I’ve had my eye on cooking classes at the Urban Element for a while now. Apparently I mentioned this fact a few times, beacause as an early birthday gift my thoughtful bf got me one of their classes. I chose the Italian Harvest class because every single thing on the menu sounded amazing, and once I’d read the words “Carmelized Fennel Risotto”, there was no way I was missing that. The class did not disappoint. I would have liked to do a few more of the recipes myself (the class was split into groups because of the 3 hour class length and the amount of recipes to make), but we did get nice copies of the recipe to take home with us. I will happily be working through them again on my own time. Watch this space for details!
First up was the Eggplant Caponata. I wasn’t super pumped about this when I saw the olives in the recipe listing since I’m not a fan. But I thought what better place to give olives another try than at a cooking class with a professional chef. And I just may have turned an olive corner tonight! I ate every bite of this, and would probably consider it as one of my favourites for the night (although picking a favourite for the night is a losing game – everything was great). But the eggplant, which also included capers, toasted pinenuts and fresh herbs, had an amazing sweet and vinegar-y marinade and amazing texture. Did I mention all the goodness was served on top of a grilled baguette?
(Sorry for the photo quality – they’re all IPhone shots.)
Up next was Minestrone Soup! Hearty, fresh and perfect for fall.. Loved the tiny pasta shells in this one 🙂
And then there was the Panzanella Salad. I’m making this one again FOR SURE. Traditionally this salad is made from day old baguette soaked in water, but since that sounds pretty gross, the chef adapted it to use homemade croutons. (And included the recipe for homemade croutons in the recipe pack for the night.) They soaked up the dressing and seasoning perfectly. It miiiiiight have been my favourite dish of the night. But I can’t say that for sure. Because later there was Pasta Carbonara. But more on that in a bit. First, check out the delightful Panzanella Salad with fresh fresh fresh Buffalo mozarella.
Up next was the Carmelized Fennel Risotto. Because of my uncontrollable carb obsession, I was most looking forward to this dish. It was creamy, decadent goodness. I loved the slight citrus flavour because it helped balance the richness of the dish. So much Parmesan cheese! And the carmelized fennel added a unique and delicious flavour. Vegetarian too!
This dish, Pasta Carbonara, was the one I worked on. The recipe contains 10 egg yolks, cream, Parmesan cheese, Italian sausage and pancetta, so it’s definitely heavy. But we also made fresh pasta to go along with it, and it was so light and fresh it really balanced the heaviness of the dish nicely. And the portion size wasn’t huge, so that helped too. Just a few bites! Fresh pasta recipe included as well!
The flatbreads served along side the pasta had olives, mushrooms, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, diced tomatoes and fresh herbs and spices. Oh, and homemade dough and FRESH RICOTTA CHEESE! The quality difference between the fresh ricotta and what you get in the store was astounding. And it’s really not that complicated. Consider this one added into regular rotation!
The Tiramisu was served in individual ramekins. Generally, I don’t like coffee flavour, but I figured since it was mixed with sugar, liquer, whipped cream and marscarpone cheese, I could give it a chance. Needless to say I ate the whole thing. Oh, and it’s dusted with cocoa powder, so throw a bit of chocolate into the flavour mix.
Action shot. Lady Fingers, Kaluha, Marscarpone Cheese. Awesome.
All in all, it was a highly delicious night!