Friday, February 26, 2010

Can You Believe I Took a Cooking Class?!??!

It's true, I took a cooking class  One of my Christmas presents from Helen, which we attended last night.  It was called Crepes for You.  The instructor began by asking our names and why we were taking the class.  (I was next to last in line, so I listened intently to them all.)
They loved eating crepes and wanted to see if they could learn to make them.  They were already making them and wanted to see if they were doing it right.  Someone gave them a box of mix, which has long since run out, so they wondered about a recipe to make more.  One gal wanted to fix something for her picky toddler that wasn't hot but wasn't cold; the fact that there would be no crusts would be a bonus.
Finally it's Helen's turn and she says how much she loves to cook.  So of course I say how much I hate to cook, but this class is a gift from her, so we'll see how it goes.  It gets a huge laugh from everyone, like I was joking. 
Hello?!?!?  It's not a joke.  Don't let that brand new kitchen with all those fancy appliances fool you!
She proceeds to tell us all we ever wanted to know about these crepe makers, and she's brought one to sell... for $130!!!  Are you kidding me?  And no one says a word, so of course I pipe right up and ask whether I can make these things in my everyday skillet I use for cooking pancakes. 
Turns out that yes, you can, and she has two tiny skillets over on the gas burners to prove that point.  Tiny round skillets about the size of a dessert plate.  Mine is much larger and square I say.  She wrinkles her brow and twitches her nose, telling me she'd be worried about it not being round. 
Honey, it doesn't worry me one iota.
We began by watching her make perfect crepes which she filled with different things at each different station.  She also did different folds at each station.  Now we all know I'm a firm believer that presentation is everything, so I'm really into that portion of the class.  That portion that included her making perfect crepes and perfect folds.  That is not to say that mine were perfectly round or perfectly folded, but boy were we having fun!
Station 1 was at the stove with the skillets.  First up was ham & cheese folded into a quarter of the original circle, with the promise of ham & shredded cheddar cheese in every bite.  SOLD!!  I liked everything about it, especially the filling.
Next was a knock-off of Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Make the crepe, flip it, and layer swiss cheese, slice of ham, small pieces of cooked chicken, and then roll.  Drizzle Grey Poupon Mustard/Mayo blend from squirt bottle inside before rolling and outside as a topping.  Again, I'm liking it a lot!!
Station 3 was lovely to watch but not anything I'd ever eat.  Cooked spinach with garlic, spices, ricotta, etc. for the filling.  This fold was an envelope.  Place spinach in the center in a line, fold overcrepe one third, then the other third, and then fold over the two sides/ends.  Now it's completely enclosed and really does make you think of a gift packet or envelope.  Marinara sauce is added on top.  So I'm thinking browned hamburger, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce!
Station 4 was dessert #1...strawberries & whipped cream.  We learned the butterfly fold and the nest.  Helen snatched up the butterfly fold and the two of us ate it before the whipped cream had a chance to melt.
For the butterfly fold you add the sweetened, chopped strawberries into a quarter of the crepe before folding.  A dusting of powdered sugar, a spoonful of strawberries and a lot of whipped cream finished it off.  What's not to love about that?  The nest is made with a crepe folded in half with no filling, the ends brought together with the 2 spatulas, and then strawberries & whipped cream added into the middle.  I'd gladly eat either one.
Next was a crepe with Nutella drizzled on one half before it's folded.  Then powdered sugar is added on top and more Nutella drizzled over it.  Hazelnut is not for me, but I liked the idea of it.  I'm thinking chocolate syrup would work just fine.  And I'll let you know if I'm right.
After all the demos we set off to try both the skillets and the crepe makers.  Mastering that little wooden rake on the crepe maker was easier than I expected.  Using 2 spatulas is the key to success let me tell you when attempted the folds.  All in all I had fun, I learned something new, and I absolutely would make crepes at my square pancake skillet.  Perfectly round crepes are not required by me.
Now if I'm in a restaurant and I have a choice of a ham & cheese crepe or a ham & cheese club sandwich made on a croissant, I'm going for that croissant.  Truth be told, I'd go with the croissant at home too.
I understand I can make my mix ahead of time and prepare them for guests, making the presentation and wowing everyone.  But we'd all starve to death, watching one person eat at a time.  But I think I could do it just for the two of us, beginning with the ham & cheese and finishing with the strawberries.  But first I have to buy 2 of those slender little spatulas...

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