Food & Drink, Home & Lifestyle

The Novelli Academy – Faster Pasta course

Last month I attended my first ever cooking course at The Novelli Academy in Hertfordshire.  I’d wanted to go on a course for a long time and stumbled across the academy.  My decision to go here was largely because it’s reasonably local to me and I’m also a fan of Jean Christophe.  They have a large selection of courses covering everything from African cuisine to French patisserie, I struggled to choose which one to go on as there were so many I was interested in but settled on the Faster Pasta course because of my love of Italian cuisine.

The Academy is located at Jean Christophe’s home in a small village in Hertfordshire.  The Faster Pasta course was a one day course starting at 10am.  On arrival, we were greeted with tea and coffee and some freshly baked biscuits.  There were 7 of us, so a nice small group in a very relaxed setting. The course tutor was Felice Tocchini with help from Patti Sloley, who both made us feel very welcome and at ease.  There was a mixture of people in the group, at all different levels of ability.  We were given a menu at the beginning of the day of about 10 different dishes we were going to make throughout the day and we did make them all!

We started with a demonstration showing us how to make Panna Cotta with a berry compote, a really simple dessert that I have made before but have since tried this again using this recipe and it was lovely.  We then moved on to making pasta.

I had attempted to make pasta in the past with not much luck.  My tagliatelle stuck together in a big clump and my tortellini ended up a big squashed mess after I accidentally put a heavy pan on top of them! 😦

I was so surprised at how easy it was.  We made two different filled pastas, one with salmon and one with ricotta and beans, a lentil and sweet potato lasagne, and lots of different sauces for the fresh tagliatelle.  Since the course I have pretty much made all the pasta I have eaten – it tastes so much better and really doesn’t take much time at all.  I’ve added a quick how to guide at the bottom of this post to show you how.

All the food we made was absolutely delicious and easy to make at home.  We had great direction from Felice who gave us some really practical tips and talked us through a lot of the ingredients explaining how they could be used and their versatility.  I would definitely recommend this course for beginners and more advanced cooks alike.  I learnt so much and will definitely be going again!  Check out the course calendar to see whats available but here are some of the next classes coming up that still have availability:

6 September – A Taste of Thailand

12 September – Best of British

7 November – A Taste of Tuscany

Basic Pasta Dough 

  • 500g Strong bread flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
1. Put the flour on your work surface and make a well in the middle.  Crack the eggs and put them in the middle.  You can also add any flavouring to the mixture such as dried basil, chilli, turmeric, tomato puree, pretty much anything you fancy!
Pasta making
2. Using your fingers, mix the eggs and flour together.  Start min the middle and slowly draw in more flour.  Remember, you can always add more flour if it is too wet but it’s difficult to take it away if it is to dry!
3. Keep mixing until the mixture forms a ball and then knead until the dough has an elastic consistency.  Then wrap in cling film and leave the dough to rest.  The dough will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days if you want to make it ahead or just use a small portion.
pasta dough
4. You’ll need to knead the dough a little after it has rested to soften it a little before passing it through the pasta machine.
5. Because we’ve skipped the long kneading process (normally the dough would be kneaded for 20-30 mins),  We need to pass the dough through the pasta machine several times.  Firstly, set the pasta machine on the widest setting and pass the dough through the machine. Make sure you have plenty of flour on the dough so it doesn’t stick.
Pasta machine
6. Fold the dough in half, then put through the machine again, putting the folded side through first.  Repeat twice.  Then, fold the dough in thirds like a leaflet, turn 45 degrees and put through the machine again. You’ll need to repeat all of step 5, three times.
7.   You can then start to roll the dough out.  Put the dough through the machine reducing the width each time.  Make sure you keep flouring the dough to prevent it sticking.  If I am making lasagne, tagliatelle or spaghetti then I tend to only go down to the one before last width.
8. In this instance I made tagliatelle by passing it through the attachment.
And there you go!  It’s that easy. Cooking time depends on how you cut your pasta but the tagliatelle needs just a couple of mins.
Yummy Pasta

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