Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the Shores of the Aegean...

Last night, my mom, a friend, and her mom traveled to the local community college for a night of healthy cuisine.  The theme: the Mediterranean.  Oh yeah...

In a nutshell, here's the key:  red wine + olive oil + spices + garlic.

After finally locating the actual classroom and registering and standing around for a few minutes, we were soon divvied up in half.  First up - a red wine vinaigrette (red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard).  All the ingredients were measured out and prepped for us, so we just whisked it all together before tasting it on some salad greens. 

Delicious, but a little disillusioning as we saw the student chefs referencing a recipe from EatingWell.com.  We weren't eating some kind of fancy homebrew, but yet, if we wanted to duplicate the dressing, we knew where to get the recipe.

Then, it was onto the chicken curry (chicken, oil, rice, chicken broth, coriander, curry, cayenne).  We stood with our saute pans at the stovetop while students ladled ingredients in for us.  Again, a little unexpected as none of the students informed us why we were using the spices, what each spice contributed to the dish, etc.

All chicken curry was collected in a big metal pan for further cooking in the oven.  And we were off to the red wine risotto (italian rice, red wine, beef broth).  In general, risotto is good, but it takes a while to cook.  The instructors added broth to our pans for us, often without telling why or what the point was.  I think we maybe stirred the rice in our pans for a half-hour maybe?  After that, we at least got to eat it right away, and it was savory-yummy.

At this point, it's a little after seven (class started at six), and we now had several minutes to loiter in the hallway waiting for the other half to finish their two pasta dishes.

The student instructors here did not refer to recipes, but thankfully, it was pretty simple: throw some vegetables in a saute pan, drizzle olive oil, splash white wine, cook until tenderish.  Toss it all together with some egg noodles.  We did a red bell pepper and sweet potato pasta (shredded sweet potatoes!  must remember this!).  We ended the evening with a pan-seared breaded chicken breast, topped with another pasta-sauteed vegetable-white wine combination.  That last entree was delicious...the wine taste was very evident, which might put off some, but not me!

It was about quarter after nine before we'd packed up all of our to-go-home food and began the half-hour trip home.  While we enjoyed the class, we all agreed that some parts of the evening could have used improvement.  The downtime, the lack of "instruction" were all negatives.  One of the ladies suggested that since many of the recipes were from a website, next time we could pool our $25 a piece and buy food ourselves to cook at someone's house.

And...we could DRINK the wine while we douse our food with it!  Win-win situation!

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