Serious Foodie Course; Day 6

2 Mar

Day 6 of my Serious Foodie course was pasta night so this was easily my favourite night. I absolutely love pasta!!

We kicked off the class by making our own Classic Tomato Sauce from scratch. Even though I already make my pasta sauces from scratch, this class was a complete eye-opener. Chef Tony reinforced just how important it is to cook with quality ingredients. When making a tomato sauce, it all comes down to using quality tomatoes and tomato paste.

I have to admit that this is where I have been letting myself down. I have always used the tubs of tomato paste that you get in the stores but after learning from Chef Tony that you can easily make your own (and it tastes waaay better!) I will be doing that from now on. The good news is that it is as simple as pureeing some sun-dried tomatoes and adding that to your sauce. How easy is that?

In regards to tomatoes, Chef Tony believes that tinned San Marzano tomatoes are the best to cook with but be sure to read the ingredients – you want to ensure that the ingredients don’t include salt or citric acid (this means the tomatoes were picked under-ripe). Also, make sure you buy whole tomatoes rather than diced, as diced tomatoes have already been cooked. To take it one step further, you should also use a food mill to de-seed your tomatoes. They apparently become bitter in the long simmering process so they should be removed.

I had no idea that making a tomato sauce was such a minefield of potential mistakes! Once we made the sauce, we left it to simmer for quite a long time whilst we moved on to make the Broccolini and Cherry Tomatoes Aglio e Olio.

As is typical with Aglio e Olio dishes, there were very few ingredients that went into making this dish but the flavour was incredible. I was happy to find out that Chef Tony actually prefers cooking with dry pasta when it comes to pastas that you want to have some bite (such as spaghetti). Fresh pasta is great for making your own raviolis or tortellini but for al dente, you can’t actually go wrong with good quality dry pasta. Some good brands are Rustichella, Barilla, DeCecco, and Delverde. And when buying dry pasta look for one that has very few ingredients and has a rough texture rather than a smooth texture.

Next on our plate was Prawn-Leek Tortolloni with Saffron-Cream Sauce and this dish was incredible. We started by making our own pasta and rolled it out into thin sheets. The biggest tip that I learnt was getting someone to help you pull it through the roller. It is so much easier with more than one person! I normally battle it by myself at home but I will be calling B in as a recruit next time!

After rolling out the pasta, we cut it into squares about 10cm by 10cm and spooned a dollop of prawn and leek mixture into the middle. We then made them into tortolloni and gently cooked these before tossing them into a creamy sauce that included prosciutto, white wine, saffron, lemon zest and cream. I definitely want to make these again.

Our final dish for the night was Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce. We made the gnocchi from potatoes and rolled them ourselves using a very cool little gnocchi board. Admittedly, I found the motion of making gnocchi a little difficult at first but I started to get the hang of it by the end (although I definitely have not found my calling in life). We served these delicate little pillows with a meaty Bolognese sauce that we made with our classic tomato sauce, pancetta, ground veal, ground beef, white wine, and a splash of cream.

Mmmm! Just writing this up is making me hungry all over again. I thoroughly enjoyed pasta night and the tips that I learnt were extremely helpful. I didn’t realize that I was making so many pasta faux pas! Even just the simple tip of cooking dry pasta in a lot of water with a lot of salt has changed the flavour of my pasta. This class was easily one of the more helpful classes for me.

Helpful tips that I learnt from Day 6:

  • Use 1 liter of cold water for every 100g portion of dry pasta.
  • Always cook pasta in a lot of water rather than too little.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt for every liter of water and only add this once the water is boiling.
  • Do not add oil to the water that you are cooking the pasta in.
  • Constantly monitor your pasta if you like it al dente. The only way to get it perfect is to keep checking it and trying it along the way. Don’t just cook it for the amount of time that the packet instruction recommends.
  • Do not rinse your pasta after cooking.
  • When making tomato sauce, do not brown the garlic. You just want to soften it.
  • Don’t add sugar or oregano to your tomato sauce. If you start with good quality ingredients, you won’t need to add these other flavours.
  • Pancetta is pork belly, whereas prosciutto is pork leg.

5 Responses to “Serious Foodie Course; Day 6”

  1. Melissa March 2, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I would love a tortolloni lesson one day, I would be very happy to help with the pasta rolling.

    Did I mention I am good at doing dishes?

    • greedyguts March 3, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      😀 We should definitely have a cooking day one day soon.

  2. Angie March 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Yum. I loved the pasta class too and the tomato sauce was also huge revelation to me. I now always read ingredients on my tomatoes and chef Tony’s tomato sauce is my stand-by. Your pastas look awesome!

    • greedyguts March 3, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      I agree – the sauce was a revelation. And here I was thinking I was doing a good job! Ha!

  3. VancityAllie March 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Looks AMAZING Amy! I also agree that San Marzano tomatoes are the best… especially the ones that are D.O.P certified… Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

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