I am a big fan of Italian food. Pizza, Ravioli, Pannacotta, .... you name it, I love it! However, most of the time, I order from outside or if I'm in the mood I just boil ready-made pasta and pour in some ready-made sauce . Easy right? Whenever I dine at any Italian restaurant, I always appreciate the work that goes into making that dish. Be it a simple pizza dough and something as complicated as a cannelloni. All these things seem complicated to me because I have no idea about cooking things from scratch. Last week, when the kind folks at 800-Pizza in Abu Dhabi invited me to be their guest at an Italian cooking class, I was thrilled. Finally, I would be able to make something myself. There was one person who was even more excited than I was - That was Mr. D ! His response was, "Go for it, I need Italian food at home"!
So here I was, on a fine Monday morning, for my first ever cooking class. Let me tell you a bit about 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi and Cooking@Home. 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi is not new to me or to many Italian food lovers out there. They have branches scattered all over the UAE and do some amazing Italian food. Their Gelato Al Balsamico is to die for. You can check my review about them here. Cooking@Home, on the other hand is an Italian cooking class started by two lovely ladies Francesca and Christina who's passion for cooking brought them together at a totally non-cooking event ... i.e at a language course! They realized that cooking was what they actually wanted to do more than anything else. So, they started Cooking@Home where they would teach others to prepare traditional Italian food at their home or in their clients homes.
On the menu today, was Ravioli Con Funghi (Ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta), pesto sauce, tiramisu and the best of them all - making pasta from scratch! We started off with Tiramisu as that was the only thing that required refrigeration and time to set. Francesca showed us how to make it right from the start. Until today, I was under the impression that Tiramisu was made from cake. Little did I know that they used biscuits in it. The good part is that most of the ingredients used in Italian dishes are readily available here in the UAE. Mascarpone cheese and Savoiardi used in Tiramisu are available at Geant or any other hypermarket. If you do not prefer coffee, you can substitute it with chocolate or a fruit syrup. Alcohol can be used too.
After we were done with Tiramisu, we moved on to making fresh pasta ... yup right from scratch. We started off with the dough. This would be used in our upcoming dishes. Since there were only two wooden boards, only two of us could prepare it. I chose to sit and watch. Three ingredients, just three ingredients is all you need to make pasta - flour, egg and salt.
Once you make a mound, you make pasta sheets using a pasta maker and you're free to make any kinda pasta you like. We made tagliatelle and some amazing ravioli. We also learnt to make the filling for ravioli ( a mushroom & ricotta mix ). Gosh, I cant believe how easy all this was.
For the tagliatelle, we made pesto sauce using fresh basil leaves. There's no need for me to get the ones in the market anymore when I can make one on my own. Who knows what kinda stuff they put into those! A small quantity of pesto can be used for a lot of pasta and the good part is that it can be stored in the refrigerator for a pretty long time. Extra virgin olive oil is the secret!
Once we were done with all the preparation, we got to have a really awesome, home cooked, meal. Francesca and Cristina totally changed my perception of Italian food. I was always under the impression that it was loaded with cheese and oil. But when you make it yourself, you know exactly what goes into it. You can make it simple, healthy and tasty too.
Cooking@Home is a great way to learn the art of Italian cooking and impressing your guests. Imagine having to tell everyone that you made your own ravioli. Its also fun to learn cooking with your friends or loved ones. Francesca and Cristina are so fun-loving and friendly that they'll make you comfortable right from the start. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner like me or a pro, you'll still have something to learn from them.
For more information on their cooking classes and what they offer, click here.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi. As always, all opinions are my own.
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