Thursday, November 24, 2011

12 Nov 2011 Cooking Class at the Italian Cultural Institute

Michele is such a wonderful Italian teacher. He's changed the format for the cooking classes. Now we bring in our own recipes to cook and then eat. We're allowed a $20 cooking allowance per class.

For the class two weeks ago, I brought this cake, which I made at home. The Italian teachers sent word down to the kitchen that they would LOVE to have a piece of this cake. Word travels fast, when good food is involved. I went home with an empty dish! I was so happy to have received the taste approval from everyone. I try so hard to recreate Italian food here.

Italian Hazel Nut Cake with Orange Glaze


4 eggs
½ C granulated sugar
1 C hazel nuts, toasted, peeled and chopped (See note for toasting hazel nuts)
(may substitute almonds for hazel nuts)
½ C flour
1 t baking powder
2 T orange zest
1 T fresh orange juice
1 t vanilla


2 C powdered sugar
2 ½ T fresh orange juice
½ t almond extract
½ C chopped or slivered almonds, toasted until golden

Preheat oven to 350 F

Butter a 10 inch spring form pan and dust with flour.

Beat egg whites with the orange juice and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar until almost foamy. Add hazel nuts, flour, baking powder and orange zest. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack.

Make frosting: Combine ingredients and frost top of cake. Frosting should drizzle down sides of cake. Top with toasted slivered almonds

How to toast Hazel nuts

Preheat oven to 350 F
Place nuts on a cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until skins are blistered.
Remove from oven and immediately wrap the nuts in a wet kitchen towel.
Let steam for 1 minute.
Roll the nuts in the towel to remove loose skins.
Don’t worry if not all skins come off.

For the second cooking today, I prepared this yummy dish, copied from the Academia-Barilla website. Michele likes to "approve" recipes before we bring them in. He told me he didn't like olives and didn't want me to cook with olives. I asked him to trust me, he would love this pasta...and he did. He was impressed that it was authentically easy and delicious.

Pasta with Olives and goat cheese

Serves 4

1 lb mezze penne (400 g)
7 oz goat cheese
1 oz extra virgin olive oil
3 oz Italian black olives (similar to California black olives)

Preparation time:
5 minutes preparation + 10 minutes cooking

Pit the olives and chop finely.

Put the goat cheese in a bowl and, using a fork, pour in the oil, mixing continuously until creamy. Then stir in the chopped olives.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Check the box for the cooking time. When done cooking, drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.
Serve immediately