Authentic Italian Cooking Class

Created and sponsored by Silvia from “beataMente,” meaning blissful mind: a cultural association representing the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, providing activities, tours, tasting classes, and much more, “aiming to share knowledge and human experiences through the spirit of community and conviviality.”

I recently attended their first, small group cooking class, given by Paola Ricchi, a “spirited chef” from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.  Born in Bologna, Paola loves to cook and share traditional recipes from her area: today’s recipe was “Tagliatelle Bolognese,” with everyone getting their hands involved in making the tagliatelle pasta from scratch!

First, we learned how to make the egg & flour pasta, the correct way to knead it to just the right elasticity, the rolling method, repeated to get just the right thickness, the rolling pin method in preparation for slicing, and finally the un-raveling of the pasta to make the ribbons of tagliatelle.  In the meantime, the sauce was simmering, as we tasted “Lambrusco,” a refreshing, red sparkling wine, as an aperitif. In keeping with the region, a delicious Emilia-Romagna dessert was also served, called “English Cream” – oops, it was so delicious that I ate it before thinking to take a photo!

Held at the lovely apartment of friends, Cristina and Don, in support of the “slow food” movement in Italy, we all shared laughter, lighthearted fun, and a luscious experience. BUON APPETITO!

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French-Italian Lasagne

I don’t have a cooking gene, but have made over the years, lasagne: an easy, one pan kind of meal.  I hadn’t thought of making it in France though, for some reason, until the other day.  I bought FIORINI brand “Lasagnes aux oeufs” (eggs=19%)which were totally UNlike the American wavy-edged lasagne noodles.  And, there was even a recipe on the back of the box (OK, I admit, this is the real reason I bought it)!

Whoa! I started reading the recipe and it didn’t say to cook the noodles before layering them into the pan – What!? I had to be mis-translating something here, so I then looked at the general cooking directions on the side of the box:

“Ne necessite pas de pre-cuisson” (not necessary to precook)

HUH? I had never made lasagne without first cooking the noodles – so surely, I was not reading the French correctly – but Non, this was correct! I didn’t believe it, but went ahead and layered my UNcooked noodles with my own version of vegetable lasagne, thinking this couldn’t possibly turn out well.

Voila! In 40 minutes, it had finished cooking and was DONE! Now I’m wondering if I really needed to pre-cook American lasagne noodles, or is this a case of cultural cooking differences!?