My husband and I love to cook, and we’re always eager to pick up new tips, techniques and recipes to spice up mealtime.
But since the baby was born, we’ve slipped into a sad routine of pre-packaged food and the same 3-4 meals over and over again– whatever’s fast and easy. We’ve been in a cooking rut. That’s why I was really excited to take the Summer Salads cooking class at Healthy Living Market last Saturday.
The Learning Center at Healthy Living is bright and cheery, and after being greeted by the class instructor, checking in, and signing a little waiver (in case I should accidentally set myself on fire or something), I was treated to some refreshing herbed water. The class was taught by instructor Laura Kathleen Wright (a former private chef who trained at the French Culinary Institute in NYC), and assistant Erin McGuire who works for Healthy Living full time–- both of whom were personable, knowledgable, and enthusiastic about food. Only one person besides myself signed up for this particular class, so it was an intimate setting where we had the opportunity to chat and joke and get to know each other.
We made three different dishes during the two-and-a-half-hour class: a curried spelt and chicken salad (which was spicy, warm and aromatic); a grilled vegetable and feta salad (which was smokey and sweet from the caramelized onions, red pepper, zucchini, and asparagus); and my favorite, a grilled steak and onion salad over arugula. The thing that was amazing about this last dish wasn’t the juicy, perfectly-grilled steak, the sweet-smokey char of the onions, or the perfectly bitter note of the arugula– it was the dressing: a heavenly mixture of fresh chives, creme fraîche, buttermilk, mayo, honey, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. I could seriously drink that stuff by itself!
The format of the class was great: After the instructor demonstrated a dish at the front of the classroom, we would each have a taste, and then return to our individual stations where we’d try our own hands at it. After each dish, we had the opportunity to eat a little of our own creations, and then pack up the rest to take home. So not only didn’t I leave class hungry, I had enough food for my husband and myself for two days worth of lunches and dinners!
I thought the class was accessible and appropriate for home cooks of any skill level. I knew that I would learn some new recipes (all of which are in an info packet you’re given at the start of class), but I’ve taken cooking classes before, so I wasn’t expecting to also learn new and better cooking techniques for things I do every day (like chopping an onion), or to experience new ingredients I’d never even heard of before (like Saba, a syrup made from grape must). That was a really nice surprise!
Classes run between $45 and $65 per person, and considering how much you learn and how much food you end up bringing home, I think that’s a bargain.
A few of the upcoming classes being offered include sushi-making (6/12/14), fermentation 101 (6/14/14), knife skills 101 (6/17/14), and preschool chefs (6/18/14).
The Learning Center also hosts regular Kids In The Kitchen classes which run about $20, and teach children everything from how to make BBQ chicken wings to baking lemon-cornbread cookies. One of the best things about these courses for kids is that they focus on teaching foundational cooking techniques, how to build flavors, and how to handle both food and kitchen equipment safely.
So whether you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons, create the next Junior Masterchef, or simply want a fun date night idea that involves good food, classes at Healthy Living’s Learning Center are just what you’ve been craving!
Growing Up Gourmet is an ongoing series for moms who want to share the joy of cooking with their families. From time to time, we’ll feature kitchen tips & tricks, tasty family recipes, and our own adventures in expanding our culinary repertoires. Join us, won’t you? Have a recipe or kitchen tale to share? Please email Kellyannmangan at gmail dot com.