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New Orleans School of Cooking

En route to New Orleans and whilst we were waiting in Washington, Dulles airport for -that’s right- FOUR hours (yes, yes, that’s another story), I took the opportunity to look up some websites I had read about on the flight from Toronto.  Taking a cooking class when we travel is something we both love to do – I really enjoyed ArtHome and Lenôtre in Paris and we both enjoyed Tamarind in Laos so any chance we can get a bit of an inside look at local cuisine we are up for it.

We made a call to the New Orleans School of Cooking as they seemed to offer workshops every day for $27 including “generous tasting portions” (uh, yeah, they were not wrong about that!).

On the menu, classic Southern fare – red beans and rice, cornbread, pecan pie and pralines.

Our instructor was the very jovial Anne who turned what might have been a boring morning sitting and watching into a fast-paced race through the history of new Orleans through its food.  Fascinating, to say the least.  So often, on guided tours and cooking demonstrations, the facilitator makes or breaks the experience and in this case, we really lucked out.  Anne was hilariously entertaining, extremely knowledgeable and down to earth.

Since, you know, the course started at 10am and we wouldn’t be eating the “generous tasting portions” until after noon, they brought us some “biscuits” with butter and syrup to stave off the hunger pangs. (these are what I would call scones and reminded me of my Nana’s home-made scones.  All that was missing was the jam and cream!)

These were SO good.  The syrup was cane syrup – kind of like a cross between golden and maple syrup and I really liked the strong, rich flavour. Went well with the buttah, you know!

Anne made the cornbread using whole corn kernels which I have never seen before.  Mind you, I haven’t eaten much cornbread before either…

And what’s that we see being poured over the cooked cornbread?  Why some more BUTTAH!

There was also a touch of brown sugar in this recipe and it was absolutely delectable – sweet and salty and, of course, buttery!

Could it be… MORE buttah in the red beans? Why of course!

These beans were absolutely outstanding. Smokey (cheers to the ham hock) and meaty (courtesy of the andouille sausage she added) and simmered for a few hours to really seal in the flavour.  I am going to be making my own beans sometime in the very near future.

Pecan pies – neither Neil nor my favourite dessert but it’s classic Southern stuff so when in Rome, right?

And we were pleasantly surprised.  While they seem to be quite deep, the pastry was fairly thick (not in a bad way) and so the filling was not too thick.  It had a light, flaky pastry crust and the filling was not dense at all as some pecan pies can be – this was a delicate flavour as opposed to one that hits you on the head.  Loved this and will be trying the “add the nuts to the pie crust” trick next time I make pies/ tarts – helps keep the crust crisp too.

Next up was pralines…

Ah pralines (or “praah-leans” as they say in NOLA). Developed in the 17th century for the French diplomat César du Plessis de Praslin originally as a digestive aid (back then it was simply almonds covered in cooked sugar), these sweet treats have evolved into one of the symbols of New Orleans eating scene.  Now pecans are used instead of almonds and you can find all manner of flavours and modifications but Anne made the classic version containing sugar, light cream, pecans and butter.

The final dessert plate (people looked at us like we were crazy because we shared this between two of us!):

And of course, no Southern meal is complete without an Arbita – available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions:

See, they were not kidding about the “generous tasting portions” – we were worried that for the price, it might have been a bit expensive but actually, since that could be your main meal of the day, it’s a bit of a bargain.  Whilst this was not hands on, they do offer some hands-on classes that you can read about here.   But if you are on vacation and want to just sit back and be entertained, this would suit you just fine.  Book a few days in advance if you can and get there at least 15 minutes before the start of the class

524 Saint Louis Street,
New Orleans,LA, United States‎
(504) 525-2665‎

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67 Responses to New Orleans School of Cooking

  1. Melody Fury March 22, 2010 at 06:21 #

    This looks like an amazing experience! Throw some fried chicken in the mix and I’m in Southern heaven.

  2. Miranda March 22, 2010 at 07:11 #

    This looks like so much fun. I would love to go to a cooking class!! Lucky you!

  3. penny aka jeroxie March 22, 2010 at 08:04 #

    I have not been to a cooking class before. Maybe I should a couple over here. May be interesting! And I do love the look of that biscuts with butter and syrup

  4. Belinda @zomppa March 22, 2010 at 08:32 #

    Those biscuits…this looks like so much fun!

  5. Divina March 22, 2010 at 09:03 #

    What a great experience. It’s been a long time since I had my lst cooking class. I’m sure had a lot of fun.

  6. A Canadian Foodie March 22, 2010 at 09:17 #

    What a blast. You are so fortunate to have a husband who shares your interest in foodie things. I always take a foodie tour where ever we travel. Vanja has joined me on a couple. He raves about the one in Greenwich Village in NYC… but detested the one in San Fran. I love them all. A baking or cooking class is a rarity for me when we travel – but this time – next week, actually, I booked a day to do bread baking in Richard Bertinet’s Bertinet’s Kitchen in Bath. I m so excited. I have read his books Dough, and Crust – and his DVD changed the way I make bread. (Vanja will spend a day on his own in London UK)
    I envy your partner in cooking classes. What fun to share these experiences with your husband!
    XO
    Valerie

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:58 #

      Oh we have foodie tours lined up for NYC in May and I have a couple in Philly in June/July also! SO excited!

  7. Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 22, 2010 at 09:48 #

    Buttah! I want to use this spelling all the time! It makes it sound so dynamic and fun.

    Scones with syrup eh? Not sure my Nanna would approve but I’m sure she’d approve of the buttah!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:57 #

      But don’t youse guys say “buddah”? ;-) And no, my Nana wouldn’t approve either but it was GOOD!

  8. 5 Star Foodie March 22, 2010 at 10:01 #

    How cool! When we were in New Orleans I really wanted to do that and we just didn’t have time. I would love a taste of those pecan pies!

  9. Tangled Noodle March 22, 2010 at 10:03 #

    I will take a page from your travel book and look for cooking classes when we go tripping next! Thanks so much for the photos; these are such classic recipes that any can be used but it’s great to see the little extra touches (usually involving butter). There isn’t anything shown here that I could possibly have turned down!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:56 #

      You’re right – it’s so fun to see different people put their personal touches on classic dishes like these.

  10. thatssoron March 22, 2010 at 10:42 #

    wow that is superb!

  11. bunkycooks March 22, 2010 at 11:12 #

    Looks like great fun! There is nothing quite like Cajun cooking!

  12. Kai March 22, 2010 at 11:29 #

    Well, what a co-incidence, I went to this same school when
    vacationing in New Orleans about 6 yrs. ago. My instructor
    was a dietician from Michigan and she was pretty humorous.
    When we got there at 10 in the morning there were pitchers
    of beer on the table! The gumbo was good and so were the
    pralines, thanks for talking about the restaurants you went
    to as well. I too had beignets and a muffalatta and was happy
    to hear that both places are alive and doing well. BTW, at our
    tiny restaurant (Sugar Nymphs Bistro) here in NM, we make
    Chocolate, Maple Pecan pie and I bet we could make you a
    lover of pecan pie….travel this way sometime.

  13. Rachel J March 22, 2010 at 11:43 #

    YEA! So glad you enjoyed some Southern cooking. Its an indulgent cuisine. Good for once a week, but not for a regular diet. I’ve even heard Paula Deen declare she doesn’t eat her recipes all the time.

  14. Tiny Urban Kitchen March 22, 2010 at 12:58 #

    What a cool idea! I never considered signing up for cooking classes wherever I go, but I agree with you, it’s such a great way to really get to know the food!

  15. Barbara @VinoLuciStyle March 22, 2010 at 13:07 #

    Though in NOLA, everything about this food reminds me of the 10 years I lived in North Carolina and though not born there, it sure made me homesick for my life as a southern belle!

  16. Heather (Heather's Dish) March 22, 2010 at 14:07 #

    oh.my.word. now THAT looks like the kind of sassy woman i would want to take cooking lessons from! what an awesome class!

  17. K a b l o o e y March 22, 2010 at 14:26 #

    That sounds like a great class. Yum. Everything looked delicious to me, and it’s so, so cool that you guys like to do this together.

  18. Andrea@High/Low March 22, 2010 at 14:46 #

    Great idea to attend a cooking class in NOLA! Add in a mixology class for hurricanes and sazeracs and you’ve got yourself one heck of a party! =)

  19. Food lover March 22, 2010 at 16:42 #

    Love all the pictures! Would love to participate in this cooking class.

  20. Mr. Neil March 22, 2010 at 17:29 #

    “Sassy” would definitely describe her…in a good way. And before Mardi responds, I have to add that I was sorely pining (a la fjords) for southern fried chicken! We needed one more day.

    Can’t complain, though. I did get in: beer, hurricane, sazerac, prawn gumbo, crawfish etouffee, corn bread, red beans ‘n rice, pralines, pecan pie, muffeletta, po’boy, cajun crisps, beignet, oysters, blood sausage, rabbit pate, pizza….

    Not bad for four days. :-)

  21. foodslashtech March 22, 2010 at 18:14 #

    Wow! What fun; only had the pleasure of visiting New Orleans once and the food was something to write home about, indeed. And some really lovely pictures there, Mardi!

  22. candice March 22, 2010 at 19:22 #

    Oh my god, what an awesome day of foodness!! That corn bread looks SO good. I for one love pecan pie so I won’t be sharing mine :)

  23. Sheskis March 22, 2010 at 19:57 #

    Thanks for this recommendation; we are going to New Orleans in May, and I would very much enjoy attending this:)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:50 #

      Thanks – I hope you will check out some of my other New Orleans posts for some more ideas too!

  24. Nicole @ Making Good Choices March 22, 2010 at 20:32 #

    How fun to take a cooking class! I never would have thought to do that on vacation, but it’s such a great idea! Looks like you had a lot of fun, i need to get down there. :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:50 #

      Love taking classes wherever we can, it really is a great insight into local customs and cuisine!

  25. The Chef In My Head March 22, 2010 at 21:15 #

    What fun!! Anne looks like she’d be a blast! I love cooking classes, I had to back off a bit (Culinary school would have been cheaper). I am making my way (backwards) through the BSI list, 72 of the buggers. I am #73 – Goat Cheese. Stop on by if you get a chance. Happy Monday ~ LeslieMichele

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 24, 2010 at 06:50 #

      Oh thanks for stopping by ! And yes, if you add up all the cooking classes, errr, yes… Ahem.

  26. tasteofbeirut March 22, 2010 at 23:11 #

    New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the US and its food as well! Would have loved to partake in this fun class!

  27. Cajun Chef Ryan March 23, 2010 at 15:26 #

    The local ACF chapter used to meet in that demo kitchen when the NOSC was owned by Joe Cahn, this was back in the 1980′s and early 1990′s. Good place for tourists indeed!

  28. Fuji Mama March 23, 2010 at 16:10 #

    What a fun class and what an amazing price!

  29. Kate at Serendipity March 23, 2010 at 19:58 #

    Mardi, this is the food I grew up on! My favorite cornbread, though, has no sugar in it. No flour. Jalapenos. YUM! It’s coarse, gritty, full of flavor and SPICY!

    Biscuits are mannah to me. I’m visiting my mom right now, and they have biscuits every morning here. I’m in heaven!

    This looks like a fun trip. Thanks for taking us along.

  30. Krissy @ The Food Addicts March 24, 2010 at 01:56 #

    what a great experience! your instructor reminds me of paula deen, the queen of southern cooking, haha. your cornbread looks so moist!

  31. Linn @ Swedish home cooking March 24, 2010 at 04:12 #

    those scones seem to be one of those scones-to-die-for. Delicate! I just uploaded a new recipe of my online cooking show where I’m making Swedish Cupcakes. Please check it out!

  32. Dawn W March 24, 2010 at 11:35 #

    Looks amazing!! All that butter reminds me of the French chef I’ve been taking lessons from. He always says “add a *little* bit of butter/cream” as he’s adding a half pound of butter or an entire container of heavy cream to the recipe!

    Thanks for sharing your yummy looking photos!

  33. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 26, 2010 at 00:36 #

    This looks like a blast… What a fun way to explore the local food in New Orleans!

  34. Sheila November 12, 2013 at 20:06 #

    We were at the cooking school last week. So enjoyed those biscuits. Looking for the recipe. Do you have it and will you share? Any ideas where to find it?

    Thanks,
    Sheila

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