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22 September, 2013

Private Italian Cooking Class in Rome

Kneading the dough in Nonna Lina's Cooking Class
Nonna Lina's Cooking Class
When I hear the word "Italy" I instantly start dreaming about the the delicious mouth watering Italian cuisine; the pasta, the pizza, the seafood, the meat ... and of course the wine. I'm not much of a cook but I always wanted to learn how to prepare homemade pasta. During my last visit to Italy, I got the opportunity to do so ... I went to Nonna Lina's Private Cooking Class in Rome with LivItaly Tours. At 3.30 pm our unique experience started with a pick-up from our hotel ... 


Nonna Lina's outdoor kitchen in Rome
Nonna Lina's Kitchen

Aperitivo

After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at Nonna Lina's house just outside of Rome. Nonna Lina is a lovely artistic lady with Sicilian roots having more than 40 years cooking experience. Her house has a beautiful garden containing a fully equipped outdoor kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised cause I never thought we would be cooking and eating outside, there couldn't have been a more perfect setting for my first cooking lesson! The table was already nicely set and the aperitivo - including olives, cheese, toast with salmon and cheese - ready.


Frittelle di Zucchine dish
Antipasto: Frittelle di Zucchine

Antipasto

As starter we prepared Frittelle di Zucchine - a tasty antipasto - quick an easy to make. You can prepare this dish with pretty much anything, just replace the zucchine with something else ... corn for example. 

Frittelle di Zucchine ingredients (4 persons):
  • 2 medium sized Zucchini (courgettes)
  • 100 grams flour 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tea-spoon salt
  • 1/2 glass of mineral cold water
  • frying oil
Frittelle di Zucchine instructions:
  • grate the zucchine and add the salt on top
  • prepare the batter by mixing the egg and the flour by hand adding bit by bit water till you have a creamy mixture
  • add the salted zucchini
  • heat the frying oil in a pan and cook the frittelle in spoon portions, once they are golden take them out with a spoon and put them on absorbing paper to let out the excessive oil
  • at salt when required 
If you like a slightly heavier version: replace the water by milk and add some grated cheese.   


Fettuccine alla Norma dish
Primo: Fettuccine alla Norma

Primo

After the antipasto, we started with the real work: the "Primo" ... which is usually a non-meat dish with pasta, risotto or soup. We were going to make Nonna Lina's homemade Fettuccine alla Norma ... first we started with the pasta, the Fettuccine ...

Fettuccine (homemade pasta) ingredients (4 persons):
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 grams of flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • a little water
Fettuccine instructions:
  • put the flour on the work surface and make a well in the center
  • crack the eggs into the well
  • incorporate the eggs with the flour using a fork, add the salt and a little water
  • once the the dough forms a round mass, lightly flour the work surface and flatten the dough slightly and knead it by folding it in half towards you and pressing it away again from you with the heal of your hands (turn the dough around every know and then)
  • continue kneading till the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes)
  • wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature  

Rolling the dough with a rolling pin
Preparing homemade pasta by hand
Unwrap the dough and knead it briefly again on the work surface, continue by rolling out the dough using a lightly floured rolling pin, keep doing this till the dough is at the desired thickness. Cut into strips of width at your liking with a sharp knife and carefully unfold the strips.  


Making pasta with the pasta machine
Preparing homemade past with a machine
Instead of rolling the dough with a rolling pin till it's flat enough, you can also use a machine, this is mainly interesting when you have to make a huge amount of pasta. Although rolling the dough by hand was a lot of fun, we also wanted to see how it was done by machine:
  • divide the dough into 4 pieces, flatten it to a shape a bit narrower than the pasta machine opening and lightly dust it with flour
  • feed the dough through the machine's widest setting and gently guide it back onto the work surface. Fold it in thirds and roll it out again, repeat this process 5 times
  • set the pasta machine on a finer setting now and repeat again the folding and rolling process 6 times
  • at the last setting of the machine, repeat the process only 3 times
  • roll the dough through thinner settings, without folding, until you have reached the thinnest or next-to-thinnest setting (cut the pieces into 2 when it becomes too long to work with easily and remember to dust slightly with flour to prevent sticking)
  • you can now cut the past into strips by hand as also done above or cut it with the pasta machine using the widest-cut attachment of the machine

a pan with homemade pasta and sauce
Sauce alla Norma
Sauce alla Norma ingredients (4 persons):
  • 750 grams of red tomatoes
  • 2 slices of garlic
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 15 basil leaves 
  • 150 grams of salty ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggplants
Sauce alla Norma instructions:
  • chop the tomatoes into cubes and put it into a pan, add the squeezed garlic, salt and sugar. 
  • cook on a low fire for at least 40 to 50 minutes and add the basil leaves towards the end
  • In the meantime cut the egg-plants and fry them lightly in a large amount of olive oil till golden. Put the egg-plants on the side but add the excessive olive oil to the tomato sauce
  • cook the home-made pasta Al Dente and mix in the tomato sauce, add the egg-plant cut into pieces, some oil, more basil and decorate the grated ricotta cheese on top. 
This all sounds like a lot of work but actually it was not and it was for sure a lot of fun. I also can honestly say that this was the best pasta I ever ate, just delicious ! We also made some ravioli - just to try out - with spinach and cheese which was also really nice. 


Veal al Funghi dish
Secondo: veal al funghi
 

Secondo

After all this yummy pasta, we also prepared the secondo being veal with mushrooms which was again a delight, very tasty. We continued with Frutta (fresh fruit salad) and freshly baked cookies (which we prepared earlier) as dessert. Coffee and a homemade limoncello completed this wonderful meal.


Holiday Nomad, Nonna Lina and Kristin from LivItaly in Italian Cooking Class
Holiday Nomad - Nonna Lina - Kristin from LivItaly

This was without any doubt a unique way to experience Italy. Exceptionally, Kristin from LivItaly Tours also joined the cooking class, we all had a lot of fun. It was a wonderful day and we prepared a 5 star meal. I will for sure try this out again - this time on my own - and I'm quite confident that I will be able to recreate these delightful dishes, after all I had the best teacher ever! 


Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog 


50 comments:

  1. This sounds like so much fun, and the food looks delicious. I would love to take a cooking class in Italy. I'm a big fan of cooking classes on vacation since we took one in Thailand.

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    1. This was my first cooking class ever and I liked it so much that I will definitely do it again

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  2. I once attended a pizza master class at hilton delhi with Chef Theo ,but it was more of him showing us the procedure (from scratch) and then treating us to the finished goods. It was nice experience..but this is totally awesome, something I wanna try....can I do something like this in Delhi??

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. I don't know but I think so, they have cooking classed in all big cities these days

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  3. Italy is my favorite holiday destination, and one of the reasons is their food. All these look delicious!

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    1. Italian food is indeed so nice, love it.

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  4. What the amazing experience of the Italian cooking,.. the dishes looking very delicious and so much beautiful.. such an Interesting post.
    thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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    1. It was indeed an amazing, unique experience. I would love to do it again.

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  5. That has to be the best souvenir - that experience will definitely fit in your carry-on, last forever and your friends will love it when you get nostalgic and reenact it for them. Bravo!

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    1. Hi Maria, it is indeed a great memory and a wonderful experience

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  6. Very tasty post Freya! Nice to cook outside, and have the recipies :) Although Holland is not going to be the place to cook outside now. I will try it inside.

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    1. haha neither is Belgium but maybe next summer :-)

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  7. I have no idea how to cook.

    I eat a lot.

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    Replies
    1. haha I'm not much of a cook either but I love food :-)

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  8. This food looks gorgeous, and thanks for sharing the recipes. A cooking lesson in Italy is definitely on my 'to do' list!

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  9. Don't you just love Italian food? Will have to look into those cooking courses. :-)

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    Replies
    1. yes I love Italian food and it even tastes better when you prepared it yourself :-)

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  10. Food is such an important aspect of a culture and a wonderful way to get to know a place in greater depth - and there is little more lovely that joining locals to learn how it is done properly! Thank you for including such fabulous instructions!

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    1. Hi Mary it's indeed a unique way to explore a place.

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  11. LOVE taking classes on the road - I'm a terrible cook, but if someone is looking over my shoulder it usually turns out well! YAY Nonna Lina! -Veronica

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    1. haha same here, I am not much of a cook but it turned out great this time :-)

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  12. That looks like so much fun - and the food looks delicious! We went to a pizza-making class in Sorrento and it was one of the things my kids loved most about our trip!

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    1. Hi Lisa it was indeed a lot of fun, for sure good memories

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  13. Freya, what a wonderful post!! I absolutely love that you included the two recipes. I actually don't have a mixer but I'm going to use both of the others (I copied and pasted) give those a try myself! I absolutely love Italian food but I'm not so keen on red sauces. So, I use lots of garlic/butter sauces, pesto sauces and bechamel sauces! It's great to hear from you on your blog, our friend! :)

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    1. Hi Mike let me know how it turned out

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  14. This has been on my list of things to do since I got in to food...taking a cooking class in Italy. I'm adding this lady to my list and maybe hunt her down for the class. I love the sauce recipe and planning to try this soon. Yummy!

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    1. It is for sure a great experience

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  15. What a lovely experience. Since I have been a travel foodie, I love the ideas of having cooking classes in countries I travel to (I'm pretty a good cook by the way). Antipasto looks so delicious, seriously and doesn't sound like a difficult dish to prepare. Buen appetit!

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    1. This was my first cooking class but I for sure plan to do more in the future

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  16. Wow, Delicious food ! thanks for sharing the recipes..Indeed, I shall try to cook the Italian food.

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  17. What the wonderful cooking experience narrated beautifully with nice photography.
    the food looking delicious. thanks for sharing your Italian cooking recipes..

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, the food was indeed delicious

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  18. I must try that Frittelle di Zucchine at home! Looks good!
    The only class I attended in Rome was a Wine Tasting :) Next time I will definitely attendant a cooking class ;)

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    1. haha I can imagine wine tasting classes to be a lot of fun as well :-)

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  19. This is my dream (one of many) to spend 3 months in Italy, touring and learning to cook authentic Italian.

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  20. I love Italy and one of my dream trips is to do a cooking class there. It looks so much fun and I'm glad you got to do this. Thanks for all these recipes. That Frittelle di Zucchine looks delicious and something like a novice cook like me can do. You have me craving foe Italian food now :)

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    1. The food was indeed very very nice, I loved it.

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  21. I love Italian food (I prefer to eat than cook more ;) The Zucchini dish looks so amazing... It made me feel hungry! And if you made the pasta yourself, I admire you! I miss Italy a lot...

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  22. Great post, Freya - thanks for the recipes - I really should try making my own pasta :-)

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  23. I want to spend years of my life learning to cook from Italian Grandmothers. This day sounds like my type of heaven

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  24. Isn't cooking in Italy an awesome experience? I'm not much of a cook either, but loved pasta-making in Emilia-Romagna. Would love to do some cooking with Nonna in Rome. The dishes look fabulous!

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    1. Hi Cathy it's definitely a great experience and the food was sooo good

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  25. This makes me a little bit homesick and wanting some of the homemade Italian food that my mum happily makes. I'm hungry!!!!

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    1. Italian food is just irresistible :-)

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Freya - Holiday Nomad