Written By Lynn Blamires
My wife, Gayle, and I were the first to arrive at the Spoon and Spatula studios in South Ogden for our Date Night with Julia Green. We were looking forward to an experience in the culinary arts. I say studios instead of a kitchen – because, to me, you don’t make something to eat, you create something to share. In this case, we joined three other couples for a date night. We greeted the other couples as they arrived. One twosome was on a date, another had been married for 20 years, the third pair were celebrating their 40th anniversary, and we were there having been married for over 51 years. In every case except ours, it was not the man’s idea to be there.
We were soon scrubbed and decked out in Spoon and Spatula aprons at our stations ready to create. What was the fare? Stuffed ravioli in a rich marinara sauce with Italian sodas and cannoli shells stuffed with a creamy sweet ricotta cheese swirled with chocolate chips – hmm, hm. While I like to cook, I don’t always shine at cooking. I did well with some of the items and not so well with others.
We started by cracking an egg into a bed of flour on the table to make the pasta. I gave myself an A for making the dough, after all this is a school so I gave myself a grade before anyone else did. Setting the dough aside to rest, Gayle hand-crushed half of a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes while I had chopped and pressed fresh garlic. What is so special about San Marzano tomatoes? Well, I learned that they are considered the best tomatoes in the world by chefs. “These tomatoes are famed for their balanced flavor that combines sweetness, tomatoey intensity, and just the right amount of acid.”
After sautéing the garlic, I added the tomatoes to the pan with a half can of water, topped it off with a sprig of fresh basil, and put it on the stove to simmer with a little salt and pepper. Now at this point, I got cooking demerits. The recipe calls for a pinch of red pepper flakes. Shaking the bottle over the pan, I didn’t see much come out, so I took off the lid. I was just going to gently shake a little into the sauce. Well, I accidentally bumped the bottle and the result was more than a pinch. I could have spooned some out, but no, I stirred it in hoping my wife wouldn’t notice. She did and I got a D.
Meanwhile, back at the table, the dough was ready to press through the pasta machine. We know how these work so I started cranking the dough through the rollers reducing the thickness each time I put the dough through. When I had the right thickness, I gave myself an A. After all, it is a school.
Cutting rounds of dough, we placed a small portion of cheese filling on one round and topped it with another pressing the edges to seal it in the filling. We put them on a pan and let them rest. Turning to the cannoli dough that had also been resting, I put it through the pasta machine. Cannoli is dessert dough that has sweetness. Laying the sheet on the table we cut more rings. This time wrapped the rings around a stainless steel tube and pinched the dough to hold it in place. We put them in a fryer until they turned a golden brown.
Using paper towels to handle the hot tube, I was supposed to slip the cannoli tubes off. While some of the cannoli tubes came off easily, others did not. I crushed a few. Others didn’t secure well to the stainless steel tube and floated up to the surface of the fryer becoming a flat brown cracker. I didn’t get a bad grade for the foiled attempts, but I did for the language I was using across the room at the fryer. They weren’t bad words, but they were loud words – way loud. I got another D.
With the sauce having been reduced, I threw out the basil and put the ravioli into a boiling pot of water. They came out just right and I gave myself an A. After stuffing the cannoli shells with the cheesy filling, we made our Italian sodas. Using Torani syrup that comes in an amazing variety of flavors, we mixed them with club soda, ice, half and half, and whipped cream. I made my own so I gave myself another A.
Ready for the feast, we sat down and enjoyed our meal, except that it was too spicy for Gayle so I ate mine and half of hers. Note to self – next time spice up my own dishes. I got another D. So my grade averaged a C-, but we had a good time cooking together.
Julia made this evening a very delightful experience. Her patience made it easy to see why she does well with classes for children.
Spoon and Spatula Cooking School has been around since 2013, but Julia Green acquired it in 2020. You might not think that was a wise move in a year when so many businesses struggled. Julia has overcome all of that by her sheer enthusiasm and love for cooking. Her classes are always full. She holds a culinary degree from the Utah Valley University where she graduated with honors.
Julia worked in the catering industry for twelve years before starting her own company – Sweet Thyme Desserts. She even developed her own signature dessert and named it, “Inside-Out S’mores.” You will find these offered at farmer’s markets and at state and county fairs. She taught culinary classes at several local high schools – most recently Northridge High School in Davis County. Her love of cooking is contagious and has infected a great number of her students. Spoon & Spatula offers classes for a variety of ages and skills.
Adult classes also include Crockpot Freezer Meal Classes, and Date Nights, which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed. Another category offered is all about Birthday Parties. These are themed events that are brimming with fun and creativity. Check out their website at www.spoonandspatula.net for more information and sign up for great cooking fun.