This entry was originally posted on Healthy Living's Blog. Vermont has no shortage of local ingredients, restaurants focused on local foods, and cooking classes and workshops ready to inspire. Check out this great description of a cooking class at Healthy Living's Learning Center.
Every month, our Learning Center Coordinators, Laura and Clarina work very hard to put together a variety of Kids, Adults, and even Teenage appropriate, hands-on cooking classes. They range from a variety of topics and there’s something for everyone, no matter what skill level you have in the kitchen; from learning Knife Skills to braising rabbit, they do it all! Check out the rest of April’s calendar by clicking here, there’s still some awesome classes left to sign up for.
I decided to step outside my comfort zone and join in on last week’s Cooking Class; Le Lapin of Luxury. Clarina taught this class and set up the menu which included Herb and White Wine Braised Rabbit with Parsnips and Shallots and Parisian Sheep’s Milk Gnocchi! We were even served beer paired with delicious cheeses from our Cheese Department to snack on while we learned and prepared our recipes.
Clarina started the class by introducing herself and letting us know some of the many benefits that rabbits have. We are lucky to carry local Vermont rabbits in our store; rabbits have very little fat on them, are easy to prepare and (although overlooked) delicious. Clarina demonstrated the best way for us to prep our vegetables for the dish and then it was back to our stations to baton the parsnips, peel and cut the carrots and prepare the shallots.
Now came the part I wasn’t very familiar with, preparing the rabbit for braising. Clarina took extra time to make sure we all understood the different parts of the rabbit that we wanted to remove before seasoning. She then gave us some tips and tricks on oiling the pan and we were off to braise away!
I’ll let you check out the recipe for yourself but one thing I found particularly interesting and a good fact to know in the kitchen is the idea of making a “slurry”. We made the slurry by shaking 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and 4 Tbsp of water in a mason jar. We then poured this into the gravy to thicken. Using cornstartch makes the finished texture almost shiny rather than un-clear and murky as flour does. Some recipes would be better with one or the other, up to you!
Next was the Parisian Sheep’s Milk Gnocchi making. Boy was this fun to do! We mixed a variety of ingredients and used a Kitchen Aid to do so… being very careful when adding the eggs to make sure they were fully mixed, but not over mixed.
We then went back to our stations and added the mixture into a piping bag. We squeezed the dough out over slightly boiling water until just floating and then removed them with a slotted spoon. We let them cool and then heated them up in a pan with some butter and vegetable oil. So easy, so delicious!
All the participants in the class left with a heaping helping of Braised Rabbit with seasonal vegetables and plenty of gnocchi. Clarina and Erin, the Learning Center Assistant, did a great job making sure that everyone felt comfortable with what they were doing and walked around giving individual attention and recipe advice. I would highly suggest anyone interested to grab a friend and sign up for one of our up-coming cooking classes, you’ll learn a ton, gain some great recipes, find yourself with good conversation and a full belly!