Y’all! We had the opportunity to take a cooking class at The Chopping Block the other day & if you live in the Chicago area & haven’t done this yet – we highly recommend! While you can choose from a variety of courses based on different seasons & taste palates, we went with the hands-on Wine & Dine class & Oh – Em – Gee – it was spectacular & nothing short of a reminder of why food is our favorite.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the four-course meal we made from start to finish:
- Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus with Tarragon Aioli (like, whaaat, homemade aioli!)
- Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic & Herbs
- Risotto with Sweet Peas & Parmesan
- Rhubarb Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
We were blown away by all of the above, especially the aioli (made with zero mayo!) and the rhubarb cupcakes (um, yum). Have y’all ever eaten rhubarb by itself before? They are strong & sour but oh so good! The cream cheese frosting was sweet & divine & the cupcake itself turned out fluffy & heavenly – & it’s all because of Chef Erin Patsiopoulos. She taught us how to mix cake batter & determine cake doneness like a true pro and totally deserves a big shout out for that (Thank you Chef Erin!).
Here’s the recipe for all my fellow fruit-in-dessert lovers!
- 1½ cups of all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
- ½ rhubarb, stalked trimmed & cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 to 1½ cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 & line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium-size bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. Measure the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light & fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in vanilla extract.
- On low speed, add the flour in two batches, alternating with the sour cream. Stir in the diced rhubarb.
- Fill the muffin tins ¾ full and bake for about 25 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean). Set aside & let cool.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, use your electric mixer & beat the cream cheese, vanilla bean paste, and butter (from cream cheese frosting ingredient list) in a large bowl until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy & smooth.
- Once cupcakes are cooled, ice 'em & serve 'em up!
Chef Erin also got us more familiar with spring produce, cold-emulsion sauces (for the aioi – we used egg yolk + extra virgin olive oil!), determining meat doneness and working with arborio rice for the risotto!
All in all, the food was fantastic, the tips & tricks were superb, and Chef Erin was phenomenal. She taught us the tricks of the trade with enthusiasm & made the experience as memorable as it was delicious. The Chopping Block is truly your one-stop shop for learning new, sensational recipes and picking up uber-amazing, super useful kitchen supplies. We hope you explore their classes & have as much fun as we did!
Photography by Aimée Mazzenga