Dining Experiences

Italian Cooking Classes at Antonello Ristorante

By Anne Marie Panoringan

 

Fiorella and Antonio Cagnolo welcome guests as family during their quarterly culinary series in one of Antonello’s private dining rooms. Taught in a restaurant setting, service is second to none with complimentary wine pours and breaks between recipes to clear each of our courses. The complexities of scratch-made pasta are demystified, as ricotta gnocchi (see recipe below) is swiftly prepared and cooked in a matter of minutes. An unintentional comedic duo, Fiorella walked us through traditional Italian dishes, while Antonio offered colorful commentary. Antonello Ristorante’s Friday evening mainstay is a quintessential date night.

For equally entertaining classes, sister restaurant Quattro Caffé offers similar cooking events with Domenico Grillo. Call for more information: 714.751.7153.

 


Shiny gold grater, Pin tumbled gold forks, large spoon, Pitch white bowl and dinner plate,  all by CB2

 

Gnocchi di Ricotta Recipe

When making ricotta gnocchi, the ricotta is key.  Use Italian-style whole milk ricotta. Regular low fat ricotta will result in gritty gnocchi.  These brands are recommended:

  • Bellwether Farms Whole Milk or Sheep Basket Ricotta; available at Whole Foods
  • Angelo and Franco Ricotta; available at Vons, Pavilions, Whole Foods

Gnocchi Ingredients:
2 cups ricotta
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
salt to taste

Sauce Ingredients:
8-10 large Roma tomatoes peeled and diced
4 whole garlic gloves lightly crushed but left whole
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped shallots
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon minced Italian parsley

Garnish:
4 large leaves basil (crisped in olive oil) optional
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano

Making and Cooking Gnocchi:
In a bowl, mix by hand all gnocchi ingredients till completely combined. Ball should be clean and not leave flour residue in hand; it should be moist and springy.

Cut into quarter of a pound blocks and roll out the dough (extra dough may be frozen for later). Cut into approximately 1/2 inch pieces.

To cook:  Heat a large pot of water to boiling; add salt. Add gnocchi to pot. Cook until tender; when they float they are done. Remove with slotted spoon and gently pat dry with paper towels.  

 Sauce:
In a sauce pan heat olive oil.  Add garlic and shallots and sauté until it becomes translucent; but not browned. Add tomato and cook for 20 minutes on simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove garlic cloves and set aside.  Keep warm.

Assemble:
Add desired amount of drained and towel-dried gnocchi to tomato sauce, add Parmigiano and gently toss and taste again for season. Add chopped parsley; lightly toss. Spoon into warmed shallow bowls or plates. Garnish with additional freshly grated Parmigiano and flash-fried whole basil leaves.