Tip of the Month, November 2012: Enjoy a Cooking Class

You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we all want to change the world ~ John Lennon

When Living Social came out with a deal on a cooking class at Revolution in Durham, I jumped all over it. For $100 (which was half price) I got a 4-5 hour class, free wine while we cooked and ate what we made, a Revolution t-shirt and a $20.00 gift certificate to use on my next visit to the restaurant. The last cooking class I took was years ago at Irregardless Café  in Raleigh (more about this favorite restaurant in a separate post) and I was long overdue. If you’ve never taken a cooking class, I highly recommend it. It’s given me a chance to work with and learn from two wonderful executive chefs (Arthur Gordon and Jim Anile) in the Triangle, plus it is a fantastic and fun way to spend several hours and meet some new fellow foodies at the same time.

I accidentally put the wrong time on my calendar and arrived a half-hour late for my class at Revolution, so I felt a little behind at first, but was able to jump right in and start helping. The theme of the class was “Not So Traditional Holiday Cooking” and those of us who had signed up (I think there were 11 people total) were in different stations, working on different parts of the meal.

There were no recipes – Chef Anile just gave us individual instructions on prepping various items for the dishes we were making, which included:

  • Deboned whole chickens with homemade cornbread stuffing
  • Cranberry and orange chutney with shallots and garlic
  • Roasted corn, tomato and red onion salad
  • Pumpkin bisque
  • Sweet potatoes mashed with homemade marshmallow topping
  • Spicy pumpkin seeds
  • Homemade cornbread

I helped with the cranberry chutney, which was great. I chopped shallots and juiced and zested oranges that went in the dish. This was so good that I made something quite similar for Thanksgiving at Mom’s and you can view the recipe at: https://kelleychisholm.com/2012/11/18/food-of-the-month-november-2012-cranberry-sauce-homemade-of-course/

The roasted corn, tomato and red onion salad was simply divine and one of my favorite dishes of the day. We roasted the corn in its husks in the oven and chopped the tomatoes and onions to be the exact same size as the corn kernels. Lime juice, salt and pepper were added — that was it. A few simple ingredients for a superb salad that I will be making at home, especially in the summer.

I enjoyed making the spicy pumpkin seeds (especially since Gabe loves them) and learned something new while preparing them. Chef Anile had me sprinkle them with lemon juice to help the salt, pepper and spices stick to the seeds, which I had never tried before. These things were great and a bit addictive. Gabe will approve of these next Halloween!

Chef Anile broke out the wine and beer about halfway through our meal preparation and served it while we ate and up until the class was over. Chef Gordon of Irregardless actually started serving wine, etc. before we even stepped into the kitchen. Maybe they wanted to pattern the class after what so many cooks do in their own kitchens. All I can say is nice touch!

After all of the food was made, we sat down to enjoy it and got to know our fellow classmates better. What an enjoyable day, plus I learned a few tips that I will now carry into my own cooking:

  • Salt your food from high above because it spreads more evenly.
  • Do not mix your wet ingredients into the dry ones when you’re making stuffing until right before you cook it – this keeps it from becoming a sticky, mushy mess.
  • Debone your bird (chicken, turkey, etc.) to reduce the cooking time tremendously. Place the deboned bird on top of your stuffing so the juices can be absorbed. Delicious!
  • Roll citrus fruits for 10-20 seconds on the counter using medium pressure and then cut them lengthwise (as shown) to get the most juice out of them. The reasoning behind this is there is more juice away from the center of the fruit. This is great if you only need a little bit of juice and don’t want to pull out the juicer.

If you want to have a great time and learn from some of the talented chefs in your area, then take a cooking class. Just do an Internet search to find one near you, and if you’re in the Triangle, I’ll be happy to tag along!

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe

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