Monday, May 2, 2011

My first real cooking class = Y-U-M!

That’s it! I am officially putting any fake-dieting thing I thought I might do on the shelf.  I just love food too much!  The cooking course I took on Saturday completely sealed the deal.  I am just going to shop for bigger clothes and be done with it.

The course was at Urban Element in Ottawa. It was the “Pasta From Scratch” one which took my favourite straight-to-the-ass starch to new levels of awesomeness.  I was a bit frazzled when I arrived (due to construction delays and church rummage sale parking hell).  That rapidly disappeared when Orion (really – that’s his name and he was heavenly) welcomed me in with Bridgehead coffee and a perfect seat at the counter. 

I went solo but had a great time meeting my class and the atmosphere was like old friends in about 45 seconds.  Bruce, seated next to me, was on his 16th class and was searching for fundraising schemes to do more.  We all liked the “magic sink” that we were to put our finished dishes in and they were whisked away.  I think I’ll look for that feature for the next time I remodel the Our lovely selection of pasta creations kitchen. 


Over the next few hours, chef Stephen Pollock demonstrated how to create many types of pasta, fillings, and sauces.  We all got our hands dirty, sticky and floury with our stack of recipes.  After all the creations, the staff finished off and served us a wonderful lunch complete with wines. 



Here are a couple that were favourites:

Cocoa Taglierini

(bottom right in plate photo)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 eggs



1. Sift together the flour and unsweetened cocoa powder into a mound on a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and add a pinch of salt.

2. Using one hand or a fork, bring the flour into the egg mixture slowly without spilling. Knead thoroughly, shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured counter (with pasta machine, setting 2-3) into fairly thick sheets. Cut into strips about 1 ¼ inches wide.

4. Boil for 2-4 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

This pasta did not have a very strong cocoa flavour but it did have a gorgeous dark brown colour. It works well with various smooth, creamy sauces.

With the above pasta, we had this sauce.

Mascarpone Chilli Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole

2 fresh bay leaves

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

½ tsp. dried red chilli, finely chopped

½ cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon

1 tsp. lemon zest

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and bay leaves. Stir occasionally until the garlic has browned. Remove the garlic and bay leaves and discard.

2. Add the mascarpone cheese, chilli and parmigiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Thin the sauce with water if too thick and toss with your favourite noodle, along with the fresh tarragon and lemon zest to finish. Serves 4.

This was SO awesome – rich texture and full flavour. I refrained from licking my plate but barely.

We also created a few raviolis that were big pillows of Italian happiness.  I loved the ones with a pumpkin and Radicchio filling.  (I’m getting writers cramp so I’ll pass on typing that one out.)  Making stuffed pasta was remarkably easy and so versatile.  I am looking forward to experimenting with more ideas here. 

Chef Pam dining - not the most flattering photo but I'm loving the moment.

Anyway, I LOVED taking a cooking course.  Urban Element has many options and if anyone would like to coordinate and join me for one in the future, I am SO in.  Cheers!


  1. I still daydream about the squash ravioli Susanne made for our dinner party. Sounds like a blast.

  2. ok, this sounds like a wonderful way to spend a saturday!