Hey there munafam! Glad to have you back:). Quite some time ago, we put together a sort of date night in Philly. For the date, we brought real couples, both engaged and married, together for a cooking lesson at COOK and it was photographed by Petronella Photography for a feature in a previous issue.
COOK is Philadelphia’s state-of-the-art sixteen seat kitchen-classroom. Guests can indulge in cooking demonstrations, chef tastings, and cooking classes. It’s a magnificent setting for foodies and those looking for new experiences. And with partners like Philadelphia Magazine and Foobooz, you’re in good hands. Visit their website to learn about upcoming January classes.
Our cooking class was a huge success, and gave the couples an opportunity to do something fun together while learning a new recipe. Thanks to Jeanine Hays of Aphrochic for putting this fabulous event together. Btw, Aphrochic is about to launch their new site. We’ll keep you posted when it launches. You can also follow them on Instagram. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and let us know if you try the recipe at home!
Producer: Jeanine Hays
Photographer: Petronella Lugemwa
Styling and Floral Design: Erganic Design & Living
Food Styling: Executive Chef Kiong Banh, Twenty Manning Grill
Guests: Christine Jones, Jared Jones, Latrice Doctor, Steven Chambers, Courtney Arrington-Baldwin, Donnell Baldwin, Shanae Salley, Lucas Robinson
Text by Jeanine Hays
These days, couples of all ages are looking for something to do beyond the conventional date night of dinner and a movie. Luckily for them, Philadelphia’s popular Rittenhouse Square neighborhood has something new budding for the couples crowd. Whether you’re looking for a little one-on-one time together, or a chance to make new friends, a communal cooking class can be a fun activity for the newly dating, newly engaged and newlyweds alike. An evening of wining, dining, and cooking together is not only romantic, but a great way to enhance your skills at working together as a couple.
One of the city’s coolest kitchens, COOK, offers couples an intimate setting in which to expand their culinary abilities. On a warm spring evening we brought four couples together to create a simple and elegant dish that they could enjoy both together at COOK and at home after the night was over. A fresh menu was created for the couples class by Executive Chef Kiong Banh of Twenty Manning Grill. The Asian fusion menu featured Escargot potstickers, black and white sticky rice with coconut pandan custard, and ahi tuna summer rolls that each couple made themselves.
Coming in through COOK’s trademark bright blue doors, our guests found themselves inside the perfect romantic cooking space. A state-of-the-art kitchen was set up for the evening’s course, and in the pantry beyond the kitchen shelf after shelf was stocked with beautifully packaged seasonings and marinades, all created by the COOK kitchen. The scents filled the air while in the back of the space a bookshelf lined with today’s top cookbooks stood as a library containing thousands of dishes just waiting to be prepared.
To put the finishing touches on this enchanting environment, beautiful blooms of yellow ranunculus were brought in to line the long counter. Floral arrangements by Erganic Design & Living brought color to the space, with spotted yellow tiger orchids sprinkled among tall pillar candles and flickering tea lights. Sweet succulent and ranunculus arrangements were placed on vintage plates beneath bell jars for a unique floral display. Simple butcher block paper capturing the cooking class feel was put down at a place setting for each couple, and the candlelight struck the perfect date night atmosphere.
Led by Chef Banh each couple worked together to prepare the ingredients for the summer rolls. The first step was to boil the rice noodles. The process was fun and playful as our couples tried to use chopsticks to keep the noodles from getting too sticky. Once the noodles were ready the tuna was lightly seared in sauté pans. And then came the evening’s biggest challenge – working with delicate rice paper to roll all of the ingredients together to form a tasty appetizer. It wasn’t easy, but once the rolls were perfectly wrapped, at the end of the night all four couples got to enjoy the fruits of their labor, dining on their freshly made culinary delights.
If you’re looking for a new way to spend date night check out communal cooking classes like those offered at COOK for a fun and romantic evening that you’ll remember every time you prepare an exciting new dish.
Ahi Tuna Summer Roll by Chef Kiong Banh
Ingredients (6-8 servings)
1lb Tuna steak
1lb Dry rice noodles
1 small head of lettuce iceberg or read leaf
1/2lb bean sprouts
1/4lb seaweed salad (wakame)
1/4lb pickled ginger
1 package rice paper
wasabi paste and soy sauce
Preparing Rice Noodles:
Use 1/2 bag of Rice Noodles with 5 quart pot. Fill pot with cold water over noodles. Bring water and noodles to boil. Use a wooden chopstick to loosen and separate noodles as they soften. Strain the noodles and set aside to dry and cool (1/2 hour to 1 hour). Be sure to keep using chopsticks to separate noodles so they won’t stick together. (Noodles can be prepared in advance)
Use sauté pan on high heat. Season tuna on both side with salt and pepper. Add a little oil to the hot pan and then sear tuna for 10 seconds on each side. After searing, cut tuna into 8 long slices lengthwise.
Use a large glass bowl of warm water. With both hands hold two pieces of rice paper together at the edges. Place the rice paper into the water to moisten. Then lay paper onto a dinner plate. Add lettuce on top of rice paper, then add rice noodles, bean sprouts, seared tuna, wasabi paste, and seaweed salad. Gently roll ingredients in rice paper, fold both sides, and continue to roll until closed.
253 South Twentieth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103