Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Cooking Class in Cortona, Italy (Toscano e Gusto)

My husband I attended a cooking class in Cortona, Italy and did we have a blast!

Cortona is located southeast of Siena and is where "Under the Tuscan Sun" was filmed.
The city is surrounded by Etruscan walls, around 3000 years old.  It retains much of its history through its architecture, layers of history built upon the Etruscan core.

We met up with Stephanie and Anna and went to the nearby market where we shopped for fresh ingredients for our cooking demonstrations. The market was an open air market located about ten minutes from their home. There were so many vendors at the market including: fresh cheeses,baked breads, fresh meats, fruits, household items and clothing! (I will share some of my purchases in a later post).



Piles of porcini, my favorite!!!!

Once we returned from the market, Stefania greeted us with a glass of wine and gave us a introduction to her class and what we were going to make for the day. She provided us with aprons and a booklet with recipes on which items we were making.

We first started making fresh dough for pizzas. The dough was made with yeast, milk, sunflower seed oil and flour. It was amazing how they prepped the dough and kneaded it to perfection. We got to choose our fresh toppings for the pizza. I chose porcini mushrooms and parma ham! It was FABULOUS! My husband chose 4 cheeses (which included fresh mozzarella, parmesan, blue and swiss cheese.  All pizzas that I ate in Italy had crispy, thin crust which is my favorite and much less cheese that normally that is served in the U.S.

Stefania and Anna preparing dough


Pasta was also included on the menu in which we made homemade dough and made our own noodle for the pasta dish. We made Pici with Aglione Sauce and Breadcrumbs. The sauce was made with cherry tomatoes, olive oil, fresh thyme, marjoram, garlic and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

Pici is a thick, hand-rolled pasta, like a thick spaghetti. It originated in the city of Siena in Tuscany.  The dough was made from flour and water only. The dough was rolled out in a thick flat sheet, then cut into strips. We rolled the strips of pasta between our palms.  Unlike spaghetti or macaroni, this pasta is not uniform in size and has variations of thickness along its length.

The pasta was so good!
For dessert, we made a delicious Ricotta Chocolate Crostada. After sampling six different pizzas, and pasta, we hardly had the room for dessert but it was delicious!

Mr. CCD zesting lemons for crostada filling
Carmelizing the pears with brown sugar, butter and liquor

Above is Stefania's table in her backyard where we ate our meal that we prepared.

Enjoying our fruits of labor
Bon Appetit!

Toward our end of our visit, we were able to visit Cortona to take some photos.


Piazza Della Repubblica

We even saw a glimpse of a bride and groom!  Just wish I had better pictures.  The bride's gown was absolutely stunning!  Her bouquet of flowers were so simple, yet stunning!

Overall our cooking class was a wonderful experience and a great memory to cherish!  Thanks to Stefania and Anna of Toscana e Gusto for being such fabulous hostesses/instuctors!

If you missed the bed and breakfast/vineyard where I stayed at in Siena, see  here.
You can also view the recipes that are on Toscano d Gusto here.

Thanks for your visit!
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  1. Oh, my! . . . a trip to Italy . . . visiting Cortona . . .taking a cooking class . . . AWESOME!

  2. What a fun experience! Would love to take a cooking class in Italy. Under the Tuscan Sun is one of my favorite movies. One of the reasons is because I love the scenery. Your pizza looks yum, and the caramelized pears, oh wow! I agree with Carol from Art and Sand. Awesome!

  3. Kelly,
    What a great trip and getting in a authentic cooking class. How fun. I am so hungry now after looking at your beautiful pictures! The scenery is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip with us.

  4. Hi Kelly,

    So lovely to meet you! Your trip to Cortona, Italy, looks and sounds deliciously divine! Real hands on, working with the local produce and learning from people who are passionate about cooking - idyllic, if you ask me!

    Great pics and thanks for sharing all the fun!





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