Monday, December 5, 2016

Cooking with Valentina

For my birthday, we spent the day with Valentina with Cooking Class Milan in her kitchen learning to make all sorts of yummy Italian dishes! After welcoming us to her home, she put us to work making  gnocchi, fettuccine, lasagna, ragout, tomato/basil sauce, bechamel, pesto and a cream for a special dessert she would make for my birthday.

As we learned from Valentina, Italian cuisine is very simple and the most important thing is to use quality ingredients.  We had fun and laughed oh so much...and of course ate more than anyone should eat but it was my birthday so calories don't count.  Here are some pics and videos from our time with Valentina.  If you are ever in Milan and want to have a wonderful time while learning to make a few dishes, you should definitely spend some time with Valentina.

It's starting to smell so good in here and it's only been 20 minutes...

Making pasta 101

Valentina said my pasta was perfecto!

As Valentina says, "now we drink"!

Gnocchi (aka pillows of happiness) Making 101

Italians don't take their cooking seriously and clearly we don't either!

Lasagna Making 101
The process to make lasagna noodles is about a 12 hour process because of the drying process.  Valentina used pre-made fresh noodles (good thing because no way would Julie or I spend 12 hours in the kitchen!)

Valentina puts the final touches on the cream sauce we started earlier for the dessert and kicks us out of the kitchen!

The final results of our four hours in the kitchen

Fettucine al Ragout
noodles with traditional bolognaise meat and vegetable sauce

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
dumplings with mozzarella cheese and tomato basil au gratin

Lasagne al Pesto
pasta sheets with vegetarian basil and bechamel sauce from Genova

The perfect meal was concluded with my birthday cake...pandoro (a traditional Christmas time cake in Italy).  There is a dilemmina in Italian families if they should have pandoro or panettone.  Personally I prefer pandoro as it is a cross between a pound cake and angel food cake.  Panettone is the Italian version of fruit cake (yuck!).  Julie and I made the cream for the cake and Valentina surprised us with the final product.  While we were so full (or in distress as Valentina thought I was), there is always room for cake.  By far one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time.  Grazie Mille Valentina and Julie for making the day so special!

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