• February 8th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, spork foods, vegan events

    i can’t believe it, WE FINALLY TOOK A SPORK FOODS CLASS! and it was every bit as awesome as we hoped! read on.

    personal seitan pot pie with a biscuit topping and caramelized onion mashed potatoes with crispy sage

    spork foods has been on our radar for ages. the popular cruelty-free cooking class, run by adorable local sisters jenny and heather goldberg, has been written up by everyone from vegnews, to the los angeles times, to LAist.com, and various vegan blogs alike. i’ve tried their marvelous food in the past, first at the opening of their weho instructional space, and next at an LA vegan drinks shindig. i’ve also had the pleasure of virtually taking their classes and making their dishes in the comfort of my own home via the newly-launched sporkonline.com, a website that gives you access to high quality instructional videos as well as recipe breakdowns.

    even though i’m usually pretty intimidated by the thought of cooking, the sporkonline classes were so fun, i knew i had to take one in real life. the sporkies do a different themed class every weekend with several time slots available. they are $65 each, and include about 2 hours of instruction plus a huge home cooked meal at the end! they’ve covered everything from italian food to curry, to holiday feasts and healthy meals. plus, every month they do an entirely gluten-free class for people with gluten sensitivities. we tracked the cooking class calendar until we found one that sounded perfect for us: “throwback to the 50’s – TV dinner edition” with recipes such as succulent succotash, personal seitan pot pies with a biscuit topping, crispy sage and caramelized onion mashed potatoes, and rich chocolate peanut butter brownies. sounds too good to pass up, right?! well it was…

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  • March 3rd, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    there’s an adage that says: “those who can, do. those who can’t, teach.”. clearly, that’s not remotely accurate as many wonderfully productive people can also teach up a storm, particularly the talented dave anderson, executive chef at madeleine bistro.

    ever had one of his ice creams that are so light and flavorful that you want third helpings?
    ever eaten chunks of his pan-roasted vegetables by the dozen?
    ever wondered what goes into making such sublime sauces?

    well, if you have (and if you’ve ever eaten at madeleine’s you’ll be on the same page here) are you not just a little intrigued as to how dave and the team invent, prepare and cook such amazing food?

    thankfully for curious minds, madeleine bistro offers cooking classes/demonstrations on the weekends (the next one being this saturday!) where average folks like you and me can not only learn some of chef dave’s secrets, but enjoy an artfully-prepared three course meal as well. we sat in on the most recent class and gained some culinary wisdom that will last a lifetime.

    pan-roasted califlower in filo with roasted butternut squash and cauliflower puree.

    the class we attended included recipes and instruction on three separate courses, with the focus being on roasting and braising. the first course, pictured above, was pan-roasted cauliflower in filo with roasted butternut squash and cauliflower puree.

    we got to watch and absorb the whole cooking process, from the pan-roasting of the cauliflower, to the oven-roasting of the butternut squash, to the forming and shaping of the beggar’s purses…

    for the main course, chef dave schooled us in the art of braising with braised tempeh, braised root vegetables, and cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce.

    braised tempeh with braised root vegetables and cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce.

    everything in this course was wonderful, from the finely cubed vegetables to the browned tempeh slices and flavorful sauce. again, we saw the process from start to finish. i have never learned so much in two hours!

    from the chopping of brunoise root vegetables…

    to roasting vegetables for the cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce…

    to making the roux for the sauce (woo a roux!)…

    to preparing the tempeh…

    and the finished product was just exquisite, vegans and non-vegans alike were singing its praises.

    lastly, even our dessert course implemented braising and roasting techniques.

    the last course consisted of pears braised in riesling, agave and vanilla bean, along with homemade ice creme made from baked sweet potatoes.

    the dessert turned out perfectly, and i loved every last bite even though i’m not a big sweet potato or pear fan. seriously, i was licking the plate. when it was served, it even came with a dollop of dave’s special coconut whip cream (which he would not give away the secret to).

    overall, the madeleine bistro cooking class was a huge success. the students gathered around in the dining area and watched intently as chef dave prepared each course and explained his methods. the students didn’t do any actual cooking themselves, but were free to take notes and ask unlimited questions. i really enjoyed the way chef dave ran the class, and i left with a stack of invaluable recipes and a wealth of knowledge. plus, dave was ridiculously funny and laid back throughout the lesson, making for a really fun environment.

    madeleine bistro usually hosts cooking classes every other week, the next one being this saturday march 6th. each class is $75 per person, which includes a 3-course meal! money well spent, if you ask me.

    so be sure to contact madeleine bistro and sign up for the next cooking class that you can. hope you love it as much as i did!

    madeleine bistro
    (818) 758-6971
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA

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