When me and my friend were in Tuscany we had reserved a full-day tour with Km Zero Tours, that promotes slow travel in Tuscany. We had two activities planned and one of them was a cooking lesson with Stefania Balducci, born in the hilltown Assisi in Umbria region of Italy. She is based in Montefioralle, a charming medievale village in Chianti, where she conducts cooking lessons in her beautiful 11-century stone farmhouse home with roses growing on the walls. Right when we stepped into her lovely home it felt like stepping back in time, she is not only a great chef but got a very good eye for decoration too.
Stefania is a member of the Slow Food Movement which is about taking time to enjoy simple pleasures starting at the table with food that has been prepared by using high quality local sourced ingredients and using local culinary traditions in preparing. She learned cooking from her mother and her grandmother and now she is sharing the techniques and skills with anyone who is interested in learn to cook Italian food. Stefania puts very much focus in the health aspect in a recipe and make sure the dishes in a meal are all well balanced together. Also she uses ingredients by seasonality. By doing this you acctually get the best and the most of a vegetable or fruit, that has got ripe in their natural environment, both for a health aspect but also for our environment, we should all try to cook and eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.
So what did we do during our cooking lesson? The most delightful chocolate cake (100% gluten-free), raviolis, ovenbaked potatoes with fennel and rosemary, and stuffed eggplant and bell pepper. We had lots of fun preparing delicious and tasty dishes, while learning tips and tricks from Stefania. What I loved the most was that you didn’t need many different ingredients to create one dish. I often tend to pass over recipes that contains way too many ingredients. Cooking should be fun..and simple! It was a true joy and I hope to return and learn some more about Italian cooking together with Stefania :-) cooking with wine and we also got to bring home the cooking forklade andd her recipe book, Grazie mille Stefania, alla prossima!
Cooking Class in Tuscany – Pasta Al Pesto
Tour arranged by KmZeroTours
We started to make the chocolate cake, as it needed some time in the oven. Here is my friend, grating the zest of an orange
Miam miam, hands up for those who loves to eat the batter on the spatula?
While the chocolate cake was getting prepared in the oven we continued with the next dish, stuffed eggplant and bell paprika!
Stefania teached us how we could scoop out the center part of the eggplant without destroying its shape
We stuffed the eggplant with chopped eggplant, seasoning, bread, milk
Stuffed bell paprika ready for the oven
No Italian cooking lesson is complete without a pasta dish! We used semolina grano duro to make the pasta dough
So easy, flour, salt and water…
we made some tagliatelle
What has always been looking complicated turned out to be quite easy, Stefania showed the magic behind how to make raviolis
Potatoes with rosemary, fennel and garlic
Dried garlic hanging in Stefania’s kitchen
Red onions and marjoram
together with peas is a perfect combination! We fried them and then added some water and got the most delicious sauce for the raviolis!
And some meat for the non-vegetarians ;-)
The stuffed eggplant and bell paprika was very delicious
so was the raviolis!
Stefania had beautifully set up her table
Peones, my favourite flower and the chocolate cake that we were having for dessert
Chianti Classico wine!
You can never have enough of wine, epecially not when travelling in Tuscany
At last! The chocolate cake, Stefania is adding the last touch, by dusting some powder sugar on each piece
Arianna and Stefania have united their forces in order to create a wonderful culinary experience, group photo taken by Alessio :-)
Details in Stefania’s dining room
We got Stefanias cookbook as a gift when we left, so now we can realize some Italian dishes at home too
Who wouldn’t want to live here? This is Stefanias home and also the place where you will learn cooking!
Cooking in Tuscany with Stefania!