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Class Action Cooking

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Cooking, for the average Joe/Jane, is a learn-by-example or learn-by-experimentation skill. Adulthood sort of requires you to suddenly be procificient at it when you move into your first place or risk weight gain from excessive prepared and processed foods and/or financial paralysis from spending entirely too much on ordering in/eating out. Some find their wings in the kitchen pretty quickly or were previously interested and some struggle (can you tell which camp I’m in?). Yes, I was a struggler, but a lot of learn-by-experimentation and some learn-by-example thrown in has gotten me fairly far along.

But a little formal instruction can go a long way, so for a friend’s birthday, we signed up for a cooking class together at Sur La Table’s New York City learning kitchen near Columbus Circle to get some inspiration for our next kitchen forays. We made a roast chicken with basil pistou, creamy wild mushroom polenta (ingredients pictured above), braised fennel with shallots and herbs, finished off with a dessert of Bosch pear tartlets. No wonder cooking shows make it look so easy – the menu is set, everything is purchased and prepped in little dishes, the space is huge, the equipment top notch… cooking classes make cooking less stressful… Freedom within a framework and all that. We learned some basics in knife technique (apparently I’m not as bad as I thought I was), our chef/instructor Joel taught us not to be too afraid of raw meat and dirty mushrooms – “A little dirt will never hurt” was his mantra – and we had a great time eating everything we made (since they make it foolproof and it was delicious).

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Here is us with Chef Joel. Happy Birthday Kate!

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