We were invited to attend the Recreational Cooking Class program at the Lincoln Culinary Institute recently to experience first-hand what they offer with the re-launching of the cooking class program. Professional chef instructors lead attendees in the 4 hour class by teaching culinary skills, exploring the culinary world, learning about the school, and trying out special recipes. Participants perform hands-on cooking and get to eat what they have prepared during the class.
The program was no longer offered when Connecticut Culinary Institute became the Lincoln Culinary institute (LCI) back in 2009. Community members and former class participants told LCI leaders that they would like for the program to be brought back, and so, it was.
The 2014 Summer/Fall session is currently in full swing and runs through September. New class schedules will be released four times a year as the classes run year-round and focus on the season, holidays, and current food trends.
“Over 7,000 people throughout the years have taken our recreational cooking class on the weekends,” said Hartford campus President Louis Giannelli. “We are excited once again to offer them to the community.”
The current schedule offers over 45 classes on either a Friday night or Saturday mornings. The classes range from Basic Knife Skills to Northern Italian Cuisine to Classic Cakes: Opera Cake. The Friday “Date Night” classes are for those over the age of 18. There are separate classes for parents and children ages 8 to 12 and teens ages 13 to 18. Attendees of the wine / beer and food pairing classes must be 21 or older. These are non-credit courses. The classes are both fun and educational held in the LCI’s kitchens at the Hartford campus on Sigourney Street in Hartford, CT. The Institute is well-lit and have monitored parking lot so you can feel safe taking any of their classes.
Our class was about learning to make handmade pasta with fresh summer sauces. As we arrived we were meet at the door by Gena Golas and Chef Rich and given our aprons to wear. Proceeding upstairs to the commercial garden kitchen we were welcomed with sweet basil tea which was a fabulous mixture of fresh basil, fresh mint, ginger, lemon juice, sugar, and water; simmered to create a simple syrup. Additional water was added to reach desired taste. As an appetizer, we enjoyed an olive tapenade dip with grilled bread that had already been prepared for us by Chef Rich.
After settling in, Chef Rich gave us a few helpful hints on knife handling and skills, which we put to immediate use prepping several of the ingredients for tonight’s feast. We each made fresh pasta using Durum flour, eggs, and a little olive oil. Later we used the pasta to make fettuccine, tortellini, and ravioli.
We stuffed the tortellini with roasted egg plant, roasted peppers, and roasted fresh garlic and learned how to cut fettuccine noodles and create tortellini using the pasta cutting machine and tortellini molds. The pasta was going to be served with a fresh tomato sauce that we made using olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, crushed red pepper, dry white wine, concassee tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, minced fresh parsley, and salt and pepper.
We stuffed the ravioli with ricotta filling, which was a combination of ricotta cheese, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, fresh basil, whole egg, and salt and pepper. We smothered the ravioli with a freshly made basil pesto sauce using olive oil, pine nuts, fresh basil, rough chopped garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, grated Romano cheese, and salt and pepper.
Accompanying the fettuccine was an Alfredo sauce that we made with heavy cream, egg yolks, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, salt and pepper.
After the cooking was completed, off we went to enjoy the fruit of our labors in the nearby dining room. Here, we savored our different pastas, sipped wine, and chatted with others.
“A program like this really rounds out what LCI has to offer the Greater Hartford community,” said Gena Golas, Recreational Cooking Class Manager at Lincoln. “We’re known in Connecticut for being an educational leader for culinary professionals, and our new program allows us to also serve both novice and experienced home chefs looking to grow their skills in the kitchen.”
Be sure to bring food containers to take home any leftovers after you finished enjoying the food that you prepared during the class. We had a most enjoyable “date night” Friday night learning helpful culinary tips, making fresh pasta and sauces, and then satisfying our hunger by eating what we cooked.