These two lovely local Lucchese women were responsible for an evening filled with lots of laughs and a dinner that we won’t soon forget. Our apartment located in Lucca’s centro was the perfect spot for a cooking class. The kitchen is bright and spacious with a great work space large enough for all of us to participate in the preparation of the meal.
We started the class preparing the dessert-cantuccini-what we usually call biscotti. I’ve made biscotti many times using a Kitchen Aid mixer, but this time we did it all by hand. We used a classic Tuscan recipe with almonds and orange zest and couldn’t wait for the end of the meal to sample our work.
Next up was making fresh pasta for ravioli. Since I’ve made a fair amount of pasta over the years I initially stepped aside to let everyone else take a turn. Eventually I joined in and before you knew it we had stuffed enough ravioli to feed at least a dozen people. Filled with spinach and ricotta and simply dressed with butter and sage this is a dish that would wow your guests.
While the pasta dough was resting we made a classic bruschetta topped with luscious ripe tomatoes from Sicily. It’s not a difficult dish to prepare, but you have to use the best ingredients- vine ripened tomatoes (this is not an appetizer you make in winter), extra-virgin olive oil and a dense country bread, preferably a few days old.
Our main course was a herb and lemon chicken with olives served with sautéed peppers cooked in a tomato basil sauce. Both of these dishes would be great for entertaining as they can be prepared ahead of time and reheated.
We said good bye to our teachers and sat down to dinner accompanied by two Tuscan wines. We savored each and every bite and were thrilled to have enough leftovers for another meal later in the week. The evening ended with the cantuccini dipped in Vin Santo, a sweet wine Tuscan dessert wine.
Thank you to Tamara and Giustina for teaching us the ins and outs of these classic Italian recipes. I have a feeling everyone will be recreating this menu back at home.
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