About 20 minutes north of Philadelphia is the King of Prussia Mall, which is home to hundreds of stores, including Sur La Table. Not only is Sur La Table a good source for all your kitchen needs, but they also hold cooking classes almost every day. Take a look at their class schedule, and you’ll notice that there’s so many different types, which also vary by season. There’s a good chance that what you want to learn will be offered in the near future. I have always wanted to take a cooking class and when I noticed there was a homemade pasta workshop being offered, I figured it was a perfect place to start.
Let’s start with the menu: we would be making butternut squash ravioli with a sage pesto sauce, linguine tossed with smoked salmon, capers, and herbed ricotta, and pappardelle with bacon and braised leeks. It all sounded delicious to me! You can always look up the menu for the class you’re about to take so there aren’t any surprises before you sign up.
We all started off with a quick introduction and briefing on what the class was about and what to expect, then we dove in.
First, we all watched chef instructor, Angie Lee, make a batch of pasta dough from start to finish, and then we went to our stations where we each began making one serving worth of pasta dough. Lee went around to each student to ensure that they were doing everything okay, and if not, how to fix it. Sure, you could always watch a cooking show on television or YouTube or follow a recipe book, but if you have nobody there to tell you when you’re messing up or to confirm you’re on the right track, then you may be completely wasting your time.
After we were all finished making the ideal pasta dough, we wrapped it in plastic and gave it a chance to “sit” while we moved on to the next phase. Lee’s pasta dough had already been sitting long enough, and it was time to roll it out. She demonstrated how to do this on an electric pasta maker attachment. Some of us had the opportunity to roll out the dough she made; some were on the electric pasta maker, while others used the hand crank.
If you don’t have a pasta maker at home and you’re unsure which to buy, try both so you can get a feel for both tools. The KitchenAid is much more convenient, of course, but you’ll pay a pretty penny for it. A hand crank pasta maker is much cheaper, and I also found that it was quite simple to use. (Note: a month later, and I eventually caved and went with the KitchenAid. And it’s amazing, by the way.)
As everything comes together, everyone sort of begins working on other peoples’ dishes. No student completely cooks a single dish from start to finish on their own, but students are assigned different tasks. (For instance, not everyone is able to smoke their own salmon for the linguine dish, but my husband was chosen to smoke the entire batch for everyone’s linguine.) Although the teamwork was a lot of fun, I found it to be a slight disadvantage because you weren’t able to completely put together the dish on your own. At least, that’s how it was in this class; I’m sure other classes are different, and when it comes to pasta making, there simply isn’t enough time for everyone to make their own dishes from scratch until the end.
My other gripe was that all three pastas were served buffet style in the end, so you have no idea who made what. Again, this is where the teamwork comes into play, and I have to say collectively that we made a pretty delicious batch of pasta. But, it would be nice to know which specific pieces of pasta you had a huge part in putting together.
All in all, I’d say it’s a wonderful experience. Not only do you learn something valuable, but you have a lot of fun. Classes at Sur La Table are anywhere between 2 and 2 and a half hours long. Some classes also come with freebies; this one came with a free bottle of olive oil (a $14.95 value).
Needless to say, I will definitely be returning one day!
To learn more and to sign up for a class in your area, visit their website.