This weekend my husband and I went to a cooking class at Sur La Table. It was called Date Night: Cabernet Lover’s Feast. Although I am not a huge fan of Cabernet, the menu sounded delicious!

Blue Cheese Crostini with Applewood Bacon-Cabernet Reduction
Roasted Beet Salad with Toasted Pecans, Goat Cheese and Cabernet Vinaigrette
Au Poivre Ribeye with Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Cabernet-Poached Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream

There were 16 people in the class and we were broken up into two tables of eight. We were taught by Heidi, the head chef and an additional staff of four others. Heidi started by telling us about the different knives we were using and how to correctly hold them. Seems we have been doing it wrong for years. To properly hold a knife, you should hold the blade with your thumb and index finger and place your middle finger against the bottom, where the blade meets the handle. Most people hold the blade by the handle and place their index finger on the top of the blade. It really does make a difference.

We were each given a course to work on – my husband and I were assigned the Crostini. Some of the work was already done for us to save time. In our case, the bacon was cooked and chopped. We needed to chop an onion and it turns out that we have been doing that wrong, too. I worked in hot dog and beef restaurants and thought I knew how to dice an onion. Heidi showed us a better way and it yielded small, evenly chopped pieces. She also lit a tea light candle while we were chopping to help relieve the tearing that sometimes goes with chopping an onion. Heidi talked about how to get rid of the smell of onions (and garlic) by rubbing your hands on the inside of a stainless steel sink. Amazing!

As we continued with the rest of the recipe, Heidi went around the room and helped the others. Often she would stop and give us a tip, like when to use a garlic press (when the garlic will be served cold) and when to mince the garlic (when it will be served hot). She explained the myth about cooking with EVOO. It is not meant to cook at high heat and if reaches the temperature where it starts smoking it turns into a trans-fat. She mixed hers with grape seed oil which is more tolerant to high heat. It was very interesting and informative. While we cooked, we talked to the other couples. The age span was 20’s to 60’s with us right in the middle. Sur La Table did not have a liquor license for serving so we were only given taster cups to drink from. They did offer us coffee and water and had a nice cheese and cracker plate for us to nibble on. The whole time we cooked, the staff picked up our empty bowls, used knives, etc. and cleaned everything. It was nice to not have to worry about the cleanup.

The class was two hours long and we got to eat our dinner at the end. The crostinis were done first, so we munched on them while the steaks were cooking. I can’t wait to make this appetizer for the next party. It was so yummy! The rest of dinner was good, too. I tried beets for the first time in the salad and I will definitely cook with them again. The potatoes were not that exciting as I make them at home that way. The steaks were pepper crusted and juicy. My only complaint is that there were 6 steaks for 16 people and for the price of the class I would have thought we would have a least ½ a steak each. Figs are not my favorite so I tried them and then passed it on to my husband. (Poor guy, whenever we don’t like something or want to finish it, we always offer it to him.)

After dinner, we went next door to have drinks with friends. It was a great evening of learning, entertainment, food and wine and drinks with friends. Can it get any better than that?