When we first heard the news that someone in town was starting up a gourmet cooking class business, we were elated! This was an experience we had searched for in the past– both professionally for a fun spin on Dinner With The Divas and personally for date nights–with nothing anywhere even remotely close to us. We immediately reached out to Owner and Head Chef of Cooking With Class, Corie Caso-Diaz, to arrange for us to try out this new, exciting experience.
Corie has always loved cooking and has wanted to offer cooking classes for a very long time. When she hosted a dinner gathering for a friend in recovery from undergoing cancer treatments in which they made lobster ravioli from scratch and posted the pictures of the event to social media, her skills received so much attention that she officially kicked off Cooking With Class.
CSD’s Brandi Jaeger and Melissa Eugley signed up with Cooking With Class to learn how to make Chicken Cordon Bleu. Spoiler alert: It was AMAZING!!
The pleasant, inviting aroma of brioche bread baking in the oven greeted us as we walked in the door of Corie’s Corner. Light, relaxing jazz music played softly in the background as we sipped wine and made friends with Corie and our fellow Sous Chefs, Lisa Motyka and Jill Cicacci. “Usually when you first get to a new place there’s a little anxiety until you get settled, but I felt at ease the second I walked in the door,” noted CSD Brandi. “Corie created the perfect ambience.”
Corie informed us that all of the ingredients that we would be using in creating that night’s meal were fresh and from scratch–down to the breadcrumbs for the Chicken Cordon Bleu from freshly baked bread. And for our 1st activity, we were going to carry out this theme further by learning how to make our very own pasta!
Making pasta was nothing like any of us imagined. In fact, if we had been at home following a recipe we found online, we would have surely done it wrong. It wasn’t that it was difficult, but that our expectations for how pasta dough should look and feel didn’t match with how it is actually supposed to look and feel. We were quite relieved that we had an expert leading us along! Another cool aspect of getting to make your own pasta is being able to add spices to it–such as garlic and pepper. It smelled amazing!
It took 3 of us to run the pasta through the pasta maker as we made our fettuccine noodles. (Important tip: always remember what number setting you use for your pasta thickness to make sure it’s consistent). Something else we found surprising was how what looked like a small amount of pasta actually went quite a long way. If you think about the size of a box of noodles you buy from the grocery store, it’s the amount you would fill that box with in terms of size.
While our pasta dried, we started on the Chicken Cordon Bleu. We [carefully] butterflied and pounded the chicken breasts, and Corie then showed us how to roll the Swiss cheese and ham into the chicken. Again, this was something we felt we wouldn’t have done correctly at home on our own. The way it is rolled is almost like that of a burrito (think Moe’s), and then battered, egg-washed, and breaded with the fresh breadcrumbs.
From there, we boiled our pasta and browned the battered chicken in a skillet before putting it in the oven. The fresh pasta took way less time than what you would buy in the store, so we had the awesome task of trying a piece ever so often to see if it was as Lisa put it, “al dente or al ready”. Even by itself, the pasta was so tasty and smelled wonderful as it cooked!
Finally, we made the wine sauce that would eventually be drizzled over everything. Corie added her own special favorites to the sauce–spinach and sun dried julienne tomatoes, and she also made fresh asparagus. The sauce and asparagus were finished as soon as the timer was going off for the Chicken Cordon Bleu to come out of the oven. Perfect timing!
The part we had all been waiting for finally arrived: getting to try the meal.
Everyone’s initial reaction was one of those where you don’t actually use words–you know–the sounds you make when you’ve entered into a heavenly realm only achieved by a divine food experience–lots of mmmmms and wows.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu was fantastic! The chicken was so tender and the ham and cheese flavors blended perfectly. The breadcrumb crust was light and crispy and the creamy, yet light sauce tied everything together. We loved how the sun-dried tomatoes added a subtle depth to it. It’s true what they say about homemade pasta too–it really makes such a huge difference! The hints of garlic and pepper really stood out with each bite, and the asparagus was cooked to perfection. The brioche bread we smelled when we walked in the door was amazing–sweet, fluffy, and tempting to go for seconds (and thirds). The whole meal was better than anything you’d get even going to an upscale French restaurant–and we now we know how to make it ourselves!
“The meal from start to finish was something my palette was grateful to have!” said CSD Melissa.
“I loved everything. I can usually take or leave asparagus. And even if I take it, it’s like a spear or two. But I ate all of them and loved it!” said CSD Brandi, who is known for not being the biggest vegetable fan. “It’s an ongoing goal of mine to add vegetables into my daily diet and I’ve gotten better, but I think learning the skills to cook them that way could really help expand my comfort zones.”
Just when we thought we had the best food experience ever, Corie brought out a homemade New York Style Cheesecake, which she topped with fresh strawberries. The filling was so creamy and paired perfectly with the Biscotti cookie crust (yes, you read that right! Biscotti cookie crust!!). It was sinfully delicious!
The entire experience was an A+ in our books! We loved the way Corie created a relaxing, inviting environment and included her guests in the cooking process. We all agreed we weren’t expecting a teamwork feel to it, but she created one. We were all in the process together at different points, so when it came meal time there was this sense of accomplishment in addition to our satisfaction of enjoying the meal itself–a definite great way to build friendships!
Another part we found to be very impressive was the flow of the evening. Corie gave us full instructions on every part of the meal (which we got to take home) and we got to make each part together, but she also had planned ahead such that some parts were pre-prepared and ready for the next step. It was like being present in a live cooking show!
We also learned SO MUCH! From little things like the best types of tools to use to the bigger techniques and meal planning strategies. She even gave us great ideas that will help for weekly meal preps out of these tips. We laughed at how many times we felt like our minds had been blown by what we were learning, and the magnitude of how helpful that information would be going forward was incredibly encouraging.
“It’s gotten to where I prefer cooking at home more and more for quality of food alone,” said CSD Brandi. “Going out anymore, the food is just loaded down with salt and you leave feeling kind of blah…I love that with Cooking With Class, I can take cooking at home to the restaurant level and actually know what’s in what I’m eating! Not to mention the learning process is really fun.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. It was fun, educational, and relaxing. Corie seemed totally at ease in the kitchen and made everything seem effortless. She encouraged participation and answered all of my questions with real expertise. I really felt like I was on a cooking show and that made me smile on the inside!” said CSD Melissa about the experience.
You too can experience Cooking With Class through Corie’s publicly hosted events or by hosting your own private in-home party where there’s many perks for hosts–including your meal instruction, dessert, and recipe–all for free. Additionally, you can enjoy all of this in the comfort of your own home and not have to stress over Uber rides and finding the perfect place to go!
For more information or to host a party, contact Corie by email at CookingWithClass101@gmail.com, or by phone at (860) 305-4591.
Bon Appetit Divas!