Friday, January 6, 2012

Foodgazi Cooking Class

During my much needed stay at home vacation during the holidays, I stumbled upon my pictures for a really cool sweltering hot cooking class I took this summer. Hopefully reading this will bring back your own memories of the sunny hot summer days and help you get through the cold blustery winter. There's a link at the end if you want to sign up for a class too.

I found out about Foodgazi thanks to Living Social.  I had never heard of them and was interested in checking out their cooking classes.  When I purchased the deal, I didn't realize that they specialize in vegetarian and vegan cuisine - thankfully I love veggies!  I signed up for the Summer of Lovage class which focused on using both familiar and unusual herbs. 

Summer of Lovage featuring T by Sarah Hurt 
We all know rosemary, parsley, and cilantro, but there are so many more herbs that are both medicinal and perfect for culinary use. This class explores the many uses of some of those oft-neglected plants, including making tea.  The menu includes a mixed greens salad, pasta with pesto, and gourmet baked potato chips. 

Our recipes for the class included Lovage and Borage Salad, Nasturtium Pesto with Lamb's Quarter Pasta, and Herbalicious Chips. The menu sounded like a typical meal so I was intrigued on how they would spice it up. I couldn't wait to get cooking!


When I signed up for this class, they were located in Parma but have since moved to Cleveland, just east of Lakewood. The classes are held in a house that was difficult to find because of a hidden sign. Thankfully I had left my house early and the traffic cooperated so I was  not only on time, but the first to arrive.


Upon my arrival, I was stunned to find out that they had no central air conditioning! I know that many people do not have it in their home but I never dreamed that a place that offers cooking classes in the summer wouldn't have a way to properly cool the kitchen. It was worse of course because of the record breaking heat that August day, but I would imagine that any summer day would get very uncomfortable, especially since you cook and eat right next to the ovens and fryer. My friend and I greedily claimed some of the spots nearest the tiny window unit and fan which offered the most modest improvement in comfort thanks to the blowing around of the humid air.


After getting settled in, I noticed that the kitchen set up was really impressive. They have excellent equipment including a walk-in freezer. There was a long table set up for us that was where we would cook and then eat our creations. It was set with a cute flatware-themed table cloth, our cooking equipment, aprons and bottles of homemade herbed waters (chocolate mint and lemon verbana were the flavors.) The waters were lightly flavored with the herbs and much needed thirst quenchers. I would have liked to see the herbs steeped longer for a fuller flavor.
When we read over the recipes, I realized what the menu meant - that the oven would be used AND we would be boiling water for the pasta!  Yes, this was my worst kitchen sauna nightmare come true!!!!  It was already heat-stroke inducing hot in the kitchen but once the oven was turned on, it was unbearable. Still we pressed on.


Herbalicious chips
We started with the chips because of the bake time of 25 minutes.  We placed thinly sliced yukon gold potatoes on parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Then we decorated them with various traditional herbs such as basil, chives, and dill, placed another potato slice on top and popped them in the oven to bake. 


The nasturtium pesto was made with a quick whirl in the Vitamix.  It was a traditional recipe except for substituting the nasturtium flowers and leaves for the basil.  This gave it a peppery kick that was amazingly delicious!  


The pesto was tossed with pasta, torn lamb's quarters, slivered sun dried tomatoes and sliced kalamata olives. This dish totally rocked and was my favorite of the night! I still can't stop thinking about it and I'm on the hunt for organic nasturtiums so I can make this one at home. I think I might need to grow some this summer so I can get my fix.


The salad was interesting because we used herbs that I've never seen or tasted before - lovage and borage. I've heard of these but had never actually seen them in person. Both were delicious! The borage flowers were a beautiful blue.
lovage leaves

borage flower

Once the salad was tossed, we dug in. In spite of the oppressive heat, we gobbled up our food - it was delicious! The food was healthy, tasty and easy to make and I really enjoyed experiencing the new herbs. I definitely want to go back for another class but this time I'll check to see if they installed A/C or go when it's cooler outside.

Foodgazi has a tasty lineup of food for 2012. Soup lovers, raw food, and gluten-free are some highlights. Click here for their complete list.



2 comments:

  1. Very cool. My mom always used to garnish food with borage. I'll have to look into this.

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  2. Good article Crystal.I am not a stranger to Nasturtium. It was always a regular in my planting around my yard and a welcome guest at my table as a garnish or ingredient. Nasturtium gives a nice bite to salads and goes great with broiled or grilled fish and pork,yum! (WHOOPS,that's not very vegan!)

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