Sunday, November 6, 2011

Italian Cooking Class Last Night

Last night I taught a three hour plus class on pastas, healthy eating, and Italian fare for a small class of eight.  I planned to have the students each make a batch of fresh pasta dough at the beginning of the session, and then make dinner from their efforts.  It was BYOB and Wine Discount Center is right across the street.  In other words, I'm glad it wasn't a knife skills demo.

Pasta Dough

3 c. "00" pasta flour
3-4 eggs, large
Pinch of salt
A little water or olive oil if dry. 

Mix dough by hand, knead for 5-8 minutes after dough forms.  Fix the consistency if needed.  Let sit 20 minutes or so covered before rolling.

I demonstrated linguine, papardelle, & ravioli.  After having everyone roll pasta though the machine a few times, I began delegating other tasks to start the dinner.  On group made the ravioli filling, simply half ricotta and half mascapone cheeses, chopped cooked spinach, nutmeg, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper.

While this was happening, I began showing them some simple sauces with the same fundemental base, toasted garlic slivers, chili flake, and white wine (a good pinot grigio).  One of the sauces (for the linguini), then added chicken stock, and after it cooked for a bit, finished it with chopped Italian parsley, black pepper & toasted almond.

The other sauce took the same garlic, wine, chili base and added crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes (a little sunshine in a can).  After it cooked a bit, fresh ground black pepper and a branch of basil sat in there a bit while it simmered.  I finished both with some really nice unfiltered, 1st cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.

While the sauces cooked, I had them throw together a simple salad of baby spinach, walnuts, pear, meyer lemon juice, and the same finishing olive oil.  Sea salt, fresh pepper, and a scattering of pepato cheese on top bought me some time to cook and plate their pastas. 

After that I snuck out some lemon sorbetti that I bought at Whole Foods by a company called Angelo Gelato out of Bensenville.  I've always liked this company, and we currently serve them at the restaurant to my pleasure.  I also brought some anise biscottini from Tenuta's in Kenosha to cap the meal. 

I believe good times were had by all who attended.

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