After the wine tasting and the tiramisu extravaganza was the event I was most excited for—cooking lessons! A small group of us traveled by bus to an apartment north of Campus to learn how to make traditional Italian recipes. We were served wine and delicious appetizers of sun dried tomatoes, olives, bread, and salami to keep our hunger at bay while we cooked our meal.
The first dish we made was a summer tiramisu. Instead of coffee, chocolate, and rum, the main ingredients of the summer version of the classic Italian dessert used fruits and yogurt. We started by mixing mascarpone cheese, sugar, and yogurt together. This cream replaces the egg and mascarpone mixture of the traditional tiramisu. Next, we dipped lady fingers in blueberry juice, instead of a rum and coffee mixture, and laid them down as the base for our summer tiramisu. We then stacked up layers of freshly picked apricots marinated in brown sugar and the cream mixture. We also crushed up some almond cookies and layered them in to give the tiramisu some texture. To top off our fresh summer dessert, we decorated the top with strawberries. And then, like any tiramisu, we set them in the refrigerator to be chilled before serving. The summer version of the tiramisu was a lot easier to make than the classic version, but we wouldn’t know until after dinner if it tasted better!
Now it was time for us to make the main course—pasta. We started by mixing two eggs and two cups of flour until we had dough. We then moved the dough from the bowl onto a cooking board and kneaded it until it reached the right texture, which is much easier said than done. We cut the ball of dough into four sections and rolled out each section with a rolling pin to make it long and flat. After what felt like an hour of wrestling with the dough, I finally had some pieces that looked like they could fit through the pasta press. We fed the pieces through the press several times in order to achieve a consistent thickness throughout all of our pasta dough since we would be cooking them all together. After all the pieces were about the same thickness, we sent them through a different section of the press that cut them into strips.
The air outside that night was incredibly hot and dry, so the pasta was actually drying out as we were cutting it. Our cooking instructors told us that in all their years of cooking, they’ve never had that happen before. We didn’t get to cook the pasta ourselves since they didn’t want to risk it drying out too fast, but I think we were all just excited to taste it so we didn’t mind at all. Our instructors had a tomato and basil sauce premade for the sake of time, but they taught us how to make it ourselves in case we wanted to cook this dish while we were in Italy or at home for our friends and family.
Finally, it was time for the most exciting part of the night—eating the food we had cooked! The pasta was served fresh and hot, and it was very good. We all felt pretty proud of the fact that we had made the pasta we were eating from scratch just earlier that evening. The summer tiramisus tasted excellent, too. I think I like the summer version better than the classic tiramisus we made at the Tiramisu Extravaganza. I’m glad I learned how to cook some traditional Italian dishes so that I can teach my friends and family when I get home to Philadelphia.