Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Blogger's Take: Moroccan Cooking Class at

This blog has been reprinted with the permission of Lizette Wolter McKinley, local photographer and blogger.  Check out her blog at

When I saw Chef Shop, a local fine and specialty food purveyor was offering a Moroccan cooking class I was intrigued. There are some types of food I have never attempted to make and Moroccan is one of them. I arrived at Chef Shop a tad early for my class, giving myself some time to look around the store and meet the employees ahead of time. From the start, I was impressed with how friendly, passionate and welcoming all the women were. Hors d'oeuvres were already laid out for the students and drinks were offered within minutes of stepping inside. As we waited for the other students to arrive we nibbled on scrumptious snacks and delicious drinks. 
Since I had never attended a presentation style cooking class before I was not certain what to expect. Once everyone arrived we took our seats and Erin Coopey warmly and enthusiastically greeted us. As Erin sliced and diced she confidently walked us through each recipe. Eliza Ward, Chef Shop's owner and founder, was on hand to interject product knowledge and show us what we could purchase from her store in order to create the food we were witnessing being made.
Our menu for the evening included:
Appetizers: Olives with Harissa and Moroccan-style bean dip
Entree: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons
Sides: Quinoa salad and carrot salad with feta and mint
Dessert: Moroccan coconut "cake" 
After a long, busy day it was nice to sit back and learn about food with the knowledge your dinner is being made for you. Most classes I have attended in the past focus on the importance of fresh ingredients, this class focused on the importance of your what is in your pantry. To be honest, I am a big proponent of eating seasonally and finding the freshest ingredients, but I have never been much thought to the beans I put in my soup or the salt I through in my pot of boiling water. I learned many things throughout the duration of this class, but most importantly I have become more aware of my options. 
For instance, without thinking I have adopted a habit of using olive oil for cooking. Little did I know the burn point of olive oil is not particularly high and that as much as I am trying to be health conscious by using the wrong oil at the wrong temperature I am destroying the health benefits of the product. Same goes for my lack of knowledge in regards to table salt. I have always been under the impression that we as human beings need iodine, I never gave it much thought I am probably consuming enough of it whenever I eat processed food or better yet- seafood. 
Knowledge is power and after the Moroccan cooking class I left feeling confident I could replicate the dishes I had seen prepared before my very eyes. I am eager to use my new rice bran oil, which has a much higher smoke point than olive oil and I finally got wise and purchased large tube of tomato paste. I was getting tired of throwing away cans of unused tomato paste when sometimes you just need a little. 
Chef Shop is a treasure trove for the at home cook or foodie that you know. It is the perfect spot to pick up a unique host/hostess gift or the next time you want to upgrade your own pantry. 

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