Last month Cecconi’s, one of my favorite restaurants in West Hollywood, invited Sara and I to a cooking class. I was really excited but also really nervous. Their food is amazing, so I figured that their cooking class would be in the big leagues too.
I’ve never been the best student, especially when it comes to cooking classes. I took several when I lived in Italy, and the only things I remember are large glasses of wine and large amounts of gossip. I was afraid this class would involve me having to prepare a dish while the rest of the class looked on with hungry eyes, watching my every move and hoping I didn’t burn anything!
I was therefore pleased when we arrived that 1) I wouldn’t have to actually do any of the cooking if I didn’t want to (I didn’t want to) and 2) the chefs had already printed out step-by-step instructions for the marinades and sauces so I didn’t have to pay strict attention to everything that was said. And for a bonus, 3) they had champagne.
Since the class focused on grilling techniques, all of the food was pre-prepped before we got there. We walked onto the patio with a ton of amazing looking seafood and meat dishes ready to be cooked. The hard part was over- now this is my kind of cooking class!
The chefs were hilarious and fun, and talked with the guests about how to grill each type of seafood and meat. It seemed like most of the men were really into learning new grilling techniques, and the women were really into the champagne. And everyone was into eating! Just as we finished off one dish, another one was ready to go. Even though we kept reminding ourselves that this was a marathon, not a sprint, we still had a hard time pacing ourselves when everything in front of us tasted so good!
There was also a ton of fresh fruit and veggies, and I had some watermelon… after one of the fellow attendees helped me cut it (hey, I’m learning).
After we had finished most of the food, the chefs asked us what we wanted to cook next. Really? We can choose!? One woman suggested pizza, truffle pizza to be exact. As you know from my previous Cecconi’s post, I LOVE THEIR TRUFFLE PIZZA! I wanted to hug this woman!
But then as the chefs were making it, we all looked around and realized that there were more people that wanted truffle pizza than pizza slices. Slowly everyone began inching closer to the cooking pizza, not wanting to be rude, but really wanting a piece. One man joked that friendships would be over the second the pizza was done because it would be every man for himself. And he wasn’t kidding! I felt like we were on a episode of Animal Kingdom, slowly circling our prey.
Finally the pizza was done, and Sara and I oh so politely and casually each grabbed a slice. The hot pizza burned our hands, but it was worth it. It was so good! And now we know that in a survival of the fittest situation we would totally survive!
After we had finished eating God’s gift to man, the chefs continued having fun making different kinds of pizzas.
Then my favorite chef (the brains behind the truffle pizza) grilled slices of pineapple and served them with big scoops of melting ice cream. We ate them with big smiles on our faces as ice cream ran down our hands, feeling like little kids at a summer picnic.
Cecconi’s graciously allowed me to share some of the recipes with you! Enjoy!
32 Ounces Vegetable Oil
1 Quart Lemon Juice
6 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1 Handful Fresh Oregano
1/4 Cup Fresh Rosemary
1 Cup White Vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
3 Tablespoons Salt
10 Crushed Garlic Cloves
5 Crushed Bay Leaves
Preparation is easy. You just mix all of the ingredients, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then pour the marinade over 1 pound of grilled or broiled chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
This is a very creamy sauce, and it’s made like this:
1 Handful of Fresh Chopped Parsley
1/4 Cup Fresno Chili
1/4 Cup Black Olives
1/4 Cup Capers
2 Lemons Zested
To prepare: Finely chop all of the ingredients (extra points for style) and mix them together. Then add virgin olive oil and salt to taste (the fancy way of saying until you like it).
1 Clove Garlic
1 Handful Fresh Parsley
6 Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil (I’m glad I didn’t know this before I tried it!)
1/4 Cup Capers
2 Lemons Zested
1/4 Cup Bread Soaked in White Wine Vinegar
Preparation: Finely chop all ingredients, then mix together. Add extra virgin olive oil and salt until you love it!
1/2 Quart Mayonnaise
2 Pieces Lime Juice
4 Pieces Limes (Zested)
1 Clove Garlic
1 Handful Cilantro
1 Teaspoon Ascorbic Acid
1 Teaspoon Calabrese Oil
Preparation: Combine lime juice, ascorbic acid, cilantro and avocado in a blender and blend until smooth. Combine mixture with all other ingredients in a bowl and mix.
For those of you who aren’t experts like me (I’ll just pretend that I didn’t have to google what it was even after the class!), chimichurri is a green sauce that you put on grilled meat and seafood. You make it like this:
1 Bunch of Italian Parsley (Leaves Only)
1 Handful of Fresh Oregano (Leaves Only)
1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar (No Leaves! Ha)
1 Teaspoon Spanish Smoked Paprika
2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Pint Olive Oil
Preparation: Combine all of the ingredients into the blender except the olive oil. Then you blend on low speed, and slowly add in the olive oil at the end.
I recommend Cecconi’s cooking classes for two kinds of people: those who like eating, and those who like cooking. I’ve got the first part down, now I’m just working on the second!