I love grocery shopping. (For real!) I also love cooking. And I’m particularly fond of eating regularly.
Jill and I delight in new dining and foodie experiences, which may come as a “well, duh” revelation to many of you.
So with that motivation, we booked our first-ever visit to the Aprons Cooking School at the Publix at University Parkway and Tuttle Avenue. (Fun Fact #1: Out of approximately 1300 Publix stores, there are only 12 Aprons Schools!! How lucky are we to have one in our backyard!)
The class we took was a “hands-on” session featuring Mike’s Hot Honey© Game-Day Grub session, which conveniently took place on a Wednesday evening before the Super Bowl.
Apron’s Hands-On classes can include up to 14 or so participants, while Demonstration Classes,where the chefs do all the cooking, can hold up to 44 people. There are also Kids & Teens classes, as well as Chef’s Table nights. Check out the schedule HERE. Trust us, you’ll find a class you can’t resist. (Fun fact #2: Aprons Cooking classes have been around for 18 years!)
Enough of the preamble already. Let’s cook!
Our instructor-chefs on this evening were (Mr.) Ed, and Little John. Levity and informality were the themes for this, and I’m sure for every other, evening. The classes are meant to be fun.
We were joined by Dean, Susan and D.J. Weich, who recently moved here from Wisconsin, along with D.J.’s friend Hope Lundberg, who D.J. works with at a hospital in Milwaukee. There were 6 of us donning aprons and we were asked to write our names or nicknames, alter-ego names, or whatever on the front. Usually, there are 6 items prepared in an evening, but on this night we stuck to four. After washing our hands, we were ready to start.
Chicken wings anyone? If there is/was ever a game day staple, chicken wings would get my vote.
We started by marinating our wings in soy sauce, canola oil, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and of course, Mike’s Hot Honey©. The marinating period for this recipe is 4 hours, so the thoughtful chefs had us covered by having the ready to cook wings prepared ahead of time. Grill marks on the demonstration kitchen stove followed, and then 15 minutes in a 375F oven until the required internal temperature reached 165 degrees. And voilà! Wings fit for a king!
A ricotta crostini followed. This easy-peasy preparation featured a crusty loaf of Italian bread, sliced and halved, brushed on both sides with olive oil and seasoned with salt before toasting in the oven to a light golden brown, about 8 minutes.
We halved English cucumbers lengthwise and scooped out the seeds and then sliced into thin strips before finely dicing. It was at this point some of the knife skills came into question, so our chefs led us with several tips and general knowledge to make the most of the evening. (Apron’s Cooking School also offers a class in knife skills, something Jill has always wanted to learn.) Tossing the cucumbers in olive oil, pepper, and a generous measure of salt (because the ricotta will “mask” the saltiness,) the toasted bread was then topped with ricotta cheese and the diced cucumber and honey. Did you want to add fresh herbs? Perhaps some lemon zest? There’s no right or wrong way to cook any of these dishes, as we were repeatedly reminded, especially when preparing food for yourself.
Individual pizzas were next. Using fresh dough from the produce department in the miles of the playground in the Publix on the ground floor, we learned to let the dough rise for 4-5 hours, halving it, shaping it into similar discs, and topping them with an assortment of whatever-your-tastebuds-desire before baking. Oh and don’t forget to drizzle some of that Mike’s Hot Honey© for a truly robust and savory bite of pizzaz on your ‘za!
Lastly, in true “kids in a candy store” fashion, each couple created the Ultimate Cheese and Charcuterie board using a dazzling array of fruits, cheese, meats, and nuts. No right or wrong here either, just create your own edible art on the giant boards we were provided with.
Through it all, everyone laughed and socialized which made for a memorable evening. The “coup de grâce” was getting to eat our creations. Wine and beer were generously included, and any food not consumed (read: tons of food) we packed up and took with us.
Our advice? Book an evening at Aprons Cooking School for your next date night, or fun outing to be enjoyed with out-of-town guests or . . . “just because.”
I’m already poring over the schedule for another visit. Hmmm, Sushi? Worldwide Bakeshop class? An Evening with Noble Vines Wines? Couples Cooking Surf & Turf? There’s that rumbling sound from my tummy again . . .