Cooking classes, if you’ve never tried them, are like a four in one deal. You get a meal, you get entertainment, you get to socialize and you get to learn. Even if you aren’t really into cooking, just think of it as going to a more hands-on dinner party.
I recently attended a vegetarian cooking class in Greenlake hosted by blogger Dana Treat (not her last name…but wouldn’t that be cool?). At this point, I have to say that while I’m not a vegetarian, I usually prepare vegetarian meals at home, and frequently order them in restaurants. There’s a misconception that vegetarian meals are boring, when the fact is (as Dana pointed out near the start of the class) once you take the meat component out of the meal, you’d be surprised at how creative a dish can become.
The class focused on a Winter Seasonal Feast, which is an enormous meal covering everything from appetizers to dessert. We sat down to a glass of wine and a few peppadew peppers stuffed with a cream/goat cheese mix and topped with an almond. If only math class started out that way, my grades would have been a lot sweeter.
Each student had a folder with printouts of the menu and all recipes, so there’s no worries about taking notes. The atmosphere was relaxed; everyone chatted while Dana walked us through preparing the meal. The way the notes were organized and the order in which she prepared the dishes was all part of the overall goal; to show us how to do it ourselves. That includes what to chop/mix/prepare ahead of time and what to make while guests are there, should you decide to prepare this feast for your own friends and family.
Appetizers, for example, were already prepared upon our arrival – crostinis topped with burrata (one of the most luxurious cheeses I’ve ever tried), arugula and pink peppercorns. The batter for the cake was mixed, poured and placed in the oven, and then we got started on the meal.
We started with a salad – roasted beets with hazelnuts and ricotta. If you aren’t a beet fan, you probably haven’t tried roasting them; it’s a whole new vegetable. Roasting played a vital role in another side dish, which consisted of fennel, peppers, grapes and herbs de provence. Still sound boring?
Next came the main dish; butternut squash and gruyere galettes. I have no problem confessing that while I love to cook and improvise in the kitchen, baking is another story. I’ll try it and I enjoy it, but anything that requires dough always strikes me as more complicated.
Dana’s tart dough was quite simple, and while the final product might look fancy, each student made their own and not one turned out anything less than beautiful. It really is easier than it looks!
The meal was delicious, right down to the dark chocolate sour cream pound cake with bourbon-spiked whipped cream (everyone’s a vegetarian when it comes to dessert, right?). Dana was a wonderful host and teacher – if you’re in the Seattle area, vegetarian or no, I highly recommend giving this class a shot.