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Italian Lunch – Cooking Together

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Our cooking together cookery classes are as much about learning to cook as they are a sociable experience. We hope you enjoyed your lunch and are ready to recreate the meals at home. The recipes work really well as delicious dinners and make a great combination for dinner party ideas. 

You Cooked:

Starter: Tortellini with spinach and ricotta filling on a bed of Marinara sauce

Main: Pan fried sea bass with Pan fried sea bass with goats cheese risotto 

Dessert: Lemon Posset

Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini

Ingredients:

For the pasta (makes more dough than needed for this recipe)

  • – 70g spinach (blanched)
  • – 4 large free-range egg yolks
  • – 200g ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting

For the hazelnut pesto

  • – 25g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • – 15g Parmesan (or a similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated
  • – 1 tbsp hazelnut oil
  • – 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the filling

  • – 150g ricotta
  • – 50g Parmesan (or a similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated
  • – 1 lemon, zest only
  • – Pinch grated nutmeg
  • – Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • – Knob of butter, to serve

Method:

  1. Put the spinach and egg yolks in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour and whizz again to combine – the mixture will look like breadcrumbs at this stage. Tip out onto a lightly floured board and bring together using your hands. Knead the dough until it’s no longer sticky. Cover and rest in the fridge while you make the filling and pesto.
  2.  
  3. For the pesto, spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 6–8 minutes, until golden brown, then set aside to cool.
  4.  
  5. For the filling, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper until well combined. Transfer to a piping bag or a plastic food bag with the corner snipped off.
  6.  
  7. To make the pesto, crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar, then gently stir in the Parmesan and oils.
  8.  
  9. To assemble the tortellini, roll the pasta dough through all the sizes on the pasta machine starting with the widest setting and finishing on the smallest setting when the pasta is very thin. Using a 9cm/3½in round cutter, cut out 10 circles. (Any leftover dough can be frozen to use another time.)
  10.  
  11. Pipe a heaped teaspoon amount of filling inside each pasta circle and fold in half to create a half moon shape. Wet the edges and press down to help them stick. Pull the two narrow ends together to form a tortellini shape.
  12.  
  13. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 2–3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
  14.  
  15. Meanwhile, put a frying pan over a medium–high heat and add a knob of butter. Cook until lightly browned and starting to bubble. Then add the hazelnut pesto and gently heat through.
  16.  
  17. Serve the tortellini with the pesto spooned over the top.

A quick and simple sauce recipe which is full of flavour. What’s not to like and tastes so much better than store bought versions.

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of basil, whole
  • 1 tbsp of parsley, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
 

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan and add onion and garlic, sauté for a couple of minutes until translucent.
  2. Add tomatoes, balsamic and sprig of basil and simmer for 15-20 mins.
  3. Season well and add the lemon zest and parsley at the end.
  4. Blitz with a handheld blender or mix until it’s a smooth sauce.

Basil Pesto – made of us by Chef

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • – ½ clove garlic
  • – 1 big bunch of fresh basil
  • – 1 handful of pine nuts
  • – 1 good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • – extra virgin olive oil
  • – 1 lemon, optional

Method:

  1. Peel the garlic, then pound in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt.
  2.  
  3. Pick, roughly chop and add the basil leaves, then bash to a paste (or pulse in a food processor).
  4.  
  5. Add the pine nuts (very lightly toast first, if you like) to the mixture and pound again, then stir in half the Parmesan.
  6. Drizzle in some oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.
  7.  
  8. Add most of the remaining cheese, then season to perfection with salt and black pepper. Have a taste and keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency.
  9.  
  10. Add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, if you like, but it’s not essential.

Homemade Pasta

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • – 2 large eggs
  • – 200g of 00 flour, plus extra for dusting

Method:

  1. Place 180g of the 00 flour onto a large wooden board. Pour the remaining 20g of flour into a small bowl, ready to use if necessary.
  2.  
  3. Shape the flour into a volcano with a large hole in the centre, then crack the eggs and pour them into the middle.
  4.  
  5. Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs, then mix in the flour a little at time. It is essential that the flour is gradually beaten into the eggs to ensure the walls of the volcano don’t break too soon. Add the reserved 20g of flour if the dough is too moist.
  6.  
  7. Bring the mixture together with a spatula and your hands until you obtain a consistent ball of dough.
  8.  
  9. Work the dough with the heel of your hand for 10–15 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and very elastic. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  10.  
  11. Dust a wooden board with 1 tbsp of flour. Unwrap the dough and flatten it with a rolling pin. Roll out the dough into thin pasta sheets, less than 1mm thick.
  12.  
  13. If you have a pasta machine, divide the dough into 4 before rolling it out. Flatten it to a rough square so that it fits through the machine at its highest setting. Roll it through & fold it back over it to itself. Rotate it through 90 degrees and repeat this a few times. This releases the gluten which increases the elasticity of the dough and stops it cracking & tearing. Now reduce the thickness of the machine 1 click at a time until you reach the 2ndlast setting. You can feed it through the cutting attachment.
  14.  
  15. To cut the pasta sheets into tagliatelle, roll the sheets up and cut into large ¾cm strips. Unravel the cut tagliatelle strips and twirl into little nests. Dust the nests liberally with flour to stop them from sticking.
  16.  
  17. Cook the tagliatelle within a few hours in boiling salted water for 3–5 minutes before serving with your favourite sauce.
  18.  
  19. Alternatively, freeze for up to 1 month. To freeze the pasta, layer the tagliatelle flat on a tray lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag or another suitable container.

Pan Fried Sea Bass

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 2 sea bass fillets, skin on
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Method:

    1. Lightly coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil then place the pan over a medium-high heat.
    2. Once the pan is hot, season the fillets with salt and place in the pan skin-side down. Using a fish slice, press down on the fillets to prevent curling and to ensure even cooking of the skin.
    3. Cook for 3–4 minutes until the skin is nicely golden and crisp then carefully turn the fillets over to cook for 1 minute. The fish is cooked when the flesh becomes opaque.
    4. If the fish is not cooked after 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and leave the fillets to finish cooking in the residual heat before serving.

     

    Tips

    1. To ensure crispy skin, dry the fillets with kitchen roll before seasoning them with salt.
    2. Don’t put too much oil into the frying pan and make sure it has a chance to get hot before adding the fillets.

Red pepper and goats cheese risotto

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • – 5 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • – 30g/1oz butter
  • – 1 onion, finely chopped
  • – 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • – 300g/10½oz risotto rice
  • – 1 large sprig thyme
  • – 100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine
  • – small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • – small bunch fresh dill, finely chopped (optional)
  • – squeeze lemon juice (optional)
  • – salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • – 1 red pepper, sliced
  • – 100g Soft goats cheese
  • – Tbsp of grated parmesan

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and half the butter in a large casserole dish or saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently until very soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add red peppers and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the risotto rice and thyme until coated in the oil and butter.
  2.  
  3. Turn the heat to high and pour in the wine. Cook for 1–2 minutes, or until reduced. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladleful of hot stock. Season with salt and pepper. Stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat until all the stock has been added. At this point the rice will have a creamy texture but still be al dente.
  4.  
  5. Beat in the remaining butter and parmesan. Stir through half of your goats’ cheese and herbs, if using, and check the seasoning, you might want to add a squeeze of lemon juice. Remove the thyme sprig.
  6.  
  7. Divide the risotto between four warmed plates and crumble over the goats’ cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan at the table.
  8.  
  9. It works well with toasted pine nuts as garnish.

Spinach & Herb Velouté

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • – 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • – 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • – 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
  • – Salt
  • – 100ml Dry White Wine
  • – 6 cups Baby Spinach (washed)
  • – ½ Bunch of Chives
  • – ½ Bunch of Parsley
  • – ¼ Bunch of Basil
  • – 3 cups Vegetable stock (hot)
  • – ⅓ cup Double Cream 
  • – Freshly Ground Peppers

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan set over a medium heat until hot.
  2.  
  3. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook gently for 5 minutes until softened.
  4.  
  5. Add the wine and boil for 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
  6.  
  7. Add the spinach, stir well, and cover with the stock. Cook until simmering, then continue to cook steadily for a further 5 minutes.
  8.  
  9. Add the cream, stir well, and cook for 2 minutes Do not boil. Add all the herbs at this point. Blend with a stick blender until smooth. You can pass the sauce through a fine strainer for extra smooth results.
  10.  
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Lemon Posset

Ingredients – Serves 3-4:

  • – 300ml of double cream
  • – 60g caster sugar
  • – 1 juicy lemon

Method:

  1. Squeeze the lemon.
  2.  
  3. Bring the cream and sugar to the boil (careful it should just boil but not boil over). Once you see it boil – stay there and boil for exactly 3 minutes.
  4.  
  5. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice.
  6.  
  7. Strain this into a jug and leave to cool for 20minutes.
  8.  
  9. If you wish to put a crumbled biscuit in the bottom of the receptacle – this is the time to do it. If not gently pour the cream into the glasses.
  10.  
  11. Refrigerate for 6 hours minimum.
  12.  
  13. Serve with fruit and edible flowers

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