We received the most pleasant email last week — an invitation from Lilia at Elle A Cooking to check out her Thursday evening cooking class! The menu was French themed with the lovely title We’ll Always Have Paris, featuring salad niçoise, grilled lamb chops with celery root purée, and tarte au citron. After the fantastic experience we had in her croissant-making class, we were very excited to learn from her again.
I feel like the croissant class was relatively easier in that sense that we were able to make three different finished products once we got the hang of rolling out the buttery dough. Cooking a three-course menu from start to finish in just a few hours’ time, though, was a bigger challenge.
How does that saying go? Life’s too short, so eat dessert first? Well we didn’t quite get to eat dessert first (other than sampling Lilia’s newest vegan biscotti, pictured above), but we did start by making the tarte crust. Hint: the pastry dough used for the crust can double as shortbread cookies!
As the ball of dough rested in the refrigerator, we moved on to the lemon cream. Cooked over a double-boiler, the lemon cream was also affectionately referred to as a French lemon curd… the French part being the addition of two whole sticks of butter. This will make lots of lemon cream, Lilia said. Everything in moderation, Lilia said. Sigh, if only my cholesterol level and I saw eye-to-eye.
Perhaps Lilia timed it perfectly (or perhaps she heard my tummy growling) but as the tarte crust baked and lemon cream chilled, we moved on to the appetizer – a colorful salad packed with farmer’s market fresh vegetables. We learned the perfect timing for cooking an egg medium-boiled until the yolk is just barely set, similar to the ajitsuke tamago served as a topping for ramen. Butter lettuce piled high with boiled veggies, fresh veggies, canned tuna, and chervil (which totally looks like micro-parsley), and drizzled with a refreshing and simple lemon-based vinaigrette, the salad nicoise could be served as an entree on its own!
We took a break to devour our salads before moving on to the main event – the lamb chops! After marinating in a beautifully fragrant blend of herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil, the single chops were seared on grill pan on the stove top before finishing in a 400 degree oven. (You could also do all-oven like we’ve done with full racks – we’re excited to try out her marinade recipe at home!) Meanwhile, we boiled the cubes of celery root and yukon gold potatoes in milk (a trade secret for keeping the celery root from discoloring) and made the puree/mash. Paired with the 2006 Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon that Martin had been aging, this was the perfect entree for date night.
Our stomachs were so full by the time we finished the last morsels of lamb, but as they say – there’s always room for dessert! Lilia skillfully filled the cooled tarte crust with the chilled lemon cream and served the slices with fresh blueberries for a picture-perfect dessert that paired well with my 2010 Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Asti. Despite all the butter, the lemon cream was refreshing and surprisingly light, a great way to finish our meal.
As we mentioned before, if you’re thinking of taking a cooking class, definitely consider Elle A Cooking! Lilia and her “sous chef” Anthony are wonderfully friendly and really make you feel at ease while undertaking a new culinary adventure. Merci beaucoup for welcoming us into your home and kitchen for another exciting (and delicious!) experience.
À la prochaine!
Check out Elle A Cooking here: http://www.elleacooking.com