Danielle is always asking me to teach her how to make certain dishes. She is always mentioning us going to cooking classes together and life is so busy we never get the time! So for her birthday I decided it was the perfect time! And now Katie is even starting to get the cooking bug. What better birthday gift than a sisters day out learning how to make some great stuff to add to our family dinner roster?
We headed to the Ninety Acres restaurant/culinary center. This restaurant is so unique and has the most beautiful setting any time of year. It truly is a special place. It sits within the world of Natrir in Peapack & Gladstone, New Jersey. Complete with their own farm, the grounds are beautiful and it is an amazing place to explore. The restaurant and cooking school offer a truly special experience. It is considered a Viking school, if you are familiar with the Viking appliances. It can be pricey, but is worth it whether going for class or dinner.
We attended a class on pasta, risotto, and polenta lead by Diana Albanese. She was a great instructor with a lot of personality. The recipes we made were her own, which I thought was awesome! The menu was:
Crisp Polenta Crostini with Gorgonzola Cheese
Fettuccini with Tomato, Shitake Mushrooms and Basil Sauce
Lasagna with Spinach, Artichokes and Fontina Cheese
Risotto with Butternut Squash and Sage
Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta
The standouts to me were the polenta, lasagna and panna cotta. We could not stuff our faces enough with this stuff. And I can’t wait to make it for family friends! Anytime I can practice making fresh pasta, I am up for it. Because no matter how often I may do it, it tends to be intimidating to me. So I hope you enjoy some of these recipes from our class! They make great additions to your holiday dinners as well!
Crisp Polenta Crostini with Gorgonzola
3 cups cold water
1 cup yellow cornmeal (or quick cooking polenta)
1 tsp salt
****Note: If you are using quick cooking polenta follow the directions on the box. The double broiler method may not be necessary***
In the top half of a double broiler set directly over medium heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
While that is heating, in a small bowl combine cornmeal and remaining cup of water. Stir cornmeal mixture and salt into the boiling water. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes to a boil. Place the top half of the double broiler over the bottom half partially filled with boiling water cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
After you have made your polenta, line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with plastic wrap. Pour polenta and cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. ***You can also put the polenta into a round baking pan and make circular cut outs of polenta using a cookie cutter***
Brush a large sheet pan with oil and preheat broiler. Flip your polenta pan upside down onto a cutting board to release it from the pan. Cut the polenta into ½ inch slices, or try the cookie cutter rounds as mentioned above. Brush tops with olive oil an broil from heat about 5 minutes per side.
4oz of Gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup of mascarpone at room temperature
Chopped walnuts (if desired)
In a small bowl combine Gorgonzola cheese and
mascarpone. Spread each slice of the polenta with cheese mixture.
Broil until the cheese is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve.