Cooking is not difficult. Everyone has taste, even if they don’t realize it. Even if you’re not a great chef, there’s nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn’t.”

I love to cook. It’s one of those things that no matter how much I do it, I always learn something new or some new trick to make it easier. I was so excited to have the opportunity to try the Learning Center at the Healthy Living Market and Cafe in Saratoga (inside Wilton Mall). HLCookingClass-1I had the chance to take the class “Clarina Takes on ‘Toga: Classic Bistro Fare.” Where guest instructor Clarina Cravins, the Learning Center Instructor at the Burlington, VT store, came to teach us how to make some classics: French Onion Soup, Garlic Whipped Mashed Potatoes, and Steak au Poivre. I’ve never been that great with soup, I get so bored cooking potatoes, and to be honest I didn’t know what Steak au Poivre meant so I was pretty excited to give it a go and learn a bit.

When we walked in there, they already had the onions and garlic cooking which is my most favorite smell. I’ve been to cooking classes before but I really loved the size of it the most. It was large enough that I didn’t feel like I was singled out but small enough that I could ask questions if I needed to (8 people). Chef Clarina demonstrated how to make the French onion soup and then we were on our own. Her instructions were super easy to follow and all the ingredients were out and measured for us so we could’t make a mistake. I love onions but I’ve never been a fan of French onion soup and now I have a recipe for one that I really like and it’s super easy to duplicate! The best part? We got to use a blow torch to melt the cheese! I don’t do that in my kitchen, nice to have the supervision!

Next, she showed us the garlic mashed potatoes and the rib eye steak. I thought HLCookingClass-2I knew how to make mashed potatoes but I learned two things. When adding cream, if you want smooth whipped potatoes, whip the cream- duh! Also, I’ve never used nor heard of a ricer before but it’s so much easier than mashing potatoes with a masher so I learned that I need to invest one of those. After, she showed us the process on how to coat the steak in pepper and cook it. I love steak and luckily I like it on the rare side but I never know when it’s done so it was nice to have her there to help us out with timing and doneness.

Everything was delicious and I really felt like I learned a lot in such a short amount of time. The best part? Leftovers! I was eating the steak and potatoes for the next couple of days and it was delicious. If you think you may be intimidated, don’t be! I brought my boyfriend as my culinary partner who admitted to being nervous of the kitchen but he mentioned how easy and welcoming it was. We look back and still can’t believe we made that!

The Healthy Living Market and Cafe is always changing up their classes (find the schedule on their website). It’s not just for adults either! Want your kids to learn how to cook in a more professional setting? They have kid classes too! The kids have fun learning how to make something from scratch and you get the dinner they make- win win for you. Not quite ready for hands-on cooking? Check out the demo station schedule and learn about some great products that haven’t found their way to your kitchen yet. I had a great time at the Learning Center and I’m already looking at the schedule to see what I can cook next time!

[Quote from Gerard Depardieu]