Cooking Class in Cortona

Our second day in Arezzo was spent at a cooking class out in the country between Arezzo and Cortona. After the class we had a walking tour of Cortona. It was my third time in Cortona. It seems more full of tourists each time I go, even in late October. Nonetheless, it is a fine city to visit where you can see outstanding views of parts of Tuscany and the northern part of Umbria.

Cooking class information

While Donatella, the chef and instructor, did most of the heavy lifting we did our share of cooking. All of the dishes come from Donatella’s cookbook.

Her cookbook is out of print but she is doing an update.

Our first course was an eggplant flan.  Basically it is made with small cubed eggplant, eggs, cubes of pecorino cheese, nutmeg and breadcrumbs.  Baked and topped with freshly grated parmesan and served on a sauce made from cooking the rind of a pumpkin that is blended and heated with a few seasonings.  Unbelieveably good.

Flan ready to bake
Blending the pumpkin rinds
Since the pumpkin rinds were pre-cooked, this step was about seasoing and adding olive oil, of course.
Oh yes, topped with the fried strips of the eggplant peel (waste not, want not!)
The chicken cacciatorre. Fresh tomato sauce, just add wine, fresh vegetable broth, olive oil and chicken and herbs.Oh yes, fresh garden peppers as well.

And because all of this was not enough, don’t forget the pici pasta. We made a simple tomato sauce with fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Later fresh herbs of rosemary and sage were added.

While the sauce was simmering, we learned how to make pici pasta. The pasta is simply flour, salt and water only. After forming a volcano with the flour, adding salt and water to incorporate it all together, we stretched the dough about 10 minutes (no kneading as we know it), hit it on the table multple times and then set it to rest.

When it was all rested up (from being stretched and hit no doubt) Donatella showed us how to form the pici.  See the video below to be amazed at how she does it.  By the way, she only speaks Italian.  I was smart enough not to video Shelley or myself doing this!

The master pici maker!
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!
Plated and ready to be eaten.

There were also roasted veggies to eat.

Veggies and chives

And to top off the meal, Rose Cake.

Like a very light sticky but but without the “sticky”.

Of course there was wine with the meal and digestivo to make sure it all went down well. Five hours later, we left and did the walking tour of Cortona…or should I say we rolled our way through Cortona, hills and all.

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