A few weeks ago I took a pasta class. Groupon had offered a deal on a cooking class from Arkansas Extended Learning Center and within a few hours I was carefully studying the file, picking out which courses I would most want to take, (this while simultaneously trying to remember anything important on my schedule, which is always impossible to do when I need to recall information).
My first choice, Sauces, wasn’t available. The courses had to be done this year. My Second-Sushi-was gone almost instantly. Luckily I had a safety choice, and I was squarely secured in the pasta workshop.
This was my third cooking class from A.E.L.C. Chef John Leonardis teaches all of the classes. Each course has a limited number of spots available, so that people can see what happens and watch. Chef John is a nice guy-funny, but you can tell he’s serious about food. After each of the three courses I’ve taken (knife skills, seafood & fish, pasta) I have walked away with knowledge I didn’t have before. At times I wish the teaching would have gone a bit more in-depth, or in a different direction, but this may also be from the part of me that still toys with the idea of culinary school. (Plus when you have the time limit of 2 hours, there’s only so much that can be done!)
I willingly accepted that logic would be a hurdle for me with the pasta class. I mean, how often would I take the time to make it at home? To take time to knead, and wait on setting time, and then rolling, when I could easily buy a box for just a few bucks? (Plus, I don’t have one of those handy pasta roller machines.) However while I’m on this kick I should argue on the other side-homemade is almost always better. You have more control, and the ingredients just seem much more pure.
If you decide to make your pasta, using a mixer is much easier than by hand. During class we were only shown this method. (This is actually what bothered me the most. I doubt many people have the machinery at home, why not show the pared down method? Maybe it’s time, maybe due to waste of dough later, either way–at least we have YouTube and Google.)
After the dough was made we moved back into the kitchen. Pasta was rolled out, sauces were made, and dishes were created.
If you’re considering a cooking class for any reason, my one thought to share is this: Get Involved.
The Chef will typically ask for helpers or volunteers, be that person. Learn by doing. It gives a sense of familiarity when you practice in your own kitchen.
(By the way, thanks to Hilary, who took the photos and send them to me!)
The dish I assisted on was a Pea and Mascarpone filled Agnolotti (served with a Mushroom Cream Sauce)
Another tip, if you are thinking about taking a class, sign up with a friend. It’s more fun to have that shared experience.
It was a fun course. Will I practice much of it? Doubtful. But I’m glad I did it. Another bonus: with these classes you eat the dishes you learned how to make. Tasty rewards indeed!
Lamb Filled Cannelloni with Amatriciana (pancetta and tomato sauce)
Pea and Mascarpone filled Agnolotti with Mushroom Cream Sauce