Back in February, I won a great giveaway over at Live to Cook… At Home. Sponsored by Heinen’s, my prize was a gift certificate to attend a class at the Viking Cooking School at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst.
After originally trying to narrow down our class selection, my mom and I decided to find a class that would fit into both of our crazy schedules. We were happy to see that the Girls’ Night Out: In Vegas cooking class was offered on a Saturday night when we both were free. Mom and I headed out to the East side this past weekend to learn how to cook like a high roller.
Here’s the description of the class from the Viking website: Known as “the entertainment capital of the world” where almost anything goes, there is no other city in the world like Las Vegas. Often referred to as “Sin City,” Vegas has the finest gambling, nightclubs and non-stop partying in the country. But Vegas has also become a global gourmet mecca, where many of the country’s most celebrated celebrity chefs have opened restaurants. So, gather your girlfriends and join us “in Vegas” for a menu featuring actual recipes from some of the city’s finest restaurants.
We were going to learn how to:
- cook shrimp to perfection
- make melt-in-your-mouth herb biscuits
- prepare the grill
- grill meat and vegetables and test for doneness
- create crusty grill marks
- make a vinaigrette
- cook a traditional Southern staple with a deliciously contemporary twist
After some shopping at Crate & Barrel and Ann Taylor Loft, we arrived at The Viking Store and entered their demo kitchen:
Each of the six students in the class had their own prep station with a cutting board with supplies and recipe book:
The six students were grouped into two teams. My mom and I were with a lovely lady named Dolly, who was unfortunately split up from her daughter, who was paired with the remaining two students.
First, we learned some basic knife skills, zested & juiced a lemon, then cut a bunch of herbs & a shallot.
We moved on to the recipe for Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp served with a Petite Rosemary Biscuit… but not before getting our wine on. One thing about my mom and I: a glass of wine is a necessary cooking tool. I put my mom on biscuit making duty:
We prepped the shrimp by lightly seasoning the shrimp with some Emeril’s Essence and olive oil. We then would sautee the shrimp, then added the premade barbeque sauce & shrimp stock, some heavy cream and butter to the sautee pan. Our instructor came over and added a heafty amount of the Essence seasoning to our pan – which concerned Dolly and I since we were being careful to not over season the dish. After removing the shrimp, we reduced the sauce to our desired consistency. We each plated our dishes in a similar fashion:
I’m VERY GLAD I put my sauce on the side. It was INCREDIBLY salty, even after we tried to cut it by adding more stock and heavy cream. I think the addition of the essence in the reduction put the sodium intake over the top. The shrimp being lightly sauced were fine though and I enjoyed them. The rosemary biscuits on the other hand were a home run. I will definitely be using that recipe at home.
After finishing our starter course, we started on the Stone-Ground Goat Cheese Grits. I have never once had grits before last night, so I was excited to try this recipe, especially with the goat cheese addition. Dolly and my mom took turns stirring our grits:
For our main entrée, we also were preparing Bobby Flay’s Grilled Fennel-Spiced Pork Chops with Lemon-Sage Vinaigrette and Grilled Asparagus. We started by grinding up some spices in the coffee grinder, then marinating the pork with some olive oil and spice combo. We then moved on to preparing the vinaigrette by using all the items that we chopped in the beginning of the class. Once that was completed, we started grilling the pork and asparagus.
Noticed those perfect grill marks on the pork? All me. Supervised by mom.
Grilled veggies = happy Alicia. We took a quick moment for a team picture:
While our pork and asparagus finished cooking in the oven, our instructor and her assistant kept an eye on our grits while we had a break to do some shopping. I had to take a picture with my most coveted item of choice:
Oh, Viking range… one day you will be mine.
After chatting up the sales rep about his favorite kitchen gadgets, we came back to the kitchen and plated our entrée course:
I really like this entrée course. I would have personally liked my pork a tad bit pinker on the inside, but everything tasted great. I loved the vingerette and the grits were extremely tasty. Another recipe I could easily recreate at home.
We finished off our meal with a piece of Charlie Palmer’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ganache Tart and Emeril’s Café Brûlot (forgot the picture – oops):
We actually did not make this dessert as it was prepared ahead of time. I had one small bite of the pie: it was good, just not my thing. I had one piece of the peanut brittle which was very well done. I never had Café Brûlot before. Our kitchen assistant prepared the drink for us during our break – I wish we could have known that was going on as I would have liked to watch the process, even if it was a simple one. The coffee/orange liqueur combo was the perfect finish to the meal.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE CLASS: We’re going to do this sorority style (my sisters, you know what I’m talking about!) – PRO/CON time!
CONS: I am glad that I didn’t pay to take this class. This is why:
- My mom and I are not beginners by any means. I don’t consider myself a chef, but I am an educated at home cook and foodie. My mom was a caterer for over 15 years. At a few moments, I felt like my mom was teaching the class.
- We should have been more aware of the menu and what we would actually prepare during class. I understand that there wasn’t enough time to prepare every single component of the meal. However, I wish we learned how to make the dessert, even if we would have made one tart, then ate one that was made ahead of time.
- If I was Dolly, I would have been PISSED if I was split up from my daughter. They had the space to allow each pair of attendees to have a station to themselves without causing a hassle. There were only six of us in the class, and four of us could have been fairly self-sufficient.
PROS: My mom and I enjoyed our three hour class for the following reasons:
- The food was for the most part appetizing (minus that OVERLY salty shrimp sauce) and I feel like I would try the recipes at home.
- I was full of food when we left that evening. I felt like we had a hearty meal.
- PLENTY of wine was provided during the three hour class. Major shoutout to Lee, the chef’s assistant, for keeping the vino flowing!
- It was nice to try out some kitchen gadgets that I had never used before (zester, grill pan, my dream stove).
- Our instructor and kitchen assistant were friendly and attentive to all of our needs/requests/questions.
- Ten percent off all purchases made that evening was a nice added bonus.
LONG STORY SHORT: I would consider returning for another class if it was VERY specific to a type of cuisine (i.e. Thai, Greek) or to a specific cooking/baking technique that I wanted to learn. Overall, we met some great people and had a fun time doing something we never done before, so I say the evening was a success. No matter the negative points, my mom and I ALWAYS find a way to have a good time and this was no exception.