Saturday, 12 November 2011

Take a Hands-on Cooking Class at Sea

Get the apron and the recipes at a HAL cooking class 
On a cruise, one of the things I like doing is attending the cooking demonstrations. It's a chance to pick up some new recipes, learn some handy culinary tips and sample the dishes prepared by the chef. Sometimes it is fun to take things one step further and be part of a hands-on cooking class.
   On one Holland America Line cruise I did exactly that. The cost was $29 for a three hour lesson  in the Culinary Arts Centre, taken by the head chef of the Pinnacle Grill. There were 10 of us in the class, ready and eager to start cooking three dishes. Once we had all donned our aprons and collected our recipe cards, the chef explained what we would be making: Stuffed Turkey Roulade, Winter Squash Risotto and Pannatone Tiramisu. Yum! 
  The staff had pre-prepared some of the ingredients, such as roasting the squash and cutting the turkey breasts into slices. Now the chef divided up parts of the recipes between us so we were all chopping, peeling, and slicing. He was kept busy going around making sure that the risotto was being stirred the right way, that the stuffing for the turkey breasts was well combined, that the egg whites for the tiramisu were whisked to soft peaks.
   Then he got a bit creative with the dishes, adding ingredients that weren't written in the recipes - finely chopped rosemary in the risotto, a dollop of cream cheese in the turkey stuffing, spreading a thin layer of mustard on the turkey breasts. I had to keep putting my knife down to pick up my pen and write the extras down.
   The chef passed on some handy hints to us keen students. He showed us how to use just the one large knife, depending on how you held it, for all cutting, dispensing with the need for vegetable peelers or cleavers. His demo of dicing an onion was an eye opener for me. I couldn't believe how I had got to be this age without knowing how to cut one properly!
   Somehow or other, under his expert guidance, all the dishes came together beautifully at the right times and at last we were ready to 'plate up' the food.
  Then we adjourned to the Pinnacle Grill, the waiters brought our food to our tables, and we enjoyed a relaxed and delicious lunch. The woman who had been in charge of pouring the Amaretto liqueur onto the tiramisu had done her job very enthusiastically! I left the table feeling as if I was breathing fire!

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