“Butter is your friend” – Cooking Classes with Chef Barbara Helish
When I saw that Barbara Helish was offering cooking classes this fall, on Wednesday nights from Oct 24 through Nov 28, I knew I had to go check them out.
The first in the series of 5 classes was “the basics”. Eight students gathered around a kitchen island equipped with four cooking stations and eight cutting boards. Barbara made sure everyone had basic knife skills, and set about preparing a few simple basic items – a chicken stock, bruschetta, and a cream sauce. In a short two hours time, Barbara and the eight participants created a sausage pasta in cream sauce, with tomato bruschetta. Served family style at a large table, by the time the food was served, we all made some new friends.
Barbara’s style is relaxed and comfortable. She doesn’t use recipes, but encourages her students to develop a sensibility about the food they have on hand. “You never have all of the ingredients you need, so you just learn to be flexible”, she said. She brought her heavily used and much-loved sauté pans, and when questioned about the kind of pans to buy, she chuckled. “Use what you have” she said. “A good pan or a bad pan…. it’s fine. Great wine tastes good even in a plastic cup”.
Barbara’s tips included – “always start with a hot pan”, “butter is your friend”, and “when in doubt, always use butter and heavy cream”. She smiled and poured wine as she said these things, and everyone believed her. The nervous chatter about cholesterol ceased, and people began to lighten up.
The classes are set at the Church at Diamond’s Corner on Hopkins Neck in Royal Oak – a newly renovated residence, currently on the market, and features beautiful spaces for cooking and entertaining. It’s a perfect setting for Barbara’s classes – intimate, but open and well apportioned. The building itself is worth a look.
And the food???? Absolutely delicious. Yes, she licked her plate.
Upcoming classes include pasta, fresh fall soups, fish and holiday treats.
Contact: Chef Barbara Helish 410-310-5942
<This story was previously published in the Talbot Spy>