Helen's Kitchen

Classes

Orgasmic Vegetables

Vegetables are a culinary wonder with their variety of textures and flavors, and a gift to us cooks. If they occupy the lowly place of repentance food on your table, it's time to rethink your cooking techniques. In this class, you'll get hands-on practice with blanching, roasting, pan searing, braising, and sauteing vegetables, as well as serving them raw. You'll learn to buy, wash, store, and cook everything from roots to leafy greens. How do you prevent asparagus from turning mushy and stringy? What do you do with Swiss chard, beets, fennel, celery root, and rutabaga? How do you make a good salad? Bring your vegetable questions and come ready to cook and eat. Dishes will vary with the season and availability of ingredients, but are likely to include fennel radish green bean salad, seared asparagus, roasted beets with farro, and Swiss chard bruschetta. This class is vegetarian.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Oct 18, 2014 10am-1pm Register
1 spot left. For 2+ spots, please get on the Waiting list

Homemade Pasta

Few kitchen tasks are more satisfying than making your own pasta - the joy of kneading the dough, the art of shaping it to your liking, and the pleasure of that perfect bite. Home-made pasta does not require expensive equipment, hard to find ingredients, or years of practice. After this class you'll be a pro at making the dough, rolling it out, shaping it, and cooking it perfectly al dente. You'll learn how to prepare several sauces and how to match them to your pasta. Dishes might include pici (thick hand-shaped spaghetti) with wild mushrooms, leek ravioli with sage butter, and orecchiette (hand-shaped round pasta) with cauliflower and broccoli. Note: the dishes vary based on the season and availability of ingredients. This class is vegetarian.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Oct 25, 2014 6pm-9pm Register

The Kid Who Ate Everything

Do you want your kids to fight you for that last Brussels sprout? Do you want them to eat something other than carbs? Feeding children can be challenging and frustrating. If the offspring of Ruth Reichl (former editor of Gourmet magazine) and Melissa Clark (New York Times food writer) only ate pasta, bread, rice, and ice cream, what are the rest of us to do? In the last 7 years, I have been involved in an experiment to see if it's possible to raise food-loving children. I have good news to report -- there is a solution to pickiness, power struggles, and worries about nutrition. My children's favorite foods include duck, lamb, quinoa, chickpeas, buckwheat, octopus, squid, fish (particularly raw), too many vegetables to name, and blue cheese. In this seminar, I'll share my strategies for helping children discover real food. Note: this is not a cooking class. Warning: I can't be held responsible for your restaurant bills once your kids discover sushi.

One 1h30 session / $25 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Tue, Oct 28, 2014 8pm-9:30pm Register

Knife Skills

Do you get excited about a trip to the farmer's market, but dread chopping all those veggies and herbs? If the onions make you break into tears and you can't remember the last time you sharpened your knife, come to this hands-on class and learn to slice, dice, and mince in a casual and supportive environment. We'll go over which knives are used for which cuts, how to buy a good knife in any price range, as well as sharpening and caring for your knives. And what cooking class is complete without a sumptuous dinner? The meal we'll prepare out of all those veggies might include fennel orange salad, potato leek soup, tomato onion tart, and ratatouille. This class is vegetarian.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Thu, Oct 30, 2014 6pm-9pm Register

Easy as Pie

Yeah right! If it was that easy, there'd be more great pies and tarts in this world. Have you been struggling with Pâte Brisée (pie and tart dough)? Or were you too intimidated to even try it? Worry no more. This class will give you plenty of hands-on experience with making full-proof dough, rolling it out, shaping it, making savory and sweet fillings, and baking your creations. Dishes might include a tomato tart with caramelized onions and gruyere, spinach and mushroom quiche, apricot galette (free-form tart), and pear tart Tatin. Note: the dishes vary based on the season and availability of ingredients. This class is vegetarian.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Nov 1, 2014 10am-1pm Register
Sat, Nov 22, 2014 10am-1pm Register

Cool Beans (and Grains)

Do you want to add more beans and whole grains to your diet but find that your repertoire starts and ends with a Kashi box? Come to this class and learn to cook lentils, beans, chick peas, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, and quinoa from scratch. How do you avoid making your grains taste like "healthy cardboard"? How do you cook beans that are tender but keep their shape? Which lentil types work best for which applications? This class will answers all these questions and give you plenty of hands-on practice. Dishes will vary with the season and availability of ingredients, but are likely to include lentils braised in red wine, cannellini bean and rosemary soup, chickpea and tomato stew, barley salad, buckwheat with mushrooms and caramelized onions, tabouleh (bulgur salad), and quinoa pilaf. This class is vegetarian.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Oct 11, 2014 10am-1pm Waiting List
Fri, Nov 7, 2014 6pm-9pm Register

French Pastry 101: Pate a Choux

Do you want to learn to make eclairs, cream puffs, Paris-Brest, and fancy hors d'oeuvres? Then you need to master pâte à choux -- the most versatile, gloriously puffy, make-ahead-friendly dough in the French pastry repertoire. Pâte à choux might require more finesse than banana muffins, but the process is not complicated. After we discuss the science behind this technique and give you a chance for hands-on practice, you'll be able to wow your family and friends with magnificent desserts and savory bites. You'll learn to make pastry cream, ganache, and other fillings; avoid the pitfalls of collapsed or soggy puffs; and use a pastry bag like a pro. We'll make both savory and sweet dishes.

One 3h session / $80 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Nov 8, 2014 10am-1pm Register

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Do you like to eat fish in restaurants, but are scared to cook it at home? Or, are you bored of baking salmon with a squirt of lemon, but not sure how to expand your repertoire? Come to this class and explore the bounty of the sea available to us in New England. You'll learn to find a good fish market in your area, buy the freshest fish, learn all about fish personalities and substitutions, and test fish for doneness. We'll make salmon teriyaki, trout in almonds, halibut in sorrel sauce, broiled bluefish, and swordfish Provençal. Note: the dishes vary based on the season and availability of ingredients.

One 3h session / $90 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Fri, Oct 17, 2014 6pm-9pm Waiting List
Fri, Nov 14, 2014 6pm-9pm Register

Tender at the Bone

How confident are you when you step up to the butcher counter? Do you know what cuts to get for braising vs. roasting vs. grilling vs. pan searing? While everyone can throw a piece of meat on the grill, taking it off can be a little tricky. How do you know when it's cooked to your liking? Do you season before or after cooking? Should you crank the heat up or turn it down? This class will answer all your meat buying and cooking questions. We'll discuss the cuts of beef, lamb, and pork; learn appropriate cooking methods for each cut; practice trimming and trussing steaks and roasts; and eliminate guesswork out of testing meat for doneness. Dishes will vary with the season and availability of ingredients, but are likely to include a beef steak with herb butter, a lamb top roast with garlic cream, beef stew with apricots, and baby-back pork ribs.

One 3h session / $90 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Sat, Oct 25, 2014 10am-1pm Waiting List
Sat, Nov 15, 2014 10am-1pm Register

Things with Wings

Are you chicken about chicken? Do you turn your breasts to saw dust for fear of undercooking? Do your legs come out tough and stringy? Is the skin sticking to the skillet or turning out soggy? Or are you bored with your chicken repertoire? In this class, we'll find solutions to these poultry problems and answer the following questions. Which bird tastes best: local, free-range, organic, air-chilled, or kosher? Should you rinse your poultry? Is a stick of butter under the skin the only way to keep the breast from drying out? Is brining worth it? When is the bird done? How do you get the skin to brown before the meat overcooks? You'll get hands on practice with cutting up birds, trussing, roasting, pan searing, braising, and making pan sauces. Dishes might include mushroom stuffed chicken breast roast with porcini sauce, roast chicken legs with salsa verde, balsamic soy chicken thighs with prunes, and Moroccan chicken tagine. Dishes vary based on the season and availability of ingredients.

One 3h session / $90 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Fri, Nov 21, 2014 6pm-9pm Register

Spanish Seafood

If your seafood repertoire is limited to shrimp cocktail, this class will open your eyes to the world of interesting seafood. Spanish cooks have a magic touch when it comes to the culinary treasures of the sea. They can transform an octopus into luscious velvet, monkfish into a juicy roast, and squid into the epitome of comfort food. Most of the dishes in this class can be made ahead and are fabulous for entertaining. Dishes will vary with the season and availability of ingredients, but are likely to include a pan roasted monkfish with tomato saffron sauce, tuna with caramelized onions, seafood paella, and squid stew with chickpeas.

One 3h session / $90 per person
Instructor: Helen Rennie
Location: 3 Ingleside Rd, Natick, MA
Fri, Oct 10, 2014 6pm-9pm Waiting List

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FAQ

What happens if I have to cancel?
Please see our cancellation policy for details.

How do I get a spot? Whenever I check the website, the class I want has a waiting list.
Read our tips on getting spots.

The class I want to take is full. Will you offer it again?
Yes. Most of these classes are offered on monthly basis and are announced 2 months in advance.

Can you send me e-mail when you announce more classes?
Yes. Just send us to get on our mailing list.

Do we just watch or do we get to cook too?
All classes are hands-on, so everyone gets to participate.

Should we come hungry?
Yes! A full meal is included in each class except for baking classes that are not held at meal time.

Are gift certificates available?
Yes. Fill out the gift certificate request form to purchase one.

What materials should we bring to class?
Wear comfortable shoes--you'll be standing on your feet for 2-3 hours. We'll provide everything else.