I don’t know the mother sauces, I almost sliced a finger off preparing food on New Year’s Eve and I probably didn’t take time to cook a real dinner in the past week. I don’t need Joel Robuchon in my kitchen telling me how to make a parmesan foam (I ate at one of his restaurants in Las Vegas once; it was the most expensive and fanciest meal I’ve ever consumed) — I probably need my mom. Since my mom isn’t here, how about Midgi Moore?
She recently started Meals with Midgi To Go, after having taught cooking lessons with Community Schools. She is also a longtime contributor to the Capital City Weekly with her Meals with Midgi column. She admits freely that she’s not a chef, but an enthusiastic home cook with a passion for sharing what she’s learned.
I enlisted a few friends to take a cooking lesson with Midgi last weekend. We chose to do a trio of hors d’ouevres, though she offers a variety of dishes from appetizers to entrees to desserts — just no baked goods (it’s not for everyone).
Carrying about four cases, Midgi showed up about a half hour before the scheduled lesson for setup. She unloaded cutting boards, knives, bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and individual trays of sea salt and pepper — there was more in the bag, but that’s all we needed for our chosen recipes. We chose to do baked caprese, bruschetta and the Alaskan Antipasto platter, selected in part because one of the party is a vegetarian.
Midgi has organized the classes so she brings her tools, know-how and recipes, but the pupils provide the food and the bulk of utensils and cookware. Because of this, she’s made sure recipes don’t require out-there items, and that every ingredient is available at our local grocery stores. This also allows people to choose foods at their preferred price points, from organic heirloom tomatoes to hot house varieties, name brands or generic.
We all gathered ‘round my kitchen table with the tools and ingredients before us, ready to get started.
First, Midgi showed us something really handy — though she chooses a hands-on lesson rather than a demo — she demonstrated the most effective way to chop an onion. I should have paid more attention. I guess I may have to do another lesson.
Bruschetta was our first dish. We sliced the bread and drizzled it with olive oil to make our own crostini — simple! We diced multi-colored grape-size tomatoes and garlic for the topping. And Midgi taught us how to chiffonade our fresh basil. It sounds fancy! We added some salt and balsamic vinegar to taste. I’ve ordered bruschetta in restaurants before, and this was honestly more enjoyable than the last one I tried, perhaps due to its simplicity, possibly also the freshness. It’s a winner!
The Alaskan Antipasto Platter was more an exercise in choosing foods to pair together and having fun with the plating. As a frequent party planner, it was not necessary for me, or my friends, to get a lesson in this, but it might be helpful for a less-experienced host or hostess.
The third dish, which served as a main course, was described as a baked caprese salad. If you are not a vegetarian and you’re serving a vegetarian (not a vegan), this would be a great non-pasta option. The simple dish involved cutting large tomatoes into thick slices and mozzarella into less thick slices, then layering them with salt, pepper and olive oil into stacks, drizzling them with some balsamic vinegar, then baking until the cheese got melty. Top it off with some basil chiffonade and you have another simple yet pretty dish.
We chose what were probably the simplest options Midgi had to offer. She lists crab-stuffed artichoke bottoms as an option for “Dinner to Impress” and halibut scampi for “Dinner for Two” — but she said she’s adding new recipes to her repertoire all the time and she seemed open to customizing menus for different dietary needs.
Based on my experience, I would recommend booking a lesson with Midgi, though not for everyone.
If you’re already on par with a chef or even an experienced home cook, you probably won’t learn much from Midgi, though you may still enjoy a conversation about food.
I did learn a few techniques that will be helpful, but I didn’t find the recipes or techniques to be very challenging — that said, I had a lot of fun and trying to do something really complicated may have taken away from that. There are recipes and techniques that would be new to me, though. Midgi said she would do a flambe, though she prefers to use an outdoor space.
Invite Midgi to teach a lesson for you and a loved one or a group of friends if you want a fun activity that is hands-on, educational and edible.
Burgeoning home cooks could also benefit from Midgi’s help. I could see a group of young adults about to go off on their own really benefiting from a class or two. My first roommate in college tried to subsist on tuna sandwiches and Cheez-Its for a whole summer until I intervened.
With the popularity of parties that bring in a host to sell items, the benefit of organizing a lesson with Midgi — which can feel much like a party — is there’s no obligation to order weird gadgets; you got what you came for: a cooking lesson in a fun environment.
Another perk to a cooking lesson at home is you can provide whatever beverage you want to pair with your meal — or your lesson. We chose red wine.
For more information, visit mealswithmidgi.com and browse recipes and options.
Note: This lesson was provided completely free of cost. Fellow participants were Hannah Findlay, Alex Thompson and Chris Peloso.