Welcome to Yet Another Cooking Blog.

As you may have guessed, this is a blog about cooking - in particular my cooking. It has been mentioned to me several times that I seem a little obsessed with food, so I have decided to blog about my menus, my successes, my failures and anything else that springs to mind

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cooking class - Italian

One of my christmas presents was 4 cooking classes in for cuisines - Japanese, Thai, Italian and Mexican.  Yesterday I had my Italian cooking class.

The class was held in Stock Restaurant in Manchester.  We were very fortunate to have the head chef - Enzo Mauro teach us the basics of Italian cuisine in a two hour class.  The class started with introductions, and an agenda that went through what we would learn in the class.  In this session we were to make a basic neapolitan sauce, meatballs (to cook in the sauce) and a classic green pesto.

After the introductions were made, we all went to our stations where we first made the neapolitan sauce (a tomato sauce used as a base for many other pasta dishes).  Chef took the opportunity while we were cooking to talk about olive oil, describing the differences between extra virgin, virgin and the oil pressed from the stones (the name of which I can't remember but will update when I do).  He also described the method used by experts when tasting oils, which includes rubbing it on the hand to warm and then smell - in order to assess the acidity and aroma of the oil.  All very interesting!

Whilst we were cooking the sauce, the next step was to make the meatballs to put in the sauce.  These were very simple (but very tasty) comprising of -

Beef mince
Fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper

I learned here not to brown or fry the meatballs first, just to put them straight into the pasta sauce to cook in there.  This makes them tender and juicy, and don't get the spongy texture you can get with them when they have been pre-cooked.

As these would take a while to cook, the next thing to make was the pesto.  This was the first time I had made pesto, but it was so delicious I will be making it again.

Chef was incredibly helpful, and when he wasn't helping us to adjust our dishes, to give tips or to answer our questions, he was regaling us with stories about his time working with Ricky Stein and Keith Floyd.

At the end of the class, chef talked to us about some of the different types of pastas available, and what dishes they are most suitable for.

For anyone who enjoys cooking and enjoys Italian food, I would definitely recommend this class.  If you are interested, the classes are available through Intafood

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