Hot Havana Nights!

I took a "Flavors of Cuba" cooking class at The New School of Cooking in Culver City this past weekend. What fun! I love learning how to cook different ethnic foods to expand my abilities... and mind!

There were about 14 people in our class. Chef Margaret Ferrazzi briefed us on the history of Cuba and shared that Cuban cuisine is soul food lightened by an island breeze, a mixture of Spanish and African influences set on a table of Caribbean ingredients. Cuban cooks draw on the bright tastes of the ocean and the earthy products of the farm, infused with the sweetness of the tropical sun and the ubiquitous cane sugar. She then walked us through the intricacies of the 11 recipes we'd all be cooking.

We paired off and picked out of a hat to learn which dish each duo would make. My friend and I lucked out with Drunken Chicken and Arroz Blanco!

This was the first cooking class I'd taken at The New School of Cooking. Loved the shelves of utensils, plates and cooking needs! Felt like a real chef!

Before class started the staff laid out all the ingredients, in exact measures, that we would need for our dishes. We grabbed ours and were off!

I set off to make the sofrito for the Drunken Chicken. We learned that sofrito - sauteed diced onions, green peppers, garlic and olive oil - is the base of many traditional Cuban dishes! It seems some use tomatoes, but we did not for our Drunken Chicken dish.

Ingredients for the Baked Whole Snapper with Sofrito.

The Roast Pork Loin with Mojo Criollo coming out of the oven. It was cooked to perfection!

Glazing the bottom of the ramekins for the coconut flan. I typically do not like flan, but due to timing, we ate the flan right as they came out of the over (typically you give them time to cool down). You know what? I loved the flan served piping hot! Loved the crystalized sugar that I spooned up with the warm flan. While it was not intended to be eaten this way, it changed my mind about flan!

Frying up the plantains!

Making fried yuca chips!

Three cheers for mojitos!!!

Such a great contrast to the chicken and pork were fresh salads... 

Basque Tossed Salad with Radishes and Spanish Olives.

Chorizo Crescent Pastries.

Ta da! We laid everything out buffet style and then dug in! The class ate together around a large table and oohed and aahed over our dishes! Everything tasted fantastic! Full of flavor and everything tastes better when you make it!

The New School of Cooking. Culver City, CA.

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