I joined my good friend Lauren at HipCooks, a cooking school out in N Portland last Saturday night for an awesome class called “Healthy, Fresh and Zingy 2.” The class featured a great menu of a potato, green bean, basil salad, an entree of scallops, and finishing with a raspberry walnut cake. Based off that menu alone, I was definitely excited. And sure enough, like almost every cooking class I’ve attended, it was a great time with a great meal at the end.
First we learned some knife skills. Since Lauren was introduced as the cardiac surgery PA that she is, she was the first one asked how to properly hold a knife. Monika didn’t really know what to do when Lauren corrected her that no, that wasn’t how you hold a scalpel… but fortunately Monika definitely knows how to hold a kitchen knife! She demonstrated all sorts of techniques of chopping, mincing and slicing.
After spending a about fifteen minutes of practicing the art of not cutting your fingers off, we moved onto the appetizer course – a great salad of new potatoes, green beans, basil, pine nuts and garlic. It was super delicious, fresh and easy to prep. Especially with summer approaching, I have no doubt I’ll be making it again. For the recipe, check out this new post!
Next we started on the entrée course – giant sea scallops seared and then topped with an anchovy, lemon and rosemary sauce, served over lemon basmati rice with roasted fennel.
I love scallops but know that they are easy to overcook, so it was great having a class that featured them. With just under one minute on each side, they turned out beautifully.
Of course, even if it is a healthy meal, no dinner is complete without dessert! For our class, we made a simple Raspberry Walnut Roll. It’s a roulade cake made without butter or flour! Yikes! Truth be told, I wasn’t so sure about that. Yes I’ve had some delicious gluten-free and vegan desserts (in particular at New Cascadia – love that place!) but as an eater without dietary restrictions, I’m all about the butter and flour for baking.
But I was excited to try something new and learn how to make a cake this way. Instead of butter or flour, we ground almond in a food processor until it became almond meal – basically just as it sounds, you grind up the almonds until they become tiny little pieces. If you blend them too far, it becomes almond butter, so definitely not that far. Next we whipped the egg whites until they were stiff and meringue-like and folded them into the almond meal, sugar and egg yolk mixture.
Spread that over a baking sheet, let bake for about 15-20 minutes and voila! You have an almond cake that is light, fluffy and surprisingly tasty!
To improve it even more, we spread fresh whipped cream and berries on top and then gave it a good roll. Once sliced, you can see the circular design of the cake and whipped cream layers. It is a light, fresh and easy dessert to prepare.
It was a great way to finish a fun evening of tasty food, good wine and hands-on cooking instruction at HipCooks!
For more info about their classes, check out their website for class descriptions. They have tons of great classes to choose from. They also sell great kitchen gadgets like fantastic knives and top-quality handmade cutting boards.
Not in Portland? They also have locations in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
I’ve been asked by a few people if this was more of a hands-on class or just a demonstration/watching type class. I would say it was kind of in between, leaning more towards hands-on.
Everyone got to practice their knife skills at the beginning of class. The salad and dessert course were both more demonstration with almost everyone contributing a little bit, like one person cracked the eggs, another person whisked, another zested the lemons, etc, while the rest of the class watched and learned via demonstration. The entree course was more hands-on with each person preparing their own scallops.
I think it was a good mix if you don’t want a complete hands-on class where you are more “put to work.” (Though I LOVE those classes too.)
For descriptions of other classes offered in Portland, check out this post from a few months back!