Barilla Cooking Class

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Northern Italian Winter pasta cooking class at Casa Barilla in Annandale, NSW. It was my first ever Italian cooking class and I was super excited. I entered the room and was warmly welcomed by all the Barilla staff and was served an aperitif. Then, it was time to meet the chef. Executive Chef Andrea Tranchero hosts all of the cooking classes at Casa Barilla and has done demonstrations at multiple food festivals and venues including the recent Good Food and Wine Festival in Sydney.

The class size was intimate giving a warm communal feel rather than a large industrial style class. We watched the chef create the two dishes we were to prepare ourselves later today and we were so amazed. The room smelled amazing and he made dishes that might seem complicated to the eye but are quite easy for anyone to prepare at home.

Andrea Tranchero plating up both courses.

So then it was our turn. First course was Cuttlefish Casserole in Red Wine and Garlic Sauce with Soft Polenta. I haven’t really cooked with a lot of seafood (tinned tuna does NOT count) but I love to eat it . So first up was preparing the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish was purchased from the fish markets earlier in the morning and was already cleaned (perfect). We pan fried it with some fresh garlic and the Barilla red wine and garlic sauce. Next step, the polenta. I really enjoy polenta but struggle to get it right. Thankfully, there is a pre prepared polenta that only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove top! To finish it off, a mix through of some marscapone.

Progress shots from Course 1 and plate up

Second course was Three Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin, Crispy Guanciale and Sage. I had never really thought to eat puree with pasta but it just works SO well. Good way to get in extra veggies as well. So first we started with the pumpkin and leek puree. Really simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly. With the addition of freshly made chicken stock courtesy of Andrea, the puree was smooth and flavoursome. Next up was the sage butter sauce. We melted some butter in the pan until it was golden brown before adding freshly chopped sage. Once the tortellini was cooked, we added them into the butter with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Once well combined, it was time for plating. Puree. Tortellini. Crispy Guanciale (similar to prosciutto and was fried in olive oil to get it extra crispy). Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil!

Progress shots from Course 2 and plate up

Each course was paired with beautiful Italian wine. After devouring our two courses that we freshly prepared, we had some Pure Gelato mini ice cream cones for dessert. Yum!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this cooking experience. Cooking classes give you a chance to learn a new skill, refine old ones and better yet, try out some flavour combinations you may not have even thought of! Would highly recommend you give one a go!


If you are interested in participating in one of Barilla Australia’s cooking classes, follow the link provided here – Barilla Pasta Cooking Class 

Click the links below for more info on Barilla Australia and Andrea Tranchero

@barillaaus

@andreatrancherochef

 

 

Crispy Baked Polenta Chips

I’ve dined out and had polenta chips and they were super delicious! I love getting inspiration from food I’ve eaten out for ideas of what to recreate at home. I have never cooked with polenta so I followed the packet instructions to see how it would go and I was quite happy with the result. I wanted to make a healthier version of these and also ones that my body would be okay with so there is no dairy and they are also baked not fried! Here’s what I did.

Crispy Baked Polenta Chips

What you’re going to need

1 cup polenta

3 cups water

salt to season

2 tablespoons Nuttelex, melted (this is my go to dairy free spread but you could use butter or olive oil)

1 clove garlic, crushed

fresh herbs, finely chopped (e.g. basil, thyme, rosemary is what I used but feel free to use anything you have available)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water with salt to the boil. Once boiling, whisk in the polenta and reduce to a low heat. Continue to whisk until mixture is thick and uniform. Total cook time was about 5 minutes.
  3. In a casserole dish, pour polenta mixture and smooth until even. Wait until this cools down to room temperature (if you’re impatient or super hungry then you can put it in the freezer to speed up this process)
  4. Once cool and set, slice into 1 cm thick chips. (the smaller they are, the quicker they crisp up)
  5. In a small bowl, combine the Nuttelex, herbs and garlic. Dip each chip in the mixture and then place on a lined baking tray. Repeat until desire quantity is reached.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes. Make sure to flip the chips a couple of times to ensure they are crispy on all sides.
  7. Serve with dipping sauce of choice!

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