Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Florence: Cooking lessons at Toscana in Bocca

One of the things that I really wanted to do during our trip to Italy was to attend a cooking class. We looked into several different options and settled on Toscana in Bocca since it fit into our schedule and budget. One of the things that appealed to us about this cooking school is that they offered private lessons, which enabled us to give some input into the dishes that we wanted to make. Stefania, the instructor, runs the private lessons out of her bed and breakfast, which is located here, just south of the Porta Romana area in Florence. Stefania has several years of experience as an instructor at a local culinary school, so she could probably teach you how to make just about anything you can think of. She sends you home with a cookbook that includes many of her own recipes. I have yet to try any of them, but I am sure that they are all fantastic.

For our lesson, we made squash blossoms filled with ricotta, stuffed pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, an eggplant souffle with a tomato salad, chicken cacciatore, and a plum and apple crostata. I had made chicken cacciatore and stuffed pasta before, but everything else was pretty new, and I specifically requested the stuffed pasta since I haven't been happy with my previous attempts to make them. Everything was very good, and we were left with more food than we could possibly eat.

Here are some more pictures from the lesson:

Abby mixing together the egg and flour for the pasta.
Stefania shows us how to make the stuffed pasta before letting us give it a shot.
She showed use how to make two different shapes. Here they are, assembled and uncooked.
Bakes, stuffed squash blossoms.
Abby, looking about as domestic as she ever will with her freshly baked crostata.
Here's the finished pasta. The sauce is simply fresh, diced tomatoes with a bit of salt, basil, and olive oil, quickly sauteed and tossed with the pasta. This is a really nice way to do pasta in the late summer when tomatoes are in season.
Here's the eggplant souffle and tomato salad. The souffle is wrapped in squash blossoms and stuffed with provolone cheese.
And, here is the chicken cacciatore.

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