Cooking Class Review: Pasta Workshop
I finally got around to taking that Pasta class at The Chopping Block. If you remember, part of my Christmas gift from David was my choice of cooking classes from The Chopping Block, a culinary school for home cooks here in Chicago.
I really enjoyed the class. The Chopping Block’s kitchen is spacious and well-stocked, and these hands on classes are really fun. You start with the recipes for the day, and given instructions to prepare each ingredient as you go. All of the ingredients for each dish are brought to you station and everything is cleared for you, which adds to the fun (who wants to clean up?). The equipment is plentiful, high-end, and in good shape.
For this Pasta Workshop (which seems to be revamped every so often to include seasonal ingredients) we learned to make regular egg pasta dough and spinach pasta dough to start. Then we rolled out and cut our own pasta and used them to make three different dishes: Spinach Fettuccine with Prosciutto & Peas; Artichoke, Sun-Dried Tomato, & Pesto Lasagna; and Ricotta Stuffed Tortelloni with Mushrooms, Asparagus & Parmesan Cheese.
The Fettuccine dish came together really quickly. We basically crisped up the proscuitto, added cream, and reduced it for about 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. At the end, we tossed in a cup of fresh peas, sliced roasted red peppers, and some parmesan cheese, along with the cooked spinach fettuccine. Yum.
The Lasagna was a little dry, actually, but that would be easy enough to correct next time. For one, our teammates messed up the layers a little bit, and the top layer didn’t have any sauce on top of the final layer of pasta. For two, the pesto they had us make was extra thick, and a thinner sauce would have helped. For three, there wasn’t enough ricotta or mozzarella for my tastes. That being said, I have some good ideas for making this dish to my liking, and I’ve never liked a vegetarian lasagna so much.
The tortelloni wasn’t perfect either, but again, our teammates forgot to salt the water for the pasta, so that was a large part of it. I also think they may have undercooked the pasta just a little bit so that the filling didn’t have time to meld. Finally, I am not a fan of asparagus. Losing the asparagus would improve the dish a lot for me.
We finished up everything with about 1/2 an hour to spare, and sat down to eat a delicious lunch. The Chopping Block provides wine pairing options as well, and though I didn’t have a glass yesterday, I appreciate the option.
Finally, I love that The Chopping Block offers discounts in the store following every class. They give students 10% off on anything in the store after a class, or 15% on anything you used during your class. There are so many tempting things in that store for me, it’s kind of a dangerous offer, but I managed to control myself and just bought a cookbook.
I really enjoyed the class, and I can’t wait to take my next one.
One last note: My dad came with me this time, and I think he enjoyed the class, but I can say for sure that I enjoyed it more than I would have being there alone. Most people seemed to have a friend along, and there was a lot of group work going on, much moreso than with the knife skills class. If anyone out there is interested in going to one of these classes, let me know. I’d love to have a buddy go with me!