I would never describe my cooking skills as lacking. I spent a lot of my time as a childhood and adult life in my mother’s kitchen carefully watching her cook. I’ve spent a lot of the last few years cooking for Amanda each night as well. Still, an Italian cooking class was right up my alley and we found one with Florencetown on our recent trip to Italy.
The morning started with a tour of the food and produce market in Florence, a place Amanda and I had tried and failed to visit several times. Our tour guide walked us through the market, giving us a lesson on Florentine epicurean history and pointing out ingredients that we’d be using later in the morning.
The cooking class itself was held in a cooking studio of the Food and Wine Academy of Florence behind a rather nondescript door downtown.
The first dish prepared was the meat sauce. We personally didn’t have much to do with the creation but simply watched as our boisterous instructor and one of the students from our class added ingredients to a large saute pan. The important part to keep in mind about his sauce is that it was a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce. Even though it was being made for a class of 16, it still only contained two heaping spoons of tomato paste.
Our hands-on adventure began when the meat sauce went into the back kitchen to simmer. We were each given a cup of flour and asked to dump it on the marble table counters in front of us and make a nice pile with a hole in the middle. We each cracked one egg and dropped into the flour. I was able to crack the egg like a pro. The one-hand cracking method is something I mastered long ago. We then mixed the eggs and flower with a fork. I did have a small problem there as some of my egg decided to break through the wall of flour and run off the table onto my pants. It wasn’t a big deal but is the reason I prefer to mix things in a bowl. Once the flour was mixed into dough we set aside the forks and began folding it back on itself first horizontally then vertically. The goal was to strengthen the bonds of the dough so it would have elasticity.
The dough balls were then wrapped in plastic wrap and set aside to rise while we prepared desert.
After the desert was prepared, tiramisu, we were each given a rolling pin to press the dough out until it was thin enough that we could see the table through it. Using a pizza cutter we cut square sections out of the center (and strongest) part of the dough. Then we put small dabs of of prepared mashed potato filling on them before we folded over the halves. Our instructor explained that using an amazing pasta making tool called a fork we could pinch the edges of the ravioli closed.
The dinner didn’t take long to cook as the pasta only took 3 minutes to cook in boiling water. I don’t know if it was because the pasta was fresh or because we made it ourselves, but it was some of the best pasta we’ve eaten. The class was informative, fun and we met some interesting people. We’ve done a lot of different tours during our time in Florence, but this is the first tour where we gained a skill we could use at home. The tour was 89€ per person and great way to spend a morning.