There are few things more unifying in life than the experience of preparing a meal from scratch and gathering around a table to eat, drink and share that meal with others. Willowdale Estate is excited to continue with our seasonal Cooking Classes! With just two more classes planned for this year (March 15th & November 15th) we thought it was about time we give you a behind-the-scenes look at our format, the included items in our gift bags, and the overall experience! Read on to the bottom of the post where we share the recipe for our Ricotta Gnocchi!


Willowdale Estate cooking class setup in the conservatory with work stationsWillowdale Estate cooking class setup includes recipe favor notebook and all equipment needed   Willowdale Estate cooking class favor detail a salt seasoning bowl



Cooking classes are setup in our Conservatory with a personal standing work station for each guest. There are only 30 guests at each class, which means that every guest will have a great view of the chef, and have the chance to interact, ask questions and receive more personal instruction. The work station includes a bag of ingredients for the class, the recipe card, a notebook, and a favor that relates to the class.

catherine threlkeld photography (58)   catherine threlkeld photography (51)


Personally lead by our exceptional Executive Chef Ben Lightbody and with hands on advice and support from our very own Social and Corporate Events Sales Manager (and former chef) Noah Quist, our guests will enjoy selections from our wine bar, then discuss learn about and prepare each the individual ingredient so then ultimately leave the class with your Willowdale Estate tote in hand filled with a ready to cook “dinner in a bag”. Immediately following the practical portion of the class, Chef Ben, Noah and the class enjoy a family style meal in which we are able to taste and experience those dishes prepared.

cutting board from cooking class with ben lightbody


Our classes will provide you with some creative ideas about how to approach seasonal cooking. It also is a great way to try those menu items that you’ve wanted to make from scratch but that just seem a little too intimidating at first, like GNOCCHI! I can still remember the first time I tried gnocchi and lucky for me, it was prepared from scratch by a chef who presented a perfect melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi pared with a creamy garlic and herb sauce. It was dangerously addictive and it’s been hard to find any store bought item that even comes CLOSE to that perfection. So without further ado try your hand at our version of a Ricotta Gnocchi which pairs nicely with a perfectly prepared seasonal vegetable – in this class they also made melted leeks and delicata squash that were tossed in at the end.


Ricotta Gnocchi


2.5 cups pressed ricotta

1 egg

1/3 cup parmesan grated

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

semolina flour



  1. Line a rimmed container with parchment paper. Combine the pressed ricotta in a bowl with the egg, parmesan, flour and salt.


  1. Fix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined then transfer to a piping bag and set aside.


  1. Cover the bottom of a dish with semolina flour. Pipe 15g portion dough onto the semolina (roughly a small ping pong ball).


  1. Roll the portions into balls and place in a container lined with semolina flour, not touching and in a single layer. Then after shaping all the gnocchi, bury them in semolina flour.


  1. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 24 hours but no longer then 2 days before using. This helps to rid the gnocchi of extra moisture.


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil while melting 3 Tbs butter in a sauté pan. The pan should hold the gnocchi is a single layer, with 6 large sage leaves until the butter begins to brown and the sage leaves are fried. Remove the leaves and reserve for garnish.


  1. Add the gnocchi to the water and boil for approximately 3 minutes – they will float when they are done. Then drain and add to the pan with browned sage butter, toss to coat.


  1. Add your seasonal vegetable (prepared separately) gently tossing to coat and reheat. This is a good time to add any other garnishes you may want such as wilted spinach, kale, cheeses, additional herbs etc. Divide evenly amongst 4 plates garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan.


UP NEXT: Boeuf Bourguignon

Tickets are on sale now for our next COOKING CLASS! We’ll be learning how to make Beef Bourguignon! Expand your Sunday dinner repertoire with this classic recipe, perfect for lovers of all things savory! You’ll have plenty of time to sip wine and practice saying “Bourguignon” once this recipe is in the oven! BUY TICKETS HERE:

Date: February 21st, 2017

Comments are closed.