Guest Blogger, Sarah Hodge, Bundtlust
“Sarah Hodge is a blogger and food and travel writer. In addition to writing for several publications including Tokyo Weekender and Stars and Stripes Japan, she is also a frequent recipe tester and proofreader for upcoming cookbooks and has taken more than 100 hands-on cooking classes around the globe.”
Sarah will be testing and reviewing each of our Online School Menus over the coming months!
For a decade, I regularly attended hands-on Italian cooking classes at Central Market Cooking School on a wide range of regional Italian cuisine, fresh pasta making, and more. However, since moving from San Antonio in 2015, my chances to take authentic hands-on Italian classes have dried up significantly, so I was absolutely thrilled to discover Natalina’s Kitchen Online Cooking Classes
Hailing from a long line of talented Southern Italian cooks, Natalina Bombino Campagnolo’s experience from several years of living in Italy as well as leading food and wine tours to Italy and teaching hundreds of students in hands-on classes in her Guelph, ON cooking school results in a very natural on-camera style and presentation. Her love and respect for wholesome, authentic Italian food and culture really shine through in each of the 18 video recipe lessons. Best of all, Natalina’s Kitchen Online Cooking Classes make delicious, authentic Italian cuisine possible no matter where you are around the globe!
Featuring five different complete menus (Simple and Elegant, Light and Delicious, Family Favorites, Cozy and Casual, and Italian Comfort; The Classic Italian course includes all five menus plus a bonus menu), Natalina guides you step by step how to prep ingredients, check seasoning, cook, bake, braise, and best of all, even provides a detailed timing guide so you can get your complete menu on the table so everything is piping hot. Each recipe has downloadable ingredient and equipment lists, instructions, and alternatives for creating different flavor profiles (as well as some vegetarian substitutions).
The first class I tried was Light and Delicious, which features:
Antipasto – Baby greens with balsamic soaked figs, goat’s cheese & pine nuts
Primo – Ricotta & spinach stuffed pasta shells; Tomato Basil Sauce
Secondo – Baked salmon with fennel
Dolce – Venetian rice pudding with Marsala soaked figs
I began by first printing out the recipes and timing guide as PDFs and organizing each recipe in the order I would need to prep it. Next, I watched each video several times before starting to cook. The videos are particularly helpful for newer cooks; for example, it can be difficult to judge when onions are cooked enough to add to a sauce, but you can easily rewatch the video if you’re not sure.
I followed each recipe to the letter and was pleasantly surprised that every recipe worked exactly as written (I frequently recipe test for upcoming cookbooks, and can definitely say that this isn’t the norm!). I found the seasonings were perfect (just the right amount of salt, herbs, olive oil, etc.), as were the cooking temps and times. The resulting dishes were beautiful, delicious and looked like something from a high-end Italian restaurant, and I felt a newfound sense of pride at having prepared the entire meal myself with Natalina’s guidance!
The Natalina’s Kitchen Online Cooking Class course interface is extremely user-friendly. I loved that all the recipes and ingredient lists were available as printable PDFs, as I find it difficult to cook from a smartphone or tablet screen. Another fantastic feature is that each of the menus features several meatless dishes, making it perfect for vegetarians like myself (and gluten-free / vegans with some adaptations). Because of the very reasonable class cost, detailed handouts, step-by-step guidance, and value-added videos and bonus recipes, Natalina’s Kitchen Online Cooking Classes are great for ANY level of chef, from complete beginners to Italian mammas.
I can’t wait to cook my way through my next Natalina’s Kitchen class … see you in the kitchen!