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Cooking Class at Casa Nonna

Last Saturday I got a chance to take a cooking class at Casa Nonna courtesy of Dusty of ThreeLockharts PR. This was my first time at Casa Nonna, but I've heard great things about its pasta, desserts, and fun environment. I invited Cecilia to be my guest, and not only had fun learning about Italian food with her, but also was a lucky recipient of bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon she made at home!

But lets chat about the class. Unfortunately it was a demo (instead of hands on), so about 10 of us (including Jenna) sat around the bar area sipping complimentary mimosas and coffee, snacking on cured meats, bread and olives and listening to chef Amy Brandwein tell us about Tuscan region of Italy and its cuisine.

Amy was clearly knowledgeable, having spent time in Italy, very friendly, fun and open to questions. {I just wish the two girls helping out with the class did not constantly interject with their own comments, questions, suggestions. I wasn't there to lean from them, and it was horribly distracting.} We all had recipes, making it easy to follow what Amy was doing and letting us ask question if anything was unclear.

I loved that a lot of the cooking took place at Casa Nonna's oven that could reach 600F!

One of the dishes was egg yolk ribbon pasta with quail ragu, fava beans and Parmesan cheese. I'll be honest with you, quail sort of freaks me out, so I was happy we did not actually have to touch it.

During the pasta making process, Amy called for help and a few students volunteered. Check out the rolling of the dough process:

Another dish was grilled skewers of beef, pancetta, liver, spring onions, croutons and rosemary. This would be a perfect main course for a summer barbecue:

After demo'ing how to make a Tuscan bean soup with kale and vegetables, Amy called Casa Nonna's pastry chef to show us how to make a hazelnut almond spice cake. You should have seen the batter: it was incredibly thick and sticky: I could not imagine how it'd turn out. {Read till the end to find out.}

And then it was time to eat! Because what's a cooking class, demo or hands on, without tasting the fruits of your (or in this case Amy's) labor?

The food was served family style at a beautifully set table (with glasses of red wine!). First up was straight out of the oven bread with olive oil and herbs.

Then came the Tuscan Bean Soup with Kale and Vegetables. Although the recipe called for chicken broth, you can easily make it with vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. This was by far one of my favorite dishes. As I'm writing this now and looking out of the window on a cold rainy gray day, I wish I had a pot of this soup in my refrigerator. The key to this soup is to use best produce and to puree half of the beans to thicken the soup and leave the other half whole to add texture to the soup.

Then came the Egg Yolk Ribbon Pasta with Quail Ragu, Peas, Carrots and Parmesan cheese. The pasta was definitely the best part. If you've never made pasta at home, what are you waiting for? It's easier than you think, and you don't need special machines: just use a rolling pin or a wine bottle.

To go with the meal we had a side of peas and white beans. The simple white beans cooked with tomatoes was my second favorite dish.

We also had the grilled skewers I've mentioned earlier. They looked absolutely gorgeous and smelled sweet due to Vin Cotto. Unfortunately the lighting wasn't the best, so just use your imagination.

And then it was time for dessert. The cake was definitely dense, but luckily it wasn't overly sweet. Also, the ice cream served along with the cake lightened up the dish.

I was so full after this meal. I seriously did not eat until midnight! This was a fun way to spend an afternoon with a few friends, learn new techniques and recipes and eat delicious food. Check out the schedule for the next few cooking classes at Casa Nonna.


Delicious Dishings said...

That definitely sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon! I just ate quail for the first time at the beginning of this month. I liked it but I think it would freak me out a little if I had to cook it/touch it too.

Unknown said...

So this is the kind of fun you were having while I was at my board meeting. *jealous*
I actually haven't had much of the food at casa nonna yet, but I have had ALL of their desserts (well, except the chocolate ones of course).

Velva said...

What a fabulous way to spend the day. Wow!!! I am so envious.


Lo said...

What a fabulous experience! Even if it wasn't hands on, there's something to be said about enjoying the fruits of other peoples' labor!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention -- I absolutely need that oven. :)

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

This looked like a blast. I love going to cooking classes!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

Everything looks delicious! Love the pictures of the pasta making.

nicole said...

everything looks delish - especially the pasta! i love the shot of the the table and wine glasses, it's composed beautifully.