Last year we brought in barbeque and gelato for the day, which food always makes our office happy. This year, our office VP wanted to do something more "off-site" that everyone would enjoy. I suggested a cooking class at a local establishment - Cooking at the Cottage - and he began to investigate. I'd never been to this place, though we had done a similar cooking team building experience at another location prior to our acquisition. It's a fun time where you get to work with your peers and eat the results. And, as I said earlier, we always love food.
On Friday, we all headed over for our "Day Away" which was really a "Half-Day Away." One of our co-workers had organized the teams of two and we were ready to go. The day began with all of us donning our aprons and it felt like we were stepping on the set of a cooking show to amaze the world with our talents.
Our first course was a Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup. I love sweet potatoes and I love hot things, so I was excited about trying this recipe. We mixed up all the goodness in a pot which included spices, brown sugar and the chipotle adobe sauce as our sweet potatoes got nice and mushy. Then, we pulled the pot off the burner and used an amazing kitchen tool - an immersion blender. I've seen them before, but never live and in action. This tool is a must for creamy soups. As my teammate, Lindsay, blended (because she has one and is a pro), I added the coconut milk. The chef came over and called our soup beautiful and my day was complete. A squirt of lime and cilantro on top and this course was in the books...and our stomachs.
The second course was a grilled salmon, pan-crusted with ginger and garlic with grilled veggies. Salmon (or any fish for that matter) is tricky to cook...or more appropriately, not over cook. Lindsay and I watched the salmon like a hawk and though it cooked up beautifully, our pan was done. The recipe allowed for the remaining spices to be used in the same pan while grilling the veggies. But, since our salmon was REALLY pan-crusted, we had to disband that option and start with a fresh pan. As we proclaimed, "overachievers unite!" Our veggies turned out just fine and the chefs provided some white rice to each of us to pair with our salmon and veggies. It was yummy.
The final course was a poached pear wrapped in phyllo dough and drenched in chocolate sauce. The chefs had already poached our pears to save time and then demonstrated how to wrap the phyllo dough for maximum performance. It was the easiest of the courses and involved chocolate, so you can't go wrong there. It was deliciously delectable and spawned other ideas on ways to poach other fruits and prep for the same kind of dessert.
Everyone in attendance had a blast. It was a huge success and I'm sure we'll do it again. I rarely cook, though I do enjoy it and was not only delectable but educational. Look out Martha Stewart, here I come!