Il Primo Giorno in Montepulciano

Today was the day for our cooking class at a wonderful local restaurant Le Logge del Vignola.  Massimo Stella, the convivial owner, has been providing amazing  cuisine for almost two decades.  Our class encompassed every course from appetizer to dessert, and we cooked under the sage guidance and instruction of Chef Eduardo in the well-equipped kitchen, which further enlivened the experience.

Arriving at 9:30 sharp, we all enjoyed an espresso (Why wouldn’t we?), donned our aprons, and then got down to “work” and a great deal of fun! First up was an appetizer of a beet and sheep ricotta cheese souffle, which had a somewhat more dense consistency like that of a flan; essentially diced beets, sheep’s milk ricotta, seasoning, and eggs.  The finished appetizer, ringed by a reduction of black garlic, made a lovely presentation:

Spectacular plating and presentation by the chefs at the restaurant!

Next up, potato gnocchi, which was very fun to make.  Here I am “feeding” the cooled yellow potatoes through a ricer. We got to mix, roll and cut the dough a bit later but no pictures were taken due to our very “doughy” fingers!

Making Potato Gnocchi

For the sauce, we made a fresh parsley and basil pesto with walnuts in place of the usual pine nuts, adding a distinctive flavor to the dish.  The gnocchi came out light as pillows and I think this was easily our favorite dish!

Potato Gnocchi with Pesto

 

This was followed by the main course of mussels with gratined topping.  Looks easy until you try and get all those buttery breadcrumbs packed over the slippery mussels.  A few of the mussels unfortunately “died” while being steamed and refused to open. (PS – Of course, we did not use any of the predeceased mussels; only the ones that met their buttery, garlicky demise in the steaming saute pan.)

Mussels plated with Chard

Last, but in no way least, was an exquisite chocolate souffle made with 70 percent cocoa… and the usual egg whites, yolks and sugar — but to me it’s all about the cocoa!

Happily preparing our dessert!

After all of our hard work, we sat down to our multi-course lunch in the beautiful restaurant dining room at our favorite table for two by the window.  Anyone interested in the recipes, contact me!