1. Mise en place is a MUST
Mise en place, a French culinary term which means “setting your ingredients in place prior to cooking”. Even before the mise en place, the first task is to read the recipe from start to finish…twice. At our Naramata-Blend cooking class Chef Dana went over the recipes with us explaining terms, discussing ingredients and explaining why the steps are necessary and even some of the chemistry and history behind what we are doing. At home, the mise en place step helps make sure you have all the ingredients and that they are carefully weighed before beginning.
2. Know your ingredients
It sounds obvious but how often do we take time to really know our ingredients? Chef Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering was passionate and knowledgable about the ingredients we were using, which was very inspiring. She suggested fresh yeast as apposed to dry, organic high-fat content butter, farm fresh eggs, Dutch cocoa powder… It seems like a pretty basic concept but your finished product is made up of your ingredients. Try using margarine instead of butter in a brioche and you will soon learn about the importance of high quality ingredients. It’s like adding vinegar to milk to create a buttermilk substitute…it really is not anywhere near the creamy buttermilk flavour you are really after. Ask your instructor where they source their ingredients.
3. Learn what tools you need and how to use them
A cooking class is the perfect time to try out new tools – dough scrapers, stand mixers, food processors, different types of knives, pastry bags and tips, molds and pans, silplats, zesters, scales, French rolling pins and on it goes. You can then go right to the nearest kitchen store and keep your local economy rolling. Instructors will also give you tips about which gizmos and gadgets you really need, which are nice to have and which will gather dust. I need a bigger kitchen… six brioche molds now added to the collection.
4. Stretch yourself
A baking class is the perfect opportunity to try something you have been too intimidated to try at home. Step-by-step instructions, hands-on practice and help from the Chef will give you the confidence to try more complicated recipes at home. I’m hoping to finally get some help with my sad piping skills at the eclairs and profiteroles class in February.
5. Revel in the age-old joy of cooking together
There is nothing like a baking class to bring a room of people together. As the class progresses notice how the chatter becomes louder and how often you hear people laughing. Maybe it’s because you show up in a room that has the recipe and all the ingredients on hand and organized, the room warms up and starts to smell like a bakery and you leave before the dishes are done.
The next Naramata-Blend cooking class is all about choux pastry and how this light and airy pastry can be turned into a vessel to hold creamy fillings before being dipped in chocolate. Amanda Perez of The White Apron will be teaching us how to make fancy eclairs and profiteroles at the February 11 class just in time for Valentine’s Day. We will drink some bubbly from Bella Wines and chat, laugh and leave the kitchen a big mess.
Come and join us if you live in the area. Tickets are available through eventbrite for the Saturday afternoon class.