One of my Christmas presents from Sir Brett was a cooking class at The Wooden Spoon- a kitchenwares shop on Clark street that also offers incredible classes where you cook a three course meal and sip on wines paired with each dish. I will admit when I heard what we were doing I was nervous- a cooking class for someone strictly gluten-free? With people who may have not even heard of the allergy? Brett clearly did his research (shout-out to Amanda!) because this experience was not only delicious, but it was 100% gluten-free friendly- keep reading to find out how!As soon as you walk into The Wooden Spoon, hosts graciously take your coats and hand you a blue apron with your name on it. Before the class starts, as well as during any down time, you’re encouraged to check out the shop and pour your wine. While the class comes with wine pairings, it’s encouraged to bring a bottle to enjoy as well. And if you forget? The paired wine is all from a shop across the street- so you’re in luck!After being instructed to wash your hands, every couple chooses a station and awaits instruction.In front of every cutting board are a bunch of ingredients, waiting to be measured according to their recipes! Our station was the dessert station, so Brett and I got to work measuring out the ingredients to make a butterscotch pudding with candied pecans!The station next to us was in charge of preparing the ingredients for the cauliflower mac and cheese. As the ladies started chopping, our chef Richard made sure to snag the bag of breadcrumbs and put them off to the side until the last minute. Speaking of our chef- Richard Ginn was fantastic. A true foodie who trained at the culinary institute of Charleston, Ginn was one of the original culinary forces behind Davanti Enoteca, and won the Chicago Urban Chef’s Recipe Challenge in 2013. What most impressed me was his food safety knowledge, openness to all things gluten-free and his ability to multi-task! Learning from him was truly a pleasure.With our ingredients prepped, we had some down time to check out the other stations, and of course, snap some photos.Over at the other end of the counter, the girls at the first station were preparing our first course.Mashed avocado, garlic, lemon, chilis, pancetta, olive oil, basil, and sweet peas were combined to make a bomb avocado toast. While the ciabatta (sliced separately) toasted in the oven, station two whipped up a salad dressing to drizzle over the spinach shallot salad they had tossed.The first course served, I was given gluten-free rice crackers and a separate bowl of my own avocado mash, sprinkled with fresh pecorino. The salad was fresh and citrusy. The apples and celery balanced well with the sharp white cheddar and roasted shallots. Pomegranate seeds added color and punch. A super easy winter salad I’ll definitely be adding to my recipe collection!The avocado toast was to die for. Pancetta in anything is pretty much a win for me, but the peas added a sweetness next to the savory that kept me dipping! Brett even said it was better with the crackers! The wine paired to go with the salad was this Kentia Albariño- my favorite wine of the evening. After the first course, we regrouped to begin prepping dessert and the cauli-mac.This is where the marathon whisking began. Between the butterscotch mixture, the candied pecans and the roux for the cheese sauce, we needed all hands on deck! Instead of adding flour in with the cornstarch for the cheese sauce I half-jokingly whispered to Chef Ginn that we should skip it – and to my surprise he agreed! It was unnecessary if we could just double up on the cornstarch, so we did! The cheese sauce done, we poured it over the cauliflower (and my mini-one) and sprinkled chipotle on top. The final step for everyone else’s- a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Then off to the oven they went!With the rest of the dishes finishing in the oven- we checked on the beer-braised short ribs. Because Brett had called ahead, the demo short ribs were done with a gluten-free beer we brought with us. We brought the Green’s Dubbel dark ale- it worked out wonderfully.And because that’s not beautiful enough- how about a close up shot?And another (I can’t help myself)Tender and full of flavor, the short ribs were absolutely incredible! And that cauli-mac? Ooh lawrd. I wish I had more pictures of our entree but I ate all of mine before I was able to snap a picture! Chef Ginn tried both the short rib and the Dubbel Dark ale on it’s own, and agreed they were just as tasty as the real thing! The red wine that was paired with the ribs was Octandre, a Cotes De Thongue from France. Last but certainly not least, was the butterscotch pudding with candied pecans, paired with a white desert wine. Again-100% gluten-free. 100% the best thing I’ve ever eaten.After all the food and wine I felt as if I was walking on a cloud of satisfaction. We thanked our chef and clean up crew, and left with some new found friends from class in search of a night cap. We walked about two blocks to HopLeaf, where I had another Green’s beer, this time the Amber ale.
If you’re looking for a one of a kind experience, look no further than The Wooden Spoon.
In fact, they have a class especially for Valentines day! Perfect for that special someone, or a group of gals!
Check out their full calendar for a list of classes here.
Thanks again to The Wooden Spoon, Chef Ginn and Brett who tag teamed gluten-free like it was no big deal. It was the best gift a girl could ask for!
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