Barilla Cooking Class

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Northern Italian Winter pasta cooking class at Casa Barilla in Annandale, NSW. It was my first ever Italian cooking class and I was super excited. I entered the room and was warmly welcomed by all the Barilla staff and was served an aperitif. Then, it was time to meet the chef. Executive Chef Andrea Tranchero hosts all of the cooking classes at Casa Barilla and has done demonstrations at multiple food festivals and venues including the recent Good Food and Wine Festival in Sydney.

The class size was intimate giving a warm communal feel rather than a large industrial style class. We watched the chef create the two dishes we were to prepare ourselves later today and we were so amazed. The room smelled amazing and he made dishes that might seem complicated to the eye but are quite easy for anyone to prepare at home.

Andrea Tranchero plating up both courses.

So then it was our turn. First course was Cuttlefish Casserole in Red Wine and Garlic Sauce with Soft Polenta. I haven’t really cooked with a lot of seafood (tinned tuna does NOT count) but I love to eat it . So first up was preparing the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish was purchased from the fish markets earlier in the morning and was already cleaned (perfect). We pan fried it with some fresh garlic and the Barilla red wine and garlic sauce. Next step, the polenta. I really enjoy polenta but struggle to get it right. Thankfully, there is a pre prepared polenta that only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove top! To finish it off, a mix through of some marscapone.

Progress shots from Course 1 and plate up

Second course was Three Cheese Tortellini with Pumpkin, Crispy Guanciale and Sage. I had never really thought to eat puree with pasta but it just works SO well. Good way to get in extra veggies as well. So first we started with the pumpkin and leek puree. Really simple ingredients that complement each other perfectly. With the addition of freshly made chicken stock courtesy of Andrea, the puree was smooth and flavoursome. Next up was the sage butter sauce. We melted some butter in the pan until it was golden brown before adding freshly chopped sage. Once the tortellini was cooked, we added them into the butter with a generous serving of parmesan cheese. Once well combined, it was time for plating. Puree. Tortellini. Crispy Guanciale (similar to prosciutto and was fried in olive oil to get it extra crispy). Finished off with a drizzle of olive oil!

Progress shots from Course 2 and plate up

Each course was paired with beautiful Italian wine. After devouring our two courses that we freshly prepared, we had some Pure Gelato mini ice cream cones for dessert. Yum!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this cooking experience. Cooking classes give you a chance to learn a new skill, refine old ones and better yet, try out some flavour combinations you may not have even thought of! Would highly recommend you give one a go!


If you are interested in participating in one of Barilla Australia’s cooking classes, follow the link provided here – Barilla Pasta Cooking Class 

Click the links below for more info on Barilla Australia and Andrea Tranchero

@barillaaus

@andreatrancherochef

 

 

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A Good Chat About Fats

So one of the bloggers that I seek inspiration and advice from is Chocolate Covered Katie. The fact that majority of her recipes feature chocolate had me locked in right from the start of my blogging days.

This month, Chocolate Covered Katie has declared “Hug a Fat” month. Basically, the purpose of this is to increase awareness about the importance of healthy fats in your diet and that not all fats are bad! They are an integral part of a balanced diet and they also taste delicious. To promote this campaign, we have been asked to choose our favourite healthy fat! There were so many to choose from but I decided to choose WALNUTS!

Walnuts are a great source of omega 3. A good portion to eat daily is 30 grams which works out to be approximately 9 nine walnut clusters. They are free from saturated and trans fats which are the ones you try to limit as much as you can (found mostly in processed foods and high fat dairy and meat products. The good fats you want to be consuming are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

As well as the nutritional benefits of walnuts, they also taste amazing and work in sweet dishes, savoury dishes and just eaten on their own too!

Here are some of my previous creations with walnuts!

So when you’re considering what you are going to eat today, just remember that not all fats are bad and are a vital part of a well balanced diet! #walnutappreciationpost

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Check out Chocolate Covered Katie to read more about the healthy fats awareness campaign!


Nutritional Information retrieved from:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/choosing-healthy-fats.htm

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/frequently-asked-questions/general-nutrition/nuts-and-health

Economics and Food Unite

As an almost Economist (will be official after this semester), I have a keen interest in seeing what professional economists have to say about things. When I found one who encompasses both my passion for food and economics, I was ecstatic! Introducing Tyler Cowen, an American Economist and author of my most recent read ‘An Economist Gets Lunch’.

Cowen’s book serves as a guide for everyday foodies and emphasises the importance of minimising costs but still maximising utility. In English, how to get good food cheap.

I was completely engaged throughout the entire duration of reading this book. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Cowen’s one month shopping experience at an Asian supermarket (absolute goldmines in my eyes). Cowen also has the travel bug (like me) and so he ventures off to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. One of the main comments made by Cowen which has received a fair bit of criticism from external sources:

Unless you are spending a lot of money, Paris is the worst place to eat in all of France

As someone who has ventured to Paris, I agreed that the food was very expensive. However, I stayed in the Latin quarter of Paris and found unique, almost boutique style restaurants which served up traditional French at a very reasonable price. Cowen emphasises that if you are to find good food in cities overpopulated with tourists, you are best to venture to the outskirts. His economic justification for this is that the rents on the more suburban restaurants are cheaper therefore more money can be spent on investing in quality produce. I am in complete agreement with this.

I also especially enjoyed his discussion about methods of eating to help out the environment. One special mention is that he proposes that individuals give up refined sugar! For obvious reasons including that it isn’t exactly healthy but also due to the extensive costs involved in producing it. Markets shift in order to cater for supply and demand. The changing attitudes of individuals have a huge impact on the market as a whole and also contributing to this is the surge in food promotion via social media (particularly the preaching of natural, wholesome foods).In summary, processed foods = costly so try avoid it as much as possible to reap all the benefits. Yay!

So this was just a snippet from the book as I don’t want to give it all away. Cowen has successfully encompassed my two passions and has inspired me for my future travels later this year to delve into the unknown and discover the hidden gems that Europe has to offer. Even though before I choose a restaurant, I will have to perform a full economic analysis in terms of location, menu selection and the ambience before I make a decision, the long run investment will be worth it as I continue my food mission of finding cheap, good quality food.

Just one more memorable quote from Cowen in relation to restaurant dining:

If it sounds bad, it probably tastes especially good

Let’s be honest, majority of us are turned off by weird and wacky sounding dishes. I am becoming more accustomed to the philosophy of ‘not knowing until I try it’ both in the food world and life in general. If anything, Cowen has now inspired me to further explore the unknown and continue on my inspiring food journey.

Thanks Tyler.