The Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia offers cooking lessons on a regular basis. The classes are held at Casa Barilla in Annandale and many of them are hands on. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of classes, these are conducted by the who’s who of Australia’s Italian cooking world.
Attending a class is almost as good as eating in anyone of the restaurants from where the chefs are associated with.
The first lesson I attended was a hands on class with James Kidman from Otto Restaurant where we learned the secrets to making a great rissotto. The second class I went to was taught by Armando Percuoco from Buon Ricordo. Signore Percuoco is one of the most amiable and down to earth people I have ever met. His class was entitled Cucina Povera (Peasant Cooking or humble food) where he shared pragmatic yet very delicious recipes.
Two weekends ago I managed to drag my husband to CIRA once again for a class with Logan Campell, head chef at Lucio’s in Paddington. My husband had never cooked a meal in his LIFE prior to the class so it was interesting to see how he would react to this whole new experience. I am happy to report that he LOVED it! Absolutely loved the experience.
The class was entitled “Logan’s Ligurian Experience”. The hands on class featured two dishes, Eggplant Ravioli and a Rolled Spatchcock. Both were amazingly easy to prepare (yes, even deboning the spatchcock) and can be recreated at home.
I’ve written down the eggplant ravioli recipe and hope you’ll enjoy it!
300 grams plain flour
3 large eggs
pinch of salt
Filling Ingredients (you will probably have leftover filling depending on how you fill your pasta)
1 large eggplant, diced
1/2 bunch picked thyme
100 grams diced taleggio cheese (I used Mauri Taleggio)
50 grams parmesan cheese
1/4 bunch chopped parsley
salt and pepper
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
A few sprigs of parsley
Pour flour onto benchtop and make a well in the centre.
Place the salt and add the eggs into the well and incorporate until the dough forms
Knead for 5 minutes and rest covered for 1 hour
Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let stand 20 minutes
Rinse off the salt and drain
Saute the eggplant in a little olive oil, add thyme and cook until eggplant is browned
Allow to cool and then mix the eggplant with the cheeses, egg and parsley
Season with salt and pepper
Using a pasta machine roll out the dough until a thin sheet is formed. Brush with egg wash and place some the ravioli mix along the sheet 3 centimeters apart.
Roll another sheet and place on top of the first, pressing down around the mix to remove any air pockets.
Using cutters, cut the ravioli out removing excess dough around each one.
Place on a floured tray and cover.
Brint a pot of water to the boil.
Melkt the butter in a large frying pan
Blanch ravioli for 3 minutes
When butter is brown and foaming, add the pasta, balsamic vinegar and walnuts.
Garnish with chopped parsley
Toss and serve.
That’s not the end of it!