#16, Attend a cooking class
Last night I decided to attend an “Exotic French-Moroccan” cooking class at Sur la Table. It was a rainy day and I was feeling a little lethargic, but still I grabbed my purse and forced myself into the car.
As I walked through the pretty new outdoor mall at The Village at Topanga, I started feeling a bit better. There were twinkling lights and enticing shop windows and fashionable people milling about.
I am always rejuvenated by walking into a cooking store, and last night was no exception. The Sur la Table at the Village is new and sparkly and it has a large space in the back for classes.
The manager of the store, Lupita, showed me to the classroom. Our chef for the evening was Chef David Aflalo, a successful local caterer. We were a group of six students, but the room can hold many more.
If you don’t cook then you might wonder why I would take a class when I have already spent two years in cooking school, but this is the thing I love most about cooking– there is always something new to learn. Everyone who makes food has information to share. I did not need to be told how to hold my knife or how to cut an onion, but I did learn several things.
Our menu consisted of a Chicken Tagine with Dried Fruits, Couscous with Saffron and Ginger, Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint, and Cardamom Madeleines with Rosewater Glaze.
It was a beautiful menu.
Our Chef, told us that he learned to cook from his mother who was part Moroccan. He taught us her secret ways of toasting spices, how to cut chicken for a better mouth feel, how to bloom saffron, and how to roast chickpeas with harissa to make a crunchy snack.
We were given knives and aprons and we sliced things here and there, but two efficient kitchen assistants made our mise en place, whisked away our dirty dishes, cleaned our counters and provided us with snacks and water.
During a brief break, I went into the store and bought a tagine. Students get a shopping discount on the night of the class, so I took full advantage. It’s large enough to serve my family, and I love the shade of red. I also bought harissa and rosewater. I did not buy preserved lemons, because I made them here on the blog back on Day 28. I had never used them before, so I was glad to have an expert show me the ropes.
When the food was ready, we were all given plates and encouraged to serve ourselves. The food was a revelation. The combination of spice, and fruit, and fresh herbs, made for layers and layers of flavor. I thought the food would be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be GOOD.
My favorite dish was the carrot salad. A mandoline was used to julienne the carrots, then they were tossed in a spicy sweet dressing, and then feta cheese was crumbled over the top. The fresh mint made it a thing of beauty. This salad will go into my “all time favorites” notebook. I can do nothing to improve it.
We finished with tiny little madeleines which were iced and lightly scented. I liked eating the miniature cakes as opposed to the regular size. They were dainty and delicate and the perfect ending to a spicy, highly flavored meal. The non-stick plaques will go on my wish list, they worked better than my old yard sale plaques.
I know I say this all the time, but I’m so glad I pushed myself to go tonight. I had fantasized about sitting on the couch and watching dumb tv, but this is not that year.
This is a year to do stuff.
So far, so good.
267 days to go!