The day that Ashburton stole a pizza my heart

To start Week Four on a carbohydrate high, we were treated to an Italian day in the kitchen. Considering that most of us burned the candle at both ends over the weekend, it was much needed and highly appreciated by all. Moving away from our basic tagliatelle and linguine, we were taught by the masterful Chef Dave how to create our own tortellini and ravioli.IMG_2757Teaspoons of the spinach, ricotta and nutmeg mixture were placed along our stretched pasta, to be covered, pressed down and sliced into uniform squares.IMG_2758To accompany the filled pasta, we whipped up a wonderfully rich gorgonzola cream sauce. What’s this about a healthy vegetarian option?IMG_2760Our next, more challenging pasta dish was to create tortellini, a ring shaped pasta that has its particular folds in order to catch the sauce it is served with.IMG_2755 (1)We stuffed them with shredded duck meat, which we had cooked confit the past week, after our duck butchery day. The sauce was absolute heaven! A sage and hazelnut butter, browned to the point of giving off a beautifully nutty aroma.

Then it was time to pretend we were artisan pizza makers from the heart of Tuscany.

We made a bread dough to be split in half, for both pizza and focaccia bread. As our focaccia was proving, we went to town with the various toppings that were on offer. My station had to ask for more anchovies because, well, anchovies!IMG_2753In the end, mine was topped with everything under the sun. Homemade rich tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham, anchovies, salami, olives, fresh basil, Pecorino and an egg.

It wasn’t a thin crust pizza (which is more up my street), and the middle was fairly underbaked and doughy. After polishing off half for lunch, we boxed up the rest and listened to Matt’s words of wisdom. When you reheat a pizza, put the slices face down on the tray and grill. The crust becomes as crispy as anything, and if you’re careful, the toppings stay on!

The focaccia was studded with rosemary, olives and sea salt.

Then drizzled liberally with olive oil once it came out of the oven.IMG_2754 (1)After committing carbicide all round, we were craving something sweet to give us a sugar boost before the clean down. IMG_2759Chef Dave showed us his master chocolatier skills by cooling melted chocolate on the marble surface, then shaving it off to form curls and cigar shapes.

Having prepared the custard and soaked sponge fingers in Tia Maria earlier in the day as a team, we each had a little individual tiramisu to enjoy after a hard day’s cooking.IMG_2763Ciao for now!


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