I felt a little lame that I didn’t dress up for Halloween this year. With a 10-page paper due, Chris out of town, and a whirlwind trip to Blacksburg the weekend before, it was hard to get together the creativity and energy. I do love seeing friends’ babies all dressed up and cute though. And I continue to be inspired by all of the unique costumes that surface among friends. I think my favorite one was a friend who dressed up as the emoji girl with the pink shirt! So clever and trendy.
The highlight of my Halloween weekend was pretty cool actually. My friend Rachel and I took a homemade pasta-making class at Sur La Table in Arlington! Our thoughtful husbands bought us gift certificates last Christmas to use towards a cooking class. Somehow, we waited all the way until November to use them, but the experience was well worth it!
With daylight streaming into the large kitchen, we worked hard in groups to assemble three different pasta sauces: Italian Sausage & Arrabbiata Sauce, Butternut Squash & Hazelnut-Sage Pesto, and Kale, Prosciutto, & Creamy Lemon Sauce. Then, we made the pasta dough and the noodles. Finally, we cooked the noodles and threw it all together for a delicious dinner sampler!
I have taken one other cooking class at Sur La Table on the five “mother” sauces. In both of my experiences, the instructor has been great at sharing random little tidbits that you can incorporate into future cooking. For instance, Rachel and I learned how to properly caramelize onions. Apparently, you are supposed to drop them into an oil-coated pan and then leave them alone (read: don’t move them around with a spatula) until they become slightly burnt and caramel-colored. Maybe most everyone knows this already, but we sure didn’t!
The creamy lemon sauce interested me the most when I first reviewed the menu. It includes butter, a shallot, garlic, fresh lemon juice, heavy cream, and some parsley. Combined with wilted and sautéed kale, the result is truly divine.
The hazelnut-sage pesto was also a huge hit in our cooking group. It is such a lovely fall spin on your typical pesto! To make it, you essentially process 2 cloves peeled garlic, 3/4 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts, 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, 1/2 cup sage, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar. Yum. I was inspired to buy fresh sage on the way home to incorporate into my cooking for the week!
The arrabbiata sauce was pretty good too. I forgot how much I like Italian sausage…
I can’t decide what I think about making homemade pasta. It was a delicious and rewarding experience, but it did require a LOT of effort. We learned how to mix a basic dough of flour, salt, eggs, and olive oil. Then we spent some time kneading it. After that, the dough had to rise. Finally, we had to pull out either a nice KitchenAid Pasta Roller and Cutter attachment set or a more traditional pasta-making device. We flattened and flattened the dough. Then, we fed the dough into the contraptions to cut the noodles. It was ideal to have two (sometimes even three!) people for the whole flattening and cutting process.
In any case, I highly recommend taking classes at Sur La Table. The instructors are knowledgeable and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. I know Rachel and I hope to keep an eye on the upcoming schedule and try out another one sometime!