Exploring Culinary Creativity via a Virtual Cooking Class

Exploring Culinary Creativity
via a Virtual Dames Cooking Class

By Bobbie Kitto
Recipe Included: Simple Chocolate Truffles
Food & Wine Pairings

Chef Lizbeth

January was a lucky day for me. I was able to attend an online cooking class presented by Les Dames d’Escoffier Phoenix Chefs. This was my first online cooking class. The class was fun, had a lot of humor and questions were encouraged from the participants by both Dame Candy and Dame Lizbeth.

The 90 minute session seemed more like friends getting together to make a meal to be enjoyed by all with each contributing something to the evening.

The recipes and ingredient list were sent in advance which allowed them to be prepped ahead of time so we could follow along with Chef Candy as she prepared the recipes. All the recipes were made with four steps or less but tasted like they took hours to make.

The class was designed to elevate our culinary offering for two special events, Super Bowl, and Valentine’s Day, but was applicable to any upcoming event.

Chef Candy Lesher

Chef Candy captured my attention right off with stating we were going to make desert first so we could let the chocolate truffles setup for the finish to our meal.  Three easy steps and Dame Candy’s chef’s secret to great chocolate truffles – balsamic vinegar. We had our desert. (Yes, vinegar, use a quality balsamic vinegar and be surprised. For those who can’t wrap their taste buds around that idea, a quality liqueur such as Amaretto or Grand Marnier can be used.)

Next on the agenda was the making of Herbed Butter and Herbed Olive Oil. These easy recipes can be used for a many quick and easy appetizers. Just by brushing them on crackers like Ritz, Club, Saltine, Crunch Masters, and Water crackers and baking them, a taste surprise waits.  The herbed butter can be made ahead of time like Dame Candy tells and kept in the refrigerator or freezer. The butter would be a welcome hostess gift at a dinner party. It adds a good pop to baked potatoes or any vegetable.

During the 90 minute class, we made a Vegan “Boursin” cheese for our Vegan guests.  We made Marinated Roasted Peppers and Red Onion using some of the herbed oil made at the beginning of class. During this class a Cranberry Orange Relish was made.  With all the recipes made we went to work combining our relishes, cheese, and twice baked crackers into some of the most amazing tasting appetizers.

The class was not over yet. Now that we had these elegant treats made, we needed to know how to pair them with a libation that would complement them.  Dame Lizbeth Conquisti, helped us with this. She gave us suggestions and also guidelines on what wine to choose if these were not available to us.  She reminded us to “like what you drink and drink what you like.”

Below are the food and wine parings Dame Lizbeth made for us. I think you’ll find they are carefully and thoughtfully crafted.

Manchego Cheese & Cranberry Relish with Ginger and Walnut
Durant and Booth 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon

Roasted Red Pepper with homemade Vegan Boursin Cheese
JCB No 69 Rose Burgundy

Goat Cheese with Dates and Pistachio’s
Jean Charles Boisset 2020 Bourgogne Les Ursulines

Chocolate Truffle Finale
Buena Vista “The Deputy” California 2020 Zinfandel

This was a great way to learn the art and enjoyment of cooking and food and wine pairing.

The atmosphere was warm and inviting. There was no,”Am I ready for class” anxiety because I didn’t understand the recipe.

The recipes and ingredients are written out in short concise language. Questions can be asked in real time. (Hard to direct and expect a quick answer to questions asked of the cookbook author or your E-reader while the sauce is separating or burning.)  People seem to be more open to asking questions in an online class than when they are surrounded by other people they don’t know.

A few other good reasons for taking cooking classes on line is, you’re familiar with the kitchen layout. Time wasn’t wasted having to drive to the class and lug all the supplies in from the car to the classroom and lug them back home.

I took a few years of cake decorating when I was younger. The classes were fun, but carrying in the supplies each week became wearisome and it seems some item was always left behind either at home or at the classroom.

Taking an online class often means that we can enjoy the class more than once.  In my Cook Like A Dame class, I can access it at any time and if a step was missed or a procedure missed it can be pick up the next time I view the video.   No need to take copious notes during the program because it can be viewed more than once, unlike when we attend in-person classes.

I am a convert! If I had a choice, between in person, online, or just me on my own with an unfamiliar cooking experience guided by a book,I would “Zoom Baby Zoom.”

Upcoming classes for Cook Like A Dame can be accessed through Eventbrite. These 2024  classes at about $35 a class, are a true culinary bargain.








Chef Candy has shared a recipe with you! Enjoy.

Simple Chocolate Truffles

Nothing is as romantic (or delicious) as having a light but satisfying meal (the above appetizers!) followed by a decadent chocolate truffle or two…

8 ounces quality semi or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

2 Tbl butter

1 Tbl quality balsamic vinegar (trust me on this one!)

1 tsp  vanilla extract (or scant teaspoon of vanilla paste)

½ tsp  pink salt

  1. Place the chocolate in a food processor. Heat the cream and butter until just bubbly around the edges.
  2. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and process until smooth. Add the balsamic, vinegar and salt. Process by pulsing until well mixed.
  3. Pour the mixture into a stainless or glass bowl, then refrigerate until just firm enough to roll into balls. Roll each ball into cocoa powder or finely chopped toasted nuts, depending on your personal preference. Store in an airtight glass or stainless container in the refrigerator, and enjoy!

Note – you can use a quality liqueur like Grand Marnier or Amaretto in place of the balsamic if you prefer.

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Review by Bobbie Kitto

Note: Roberta (Bobbie) Kitto is a freelance writer based out of Laughlin, NV. Her interests include travel, culinary pursuits and gardening. No fee was paid for this article review. Her opinions are her own.


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