My husband and I recently attended a cooking class with Stuarto's Olive Oil Company at Spindletop Hall here in Lexington. We had a wonderful experience and I wanted to share what I learned. While you may be thinking, does a dietitian really need a cooking class? And I did take several cooking classes in college, but there is a difference between a cooking class with a dietitian (focus on health or needs of a specific disease) and a one with a chef (focus on flavor and experience). Plus is sounded fun and was incredibly affordable (only $43 per person!). I found three areas of connection in this cooking class.
Connect with Other People
This was a date night and I got to have fun doing something other than watching a movie before falling asleep. As parents of 3 young children, quality date nights are challenging. We have a tight budget and have to arrange childcare, but this was totally worth it - plus this was actually my gift to my husband for his birthday! We had a great time connecting in ways we don't normally.
We also got a chance to connect with the other guests. We sat at a table with four other couples. The conversation was lively and enjoyable. Since my husband and I are both introverts at heart this was a little outside of our comfort zone but we ended up having fun meeting new people. One couple even asked for more information about Health Happens at Home!
Connect with Cooking Techniques
The Chef for the evening demonstrated the cooking methods and materials used to prepare the menu shown below.
Here is what I learned or enjoyed reviewing:
- Olive Oil and vinegar can be emulsified by whisking to make a vinaigrette. This can be used as a salad dressing or marinade. For use as a salad dressing, mix just prior to serving to avoid separation. You may already be saying "everybody knows what a vinaigrette is!", but did you know you can add a little mustard to help stabilize the emulsion and keep the oil combined with the vinegar together longer? Try it! I recently bought these travel salad dressing containers so i can have cheap vinaigrette with me when i want and not be forced to consume dressings from restaurants that are filled with other sugars, salts and chemicals besides the oil and vinegar. . I pour a little olive oil of choice and a little balsamic vinegar of choice, shake and dress my salad or bring it with me to dress a salad while I'm out to avoid all the chemicals and preservatives in restaurant (and store bought) dressings. Stuarto's sells 2 ounce bottles of oils and vinegars so you can sample before you commit to a large bottle. They also offer in store tastings. Some of my favorite pairings so far have been: strawberry balsamic/basil olive oil, traditional olive oil/peach white balsamic, traditional olive oil/pomegranate balsamic
- Soba noobles are a buckwheat noodle and are a great semolina alternative especially in Asian recipes. I've used Soba before, but had forgotten about them. If you haven't had them before and want to try something different than the typical Italian spaghetti, then give Soba noodles a try. They are a little hard to find, but the flavor was so good - I"ll be buying them next month. It is important to cook noodles al dente (firm to bite). The chef focused on how this keeps noodles from getting too soft. The dietitian in me adds: al dente pasta also has lower glycemic index (it doesn't raise the blood sugar as much). Cool!
- Have you ever ordered a risotto at a restaurant? Well, we learned that actually risotto is a process, not a food. The process is slow and labor intensive. It involves slowly cooking rice by adding a broth little by little with constant stirring. I really enjoy risotto, but have never made it at home. With three small children, I don't think I'll be making it at home anytime soon. I will have greater appreciation for risotto I order when eating out!
- Citrus infused oil in desserts is delicious and I need to experiment!
Connect with the Food
We also got to eat this amazing food. These were not items we may have chosen on a restaurant menu, so it was fun to taste (and enjoy) new foods! Here are some pictures of my plates. I forgot to get a picture of the salad before I started and there was no stopping once I started - it was delicious! (These are iphone photos from me - a non-professional photographer - sorry)
All of the food was delicious. The shrimp and soba noodles were great. I'll be imitating this at home. I love the flavors of pork and rosemary together. This dish also used Stuarto's rosemary flavored sea salt. Because of my own health condition, I have to follow a very low sodium diet, so I don't own any of these, but they tasted great in this dish. I also loved the flavor of the cilantro and roasted onion olive oil - this was used in the risotto. And, I usually prefer chocolate desserts so I forget how good citrus tastes in sweets. The cannolis for dessert combined both!
We had a great time and highly recommend Stuarto's cooking classes! Simply call the store to pay over the phone and reserve your spot. There is a class every second Wednesday of the month.
You may be interested in other ways I use Stuarto's oils, check out my popcorn post.
What about you? Have you ever taken a cooking class? If not, I hope you do. It was fun, we plan to do more. If you did participate in one and would recommend it to others, let me know so i can try it out sometime.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Stuarto's in any way, I just like the products and pay for them just as you would. There are Amazon affiliate links included in this post. Thanks for your support.