Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Great Idea for a Date Night~ Loretta Paganini School of Cooking

For Valentine's Day this year Scott and I celebrated by having a Romantic Night in Paris....  not the real thing (although wouldn't that be great if we could just hop on a plane and go to Paris for the night.... ahhhh) but it did combine some of my favorite things: cooking, enjoying amazing food and spending time with my handsome husband!  We participated in a cooking class at Loretta Paganini School of Cooking.  If you have never done this before, hurry over to her website and sign up for a class right now!  I can't think of a more special night to have with you other half.  This would also make for a great Girl's Night Out, or some good Mother-Daughter Bonding Time.... oh the possibilities are endless!  They offer all sorts of classes: from hands off, where you get to watch a cooking demonstration (and eating all that the chef's cook for you), to class participation, to full hands on.  This way no matter what your cooking background is, or how dirty you want to get in the kitchen they have something just right for you.  I have taken part in each type of class and they are all a blast.  My personal favorite are the Hand's On classes.  I love leaving knowing I learned a bunch of cool new stuff for the kitchen and how fun is it when you get to sit, eat and enjoy a spectacular meal that you just made yourself.  It is pretty cool.  Just make sure you come hungry because you will be eating throughout the entire class and then you get to sit down to a meal after the class is finished.  Many times you will even get to take some of your own leftovers home because there is just so much food you couldn't possibly finish it in one night.

On Friday, Scott and I took part in one of their Cooking with a Partner classes, A Romantic Night in Paris.  For these classes the whole group is broken into smaller teams and each team prepares a course for the entire group to then enjoy at the end of the night at dinner.  You get to start off unwinding a bit, enjoying the wine or beer that you brought (yes, it is byob unless you want coffee or water) and the appetizers they set out for you, and get to know the other people you will be cooking with.  Then the head chef will come out, greet you and fill you in on what you will be doing tonight.  And then of course, break you into teams.  This evening we had both Loretta Paganini herself and Chef Tim McCoy.  They are both a blast to work with, definitely two of my favorites so we totally lucked out get both of them in one night.  Here is our menu for tonight:

Escalope of Salmon Roulade with Leek Beurre Blanc
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Chive Oil and Creme Fraiche
Frisee Salad with Vegetable Confetti in Tarragon Vinaigrette
Beef Filet Medallions with Mushroom Ragout
Gratin de Pommes de Terr
Pear Almond Tarte Tatin

Scott and I chose to prepare the Escalope of Salmon Roulade with Leek Beurre Blac.  We wanted to try making something new and different then what we would normally make at home.  I went picture crazy, so I will just let my photographs tell you about the rest of the evening...

click on the picture to enlarge

As you can see Scott got to be the fish guy.  He filleted the fish and then spread the roasted red pepper, shiitaki mushroom, spinach and shallot mixture onto the salmon.  He then dropped the rolled fish into the water bath for it to poach.  I was the sauce girl and I assisted in the plating.  I made the Leek Beurre Blanc sauce, which is a wonderfully delicious butter leek sauce.  Absolute Heaven.  After the salmon was poached, we very carefully sliced the fish and placed it onto a toast points and then topped it with a bit of the beurre blanc sauce.  This meal was so wonderful, and now after making it once in class we have decided that we will make it at home on our own really soon.  It wasn't very difficult at all, but really makes a statement on the plate and in your mouth.  

As our main course we enjoyed the Filet of Beef Medallions with the Mushroom Ragout and the Gratin de Pommes de Terre, which is a sliced potato gratin.  It was so fabulous!  Scott and I were really impressed that they were able to cook all 22 filet's to a perfect medium rare.  That couldn't be easy!  

This evening was great fun, and I am already checking out the class listing to see what I want to learn next... homemade pierogi's, knife skills, mozzarella workshop, homemade pasta....?!  Aghh!  How am I going to choose?!!    

I was just a little excited!!  

So go on, do something new on your next date night and take a class with Loretta.  They are great memory makers and plus you just might learn something.  

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