I’ve mentioned on here before that my boyfriend loves to cook. For our anniversary last month, I got
him us a cooking class for a present! A couples cooking class that is. Last night, Tim and I went to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts where we learned how to make tapas!
Tapas, the Spanish custom of sharing lots of little plates so that diners can eat more, is making its way to the American table. The food is seductive, earthy, robust, and flavorful. There are no starters in this course; all dishes are the main event. Recipes include:
- Roasted Sweet Onions with Cabrales Blue Cheese
- Saffron Risotto Cakes with Shrimp and Chile and Chive Oils
- Tacos of Flank Steak with Red Onion Jam and Horseradish Creme Fraiche
- Oven Roasted Mussels with Garlic Herb Butter
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic and Lemon and Mashed Potatoes
- Patatas Bravas (Fiery Potatoes)
- Tortillitas de Camarones (Crisp Shrimp Fitters)
Lastly, it wouldn’t be tapas without Albondgas – meatballs made with beef and pork presented with a garlic mayonnaise or in a simple tomato sauce.
Sounds pretty amazing, huh?
I had a hard time choosing which class to pick for us! The recreational class calendar has an extensive offering of couples cooking lessons. Theme classes include Italian, French, German, Tuscan, Thai, Cuban, Wine & Dine, Home for the Holidays, Pub Fare, and so much more. Everything just sounded so good! I went with the tapas because these sounded like things we’ve never really made before and would be able to apply to cooking meals at home. The school also offers recreational series classes such as “Back to Basics” and “Techniques of Cooking,” but I figured we’d start out with a single class and see how we like it!
I was a little nervous going into the class because I tend to get a little awkward (I know, I know – hard to believe) in the kitchen if I am not really familiar with a recipe before making it. I definitely fumble and get a little self-conscious. It’s something I’ve definitely improved on since starting this blog, but I was still a little anxious for the class. Especially since Tim is really good at cooking and I always have to double-check what I’m doing with him to feel completely comfortable. Is that weird?! I need to work on my cooking confidence!
I eased up right away though. When we got there we introduced ourselves to the other couples, and the instructor took the time to walk us all through the recipe packet and explain each one thoroughly. We also got a brief tour of the classroom as the instructor explained where all the ingredients were, where all the cooking utensils were stored, and so on.
There were five couples present for the class, and each couple was responsible for making one or two of the tapas dishes, depending on how complicated each recipe was. Tim and I actually ended up with one of the hardest ones – the flank steak tacos, so we stuck to that for the night. Each couple was given a little cooking station and approximately two and a half hours to get their portion underway!
Sidenote: Not each couple was actually a couple – there was a mother/daughter combo, as well as a friend duo. Something to keep in mind!
Our recipe actually had 4 parts to it: The flank steak, the flour tortillas, the red onion jam, and the horseradish creme fraiche.
Tacos of Flank Steak with Red Onion Jam and Horseradish Creme Fraiche
- 12 7-8 inch diameter flour tortillas (see recipe below)
- 3 fresh limes
- 1.5 – 2 lbs flank steak
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground red chimay chili
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin, ground
- Cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice over both sides of the steak.
- Rub the garlic on the steak, sprinkle with chili, pepper, and cumin.
- “Marinate” with this rub for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- While meat is marinating, prepare flour tortillas, red onion jam, and horseradish creme fraiche. To cook meat, follow the directions below.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening or a mixture of the two
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup very warm water
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Work in the shortening with your fingertips until it is evenly mixed. Pour two-thirds of the water over the mixture and mix it in with a fork. The dough will be “lumpy” rather than smooth. Add the remaining water, if needed and gather the dough into a ball.
- Knead the dough a minimum of 5 minutes. The dough should be medium stuff, not as soft as bread dough, but also not firm. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, weigh each portion so that they are of equal weight. Roll them into balls, cover with a towel, and let rest 20 minutes.
- Lightly flour work surface, flatten out one of the dough balls and roll it until it is thin and round. Heat a tortilla pan, heavy skillet, or griddle to medium heat. Lay the tortilla into the griddle – you will hear a faint sizzle when it hits the cooking surface. Cook until bubbles form on top and brown spots appear underneath, 30-45 seconds. Make sure not to overcook them, or the tortilla will become crisp.
- Remove the tortilla and cover it with a towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining balls. Makes 1 dozen tortillas. Hold the tortillas covered in foil in a warm 100 degree oven.
Red Onion Jam
- 2 lbs red onion very thinly sliced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, combine all the ingredients except the vinegars. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated and the mixture has thickened, stirring from time to time, approximately 1 hour.
- Stir in the two vinegars and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Correct the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Horseradish Creme Fraiche
I realized tonight that I actually don’t like horseradish! But I still did a good job with this sauce. And I think I got a workout mincing the horseradish. So there you go.
- 1 cup fresh horseradish root, peeled and finely grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 8 ounces creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together horseradish, mustard, creme fraiche, white wine vinegar, and parsley.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Back to the steak!
- Prepare grill (preferably charcoal).
- When hot, brush the steak with olive oil and grill medium rare to rare.
- Transfer meat to a cutting board.
- Thinly slice flank steak on the bias and against the grain.
- Divide steak among the warm tortillas, top with onion jam, then a spoonful of horseradish creme fraiche.
- Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.
- Wrap and serve immediately.
Tim really enjoyed schmoozing with the chef instructor…
…and I really enjoyed the wine (included in the course price) and chatting with the other couples around us.
Don’t I look sweet in an apron?
I’m not going to post every single other recipe, because we got a full recipe packet to take home and try on our own. So I’ll post them whenever we get a chance to try them out. But we all got to share and taste each other’s finished products at the end of the class! Here are some pictures of the other plates:
The final full display of food:
Yup, that’s right. Be jealous.
This class is totally worth the price. I spent $150 for a three-hour cooking lesson, full plates (above) of dinner for 2 (plus seconds), and 4 glasses of wine between the two of us. You would definitely spend close to this if you went out to dinner for the night, but we got a whole different experience! Plus, the instructor was great. Easygoing guy, but very helpful whenever we had a question on something, and we even learned a few new techniques to take home with us.
Definitely recommend this class!
Question of the Day: Have you ever taken a cooking class before? What did you think?
P.S. Be Thankful Challenge: I’m thankful that I live in Boston with such close access to so many different things to do and try!