I went back to school this week. I took a class in Asian cuisine at Schnuck’s Cooking School at their splendid store in Des Peres on Manchester. If they had a gym and some computers, I could hang out there all day.
About fifteen foodies had signed up for the three-hour, hands on demonstration in the modern, classroom kitchen. To kick off the evening, Schnuck’s Advanced Sommelier Stephen Gitto (nephew of On-the-Hill Charlie), poured us a glass of Prosecco, an Italian, sparkling, white wine, that he had picked for the occasion and spoke well of the Tawny Port that would come later with dessert.
Having fortified ourselves for the evening, we took our places around the kitchen counter, where pre-measured ingredients, implements, and a recipe had been set out. All we had to do was combine the items as shown. What could go wrong?
I was to make the mayonnaise for the Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches. It was a simple, straight-forward recipe, the hardest part being the wrist action required for whisking the ingredients for 10-15 minutes. The mixture turned the color of mayonnaise, but it never thickened.
Chef-Manager Gabrielle “Gay” DeMichele intervened politely and asked if I had separated the egg yolks from the whites. Opps! I had overlooked that important step and tossed in the whites, too, instead of just the yolks. There was no way to recover, so we had to start over.
I switched places with my co-learner, Cyndy, and she started whisking a new batch. I took up a huge knife and began to julienne the carrots and slice the shallots, a task I was able to accomplish without incident. I made a vinegary mixture and plopped all the veggies in there to pickle, wiped my brow and took a wine break.
Despite the mayo mishap, everything came together at the right time and we sat down to a meal that stared with Spicy Sour Shrimp Soup. (I’m not a fan of Asian soups, but a man seated nearby, who had lived in China liked it).
The bahn mi was splendid, especially those pickled carrots and onions and the mayo was incredible. The fellow cooking the pork slices for the sandwiches had nailed them, too. All that was lacking was a light, French baguette from La Bonne Bouchee. We used a much larger baguette from Schnuck’s that made for too much bread.
The spring rolls were fun and easy to make–the hardest part is the chopping and rolling. The woman next to me made the peanut dipping sauce for the group and it was as good as I’ve had at any Vietnamese restaurant.
While we ate, the dessert was made by Chef Gay and her assistant Tory Bahn: Fried Bananas with Coconut-Pineapple Ice Cream. Wow! A great flavor combination that paired well with the Tawny Port.
What a pleasant evening. One young couple was celebrating their anniversary. Another fellow was a regular, who enjoyed cooking new things. A mother and daughter seemed to enjoy an evening of adventuresome cooking.
I will definitely do this again. At a cost of $40, we got a four-course meal, two wines, lots of cooking tips, and an evening of great camaraderie with other foodies.
Check online for future classes or call 314-909-1704. A cooking class would make a great Christmas gift.
Schnuck’s Cooking School. 12332 Manchester.