5 Things I Learned From A Cooking Class
It's no surprise that I love food but I started to take interest in cooking only within the last 5-6 years. It just happened because I had to cook to survive and I learned it through trial and error, watched others cook, and through lots of cooking shows. I have no formal training in cooking, so naturally I jumped right in when Sur La Table invited me to attend a cooking class in their brand new Fort Worth location (also called Waterside) on Modern Tuscany Cooking taught by Chef Adam Leach. I invited the boyfriend to join, which by the way is a great idea for a date night!! If you follow me on instagram or snapchat (dixyab), you probably saw us in action but since I had such a fun evening, I thought I'd do a full recap and share 5 Things I learned from the cooking class!
Cooking is all about the technique : It's nice to have fancy tools and exotic ingredients but great cooking is more about using the proper techniques. It allows your ingredients to really shine and make delicious meal. Chef Adam talked about the importance of 'right amount of heat' depending upon what you are cooking. For example - you should let mushroom cook on it's own over medium heat and not constantly stir it (which is something I do very often). While cooking polenta, we were asked to stir it constantly to avoid any lumps. You may have all the tools and ingredients but if you don't apply proper cooking techniques, your end result will most likely suffer.
Mise en place is a MUST : Mise en place, a French culinary term which means "setting your ingredients in place prior to cooking". We made 3-course dinner within 2 hours and I don't think it would have been possible without mise en place. Chef's assistants made sure we had ingredients measured for each recipe, which saved time and avoided any confusion during the class. Mise en place is something I practice at home with baking but I realized that it helps a lot during cooking too especially if you are making 3-4 recipes at once. In addition to mise en place, know your recipe in advance so you can cook them in a timely manner. For example - we started our spiced apple crostata prior to making the main course (polenta with steak) as it took 40 minutes in the oven.
Know your ingredients : It sounds obvious but how often do we take time to really know our ingredients? At Sur La Table, not only Chef Adam but his assistants were passionate + knowledgable about the ingredients we were using, which was very inspiring. The type of cheese, grittiness of polenta, which cut of steak is better, why certain herbs are used with meat vs. veggies etc. Also, don't be afraid to try new ingredients (granted it fits your lifestyle)...I normally don't eat beef or fruit-based pie (unless it is pumpkin pie once a year) but I thought why not? I am so glad I did - juicy NY strip steak!!! Spiced apple crostata with homemade vanilla ice cream was such a delight...expect an spiced apple-based recipe coming soon your way!
Teaches you patience & teamwork : Let me just tell you thatpatience is not my forte and I am used to cooking at my own pace alone, so this was a good exercise for me! The boyfriend and I divided the tasks, listened to the instructions from Chef, and worked together as a team. I patiently waited for mushroom to sauté on it's own (per Chef's advice) which otherwise, would have been stirred 15 times more. Similarly, watching a piece steak getting seared was a struggle because in my head, I want to flip it already. The boyfriend, on the other hand is much more patient and methodical, so obviously I followed his lead (hello team player).
It's an experience : The ultimate goal of cooking is to eat...but cooking is a wholesome experience that involves picking the ingredients, tasting food in between, plating them, and taking time to enjoy the meal. I don't know about you guys but I hardly take time to enjoy the whole process - it's like a race on how quickly can I finish meal prep or what is the quickest thing I can make and call it a meal?
Cooking class was a great reminder that eating is more than getting your nutrients in - it's about the people, ingredients, atmosphere, and the conversation! Something I need to be mindful of more often.
Have you ever taken a cooking class?
If you are interested, check out cooking classes offered by Sur La Table in your area. If you don't have Sur La Table in your area - they also have online cooking classes on various topics!
I'd like to sincerely thank Sur La Table for a complimentary cooking class and $25 gift card giveaway (which is happening on the instagram until Monday). I was not compensated to write this post; all opinions are 100% all mine!