Monday, June 20, 2016

Cooking Class: Pasta

I went to my first cooking class! I went to a homemade pasta class at Sur la Table, which might be my new favorite kitchen store. 

I was nervous, like first day of school nervous. Silly, right? But, it's true. Y'all, this class was so fun! The chef was knowledgeable and managed the class well. Chef D was a funny, entertaining teacher. 

I was selected to help demonstrate making the pasta dough, which was fun. It was a simple process, and here's the recipe for fresh pasta doughMy favorite part of the class was learning a new skill, making pasta! 

The class was 2 hours. It was very well organized. They gave us a printed packet with all three recipes we made: fresh pasta, Spring Paparadelle, and Ravioli al Uvo. We reviewed kitchen safety and hand washing. They also provided an apron to use during class. This was super helpful for the pasta class; it prevented the flour from getting everywhere. 

They provided light snacks, coffee, and water. I appreciate the light refreshments because it made the class feel more homey and hospitable. 

The class was very well organized. The recipe ingredients were on sheet pans ready for the students to complete the mis en place. The chef had two helpers who cleaned after each recipe was completed. That means no dish washing, which was another one of my favorite parts of the class. You were free and actually encouraged to make a mess in someone else's kitchen, dirty dishes and equipment, and the staff took care of all the cleaning. It was great!

During the class, we worked in teams of four. I was concerned that the class wouldn't be enough of a hands-on experience for me to learn pasta-making skills, but I was pleasantly surprised. The class was structured well, and everyone got hands-on experience with each dish. Students had the opportunity to work on each step of making the pasta. 

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I also learned new cooking skills on different pieces of kitchen equipment. We used the hand crank pasta machine and the Kitchen Aide pasta attachment. It was important to have at least two people to roll out the pasta with the hand cracked machine. It was much easier to use the Kitchen Aide pasta attachment with one person. It was cool to get to work with these products before deciding to purchase them. I think that trying out different kitchen tools was another great experience of this class.

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Pappardelle with Caramelized Onion, Sweet Peas, and Prosciutto

The first pasta dish we made was a Spring Pappardelle dish. This pasta looks like a wide fettuccine. This dough was had cut with a chef's knife. It was really simple to make. I can see myself preparing this recipe at home. It was simple to make, only required the pasta rolling tool, and it was super tasty! 

The pasta was paired with Spring peas, pancetta, caramelized onions, and tons of fresh herbs. It had an egg-base sauce similar to a carbonara. Delicious! The pasta was al dente and fresh. The pancetta provided a great salty bite. The onions were caramelized and slightly sweet. The sauce was rich but not heavy or overpowering. The peas and herbs were fresh, bright, and Springy. It was a well-balanced, satisfying dish. 

Raviolo al Uvo
The second pasta dish we made was a Ravioli al Uvo. This dish was a little more technical.  It was extremely rewarding and satisfying to make ravioli successfully. 

We made fresh pasta and rolled out the dough. We made the filling with ricotta cheese,  nutmeg, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, and fresh herbs. We separated eggs and used the yolk for the filling. 

We brushed the pasta with an egg wash. Covered the filling with another piece of pasta. Then, cut the pasta into round ravioli. 

We boiled the pasta. And none of them burst!

I was the saucier for this dish. I made my first brown butter sauce, which was fun and tasty. Browning the butter reminded me of making a dark roux. It tastes time, patience, and pretty constant stirring. At one point, you might think you're burning the butter instead of browning the butter. It was a delicious sauce that I plan to make again.

This dish was creamy thanks to the brown butter sauce, ricotta cheese, and egg yolk. The rich, creaminess was balanced by the freshness of the lemon, mint, basil, and parsley in the filling. I thought this dish looked impressive and would be fun for entertaining. 

Another one of my favorite parts of the class was that we were able to taste each dish we made. By taste, I mean we all had a meal-size portion of the pasta dishes we made. 

I highly recommend taking a cooking class if you want to learn a new skill or try a new recipe. My favorite aspects of this cooking class were:

1) Hands-on experience learning a new skill.

2) Trying kitchen tools before buying them.

3) Recipe preparation and clean up completed by the staff. No dishes! 

4) Tasting and trying new recipes.

There are several businesses that offer cooking classes in my area. Check out the classes in your area! I have two more cooking classes scheduled this Summer. So, stay tuned for my review of those courses.

I hope you enjoyed this look into my life and cooking journey. I hope this series encourages you to try something new - try a new recipe, a new class, try something that interests you.  I would love to see how you are challenging yourself and what you are trying new. Feel free to use these hashtags for your with #NewRD, #RDTODGoals, #HealthyRD and use #easyentertaining for your hosting and entertaining pictures. You can also tag me @RDtipoftheday, so I can see what you do and maybe even feature you on the blog or social media. It is so important to continue to grow and learn. #NeverStopLearning

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