Running from the Law: Ladies and Gentlemen...Start Your Ovens!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...Start Your Ovens!

Last night, my friend Alice and I ventured through the snow and ice to take a cooking class at Kitchen Conservatory in Clayton.  Alice had signed us up a month ago for a class on bread making, to be taught by the owner and chef of Companion Bakery.  OMG.  I've been dreaming of this class for weeks!  I've never really made bread before but have always wanted to try, just didn't know where to begin.  I'm sure I could just grab a cookbook and give it a shot, but the whole live yeast cultures thing really intimates me, so I've never gone there.  Actually, just the word yeast kinda freaks me out.  Ugh.

However, unfortunately, when we got to the kitchen, the chef had called in sick and rescheduled the class.  I can't even tell you how disappointed I was.  My heart sank and my stomach growled.  There may or may not have been tears.  I think the lady at the counter must have taken pity on my poor starving soul, so she offered us a spot in the other class that was taking place that evening.  A demonstration class taught by the pastry chef at Sidney Street Cafe.  Hell yes.

If you're in St. Louis and have never been to Sidney Street Cafe, please crawl out from under your rock and get yourself there pronto.  It's like heaven on a plate.  Here's the website:  

Anyway, so we had 30 minutes before class started, which we used to shop.  Kitchen Conservatory has the cutest little boutique kitchen store attached to the classrooms, which sells every single kitchen tool known to man.  Alice and I walked around completely baffled by some of the tools that looked like torture devices; picking up item after item asking, "What the hell do you think this is for?" 

And then we started the class.  We didn't know anything about the class before hopping on our stools, but I've been to 4-5 classes at Kitchen Conservatory and have loved everything, so I knew we couldn't go wrong.  Tonight's class was called "Start Your Ovens" and was all about roasting items in the oven.  This was a demonstration class (as opposed to a hands-on class), so we just got to sit back and enjoy the show.  The chef was Christie Saali, an adorable blonde bride-to-be, who was more patient than I could ever be, great at explaining the recipes, gave very useful tips and even shared a couple tricks of the trade.

First up, our appetizer for the evening was Fire Roasted Shrimp Bruschetta.  This was so unbelievably easy and good (and spicy!).  I'm a bruschetta junkie and Alice was obsessed with the red pepper flakes, so we loved this dish (we're easily amused). 

Next up, Pink Peppercorn-Crusted Roasted Swordfish with White Puttanesca Sauce.  I know, right!  This was definitely our favorite dish and it was "amaze-balls" (thank you MODG for teaching me that word).  Neither of us had ever used (or even seen) pink peppercorns.  They are light shells of pink pepper that crush very easily and don't really even taste like pepper (but they're pink and pretty, so whatever).  Apparently, they are poisonous in large doses, but we're bad-asses and managed to survive.  Puttanesca sauce is typically a pungent tomato sauce containing olives, garlic, capers, pepper and anchovies. Webster's Dictionary says that Puttanesca means "in the style of a prostitute" - which our chef explained that this was the type of sauce that the "ladies of the night" would eat to build up their energy for the evening's "activities."  And if it's good enough for prostitutes, it's good enough for me!

And good it was.  I was pretty blown away by this recipe.  I've made swordfish with olives and caper sauce about a million times, but this was unreal fantastic.  The secret ingredient was brown sugar - crazy clever.  Don't worry, I will share.  I promise that I'll make this at home very soon and post the recipe online for your enjoyment.  I just need to find some fishnets to cook in first.

Third course (and chef's favorite) was Roast Duck with Sauteed Pears and Shallots, with Roasted Spaghetti Squash.  As you know, I'm not a huge red meat fan but this was delicious!  The duck was incredibly tender and juicy.  And just ask me about how much I learned about duck fat...I'm now obsessed with it.  The pears were carmelized and just sweet enough.  By the way, have you ever seen a pear de-seeder?  It's basically like the coolest gadget ever.  Must get one.  We also learned that for this type of recipe you should not use a non-stick pan.  I don't even know if I own a non-stick pan.  Plus, apparently there are all kinds of other tricks and facts about cast iron pans, non-stick pans and stainless steel pans that I really should learn.  I'm adding that to my To Do list. 

The spaghetti sqash was so simple and tasty that I'm kicking myself for not using this veggie more often.  She broiled it with cumin, corriander, garlic and cayenne, so it smelled amazing.  It was a really nice complement to the duck dish, but I think it would be great with practically anything.

For dessert, Roasted Pineapple with Coconut Sorbet.  The sorbet seriously took about 30 seconds to throw together in a bowl and then stick it in the ice cream machine.  Talk about set it and forget it.  I even have an ice cream maker at home!  Why the hell am I not making coconut sorbet every single day??  I tell you what...I will now.  The pineapple was great, but not even really necessary.  Just give me more sorbet. 

So basically, the class was awesome.  Now we have a few more recipes in our repertoire and can do some serious impressing people with our vast knowledge of duck fat, pink peppercorns and prostitute food.  I'm pumped for our Crusty Breads class in March.  Until then, bon appetite!


  1. I guess this means I have to shoot more ducks....

  2. SARA! How do you remember everything in such detail? I love this recap of the class--now I can relive the most relaxing night I've had in a long time...thank you for doing this with me!! I can't wait to do it again.

  3. Oh bloggy friend, how I wish you lived closer! This is exactly the kind of thing I would LOVE to do and most of my friends wouldn't do with me if I begged and pleaded. I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through your cooking class fun.

    p.s. I wanted to lick the screen after I saw the Fire Roasted Shrimp Bruschetta. {I think this New Year's diet must be making me nutty.}

  4. I love the KC! I've taken a few classes there!

  5. Oh my goodness, I just found your blog and now you totally have me salivating. All these things look AMAZING. And what a fun class! I've only taken a cooking class once, when I was in Paris, and it was really fun.