Summer Tapas – Cookshop Cooking Class Experience

My friend a I got a group buying coupon for cooking lessons at Cookshop, a cooking equipment store located at he City Square mall near the Vancouver City Hall. We decided to try out the tapas class because the menu was in season and seemed delicious. We’ve taken another class here before, but that was a demonstration by the chef and we get to taste the finished product. This one, however, was a participation class. I would prefer a participation class rather than demonstration because we get hands-on experience.

The menu:

  • Beef tartar with capers & shallots served on toast points with a quail egg
  • Margherita Pizza with fresh tomato, young bocconcini and fresh basil
  • Crispy calamari with tomato caper sauce
  • Local B.C. halibut cakes with roasted pepper spicy aioli
  • Potato ravioli stuffed with chicken and sage
  • Chocolate panna cotta

The instructor was very professional and explained the steps and ingredients of the recipes very well. As my friend was chatting away with the chef, we found out he actually worked and trained in France and New York as well. The menu was delicious made with fresh ingredients. As we were divided into smaller groups, our group was in charge of making the potato ravioli and crispy calamari. The class started off by preparing the chocolate panna cotta, too bad there wasn’t enough time to chill them so we ate out of the mould instead. It was the first time I had the beef tartar, not the first time having raw beef though. It tasted good with a contrast of textures of the crunchy toasted baguette and tender beef and the richness of the quail egg yolk.

We made the pizza from scratch starting with the yeast dough. The pizza tasted very fresh although the dough could have been more crusty – it tasted a bit too soft, almost like a bread. The crispy calamari was one of my favourites, it was easy to prepare – simply breaded with flour, egg wash, panko and deep fried until crispy (I did most of the deep frying) and then seasoned with salt and pepper and served with a tangy tomato caper sauce. The nice part about it was that the calamari was not rubbery or tough at all. I found out from the chef that he used “U10” squids meaning 1 pound would consist of just under 10 squid tubes and that is the perfect size for this recipe = TENDER. We didn’t really get make the halibut cakes but it was also good, it turned out that there was also cod in the cakes. I like the fact that they were finished in the oven rather than deep fried. These were basically cooked fish with mashed potatoes and shaped into cakes, breaded and baked. The spicy aioli was a nice touch as well (could have used a better olive oil though). The cakes were fluffy and flavourful.

Our group got to make the potato ravioli. Potatoes were sliced thinly on a mandolin and baked briefly with olive oil to soften and they were stuffed with a minced cooked chicken and sage stuffing in between two slices of potato. We had trouble adhering the edges of the raviolis though. They were then baked again until crispy. As messy as they look, they tasted pretty good. Maybe the potato slices weren’t thin enough so they wouldn’t stick together.

As I mentioned above, we had the chocolate panna cotta out of the mould but it was nonetheless delicious. It had a very delicate and smooth texture and not overly sweet or rich. It was a great finish to the meal. At the end my friend and I stole and ate more calamari from the leftovers from the next table, the chef saw and chuckled 8) It was a really good experience.