Friday, March 26, 2010

Mixed Bag of Greens

First, the good:

The cooking class's facility was nice. The chef was pleasant and knew a lot.

Coincidently, a person who goes to my church was there, and we cooked with two other women who were nice. I'd taken a class on lowering my carbon footprint with the person from my church, so we had our hippie greenness in common and had things to chat about.*

The food was quite good.

As to the rest...

I've been struggling with how to word this. It wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting much more instruction. What I feel like I need is someone telling me things like how to make a roux, the best way to cut leeks, the purpose of heating a vinaigrette dressing for a salad.

Instead, the eighteen of us were split into five groups. The two small groups were given two recipes to complete, and the three larger groups were given three recipes to complete. That was it. The chef and a sous chef walked around constantly and helped give advice or answer questions, which was helpful, but we were left pretty much on our own to follow the recipe.

This wasn't what I had hoped. I can choose a recipe from my cookbook and stumble through it at home. In fact, that's all I know how to do. Of the four of us, I seemed to be the one most comfortable with cooking, which shocks me so deeply I can barely type it.

The same place has a series of "foundation" courses, and I'm still toying with the idea of taking the knife skills class. That seems like it would be helpful, but it would not be helpful if they gave me a pile of carrots and told me to go to it. I'm not sure I will pay $75 to take that risk.


Anyway, the food did turn out well, and I learned things like how to use a potato ricer on tofu. (Sadly, I don't own a potato ricer.) The two recipes we didn't make were Artichoke & Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller and Quinoa Maki with Avocado & Cajun Portobello Filets. The two people I ate with were from a group that made these, and they said they were very difficult. I watched someone assemble and roll the maki, and it did look very tricky. I think I would make steamed and roasted artichoke, even if I just served it with butter or some other dipping sauce. I also might make the cajun portobello, even if I didn't put it in a roll.

The three recipes our group made were Corn Chowder, Whole Wheat Penne w/ Gardein (Fake) Chicken, and Wild Field Green & Tofu Ricotta Salad with Warm Blueberry Vinaigrette. The chowder was very good. The pasta dish was fine--I think it has possibilities if I change a few things I didn't like. The salad was also pretty good, although I can't imagine I'll make the dressing again. It had two cups of olive oil and made a huge amount of dressing. We only used half on six salads--the recipe was theoretically for six--and it was a tremendous amount of dressing. I can't imagine wanting to go to all that work to make a dressing that has so much oil the calorie count will be very high.

I'm trying to come to peace with the idea that it's okay to be disappointed with this experience. It doesn't mean that the cooking class people did anything wrong. It just means that I was hoping for something different. It was still a new experience, and I did get some new ideas from it, so perhaps that's all for which one can hope.

*I did wonder if it was appropriate to ask about her vermicomposting (composting with worms) whilst we cooked, but it didn't seem to bother her.


  1. I hate it when what I hope will turn out to be a useful and entertaining class isn't. Kudo's to you for giving it a chance. Will you be going back?

  2. I recommend watching some of the Good Eats episodes. Alton Brown does a great job in explaining all sorts of technique.

    Leeks are one of my absolute favorite things to eat and cook with. I've even used them when I didn't have any shallots.

    Good luck.

  3. I think it is important that you give them your feedback. A class should teach, not just be practice.