No matter how much you think you may know about cooking, there is always some new trick or technique that you can pick up from a cooking class and I continue to learn new things whenever I go. You can read about the technique of pasta making, for example, but until you actually feel the pasta dough, you never know exactly what the end result feels like for the best pasta. Over the past few months I have attended a few cooking classes from cake decorating to meat butchery and thought it was  time I shared them with you, before I head off to the next one tomorrow.

First, at the end of last year I attended another cake decorating class at Wild Sugar Rose, this time by myself. The class was on summer swirl cupcakes, and we learnt to make a variety of shells using modelling paste and silicone moulds, flowers using cutters and silicon veiners and frangipanis. We also learned to use edible dusts to colour all the different flowers and shells we made.

Although I enjoy learning to make the figurines more, I still enjoyed the class and was very happy with the final result. And after browsing through a few on line shops, I now have a collection of flower veiners and silicone moulds in my cake decorating cupboard ready to use! I am going to another class in April, with my Mum, where we will learn to make a fairy princess figurine. I can’t wait!

Next, I went to a lamb butchery class held at Matters of Taste. This was a technical workshop where David Torre from Torre butchers broke down an entire lamb in front of the class, describing what he was doing, the different cuts and what they were best used for. We then all got to prepare our own rack of lamb to take home, while Tracey cooked up a Spanish Spiced Lamb with Warm Pearl couscous Salad for our dinner with the lamb David had prepared. I was going to put a picture up of my finished lamb rack, but thought a big picture of raw meat might not be appealing to everyone, so I’ve left it off.

I  wanted to go to this class as I cook a lot of lamb, which I prefer to beef, but felt I stuck to just a few cuts (mainly mince and frenched cutlets). I came away realising I did know more about the different cuts of lamb and how to use them than I thought I did. So I plan to try to use a lot more different cuts in the future.

Finally, I attended another class at Matters of Taste. This time their Perfecting Silky Pasta technical workshop. I have been meaning to try making pasta from scratch for a long time, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve had a pasta machine in a box unopened for years!

Meatballs with farfalle pasta My handmade farfalle

In the class we learnt to make a variety of different types of pastas, including fettuccine nero (with squid ink – I got very black hands making that one!), farfalle (pasta bow ties) and a variety of hand rolled pastas. As a class we then made three different dishes using these pastas and had a three course pasta lunch.

Fettuccine nero

That night at home, I tried making fettuccine (without the squid ink) to see if I could make it just as easily at home, and it was a great success. Although quite time consuming for one person, it was possible (although I was glad I decided to buy the kitchenaid pasta roller on my way home, it makes it a lot easier for one person to roll out the dough). And though it’s not something I see myself doing on week nights, it is certainly achievable on weekends or special occasions. I found the class helpful, as it gave me a chance to understand the look and feel of the pasta dough that I needed to aim for, which was then quite easy to replicate at home. Home made pasta has a different texture than bought pasta (even when cooked al dente, it is softer and silkier that bought pasta), and cooks in only a few minutes. I am looking forward to the follow on filled pasta class that I am going to this week, as I think that this is something I would do a lot more at home, as I don’t like buying filled pasta at the shops as I have no control over what is in the filling.

My first attempt at pasta at home - and yes, it is hanging on coat hangers.

My first attempt at pasta at home – and yes, it is hanging on coat hangers.

I have quite a lot of classes lined up for the next few months including:

  • Specialty Pasta Ravioli, Tortellini and Angolotti and Simona’s Summer in Italy at Matters of Taste;
  • Fairy Princess cupcakes at Wild Sugar Rose; and
  • A 6 week pasty making course run by Sarah Brigden from babyCakes.

Yum. I can’t wait!