I actually won something in this year’s Menu for Hope raffle. The item was sponsored by Jo, of Amuse Bouche, who also just happens to be a manager at a local company in Newton called Create-a-Cook. The prize was originally slated to be a cooking party for six friends, but Jo generously offered CK and I the chance to take two of their new adult cooking classes instead of the party if we wanted. Two classes and I didn’t have to try to coordinate six other individuals’ schedules?! Obviously I chose door number two in this scenario.
After examining their upcoming schedule I decided that CK and I would take our classes in Ron Sarni’s Techniques of Italian Cuisine series. The topic for the first course was fundamentals of making pizza and the second class (scheduled for March 16 so there’s still time for you to sign-up) will deal with making fresh pasta. Since my last pasta experiment with ravioli ended with me having a tantrum I think it’s safe to say I could definitely use a few pointers.
Unfortunately, right before CK picked me up at work, I cut my finger trying to open a stubborn Poland Springs water bottle in the office. It was a pretty deep cut so I bandaged myself as best as I could and silently hoped that I wouldn’t end up bleeding all over my pizza. Off to Newton we went, with me whining about my finger the whole way. Things actually started looking up pretty quickly though when we discovered that the Create-a-Cook building was situated in a small plaza with an honest to goodness parking lot. A lot of you are probably thinking, “Huh? What’s so special about a parking lot?” But when you live in a large city parking becomes a sort of obsession and promising events can become total chores when you can’t find anywhere to park your car.
When I entered Create-a-Cook I was immediately greeted by Jo who showed us through their cheerful lobby into our classroom. Along the way I was distracted by the array of great foodie products and gifts that were on sale in their lobby area. Somehow I managed to contain my inner shop-a-holic, and I was even graciously given a pair of rubber gloves to protect my injured hand (not to mention the pizza) before class began.
Due to a last minute cancellation, CK and I ended up having a private cooking class with Ron. After, sampling a few little nibbles of tasty salami, olives, and Asiago cheese, Ron put us both right to work making our own pizza dough. After a thorough kneading process we bagged our dough and set it aside to take home.
After working with our dough, Ron walked us through his favorite pizza sauce recipe while telling us great stories about his cooking adventures in Italy and the fabulous brick pizza oven that he has in his backyard. I told CK to make note of that detail for our own imaginary dream house some day.
It turns out that CK and I are pretty competitive with one another. It comes out mostly when we play board games, and now apparently when we cook side-by-side. My dough came out better than his, so I smugly “won” that round. Then I couldn’t peel my potatoes for the leek soup because of the silly bandage on my hand, so he won that game. It went on and on all evening, but all in good-fun.
Ron gave us a lot of great tips while we were making our pizzas. The one that stuck with me the most encouraged us to cook our pizza on a pan that is placed on the bottom rack of the oven. This will give you a more authentic crispy textured crust. We each were allowed to make two pizzas and Ron finished up the night by showing us how to make a dessert pizza that was covered in a topping of Nutella, pears, cinnamon, and sugar. I’m a self-proclaimed hater of all things Nutella, but this combination made me a complete convert – at least when it comes to the pairing of those four ingredients.
A truly unique element of the classes at Create-a-Cook is that you get to take home all of the food you make. In addition, to the cooked pizzas that we made, Ron and his fantastic kitchen helper, Gina, packed up our batches of rosemary infused Potato-Leek soup, homemade tomato sauce, the dough we made in class, and a fabulous salad that we prepped. The salad was comprised of sliced arugula, Granny Smith Apples, pear, cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese. I’ve been eating it for lunch over the last few days and it sends me right to the ultimate of happy places.
I’m so looking forward to our next class and I hope you’ll consider joining us. I’ve actually taken several cooking classes in the Boston area and my experience at Create-a-Cook is by far the one I’ve enjoyed the most. In addition to their new adult cooking parties and courses, they also offer creative workshops and parties for children. I guarantee you’ll be in good hands.
You can view my complete set of images from our excellent class at Flickr.