Last weekend, I took a cooking class with world-renowned Italian chef and former Iron Chef contestant, Roberto Donna. Even better: it was conducted in his home and we were able to relax in his dining room afterward and enjoy the fruits of our labors. Five courses were way too much, however! By the time we reached dessert, I was too full of crostini, soup, fresh pasta, and saltimbocca.
Friends asked me to post what I had learned. So here goes:
1) I need remedial chopping instruction.
2) Fresh pasta rocks.
That's it, you ask? Well, it was a fast class. I was concentrating on not fulfilling my social role of Disaster Girl. There were so many ways to wreak havoc: open flames, sharp knives, six-foot trails of pasta. Did I mention sharp knives??
Seriously, chopping is important. I whacked away at my shallot, only to learn that uniform pieces cook best--leaving nothing burned from being too small and nothing undercooked from being too large. The best way to slice a shallot (or other items) is to cut it in half, place it face down, then cut into it horizontally (not all the way) so that then you can cut uniform vertical pieces. Like cutting squares in a sheet cake, only in 3D.
That probably makes no sense. You'll have to google a better description. The point is, make your mince uniform.
We also made both spinach and egg pasta. There were six of us in the class and it took all of us to feed the pasta through the machine. After we passed it through, Chef Donna let it dry a bit before cutting it. Then he tossed it in flour. The result was a firm pasta that stood up well to the sauce but was so wonderfully flavorful. What a revelation! No wonder people rhapsodize about fresh, homemade pasta. It also seemed like a great dinner party idea, to make fresh pasta together. (You may be interested to know I cooked in a dress and heels. I felt like a female from another era.)So here's the point for you: chef Donna has posted some of his recipes and cooking tips online. So now you can try them, too. Visit robertodonna.com/recipes for better instruction than I have left you here!