In early December, I attended a Recession Cooking Class led by award-winning cookbook author, chef, and blogger Erica De Mane and cookbook publicist Katy Keiffer with two of my Chi Omega Sisters. The class fee of $20 bought each of us a seat at the table, where we watched Erica and Katy discuss various cooking techniques, a glass of wine, samples of the evening's dishes, and copies of the recipes. (Note: The use of the word "recession" in the name has more to do with the highly affordable fee - especially in New York! - than with cooking on a budget.)
Ashley, Nicole, and I packed ourselves into the crowded back room of The Underground Lounge and watched as Erica and Katy prepared two different kinds of lasagna. It was a cold night, so the idea of eating lasagna for dinner was a very appealing one!
While Erica and Katy did show us how to make a more traditional lasagna with a Bolognese sauce, the real star of the evening was the Lasagna with Orange Basil Tomato Sauce and Ricotta. I thought I loved lasagna before I walked into the class, but I was so, so wrong. Just one bite of Erica's lasagna changed my entire viewpoint about the dish.
Looking at the above picture, you might conclude that there's something missing. (Hint: I'm talking about the mozzarella.) But this recipe did not call for a single ounce of mozzarella. And, honestly? It didn't need it. The sauce and the ricotta were flavored with orange - the former with orange liqueur and the latter with orange zest and orange flower water - and the results were simply amazing! The orange flavor was subtle but it really brought the dish to life.
Before we knew it, our wine glasses and plates were empty and our watches were telling us it was time to go home. Erica and Katy were gracious enough to take a quick break from the cleaning process to take a picture with us. We had such a fun time that we may try and go back for another class when they resume next year!
For more information about Recession Cooking Classes with Erica De Mane, check out her blog.