I’d been looking forward to this week’s curriculum for quite some time now….Italy Week!!! Despite the fact that I chose to attend culinary school with the intention of elevating and ‘fancifying’ my cooking skills; deep down (and sometimes closer to the surface), I’m just a simple gal. Ingredients that have been painstakingly manipulated, flavours that have been complexly combined and presentations that artfully impress are all wonderful techniques to master. I am very fortunate to be learning all that the program has taught me so far….but what really moves me, now more than ever, is rustic simplicity. This is the cooking that, by far, excites, inspires, moves and satiates me the most. Such cuisine honours the integrity of the ingredients while keeping the labour lighter. As someone who has always been most interested in home cooking, I truly believe it is paramount that our culture is able prepare and enjoy simple, delicious and healthy food.
Like any of the cuisines we have touched on so far, we don’t get a lot of time to delve too deeply. Italy week taught me to make pasta by hand, as well as with a pasta machine. I enjoyed it so much, I ran out yesterday and bought one for home. My brand new, shiny silver Atlas sparkles in my kitchen, feeling sturdy and durable enough to last me a lifetime; ready to crank out literally miles of sheet pasta which will then be transformed into lasagna, linguine, fettucine, cannelloni, tortolloni etc. We made one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had….and that includes those consumed during a decent smattering of pizza field studies in Europe; even a few specimens from wood-burning brick ovens. The Roasted Squash Cannelloni and the Lemon Anise Biscotti also place as some of the finest I’ve ever had. The Roasted Tomato Soup was soothingly memorable, and also dead simple to make; you can even reduce it and use it as a sauce for pasta or mussels. I’ve never been a fan of gnocchi in the past, having found it too heavy and starchy for my taste….but the Potato Gnocchi we made on Wednesday has converted me. Simply delicious.
Fettucine Ailio e Olio
Here is a short list of all items we made during Week 10:
Hand-Shaped Pasta (Trilli, Orrecchiette, and Trilluzzi)
Tomato Sauce, Pesto Sauce and Cream Sauce
Savoy Cabbage Wrapped Salmon w. Sheet Pasta
Black Pepper Panna Cotta
Roasted Tomato Soup
Fettucine Ailio and Olio
Lemon and Anise Seed Biscotti
Chard Wrapped Bocconcini w. Blueberry Vinaigrette
Veal Piccatta w. Potato Gnocchi
Open Lasagna w. Crab & Bolognese
Pork Shoulder w. Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi and Grilled Asparagus
Torta Rustica w. Potato and Chard
Saffron Sheet Pasta (for Cannelloni)
Stuffed Rabbit Sous Vide w. Bean Puree and Chocolate-Marsala Reduction
Roasted Squash Cannelloni w. Porcini & Walnut-Cream Sauces
….And it’s not over yet. I can’t wait for tomorrow (Monday of Week 11), when Chef Tony is going to teach us how to make cheese….