In March, Cambridge welcomed master cheesemaker Biagio Staiano for a fun and hands-on Mozzarella Class at Signorelli’s Deli. The event was made possible by Francesco Amato of online Italian food shop Agrumia who collaborated with Alex Signorelli to bring Biagio’s ‘art of making mozzarella’ to a group of 30 enthusiasts of Italian cheese.
Biagio showed us how to make the famous mozzarella from his family’s well-respected cheese factory in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, Caseificio Staiano. It was such a privilege to draw on its 100-year history of artisan methods and taste the ingredients local to the ‘Milky Mountains’ (Monti Lattari) along the coast.
We enjoyed a welcome drink (a requisite Aperol Spritz for me) and our gregarious host Alex introduced Biagio and his lovely wife Karolina, who was the interpreter.
The beauty of Italian cooking is the simplicity of its ingredients, provided they are high quality. This quick and easy recipe features staples in Italian cuisine, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, pasta, pork sausages, garlic and parsley. It’s important to use Italian sausages. They have a coarser texture than British ones. They’re the key to a delicious outcome so no bangers, capish?
You can buy Italian sausages in supermarkets, just look for a specific description on the packaging. However, your best bet is the Italian delicatessen. I found black truffle sausages at Signorelli’s Deli in Cambridge, which complemented the earthy mushroom flavours in this dish. I even enhanced the recipe with a few drops of truffle oil. However, if truffles aren’t your thing, there are sausages with chilli, garlic or fennel… even plain ones. Anything goes really, as long as they are Italiano!
This dish is best with a short, sturdy pasta such as rigatoni, tortiglioni or penne. Use your favourite variety of mushrooms or a mix of them, such as button, chestnut and cremini. For a more intense flavour, add a small amount of porcini mushrooms to the mix.
There was a time when authentic Italian pizza was hard to come by in Cambridge. In the last few years, there have been some excellent cafes, delis, restaurants and even mobile pizzerias serving this popular Italian classic all over our fair city. So much so, that we are now spoilt for choice, as there are many different kinds of pizza with their origins throughout Italy. Each region has their own way of making pizza, with Naples and Rome among some of the best known cities.
Most people are only familiar with the round single serving pizzas, sometimes baked in a wood fired oven. Signorelli’s Deli, which opened recently on Burleigh Street by The Grafton Centre, serve their pizza differently. They specialise in pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), where the dough is spread out in a rectangular tray, topped with a choice of ingredients, baked in an electric oven and cut into slices. It’s not meant to be served hot. The rectangular slices are easy to eat on the go but Signorelli’s Deli boasts a welcoming spacious interior with some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered. The pride and passion for what they create is apparent and they are very helpful in answering any questions about their products. There is definitely a great team there!
Signorelli Deli’s pizza al taglio has a thick (but not dense) crumb that’s puffy and similar to focaccia. The dough, obviously made from high quality ingredients, is full of air bubbles, resulting in an airy, chewy foundation robust enough to support a variety of toppings.