March 1, 2011

My First Real Cooking Class

Last night my sister-in-law Izabela and I embarked on something new--a cooking class.  While I've mostly taught myself to cook and bake (I don't count the snickerdoodles and zucchini bread from 8th grade Home-Ec class), I've always been curious about the "right" way to cook, especially things like knife skills, a department in which I feel I'm sorely lacking.

One weekend while we were enjoying a girls' night out at an upscale mall, we wandered into Sur La Table, a posh kitchen store filled with delicious things like Le Creuset dutch ovens, fancy knives, and lots of uniquely-shaped bakeware. 
So cute and so French!
At the back of the store, they have an area set up for cooking classes, and we agreed that we'd have to come back for a class sometime.  It's a great space, and though the classes are a little pricey, we decided to treat for ourselves.  Our husbands whole-heartedly approved, seeing as they too would benefit from the spoils in the long run.
We finally booked the class, Winter Vegetarian, where the menu boasted a tasty lineup of:
  • Flatbreads with Mushrooms and Arugula Pesto
  • Curried Carrot Soup
  • Celery Root, Fennel and Apple Slaw
  • Root Vegetable Stew with Porcini Mushrooms
  • Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
It was a fabulous menu, and just as fun to make as it was to eat at the end.  Let's just say I had two dinners that night--but hey, I'm pregnant so it's ok, right?

Everything was presented beautifully, and the chef teaching the class, Angie Lee, was an excellent instructor.  There were so many tips and tidbits to appeal to both experienced and novice cooks.  
I learned how to properly use a chef's knife (note: they offer an entire class just on knife skills alone), and also how an induction cooktop works (it's cool to the touch, but reacts magnetically with a pan, and is just as efficient and fast as a gas range).
The support staff was wonderful too, cleaning up our vegetable scraps, bringing out clean dishes and making sure the students had everything we needed for cooking.
We engaged in lots of chopping, dicing, mixing, and sauteeing.  
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I cut the tip of my index finger while prepping turnips for the stew--not on a knife, mind you, but with a peeler.  Geez!  To be fair, the instructor said it was a brand new peeler, and I'm used to a harp peeler, not this kind.
I had a great time, and it was inspiring to be in this class, both in the surrounds of such a gorgeous, state-of-the-art kitchen and with such a supportive, knowledgeable teacher, who lightheartedly confessed she wasn't even a vegetarian.
I was happy that celery root was on the menu, since I really hadn't worked with it before.  It was fantastic in the slaw, along with fennel and apple. I'll definitely be making this at home.
The Curried Carrot Soup was also amazing, especially that I'm such a fan of Indian food and cilantro.  
Here's the instructor, in the white chef's coat, and Izabela, just before sauteeing the aromatics for the Root Vegetable Stew.
The best part of course was the end, where we got to taste our creations.  We piled on ingredients for the flatbreads, including a pesto made with arugula
and this is how they turned out, once they were baked
So unbelievably tasty, despite my usual dislike of Gorgonzola (cheese for Gorgons, I tell you).

The Celery Root, Fennel and Apple Slaw was pretty damned tasty too, pardon my language.
Just the right amount of sweetness, tartness and crunch.

And here is the scrumptious Spiced Sweet Potato cake with brown sugar glaze--heaven on a plate.
Here's Izabela, enjoying the spicy, Curried Carrot Soup.
Our plates were filled with nutritious, healthy goodness that we were so pleased to have prepared ourselves in 2 hours.  The Root Vegetable Stew was also quite good (seen on the plate at the bottom left), though of all the dishes, it was probably my least favorite. 
I'm just not a huge fan of turnips, but the rosemary and thyme really made the dish stand-out.
If you have a Sur La Table nearby, and have ever considered taking a class there, I'd highly recommend it, even for the price. It was such an enjoyable experience, and educational too. I'll definitely be using what I learned in my home kitchen, and recreating these dishes for my family soon, especially since we were sent home with the recipes.  If only we could have those great assistants come home with us too. I've always wanted someone to prep those tiny bowls of ingredients AND wash up after my mess!

5 comments:

  1. How fun is that! Hmm I don't even know if we have a Sur La Table nearby - I assume we do in Seattle at the least. That would be fun to do. I haven't done a cooking class aside from the few I took in high school. Those fared me well though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hate cooking, but that actually makes it look like a ton of fun. Maybe I should take a few classes and it would make me want to cook instead of it being a dreaded daily task lol. Looks like you had a great time!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I'm so envious! I'd love to take a cooking class because I too, am a mess with knives! I can't seem to make it work like the people on the Cooking Channel!

    Everything looked delish, especially that cake. Well, and the cheese, I love me some Gorgonzola. I hope I'm not dreadful like a Gorgon though! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my word! How cool is that?? You always have such great recipes on here too! I would love to take a class like that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Awesome! I did a Thai class for 2 days like...7 years ago. Maybe I need a French one! :)

    ReplyDelete

I'm a good listener...comment away!

Related Posts with Thumbnails