Tonight was my first cooking class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. I get to take it for free as part of my payment for teaching a workshop there. I was apprehensive, since the course is technically for beginners and I wouldn't exactly call myself that, but then again, I'm no Julia Child.
It seems that each class, we'll be splitting into pairs and creating a multi-course meal, which we then all eat. We are given recipes and go over them as a group before going to our stations. Tonight's meal included hummus and wasabe eggs for appetizers, a pickled cucumber salad, a curried zucchini soup, couscous and sliced peppers, and oven-roasted salmon with panko crumbs and a creamy dill sauce. Dessert was chocolate-dipped fruit.
I volunteered to be on Team Soup with a nice, quiet man named Marshall. I have never made a soup other than chili so I thought it would be nice to learn something new. Marshall and I cubed our zucchinis and both were complimented by the instructor on our knife skills (apparently, others were struggling). We covered them in water and brought it to a boil, then added curry and Better-Than-Bouillon soup base. This was admittedly a short-cut, but we didn't have all day to build flavors slowly with a homemade mirepoix. Then we waited for the zucchinis to get soft so we could puree them, add a little milk, and then supposedly, we would be done.
The problem we ran into was that when we tasted our soup, it tasted like nothing. It tasted like watery hospital soup. Marshall was stumped but I flew into action. No way were we going to serve bland soup on the first night, not on my watch. I went to the fridge and found some plain yogurt. Before Marshall could stop me, I added it. Then I added a shit-ton more curry, and some salt and pepper and any other spices I could locate. That was when I noticed the instructor watching me.
"Um, I know I'm going off-recipe here, but the soup really had no flavor, so...." I drifted off guiltily. The instructor tasted the soup. She was like "You're right" and then also started going to town on it. "It's the zucchini's fault," she explained. "Winter squash has a lot less flavor than summer squash."
Winter zucchini = asshole zucchini.
In the end, the soup tasted good. We garnished it with some finely chopped parsley, chopped by moi. The best part of the night, though, was when I was plating (or really, bowling?) the soup into individual portions and then had to carry the steaming soup bowls over to the table where we were eating. My server training led me to automatically say "hot, behind" when I was walking behind Marshall. The look on his face was priceless as he first thought I was complimenting his ass and then realized what I actually meant, knew I knew what he thought I meant, and turned beet-red.
*Not actual soup that I made