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Posts from the ‘Classes’ Category

Tasting New Orleans Part 2: Crescent City Cooks

Just minutes after starting my walk through the French Quarter, I bumped into a few shops along Chartres Street. I ducked inside one shop that sold unique kitchen decorative items, local food items, and regional cookbooks. On my way out, I saw a cooking demo class schedule posted outside the door of Crescent City Cooks located at 201 Chartres Street in New Orleans’ famous French Quarter.

Crescent City Cooks

Crescent City Cooks

I quickly walked back in the shop and paid $30.00 USD for Saturday demo class; and patiently waited for Saturday morning to arrive.

The demo class at Crescent City Cooks was more than what I expected. Chef Scott, one of the instructors, gave us a lesson in creole and cajun cooking while creating amazingly delicious dishes.

Chef Scott Giving A Lesson

Chef Scott Giving A Lesson

Arrive earlier, to make sure you get a great seat. If you don’t get a great seat, the remaining seats are good. Large mirrors & a large screen allows you to witness the cooking action.

See What's Cookin'

See What’s Cookin’

Before you arrive, I suggest that you only eat a light breakfast. Crescent City Cooks will make sure you leave satisfied.

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

Chicken Fricassee

Chicken Fricassee

Bread Pudding w/Rum Sauce

Bread Pudding w/Rum Sauce

After leaving Crescent City Cooks, you will be able to conquer the streets of New Orleans on a full tummy 🙂

Cooking Fools: Pasta Making Techniques

I had a wonderful cooking experience at Cooking Fools, located at 1916 W. North Avenue (between Ashland Ave. & Damen Ave) in Chicago’s Bucktown-Wicker Park neighborhood.

I found out about Cooking Fools from Groupon. I received an email showing me specific deals. After I saw the Cooking Fools deal, I went on their website to see the classes they had to offer. The class, Pasta Making Techniques, caught my eye. With that said, I purchased the deal and scheduled the class.

With 2 eggs, 3.5 ounces of all purpose flour, and 3.5 ounces of semonila, I learned how to make fresh ravioli and pappardelle. We didn’t use stand mixers or food processors. We used our hands along with other manual tools provided by the cooking school. The instructor, with the help of two class volunteers, demonstrated how to make vodka sauce & pesto sauce. WARNING: The dishes we prepared were vegetarian; but not gluten free. If you have specific dietary needs, contact Cooking Fools for special accommodations.

The instructors were very helpful and made sure each student grasped the concepts. What I also enjoyed was the knowledge nuggets they dropped during instruction. Who, knew that you could replace pine nuts with roasted almond slivers.

The instructors take all of the pasta and the sauces and cook them in their kitchen. When the food is finished cooking, the food is served buffet style. NOTE: Everyone’s pasta is cooked together.

Cooking Fools have available a selection of wines & craft beers if you would like to drink them during class and with dinner. Also, there are nonalcoholic beverages for purchase also.

Metered parking is available on the street. Cooking Fools is accessible by riding the CTA’s North Ave. bus or Blue Line train.

All in all, I had a nice time at Cooking Fools. I met some awesome people who are enthused about food just as much as I am. They even supplied containers so you can take leftovers home.

It doesn’t matter if you are a pro or novice in the kitchen. Grab some friends, take your significant other, or just go by yourself to have an awesome experience whether at Cooking Fools.

Cooking Fools

Cooking Fools

Step Up Your Game: Wilton Decorating Basics Course 1

This year I was determined to learn how to frost a cake. I can easily dig frosting out of a can with a butter knife and smear it all over a cake. That is how I have done it for years. Just picture a lopsided cake with crumbs stuck to the frosting & wallah, cake is served. The cakes were moist and tasted awesome. They didn’t ‘look’ as if I put effort into them.

After four weeks of hands on instruction at Wilton’s Decorating Basics Course 1, I developed a better appreciation for cake decorators. Cake decorating takes time, patience, and an eye for detail.

Decorating Basics Course 1

Decorating Basics Course 1

In Course 1, you learn how to decorate with butter cream frosting. Keep in mind, you do not learn how to bake a cake. You practice techniques on cookies, cakes, and cupcakes.

WARNING: You will spend more money than the cost of the class. You will buy a course kit that includes basic tools used during class. You may pay for additional optional items (for example, gel food coloring, turntable, leveler, additional decorating tips, and etc.). If you do not purchase the butter cream frosting, you will purchase the ingredients to make the butter cream frosting. Trust me, coupons will be your friend.

You do not have to take a Wilton class. There are a number of cake decorating classes you can take. I chose a class that was convenient for my schedule & close to home. I enjoyed meeting new people whose common thread was wanting to learn how to decorate an good looking cake. It was also nice having a knowledgable, patient, and kind instructor.

You can find in depth instructions on YouTube. I am not disciplined enough to learn cake decorating online. But I have found some helpful tips on YouTube.

If you want to step up your cake decorating class, take a class. It will be worth it. I took one class and is looking forward to taking Course 2.

What I Learned

What I Learned

Certifiably So

On the road to accomplishing my dreams, I had to do some research to assist with making my dreams a reality. While doing my research, I discovered that if I wanted to LEGALLY sell food to customers in Chicago, that at least one person at the establishment would need to have earned their ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification. If I wanted to open a restaurant, a food truck, a food stand on the corner, this certification is just as important as having a business license.

I was fortunate enough to find that the class was being offered at one of the community colleges. The cost of the course, book, and exam fee was under $400USD.

Day 1 of the class I learned that I didn’t know what I thought I knew about food safety. For instance, I would thaw the meat, seafood, or poultry out by simply taking the package out of the freezer and placing it in the kitchen sink. After the package was placed in the sink, I would wiz off to work or where ever my heart guided me that day. I learned that I should have thawed the food in the refrigerator, or under the proper temperature of running water, or in the microwave, or in the cooking process. There is more to thawing food properly than just taking it out of the refrigerator making sure is isn’t sitting on the counter.

Over two days, I learned about FAT TOM (and no FAT TOM is not a person). I learned the proper order to store food in hot or cold storages places.

Many people repurposed turkey leftovers after the holidays. I wonder how many ensured they didn’t keep that turkey salad around longer than 7 days from the earliest cooked ingredient.

Yes, the first day made me rethink my dreams. By the end of the class, I was confident that I could serve great tasting food with true care & attention. As an added bonus, I was the self-proclaimed food safety police at a potluck lunch. You can do that when you are the only person in the room certified for the next 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years.

I encourage anyone who cooks to take this course. I promise you won’t see cooking the same again.

For more information about the certification in your city and or state, contact your local restaurant association. You may also find more information at ServSafe’s website.