Buoni amici al giorno, spero che tutti voi state facendo grande oggi! Wondering why I’m in the mood to write in Italian? Hahaha! I’m hoping that I’m doing it correctly though. Lol!
Well, That’s because I had the chance to attend an Italian Cooking Workshop with Chef Anthony Ballesteros at The Maya Kitchen a week ago.
Chef Anton as known to many is a graduate of St. Benilde and a Chef with experiences in cruise and 5 star hotels, local and international. Being said that, I was so excited to take part of the workshop and learn from an expert in cooking.
Italian food has been one of my favorite dishes. Perfettamente deliziosa! Pizza, pasta, name them all! I have this weakness in pizza. My family and close friends knows this. The taste and aroma are like strings that draws me near. Oh! I can imagine the taste!
One of my favorite dish to cook is Spaghetti, I like it a little sour like how an Italian dish should be and not sweet. My kids love it that way too. They would always eat plenty when I prepare it. But, aside from spaghetti, I don’t have any other dish to prepare. Well, except for carbonara. But, other than that, nada!
So, imagine how this workshop has helped me add more dishes in my menu. We had 5 Italian dishes to learn that day. Lasagne Ragu, Aglio Olio, Caprese Tricolore, Risotto Salmone with Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce and Ricotta, Pecorino and Parmesan Ravioli. From the 5 dishes, I’m only familiar with the Lasagne. So, the workshop was perfect!
We started out with Ricotta, Pecorino and Parmesan Ravioli. Chef Anthony prepared the dough first for the pasta because it has to settle for an hour first before we can proceed with cooking the dish. And since you make your own pasta dough, you can add some herbs to it. Chef recommends using fresh herbs on the pasta as dry ones may overpower the taste and may not bring out the nice pasta flavor. One tip noted!
I was actually on the look out for the tips that Chef Anton had for us. The ingredients are in the recipe and there’s direction to follow, but the tips won’t be there. So, I was all ears as I watched him do his craft with the rest of the dishes.
This dish is a simple Italian salad made from fresh tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and Buffalo mozzarella dressed with pesto sauce. For health conscious people, this is a good tasting dish that you’ll surely love. Aeon loved it. Just so you know, my bunso is not a fan of vegetables. But, he was able to eat this. Maybe because of the cheese and the totality of the taste. Two thumbs up for this dish.
Tip: to mount the ingredients, use a moulder and place it layer by layer.
Risotto Salmone with Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. The risotto rice needs to be creamy, otherwise, it will be like our ordinary rice that we eat and will no longer be served like it should be. Remember that our goal here is to prepare an Italian meal.
In this dish, Chef Anton used fish and Asparagus to top the risotto. I was actually able to help out at the beginning of the preparation but allergies spiked so I had to stop. We were able to marinate the Salmone in olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper before I went back to my seat.
Tip: put lemon juice in the cooked Salmone to remove the fishy taste before eating. For the Hollandaise Sauce, it has to be cooked using a double boiler method or bain-marie method. The double boiler method is the one you see that caterers use in events to keep the food warm.
I like it as much as Aeon did. He actually uttered that the fish was yummy and continued eating until he finished everything in our plate. Yes, we shared a plate so he ate more than I did. Lol.
Spaghetti aglio e olio is a traditional Italian pasta dish coming from Naples. The dish is made by lightly sauteing minced or pressed garlic in olive oil, sometimes with the addition of dried red chili flakes, and tossing with spaghetti.
Yes, this is an olive oil based pasta. A bit spicy but you can always adjust the spiciness depending on your prefered taste. You can also add any toppings of your choice. That’s the best part in cooking the dish yourself, you get to experiment and add whatever toppings you like. In this workshop, we used anchovies.
And of course this didn’t have an appeal for my young taste tester. It was a bit spicy for him. But as I’ve said, you can always adjust. And since you are using olive oil here, don’t worry too much about cholesterol. This one is healthy.
This is our favorite part. Lasagna as we know it. The word “lasagne”, and, in many non-Italian languages, the singular “lasagna”, can also refer to a dish made with several layers of lasagne sheets alternated with sauces and various other ingredients.
I have been eating this dish for the longest time but I didn’t know how to cook it. When I’m trying to figure out how to prepare it, my end dish will be baked pasta in Ragu. By the way, ragu means crushed tomatoes with meat, meat sauce in short. So, I was happy to learn how to make the Bechamel sauce that goes with the Ragu sauce in layering.
Tip: boil the pasta first till half cook before layering it in the baking dish.
Aeon’s verdict? He ate 2 servings of the pasta. So, he also ate my part. I got to taste it though, but he was too excited to eat and I was happy to watch him. It was a two thumbs up perfect Italian Lasagne.
Tip: Do not crush the tomatoes too much. Allow some small bits of tomatoes to remain for an authentic Italian dish.
Ricotta, Percorino and Parmesan Ravioli
We started out with the pasta and left it to settle. So, this was the last dish for the day. The pasta was fresh. Actually everything in this dish was fresh. The dough was flattened and was filled with the 3 cheese. You have the option to use other fillings of your choice. You can add chunks of meat or even vegetables of your choice before boiling the pasta till cooked.
Ravioli is actually a type of dumpling composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin pasta dough. Usually served either in broth or with a pasta sauce. We used pasta sauce for our Ravioli.
Tip: you can also use a cookie cutter for an artistic touch.
With Chef Anton’s joyful way of teaching how to cook, cooking seems so easy. And learning is so much fun. And since we are learning from the expert, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to cook it on my own without too much worry. And besides, Chef Anton is just a message away just in case we forget the how tos of cooking.
People who loves cooking will always have a room to learn more. The kitchen is a place where you can invent and reinvent food to make your every meal the most memorable one. And it will always be a venue where people get together and bond.
Opportunities to learn and be coached by an expert is something you wouldn’t wanna miss. To be good in doing things is good, but to allow yourself to be coached is spectacular. Enrolling in such workshop is one good investment. Educating and uplifting once knowledge is an investment that will last a lifetime and will make my family happy. And to a Mom like me, just to see the exciting look in my family’s face while I prepare a meal is happiness beyond any material thing can give.
My heartfelt thanks to The Maya Kitchen for inviting me to be part of this workshop. Me and Aeon enjoyed the class. I definitely learned a lot from it and will be applying it in my next cooking. I’m definitely looking forward to the next! God bless you as you share your expertise.
To my readers, would you like to learn too? Enroll now in one of their classes!😉
Would you like me to share the recipe? Let me know.