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Adventures in Cooking Class

by Marissa on February 2, 2011

Last night I attended a cooking class at The Natural Gourmet Institute. The class, entitled Soup, Stew and Salad Dinners, was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend. I took it as a hint but was pleased nonetheless as soups are an area where I can use improvement.

The fresh, organic ingredients

This being my first class at The Natural Gourmet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After some time talking through the recipes, ingredients and cutting and preparation techniques with instructor Myra Kornfeld, she put us to work. I paired up with a fellow vegetarian named Tricia who claimed she had little to no cooking experience (I couldn’t tell because she did a great job!), but I was understandably nervous when I realized my cooking skills would be put to the test.

Myra demonstrating how to slice pears
The overhead screen showing the cooking demos

With the entire class moving around the kitchen, the time on the clock ticking away and knowing that everyone would be tasting our meal at the end, the pressure was certainly on!

Before class even started, my mouth was watering as I surveyed the night’s recipes:

Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Shallots and Sage/ Baby Greens Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette and Warm Walnut-Crusted Goad Cheese Medallions

Columbian Black Bean Soup/ Romaine Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

French Lentil Soup/ Roated Pear and Arugula Salas with Parmesean-Walnut-Fellel Crisps

Sancocho Stew, a traditional Carribean of Latin American root vegetables like yucca and plantain/ Watercress and Hearts of Palm Salad with Plantain Chips

Indian Spiced Cauliflower, Chickpeas, Potatoes and Kale/ Green Leaf, Date and Cashew Salad with Tamarind Dressing

Lots of salad greens

My cooking partner and I chose the Butternut Squash Soup and Baby Greens Salad and were instructed to double the recipe and given a barely-big-enough pot. We worked around it but cut it close – phew!

Our near-overflowing pot of soup being pureed in the blender

In addition to the recipes and cooking techniques, some of the lessons I learned in the kitchen last night, include:

  • Too many cooks really can spoil the pot: While I loved having a partner, with so many people moving around the kitchen creating different dishes, it can create chaos
  • The texture of a soup can always be adjusted: Just add water!
  • Immersion blenders: Get one! They are great for Butternut Squash and Black Bean soups.
  • Never take yourself too seriously in the kitchen: Relax, enjoy and have fun!
The finished soup and salad

I’ll be choosing one of my favorite recipes from the class and attempting to recreate it in my own kitchen this week. I can hardly wait!

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