Farm to Table Cooking Class with Amy Pennington

One of my favorite things to do at the Ranch is attend cooking classes at our cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta.  Why, you ask?  Well, let me count the ways.  It’s incredibly beautiful inside the kitchen as well as out on the farm.  The first time I stepped foot into the Cocina during the Organic Breakfast Hike I was impressed by not only how gorgeous it was, but also warm and inviting.  And how it sort of feels like home.  I didn’t want to leave.  Then there’s the six acre organic farm, Rancho Tres Estrellas, which right now is blooming head to toe with flowers.  So, that being said, you can start to see why I love coming to the Cocina.  And I haven’t even gotten to the food yet.

If you can while you’re here, attend one of the cooking classes.  In some ways it’s a life changing experience even though it’s only about three hours.  There’s a lot that goes on!  First you learn from not only our amazing chef, Denise Roa, but also our guests chefs who come to share their stories and their approach to cooking.  Then comes the tour of the gardens where you’ll be able to pick vegetables for the recipes you’ll be cooking and then of course, is the actual cooking.  However, what makes each class so special is truly working together as a group to make a spectacular meal and sharing it together.  It’s really hard to describe how unique that is until you’ve actually done it.  By the time you leave class, you’ll all feel like old friends.

This class was no exception.  The ride back to the Ranch afterwards was filled with laughter and stories from people who had first met just a couple of hours earlier.  A lively group I must say!  And of course there was the food.  Amy, whose background specializes in urban farming (she has an amazing website by the way) came up with a menu that honestly, I would eat every day.  Completely up my ally.  Veggie heavy recipes that taste delicious and are super healthy.  My favorites were the Lettuce Bowls with Shrimp, the Sweet Potato Salad, the Sautéed Escarole, well actually, pretty much everything on the menu!

Menu

Lettuce Bowls with Clove Pickled Beets and Grilled Shrimp

Herbal Minestrone- Stock, Bean, Zucchini and a Handful of Herbs

Panzanella with Crushed Tomato and Pickled Red Onion

Barley + Sweet Potato Salad

Grated Cumin Carrots and Raisins

Sautéed Escarole with Smashed Garlic

Orange Slices with Orange Flower Water and Pistachios

Stay tuned for recipes we’ll be posting soon from the class!

Don’t forget about our Culinary Week, La Fiesta De La Cocina Que Canta with Deborah Madison, John Ash, Marie Simmons and Nani Steele!  September 28-October 5th!  Book by August 1, 2013, limited space available.

Chef Deborah Schneider at La Cocina Que Canta

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What a treat it was to have co-author of Cooking With The Seasons and chef, Deborah Schneider teach at La Cocina Que Canta.  It was pretty much a perfect day here at the Ranch.  The sun was shining and it was warm!  We started out in the garden picking vegetables with Salvatore (the master behind our organic gardens).  We were forewarned by Chef Denise Roa not to eat the fresh garlic if it was offered by Salvatore (very strong!) which ironically she ended up trying (proof is in the photo above).  We were also lucky enough to see the also the chicken coop and underground cellar where they store their root vegetables.

Once the veggies were picked, we were back in the cocina where Chef Schneider talked about the menu for the day and also gave us some knife skill tips.  Then we split up and started cooking.

Here’s what was on the menu:

  • Ranch Guaccamole with Tostaditas
  • Jicama Citrus Slaw
  • Three Sisters Black Mole
  • Roasted Butternut Squash
  • Handmade Corn Tortillass with Garlic and Jalapeno
  • Frijoles de la Olla with Guajillo Chile
  • Cranberry Quinoa Salad
  • Midnight Chocolate Cake
  • Coconut Ice with Chocolate Drizzle and Peanuts

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?  My job was to make the Jicama Citrus Slaw which was really fun, especially creating the dressing.  Everything turned out delicious!  It was definitely a feast and one of the perks about taking the cooking classes is the yummy dessert.  The Midnight Chocolate Cake and Coconut Ice were no exception.

Overall it was just really, really fun hanging out with Chef Schneider in the kitchen.  She is a world renowned chef and was even the mentor to our very own Chef Denise Roa.  Plus cooking together with a group of people, eating everything we made while learning about each others’ backgrounds is quite a priceless experience.

You can learn more about Chef Deborah Schneider at her website, chefdeborahschneider.com.

Patricia Wells at La Cocina Que Canta

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We were lucky enough to have world-renowned chef, Patricia Wells, recently teach at our cooking school, La Cocina Que Canta, to packed classes.  Patricia is the author of many cookbooks including Vegetable Harvest, We’ve Always Had Paris…and Provence and her latest, Simply Truffles.  The class started out by picking vegetables from the organic garden with Salvatore and Patricia in the lovely late afternoon.  The veggies were then brought back to the kitchen where Patricia explained what would be on the menu for the evening.  Such a delight to hear her speak and the food was of course, delicious!

Hands On Cooking Class with Lia Huber

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For my first cooking class ever, the Hands on Cooking Class with Lia Huber couldn’t have been more amazing.  Imagine strolling through the organic gardens at La Cocina Que Canta picking right out of the soil which greens and veggies we were going to cook in class.  Along the way, eating fresh watermelon that Salvador just harvested and learning about sustainable organic farming from a top-notch chef.  Yup, this is the kind of stuff that happens at La Cocina Que Canta.

It was a hot day, but the juicy watermelon kept us cool.  Then after picking the greens from the garden we came back inside the kitchen where Gabby brought us some icy cold popsicles.  What a treat!  Not going to lie, I was kind of sitting there thinking this was too good to be true.

While we devoured our frozen treats we listened to Lia explain her background as a chef.  Such an interesting story!  She’s written recipes for Prevention, Body + Soul, Fitness and Cooking Light.  Her recipes have an emphasis on healthy eating and sustainability.  In 2009 she started nourishnetwork.com, a membership site that provides daily and weekly customizable menus that focus on nutritional content and eco clean eating.

Our class was pretty small which meant lots of hands on cooking.  I was in charge of the garlic lime butterfly shrimp, which I have to say turned out delicious!  Lia was there helping all us along the way and giving us tips that we could use in our own kitchens at home.  The whole process was a blast and the best part was yet to come…eating!!!

As you can tell from my photos, there was more than enough food to eat and each dish was so good.  From the tortilla soup to the green bean salad to the sautéed greens to the shrimp…plus dessert which was this AMAZING cheesecake.

I can’t tell you what a wonderful experience this was.  To go through the whole process of picking food from the garden, working with such an eco conscious chef and eating the end result was truly an experience.  Not to mention meeting new people, working together as a team and also having some laughs over lunch.  I couldn’t have asked for a better time!