Friday, November 06, 2009

Fun with Pumpkins

Last year, our good friends Tiffany and Jeff gave us cooking classes as a wedding gift. The company offering them is called Urban Element, and they're located in this fabulously renovated old Fire Hall in an area of Ottawa known as Parkdale. Unfortunately, with my crazy never actually in Ottawa schedule, it took us over a year to get round to signing up for one of their courses. So when we knew we would be in Ottawa for Mike's mom's birthday, we immediately signed up for one of their courses, and organized our trip accordingly.

The course we signed up for was called the 'Pumpkin Patch Class' - how to make a 5 course meal, using pumpkin in every course. And oh my goodness, was it ever good!

What made the class even more fun was the unexpected surprise of seeing our good friend Sarah in the class - well, more like having her see us. We were barely in the door when she was suddenly running towards us screaming... (its been a while since we last saw Sarah) :)

But now, to get to the part that I'm sure Tiffany is dying to see, the food...

So, the goal of this hands-on course was to actually make each of the 5 courses - the group of 10 classmates breaks into 5 stations, and each person makes one course. And if you have a few minutes while your veggies are roasting, you can use that time to visit the other stations, and see what's going on.

I had previewed the menu as much as possible, and knew from the start that I wanted to be at the pumpkin ravioli station... I love pasta, and I've been wanting to learn to make it from scratch for quite a while.

Here's mike mixing the egg yolks into the flour...
and kneading the dough:
after its kneaded, you let it rest a bit, and then run it through the pasta press to make it flat. Then you start making the raviolis...

(in case you're wondering, those are the hands of some of our classmates)

One the top is lain out, you seal them up, cut them out, and place them on the pan until you're ready to boil them
At this point, I took a wander to see what the others were doing...

Sarah was making a savoury Pumpkin Bread Pudding...

Her sister was at the Curried pumpkin, sweet potato, and pear Soup station...
(that's her on the right - she's about 7 months pregnant)

This is the Pork tenderloin with onion jus station...
...from which we learned that you have to use home-made stock with this recipe, or you'll end up with a very salty jus.

The other stations were desserts - chocolate chip pumpkin cake with chocolate ganache, and pumpkin ice cream to go on top. SO YUMMY!

When everything is cooked, they sit you back down at a bar/table that surrounds the kitchen, and the chefs who teach the course start plating up the food. As you eat, the chef explains certain tricks to making the recipes, possible substitutions, and just general advice on how to make these at home. But taking notes can be a little difficult, since its just so easy to be distracted by the food!

Here's a beauty shot of our pumpkin raviolis, which were served up as the second course:
(In the background, you can see the pumpkin and something else yummy spread that they gave us as an amuse bouche, to munch on as we waited for class to start.) :)

Bon App├ętit! And thanks Tiffany and Jeff! :)

PS: To recap, here was the menu, since I'm sure Tiff will want to know what it was ;)

Pumpkin, white bean, and something else spicy spread with crostinis
Curried pumpkin, sweet potato, and pear Soup
Pumpkin raviolis
Roast pork tenderloin with onion jus, and Pumpkin bread pudding on the side
Chocolate chip pumpkin cake with pumpkin ice cream and chocolate ganache on top

Unfortunately, I was so busy taking notes and eating that I forgot to take pictures! :)


Anonymous said...

What a grea gift idea. Did they do pumpkin seed things too??? They are yummy

DaviMack said...

Looks like a lot of fun, and some really good food! I might be inspired by this to make pasta today. :)

How come a whole bunch of posts got posted just today? Or was that just a feed hiccup?

Glenda said...

I did post two times yesterday, but if you saw more than that appear at once, it must be a problem with the feed. :)

DaviMack said...

No - it's just that I got like 10 posts of yours, all showing up as having been posted the same day. Dunno what happened.

Hope you're enjoying things in the new place.

Tiffany said...

Yay!! I've been wondering if you ever got to redeem your Urban Element experience since being stateside. I'm stoked it was for a night of pumpkiny goodness. That soup sounds awesome, and the crostini... is there a chance a girl can get a recipe (or two or five?!)

Fun and yummy. Makes me happy.