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It’s the 31st January and we are back in the kitchen with sixteen home cooks looking to kick off the New Year by brushing up their Italian cooking skills. The vibe is cool but the energy is high. We meet old friends and make new ones and then we are ready to start cooking. This session is all about Tuscany and the tradition that says all dishes should be simple and use no more than five ingredients. It goes without saying that the vino is flowing and for this we must thank Chamonix Wine Farm for their generosity.

The love for Italian food, cooking Italian and food in general is clearly evident with everyone sharing food stories from their December vacation. But we need to kick on and straight out of the blocks is the Panforte, our dessert. Let’s get those ingredients mixed and that sweet tart in the oven. A batter consisting of honey, sugar, nuts, chocolate and spices produces this amazing treat and it’s hard to stop diving in right away. History tell us that this is the original Italian “energy bar” and we can see why. But time waits for no one, so on we go, crespelle filled with ricotta and spinach covered with bechamel cheese and a little “pomodoro sauce”, baked until brown, is our starter for the night. It is unbelievably light, but packed with flavour.

While this is in the oven we knock out our Panzanella Salad, a traditional salad that takes care of leftovers. If you know any Italians they hate to waste and this attractive salad has a few ingredients that could left to waste in ones fridge. (Check the recipe for the full story).

Now we are ready for the hero of the evening, Bistecca alla Fiorentina!! The traditional T-Bone made famous in Tuscany for its simplicity in cooking and the resulting juicy tenderness.

And then just like that the evening is over and we look forward to our next session on the 28th of February where we feature Calabria.