I attended the Vegetarian Dinner Party cooking class at Central Market last night, taught by Christine Ilarraza, and in spite of having completed a series of professional pastry classes and many years styling recipes for print, I definitely came away with a few new pointers: How to poach eggs free-form (no poaching cups needed), tips on how to make a very tender pastry by hand (no Cuisinart needed), and that butter makes things taste really, really good (did I need to be reminded of that?). Mostly, I just had a good time. Chris, as she goes by, is fun, and so were the other students; it felt like a dinner party with a purpose. With a 6:30 pm start time, Chris made sure that before launching into longer topics, we prepared the first dish, Frisee with Shaved Red Onions & a Poached Egg, so we would have something to eat. She also talked me through my slight squeamishness regarding eggs, and convinced me to pull mine out of the simmering water before it was hard-cooked. I slid it atop the frisee salad, ate it, and lived. We prepared two free-form pie crusts for this class; although I usually go for richer food when entertaining, I think I'll reserved these two recipes—Herbed Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tart and Mixed Seasonal Berry Galette—for separate occasions. Each was appealing, easy, successful, and delicious, but very rich, as pie crusts tend to be.
While Central Market doesn't host a lot of devoted vegetarian cooking classes, it's worth noting that most of the baking classes in the schedule are appropriate for vegetarians, and menus are available online ahead of time, so you can double-check. Up next: Cake Decorating?