home made pizzas and laksa pesto spaghetti – alce nero’s cook-off @ food playground

When a friend asked if I wanted to join her at the Alce Nero Food Bloggers’ event at food playground, I thought, why not? And promptly said yes.

My thought was that I would go to this event, listen to some speeches, chat with other bloggers, take a load of photos and taste some food.

Boy, I could not be further from what was in store for us!

In case you do not know, Alce Nero was started in the 1970s by a group of young Italian farmers who decided to produce wholesome food while respecting the environment. Their products do not contain any synthetic chemical substances or pesticides. The result is a range of high quality organic produce that is amazingly tasty.

Take the fantastic range of produce from Alce Nero, place them in the hands of the food-loving people at food playground, and I was in for a cooking session on a nice and bright Saturday morning.

This was my first cooking class, and I loved every minute of it!

For the first time, I made pizza without the aid of a mixer. It was pretty much hard work because we had to constantly stretch the dough for about 15-20 minutes. But the results were worth it! (Or did it taste better because of all the work that had gone into making the dough?) :)

 
Laska Pesto Pizza with Organic Sundried Tomatoes and SardinesOrganic Chopped Tomato Pizza with Mushrooms, Peppers and Chilli

The recipe for the pizza dough is great because by working the dough with our hands, we can avoid over-working the dough. I will be sharing the method on how to make more pizzas in the days to come, so do keep a look out for them if you are mad about pizzas!

While making pizza was fun, what really got me excited was the Laksa pesto we made. Why? Well, because I had never made this before!

I have made pesto using basil and pine nuts, but for this version, we used laksa leaves and candle nuts. How interesting is that?

The first thing we had to do was to separate the laksa leaves from the stems. The leaves were cut into smaller pieces (use a very sharp knife to do this to avoid bruising the leaves) and pounded in a mortar and pestle along with the candlenuts, garlic and salt.

Working with team mates Xavier and Shine

We kept pounding until the fibers of the leaves had been broken down completely.

That’s our other team mate, Cherie

As you can see, I was hard at work chatting with the other bloggers while cooking. :)

Once the laksa leaves had been pounded to form a smooth paste, we added a little olive oil into a pan and fried the pesto paste over medium to low heat for about 3-5 minutes. A little coconut milk was stirred into the paste to make a thick sauce, and we seasoned the sauce with a little fish sauce.

When we had done that, we cooked the pasta – in this case, organic spaghetti – in boiling water which had been salted. The cooked pasta was drained and tossed together with the pesto sauce. If the sauce is too dry, add a little pasta water.

And this was what we made.

Laksa Pesto Spaghetti with Sardines

It took good team effort to make 3 very tasty dishes.

And the best part of it all? We got to taste what we made and I even made a few new friends!

Because I cook on a daily basis, I would never have thought of signing up for a cooking class. But I am so glad I attended this event. I got to learn about new ingredients – I am so in love with sardines right now – and I learnt new methods of pairing ingredients such as using laksa leaves and candlenuts to make pesto.

Apart from that, I really love the casual atmosphere at food playground. The instructors are not professional chefs. Rather, they are home cooks who are so passionate about what they do that they have banded together to impart what they know to others. If you are keen to learn to cook a new dish, or learn more about cooking, I highly recommend that you sign up for a lesson at food playground!

Home Made Pizza
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 package active dry yeast
  2. 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  3. 1/2 cup warm water (45C)
  4. 1 1/4 cups bread flour
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, rub in yeast with bread flour for about 8 minutes. Rub well to ensure even distribution.
  2. Add salt, sugar, water (do not add all at once - keep aside about 1 tablespoon for later) and olive oil to the dry ingredients. Knead to obtain a wet dough.
  3. Pull the dough and fold to knead. The dough will be a little sticky but it will not stick excessively onto the board. Add the extra water to the dough if needed.
  4. Knead until dough is smooth. Let dough rest in a covered bowl in fan baked oven mode at 40C for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. When dough has risen sufficiently, divide dough into two and flatten the dough into desired shape and thickness.
  6. Top pizza dough with desired sauce and toppings and bake pizzas at 220C for about 10-12 minutes.
Adapted from food playground
Adapted from food playground
The Domestic Goddess Wannabe http://thedomesticgoddesswannabe.com/
Laksa Pesto Spaghetti
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 250g spaghetti, cooked in salted boiling water
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. Fish sauce to taste
  4. About 2/3 cup coconut milk, or just enough to make a thick sauce
For the Laksa Pesto
  1. 1/2 pack laksa leaves
  2. 1 bulb garlic
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. About 8 candlenuts
For the Garnish
  1. Prawns
  2. Fishcake
  3. Laksa leaves
  4. Chilli
  5. Extra extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Remove laksa leaves from stems. Cut laksa leaves and garlic into small pieces. Pound laksa leaves, garlic, nuts and salt until a smooth paste is formed (the hard nuts help to break down the laksa leaves that may be stringy).
  2. Boil water to cook pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt into boiling water and cook according to instructions on the packet until al dante.
  3. If using fresh prawns, heat olive oil in pan and saute prawns till cooked. Set aside. Using the same pan, add more olive oil and fry the pesto sauce. Take care not to burn the paste. Fry for about 3-5 minutes over medium to low heat.
  4. Stir in just enough coconut milk to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce according to taste.
Adapted from food playground
Adapted from food playground
The Domestic Goddess Wannabe http://thedomesticgoddesswannabe.com/

Alce Nero products can be purchased online here
 
If you wish to participate classes conducted by food playground, this is the schedule.

DISCLAIMER: thedomesticgoddesswannabe received a complimentary set of Alce Nero products for review purposes and attended a cooking class conducted at food playground.  All opinions are 100% my own.




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