My kids know me more for baking cookies than for creating delicious dinners. I’m one of those people that keeps a folder full of take-out menus and buys a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken at least once a week. But I love good food, and have always wanted to take cooking classes. And since my life is about trying new things, I recently went to a Spanish meal themed cooking class at the Great News! Cooking School with a few friends — Sharon, Marie W., and Lisa-Marie. We had a nice Groupon of course.
It was a weeknight and we had to deal with rush hour traffic — the little amount of bumper to bumper traffic we get between my house and Pacific Beach — try to find a parking spot and get there just before class starts. Now, I will say I was disappointed when we arrived upon realizing that it was not a hands on class, but a lecture type of class with cameras pointed down at the work stations. I guess hands on classes are held only periodically and are pricier. Oh well, next time. I really need to read the descriptions more closely.
The smells of the kitchen prep are already making our taste buds salivate as we walk into the classroom. We settle down, get some beverages and review the recipe handouts given to us. The menu looks so yummy:
- white wine sangria with apples and green grapes
- manchego cheese with almonds, marinated green olives, garlic toasts and spanish chorizo
- roasted cauliflower and red peppers with lemon-caper vinaigrette
- zucchini potato tortilla (a fritatta and my favorite dish that evening)
- roasted beef tenderloin with spanish rub and smoked paprika aioli
- mascarpone cream filled cake with sherried fresh berries
The instructor, Phillis Carey, is introduced and starts to go over the menu and begins making the dishes. First we are given glasses of the refreshing sangria, and one by one the dishes are served to us while we watch them being prepared. I take notes.
We spend the night nibbling, well scarfing down, the dishes given to us. We try to chat between instructions, and of course you are given a nice break halfway through class, which is primarily spent on shopping around the store and finding the items they just used in class. Because who would be caught without an electric pepper mill? And I must get another cookbook that I look at once. They make it easy for the students with display endcaps of products as seen in class. We each reserve our stash to pay for later, because who knows what else we will want or must have in our kitchen after completing the second half of class.
We do learn some great tips from Phillis throughout the class, such as:
- pour Sprite over cut apples, pears, peaches and they won’t change color
- crushed vitamin C tablets will prevent potatoes from discoloring
- olives with pits taste better
- higher sided roasting pans will keep more juices in for sauces and au jus
- cut your cakes in a sawing motion to keep the shape
Overall, I was surprised how full we all were from having our class portions of the dishes, and I was especially surprised at myself for enjoying a cauliflower dish. For those that know me well, I am not a vegetable person, but mixed with the roasted red peppers, it was delish. Actually, everything was very tasty and looked very easy to make.
All of us enjoyed the evening, and one day soon will plan a Spanish themed dinner party. Isn’t that the point of learning these new dishes — sharing with friends.
After this first cooking class experience, I definitely would like to try more. I enjoy trying new foods as it helps you learn about different cultures. You can learn a lot around a culture from the dining table. If every political meeting centered around sharing a great meal, we would all be more agreeable. Isn’t that why we call our close advisors our kitchen cabinet – we get things done when we are cooking and eating. ¡salud!
Great News! Cookware & Cooking School, 1788 Garnet Ave., San Diego (Pacific Beach), 888.478.2433, www.great-news.com.
Phillis Carey, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook for recipes and cooking tips – Phillis Carey “The Casual Gourmet”
P.S. Pirch Dinner: Although not an official cooking class, last night I attended a cooking demonstration by Chef Ed at Pirch, UTC. (Thank you Anne for including me as one of your winning Taste of the Triangle auction dinner guests.) Had a wonderful time enjoying a four course meal with wine pairings and a comforting apple cider. Menu for the night was:
- Pumpkin Roasted Soup with Toasted Pepitas, Raymond Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast 2012
- Hearth Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Cranberry Cocktail Sauce, DeLoach Rose of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2013
- Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Mushrooms, Mashed Summer Squash and Leeks, and Quinoa, Liquid Velvet Cabernet Sauvignon, Monterey County 2011
- Berry Crisp with Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream (mixed on a salt block)
We also got some great cooking tips, including that in France the rule is to let your meat rest for half the time it is roasted so as to keep the juices in. If you haven’t been to Pirch, it’s a must go to place for kitchen, bathroom, and general decor ideas. Pirch’s motto is to “live joyfully”, and the dinner was a joy – thanks Chef Ed and his assistant Melissa.
Pirch, Westfield UTC, 4545 La Jolla Village Drive (across from Sports Chalet), San Diego, CA 92122, 858.966.3600, www.thepirch.com. Check the website for upcoming cooking events. Make sure to visit the store and their free coffee bar.