Monday, April 26, 2010

Savvy Homegirl Takes Some Cooking Classes

Having never taken a cooking class in my life (4-H clubs and Pampered Chef exempted), last week I had the pleasure of participating in two!

Perhaps not traditional cooking classes in the Julia Child, Le corden bleu sense, but both were lessons in cuisine conducted by experienced chefs. Most importantly, the food at each event was also incredibly yummy and participating in the evening was a blast!

Lesson #1 - Kansas City Bar-B-Que @ Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbeque at the Freight House

I've blogged about Jack Stack's before. It's my favorite restaurant in KC, and I've discovered (happily) it's also a fav of locals, thus proving it deserves its rep for some of the best BBQ in KC. I also believe this location is its best - next to the tracks, in the old railroad freight house (hence the name) downtown.

We got the inside scoop on why Jack Stack's bbq is so mouthwatering good. I also picked up some tips:

- Grill at 350-400 degrees, smoke at 265.
- Pull your meat to the front of the grill when it's near done and cook your veg over the heat
- The tri-tip cut I've wanted since leaving California in 2005 is actually flank steaks, cut from the shoulder
- Jack Stack's meat is aged 28 days, that's why it doesn't taste like store bought steak. So it's not my fault, my steak never tastes good... it's the meat. Good, I thought I did something wrong!!
- Press your thumb and finger together, and feel the fleshy part of your palm, beneath your thumb, to tell when you're meat is done. Thumb-index for rare, thumb-pinky for well done and so on.
- Brisket takes all day to cook correctly. Remind me never to buy this to cook myself! I'll enjoy their burnt ends!

Lesson #2 - Thai at Whiskful Thinking

My second cooking lesson was disguised as a 50th birthday get together for one of my aunts. She LOVES to cook, so what better gift? Get together with her sisters and niece for an evening of cooking, wine and laughter! Dave and Lisa run this business out of their home, so when we arrived ,we were ushered up to their kitchen counter to be right close to the action.

Wishing to try something a little different, we requested a thai menu and were presented the following:

  • Vegetable spring rolls
  • Asian pork stuffed colossal shrimp won tons
  • Chicken pad thai
  • Mango mousse on a coconut crisp with berries
This was a very cool experience. While enjoying a few glasses of vino, Dave demonstrated the methods used to make spring rolls and won tons. He talked about the ingredients, where to buy them and potential substitutions. We tried our hand at making the appetizers and munched on our creations when complete. 

I watched Dave's julienne and cutting techniques closely, and I'm looking forward to whipping up some spring rolls for a pot luck this week. I have a julienne peeler to make it a snap, but he made it look so easy with his santuko knife, I just have to try it!

The won tons were also surprisingly quick to make, but I don't have a deep fryer, so I'll have to leave them off my next thai party menu!

Thinking we'd had our fill, we moved to the table for dinner. Most of us were nearly full and expected our main dish and dessert. We were shocked to be presented with a full plate of spring rollls and won tons, then pad thai and then dessert! All of the food was incredible and no one left hungry! I thought the pad thai was especially good. It wasn't too saucy or too spicy as I sometimes find it in restaurants. Until now, my pad thai always contained peanut butter, so I'm looking forward to trying Dave's recipe out for myself!!

Wouldn't this be a neat idea for a bachelorette? If you're local, you can check out Whiskful Thinking or search them on Facebook!

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