Yesterday I taught the Italian themed cooking class I donated to Corrales MainStreet during their fund-raising event. It was my first attempt at a hands on class and I have to admit it went pretty well. Took a little longer than a straight demo class but I think everyone enjoyed the interaction with the food. My kitchen is not set up to be a teaching kitchen. I once did a class for 6 people – too crowded – so I have to limit class size to 3 – 4 people. But with hands-on that is just the right number. The attendees helped with the garlic toasts and had a chance to roll out and stuff the ravioli. They seemed to enjoy rolling out the pasta, especially as I now have a motorized pasta machine – sure beats the hand cranked version. Here’s the class menu:
Bruschetta Two Ways
Smoked Salmon Ravioli in an Asparagus Cream Sauce
The class started at 11 am. I was in the kitchen by 8 am baking bread and doing as much chopping, cutting and measuring ahead of time as was possible. I wanted to leave some of the prep work as part of the class, but people don’t need to see me stem arugula – most people already know how to do that. And items that require a long rest time, such as the pie dough for the crostata, are better made ahead. I do go over the recipe for any part of the dish I may have made in advance as well as cover any technique that may be unique to the dish. I also find that by prepping the ingredients ahead of
time and staging them on baking sheets with each dish on a separate sheet, I stay better organized and don’t forget ingredients.
The students were 10 minutes early so we started a bit ahead of time. The class took 3 hours – actually almost 4 if you count the time the results were eaten. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the kitchen and preparing our dinner. We made a full batch of pasta in the class but only used half of it for the Smoked Salmon Ravioli recipe, so I used the rest to make a batch of smoked salmon ravioli for dinner. I even had enough pasta left over from ravioli trimmings to make a couple of servings of herb fettuccine! A long day in the kitchen but fun.
Here are the recipes for the Bruschetta. The Salmon Ravioli was the focus of a previous blog. I’ll post the Apple Crostata recipe tomorrow.
Bruschetta Two Ways
To Make the Toasts: Makes approx. 45 toasts
- 24” long loaf of Italian Bread
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the broiler. With a serrated knife, cut the bread into ½ inch thick slices. Place on a broiler proof sheet pan and broil batches about 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 1 ½ minutes until golden brown, turn and toast other side. Remove from broiler, rub one side of toasts with garlic clove and lightly brush the same side with oil. Note: I ended up with fewer toasts as I cut the bread on a diagonal. I think it makes for a nicer presentation. Toasts can be made up to one week in advance and kept in an airtight container.
Mozzarella, Greens and Garlic Bruschetta
Makes 8 toasts
- ¾ lbs arugula, spinach or escarole
- 3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbl olive oil
- ¼ cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
- 8 toasts
Discard coarse stems from greens and wash and pat dry the leaves. Chop the greens coarsely.
In a heavy skillet cook the garlic paste in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the greens and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over moderately high heat until the greens are wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Pour off excess liquid. Transfer green mixture to a bowl and cool until just warm. Stir the mozzarella into the greens. Mound about 1 tablespoon of the greens and cheese mixture onto the oiled side of the toasts.
Tomato and Ricotta Salata Bruschetta
Makes 8 toasts
- 1 large shallot, sliced thin
- ½ tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup seeded vine ripened tomato
- 1 oz ricotta salata cut into a fine dice. (You can substitute Feta cheese)
- 1 tbl minced fresh chives
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 8 toasts
In a skillet cook the shallots in oil over moderate heat, stirring often until softened. Stir in tomato and cook 30 seconds, or until just heated through. In a bowl, toss together the tomato mixture with the cheese, chives, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Mound about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on the oiled side of the toasts.
These are great little appetizers because the toasts and toppings can be made ahead and assembled by the guests. And try combining a bit of each topping on one toast. In the words of Tony the Tiger “Tastes Great!”