If cooking for friends or family is one of your passions, there is a good chance that you have pondered what it would be like to cook in a restaurant’s kitchen. At Cibo e Vino, you can have that experience.
Chef Paul Toogood, Cibo e Vino
Cibo e Vino offers a modern Italian dining experience in the heart of Castle Hill. Founded in 2007, the 50 seater restaurant is the best rated in Castle Hill in the SMH Good Food Guide 2012.
Under the tutelage of Chef Paul Toogood, you can take part in a hands-on intimate cooking class that ends with a twist. Over three hours, you get to prepare and cook a three course meal then serve it to three of your invited guests.
At an abridged version of the cooking class tailored for media, participants prepared three dishes using linguine, orecchiette and potato gnocchi which were served with different sauces.
Paul demonstrating how to shape the orecchiette
Paul demonstrated how to shape the orecchiette from pre-prepared dough made with fine semolina and flour. Using the thumb to flatten the small pieces, each was rolled then shaped into “ears”. The orecchiette were cooked for 8 minutes then added to chicken stock and enriched with grated truffle pecorino.
Top: shaping the orecchiette; Bottom: preparing the linguine
Next, came the preparation of the linguine which was made from 00 flour and whole eggs which had been mixed and kneaded then left to rest for 1.5 hours. The dough was reworked and passed through the pasta machine several times before going through the linguine cutter.
An accompanying sauce made with green prawns, baby peas, cherry tomatoes and basil was freshly prepared and seasoned with a hint of dry chilli to lift the flavours.
Preparing potato gnocchi
Preparing potato gnocchi from scratch was the highlight of the class, with Paul explaining the importance of letting the boiled potatoes air dry after they have been steamed. Once passed through a mouli, an egg yolk was added with a little flour and semolina before working the mixture lightly to combine all ingredients. The resultant dough needs to have a small bounce and not be too hard, and this was obtained by alternating equal amounts of flour and semolina to achieve the right balance.
Once ready, the dough was rolled into a thick log, cut in quarter logs then rolled out with flour before being cut into small pieces about 1.5 cm long.
The gnocchi was cooked in boiling water with the heat turned down until the gnocchi came to the surface. The accompanying sausage sauce was prepared in advance using a house-style sausage meat.
After the class, it was time to sit at the table and enjoy all the dishes that everyone has taken part in preparing.
Orechiette with truffle pecorino
Linguine with prawns, peas, cherry tomatoes and basil
Potato gnocchi with house-made sausage sauce
Cibo e Vino
Cooking for Friends costs $270 and includes instruction by Paul, 3 invitation passes and lunch for friends, all ingredients and equipment as well as a recipe pack of all the dishes prepared to take home. Participants prepare a three course meal (an entrée, main and dessert) starting at 9.30 am with their guests arriving between 12.00pm to 12.30pm. A limit of four participants in each class ensures that the tuition remains personal.
The vibe in the class is informal and relaxed. Paul injects his easy-going personality into the session making it informative, hands-on and a lot of fun, with everyone being comfortable in the kitchen.
Sessions run on Saturdays with the next class being on 21 July 2012, followed by 18 August 2012 and 15 September 2012. Now the dream of cooking for friends in a commercial kitchen can become a reality.
Cibo e Vino Restaurant
Shop 2, 299 Old Northern Road
Castle Hill, NSW
Ph: 02 8002 0912
Gourmantic attended the cooking class on Thursday 5 July 2012 as a media guest.
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