on a Sunday afternoon as you are driving to Rimini (about 220 km from home) to work as an interpreter at a conference? You wonder what you are being congratulated for, you run through your head what has happened in the last few days, you give up and ask your interpreter colleague sitting in the car with you to answer: “For what?” Return message: “You are in the finals at Talent for Food. Panic. Yes, literally panic, but not because of the competition as cooking competitions always put me in a good mood, but because of the Rubik’s puzzle I managed to create. In my head it is a succession of thoughts to put the coloured boxes of the magic cube into place, and in the end it comes out like a risk-taking game plan: I calculate the Parma-Valdobbiadene journey time on Google Maps (3 hours), I beg Cristiana to change the train ticket so that I can get there before noon to accompany me to Valdobbiadene, and I ask AIFB if it is possible to give up (the most painful part) the discovery programme planned for Saturday morning. You know what? In the end it all seemed… almost simple!
A Friday afternoon in Valdobbiadene for Talent For Food
So I find myself on a Friday afternoon at the DIEFFE Academy of Professions in Valdobbiadene (Treviso) with 50 minutes to prepare, cook and serve a recipe using the ingredients provided by 29 companies from Treviso and Padua that have supplied ‘mystery boxes’ with products from the Veneto region. While cooking with Daniela Boscariolo (blog.giallozafferano.it/timoelenticchie the winner) and Daniela Pennisi (www.laboulangeriepatisserie.it), Angela Frenda – Editor-in-Chief of the monthly magazine ‘Cook’ (Corriere della Sera), writer and cooking teacher – gives the floor to Giovanni Taliana and Armando Serena, Presidents of the Food Group and the Wine and Spirits Group of Assindustria Venetocentro, to Anna Maria Pellegrino, President of AIFB, to Innocente Nardi, President of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg and to Alessandro Marzotto, Hospitality Wine Shop Manager of Santa Margherita Wine Group. The three finalists whilst cookingFaithful to one of the guiding principles of the contest, in my recipe I combine the culinary tradition of Emilia with products from the Veneto region, which is why I prepare the ever-present stuffed pasta, but this time with Vicenza-style salt cod and artichokes inside, saffron in the dough and sautéed mushrooms as a dressing. What was missing on my plate? A crispy part, but I don’t like fritters, so I couldn’t think of any alternative… I’ll be ready for next time!
After judgement, ritual photos, hugs and kisses between new friends and new acquaintances, we headed back to Parma, a stop at a gas station for a hot drink and a super, but brief sleep before a second day of challenges with two cooking classes and… this recipe prepared on the fly on Saturday evening for my super-helpful guest and dear friend Cristiana, naturally cooked with Talent for Food 2019 products!
Lentil flour dumplings with artichoke cream and stracchino cheese
13.32g carbohydrates per 100g
Ingredients for the dumplings
- 270g milk
- 90g potato starch*
- 60g lentil flour*
- 40g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- 35g organic sunflower oil
- 4 eggs
- nutmeg, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Gnocchi sauce
- 250g cream of artichoke*
- 100g Stracchino cheese or another cream cheese
**Ingredients specific for celiacs *Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on Prontuario AIC)
- Put 270g of milk in a saucepan together with oil, a grinding of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add starch and lentil flour in one go, stirring well so that no lumps form. Let cool, then add the grated cheese and one egg at a time, mixing well. Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag with a round tip, approximately 1.5-2 cm in diameter.
- Put a pot of water on the stove, bring it to the boil and salt it. With a pastry bag, drop small cylinders 2-3 cm long with the help of a knife (although the dough is very soft, so the knife is only needed to interrupt the flow of mixture) into boiling water and when they rise to the surface, let them cook 1-2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl with the stracchino cheese and artichoke cream. Stir well to melt the cheese.
- Serve the Gnocchi hot with a grinding of black pepper.