Cooking Class Comes Home II – Pasta feeling a little Italian coming on.


Hip Hip Hooray for pasta!  I didn’t travel to Italy, just with my friend Janna Seiz  to Springfield Illinois and Lincoln Land Community College for the 2nd half of my cooking class to get my Italian fix.  The class was with Chef Denise Perry who taught us all about the Principles of Cooking.  As part of the class we made three dishes, Lamb Tagine, Pasta with Sauteed Shrimp and Leeks and Basic Pasta Dough.  Perhaps the best part of the class besides eating of course was the opportunity to bring home some of the fresh pasta.

I have found joy in changing out the recipes to suit my taste. For instance, lamb is not a favorite of mine, but I think beef substituted would be wonderful in the tangine recipe.  Everything about the pasta was wonderful.

Above you can see my interpretation of the Pasta with Sauteed Shrimp.  I added in mushrooms and exchanged the leek for an onion since that what I had.  I must say, it was wonderful.  Every bite is gone, the left over pasta  headed out the door with my daughter’s lunch this morning.

With fall on the way and harvest time, I have been cooking my little heart out and enjoying the simmer of soups and the scent of fresh bread.  I think I hear cookies and banana bread calling my name this afternoon.  I have to keep the baking in check, but what fun!  Sharing meals is also a joyful experience.  My mom came over and enjoyed the pasta then we went out and shook apples out of the tree that couldn’t be reached by hand. She is taking them home for a pie, maybe I will get a piece, time will tell!

Cooking has been fun because I have had a chance to try new things.  I am finding just because you have been in the kitchen for years it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to learn.  In class I found that cooking and heat transfer reminded me a bit of my Lincoln Land Chemistry classes from many years ago.  “During heat transfer,” Chef Perry said.  “The protein coagulates and firms up, the heat kills bacteria, starches gelantinize and sugars caramelize deepening the flavor.”

I learned that dry cooking methods include roasting, convection oven, and frying and that this should be done with lean cuts of meat.  Moist methods use water and steam and many cooking methods like the sautéed shrimp dish I did last night was a combination of the two.

In class we made a huge batter of dough I found that when making pasta, that I didn’t know the dough should rest before rolling out.  Even if I never pull my pasta maker out of the cupboard, I did make a better pie crust knowing this.  Thank you Chef Perry for making cooking fun!

Get out the old recipes, cook with your mother, your daughter, your husband or friend.  Janna and I shared many laughs and have plans once the combine dust settles to do some cooking and freezing and tell stories over numerous cups of tea.

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