I enjoy cooking. I’m no expert but I always try and bring two things with me to the kitchen – passion and enthusiasm – and I find with them in tow you are much more likely to have some culinary success. Now I have a reasonable cook book collection and let’s face it, the internet is a treasure trove for recipes these days but what I haven’t devoted a lot of time to is all things raw. I did have a debut effort on this front earlier in the year with a raw chocolate cream cake and it was actually quite well received by my dining companions which was a pleasant surprise. So a recent invitation to a raw cooking class had me intrigued. Perhaps someone was suggesting I spread my wings and give it a go. Sure, why not!
And if you are going to get out of your comfort zone, then you want to learn from someone with maximum passion and enthusiasm. You get all this and more from the charming Federica. Now I should mention that the class I signed on for was to prepare a raw Italian Christmas feast, so who better to learn from than an Italian herself? And an Italian with a bilingual food blog too – Verde, Bianco and Raw!
It was an intimate affair as a small group of five eager cooks were invited into Federica’s home. She is incredibly welcoming and a table had been prepared with all the recipes and the tools and utensils we would need. The class is mostly hands on, though there were some demonstrative elements too.
Today we would be preparing:
Eggplant “Flowers” with Raw Cashew and Truffle Oil Filling
Wholemeal Spelt and Buckwheat Homemade “Orecchiette” with Italian Flavours
Raw Cardamon, Vanilla and Coconut Christmas Ball with “Snowy” Strawberries
Now as I had mentioned I don’t prepare much raw food but I enjoyed trying out these new recipes. Federica also outlines the benefits of the particular ingredients and is able to provide guidance on where you can buy them, either in Perth or online.
The eggplant starter was so easy to make and there was such an abundance of flavour in that cashew cream. The aroma of the liberal drizzle of truffle oil that had been added was intoxicating! What a wonderfully indulgent ingredient it is! The grilled eggplant (because as we found out not everything has to be raw) wrapped around the cashew filling and generously sprinkled with paprika looked very pretty arranged like ‘flowers’ on the serving plate and the flavour had you reaching for another….. And another!
Presentation of the pasta was all very sweet. Wrapped up in little parcels and cooked for a final few minutes in the oven they did look pretty festive. I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised at the flavour and texture of the pasta. It was actually quite light and I really enjoyed the rich roasted cherry tomato and herb sauce. And despite a decent sized serve I wasn’t crazy full as I had expected. This was because of the flour we had used. The magic of buckwheat and spelt.
Now dessert was quite the winter wonderland vision with all that ‘snowy’ coconut but my brief foray into raw desserts had taught me one thing. They are super rich and this mega portion in front of me was going to prove challenging to finish after all those eggplant flowers and pasta. But I did my best and it was probably a larger dent than I had expected to put in my glass. The cardamom and the coconut tasted really lovely together and it was all very creamy. The fresh strawberries added a lovely refreshing sweetness, along with a splash of bold red to this Christmas inspired dessert.
So there you go. That’s how you whip up an Italian raw Christmas menu. It had been a very informative and enjoyable cooking class and Federica’s is an encouraging teacher. I say encouraging because she kept cheering us all on as we tried to get the knack of rolling those orechiette pasta. Tricky business but she was there to help us all.
So my thanks to her for the invitation to be a part of this class and for the chance to learn some new skills and to cook with a few new ingredients.
Keep an eye on the Verde, Bianco and Raw Facebook page for details of future classes or if you have a group of friends that would like to arrange a class for a birthday, hens, anything really then just send Federica’s an email and she’d be able to assist with arranging that for you 🙂