Tuesday, May 30, 2006

cooking italian style... or so we thought

Mr. Cupcake's brother was Mr. Cupcake's best man in our wedding last year. Since we went to Italy for our honeymoon, he wanted to give us a cooking class that focused on Italian food as part of our wedding gift. Fast forward nearly a year later and we finally signed up for one. This past year has been insanely hectic, so taking the cooking class right before our 1st anniversary was really nice.

We went with a Viking HomeChef cooking class. It was a three hour class that focused on the "Foods of Italy". The menu consisted of the following:

White Bean Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Tuscan Roast Pork Loin
Broccoli Rabe Pasta with Spicy Olive Oil Dressing
Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce
Bellini Cocktail

The class had 7 participants total. We split up into two groups. We were paired with a lady who had taken a lot of these cooking courses already.

When we arrived, the instructor was already preparing the pork roast. We watched her add her premade rub and throw it into the oven. Then we started on the profiteroles. The recipe was easy and we had no problems throwing it together. When both groups were done, our instructor combined the two batters. Well, it turned out that one of the groups added too much water and the batter was thin. This upset our instructor and that's when she turned a bit salty on us. She wanted to know who added the extra water, but of course no one fessed up. I'm pretty sure it was the other group though. Mr. Cupcake measured our water and being the perfectionist that he is, I'd be shocked if it was him. She ended up making her assistant make a new batch of profiteroles.

Next we made the soup. It required chopping some vegetables, and a couple of the participants were struggling. I don't think the people in the class were very familiar with the kitchen in general. Again, each team made their own soup and then the two were merged. Halfway through cooking, the lady on our team told Mr. Cupcake that she thought the other team wasn't following the recipe. Indeed she was correct. The soup called for 1/2 a teaspoon of dried sage to go directly into the soup during cooking and 1/4 of a cup of fresh sage for frying later on. Unfortunately for us, the other team ended up throwing the 1/4 of a cup of fresh sage into their soup. Our instructor wasn't impressed. We were able to compare the soups before the merge and there was quite a difference in flavor. I definitely preferred ours. However, after the merge, the soup was still pretty good and it's something I'd make again.

The last thing we made was the broccoli rabe pasta. Mr. Cupcake and I make this dish on occasion, so we were looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the instructor couldn't find broccoli rabe anywhere so we ended up using spinach. Not quite the same. There wasn't any drama during this course, and overall it was pretty good. However, it was missing the bitterness that broccoli rabe tends to have.

After we made the broccoli rabe pasta, the instructor told us to leave and come back in 10 minutes so she and her assistant could prepare everything. This was one of my least favorite parts of the class. We didn't get to do any of the real assembly of the meal. We came back, and she had put together all the profiteroles, carved the meat, made the gravy, and told us to eat. She also made the bellinis which weren't true bellinis. Mr. Cupcake saw she used peach juice instead of white peach puree. Tisk, tisk.

We were disappointed that there wasn't a real focus on Italy. My real problem with the menu was that Italian cooking is all about using simple, fresh ingredients to create amazing meals. The recipes were more involved and packed with ingredients. This was more of a beginner's lesson on how to cook food. If you don't know your way around the kitchen very well, then this class will probably blow your mind. The other people in our class were highly impressed with the fruits of their labor. It's okay though. Mr. Cupcake and I still had a good time. Plus, we now both have these smashing blue Viking aprons that the instructor gave out
when the class was over.

Anyway, many thanks to Mr. Cupcake's brother. We had a good time and appreciate it! Oh, and if anyone wants a copy of these recipes, post a comment and I'll throw them up for you. I'm too lazy to type them out right now.

1 comment:

mr cupcake said...

The class would have been better if they gave us wine to drink while cooking.

I'm not sure if this would work, there were people coming close to cutting off a finger without the help of alcohol. If you don't know how to cut an onion, this class is for you.