On Saturday night, I used a Groupon to check out a class at Cook & Go, a culinary studio that started in France and found its way to the US a few years ago. The concept is that you cook the food in class and then take it home to reheat and eat. In the warmer months, they offer picnic-themed classes, too. Most of the food is actually prepared in foil carryout containers, which makes it so easy! Another plus: free wine for evening classes.
I did the Healthy Living menu, which included
- Roasted eggplant with tomato and goat cheese relish
- Apricot chicken with rice
- Flourless chocolate cake with chantilly cream and berry coulis
What was neat was that each person made their own meal (aka no strangers touching your meat). The instructor passed ingredients around along with spoons we used to add the amount needed for one portion. It was very informal and low-stress. The recipes are very simple, so you can feel good about eating mostly whole foods and can use as little or as much salt as you like. The only thing I didn’t love was that we used Splenda in the chocolate cakes, but in the grand scheme of things, a couple teaspoons of the stuff isn’t a deal breaker for me.
One thing that I find odd about cooking classes, though, is that I’m usually the only person flying solo. Maybe I didn’t get the memo that cooking classes were a couples-only thing? Whoops. Not like that would stop me. Of course, there are those occasional funny/awkward moments. This class was no exception. It started in the first two minutes:
Instructor (to Jess, motioning to the empty space next to her): Are you waiting for someone?
Jess: (turns and waves to other 24 students) I’ll be your token bachelor for this evening
Instructor: Don’t worry, there’s always someone like that.
Hm. “Someone like that?” What does that even mean?
Throughout the class, we were instructed to share things like stalks of fresh herbs with our “partner.” Several times I had to raise my hand to ask questions like, “What should we do if don’t have a partner to, uh, share an eggplant with?”
Share an eggplant. I guess that’s what the kids are calling it these days?
Anyway, my classmates actually were really nice and a fun bunch of work with—there was a lot of laughing. I also left with a pretty nice spread to enjoy at home:
Because I had enjoyed some wine at class, I ditched the rice, since I don’t really care about white rice, and I enjoyed the eggplant salad over some greens I needed to use up. Just to be fancy, I served the chicken in a fancy little cup, like, so:
I heard that we’re getting some low, low temps in the U.S. Coldest in decades. Guess I’d better get on that whole “someone to share an eggplant with” thing, if only for the body heat. Or I could just keep hamming it up in cooking classes and blogging about it and just, you know, wear a lot of sweaters.
Have you ever taken a cooking class? Does your partner like eggplant?
This past Saturday I took a Thai Street Food Cooking class at the Natural Gourmet Institute, where we learned about Thai street food culture and then split into groups to prepare several curry pastes and dishes to use them in.
My group was in charge of the green curry paste, which served as a base for the eggplant and basil curry with tofu. We also made Thai chili sauce, peanut sauce, pickled cucumbers,and coconut milk mango ice cream with bananas in coconut sauce. Some of the other foods were galangal & coconut chicken soup, spicy fish cakes, shrimp curry, and pad thai.
I also had my first encounter with durian, aka “The King of Fruit.”
Some places won’t allow durian because it smells so strongly, but to be completely honest, it tasted like creme brûlée! I don’t even like creme brûlée, but in weird fruit form, it was wonderful.
This class was a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon and would make an awesome gift for someone. There were also several couples there, so if you’re looking for something romantic, cooking and eating weird exotic fruit together is pretty awesome. Check out some of the other public class offerings at the Natural Gourmet Institute if you’re interested—I’ve been to a few of their classes and have always had a good experience. It’s very hands on, and the recipes are both delicious and user-friendly.
Have you ever taken a cooking class? What’s your favorite kind of cuisine? Ever tried durian?