The advantage of blogging and working with brands is that you get to experience fantastic events that you probably would not even hear about otherwise. I’ve been taking full advantage this year, attending events, not just for Bewildered Bug, but also for a few of my blogging friends who are unable to attend for one reason or another.
One such event was the #cookingwithAstro event that I attended recently with my husband. It feels so good to say that – “WITH my husband” – as you may or may not know, Luv Luv has been out of the country studying since last September and we’ve been apart since then until now. I love that I now have my partner-in-crime back!
I really got excited when I was told about this opportunity to cook Astro Yogourt recipes in the Nella Cucina kitchens in downtown Toronto. It immediately made me think about one of my husband’s proposals – that’s right, “one of”. I had already agreed to marry him, but for Valentine’s Day I signed up for a hands on couples’ cooking class. He enjoyed it so much that while we were eating our well-earned dinner, he just blurted out, “Marry me”. It was the sweetest and most “real” of the several proposals he chose to carry out.
I hoped that the cooking with Astro experience would bring us together similarly, and it did not disappoint. First, we went to the Astro Yogourt website to choose two recipes – we chose the Flank Steak with Yogourt Chipoltle Spread (for dinner) and the Yogourt Apple Pie with Streusel (for dessert). I tried to alter the recipe for the apple pie so that it was gluten free – and just told them to get an all-purpose gluten-free flour to substitute 1:1 into the recipe since that has worked for me for the most part in all my recipes that I transfer over to gluten free.
So we headed over to the spectacular Nella Cucina kitchens at Bloor & Bathurst in downtown Toronto and were greeted by the friendly teams from Nella Cucina and from Astro. I have to say, it felt SPECTACULAR to be in a professional kitchen again. I miss it, having spent the last year baking in a professional kitchen every Saturday. We were lead to our cooking station and shown the pantry and fridge that were stocked until they were bursting with ingredients for our dishes, and for those chosen by the other participants attending the event.
At first, it was a little disorienting since it was an unfamiliar kitchen, and to my Luv Luv, it was an unfamiliar system (using a professional kitchen as opposed to a home kitchen), but we quickly got comfortable and started the pie first. We prepared the pie in three different bowls – one for the crust, one for the streusel and one for the filling. After a few snafoos found in the recipe, I got to work on the crust and the streusel while my husband started the filling with a few tips from the Nella Cucina chef as to how to chop an apple more effectively (and without giving me heart attacks since he seemed to be trying to cut his fingers off with the knife).
We quickly put the crust in the oven to pre-bake and cleaned up a bit, then started the flank steak and chipoltle yogourt sauce. Luv Luv LOVES to grill and he does it really well, so he was excited about this recipe. We started the yogourt chipoltle sauce, and he kept shoo-ing me away because he wanted to do it. All I did was roast the garlic. Then I was cut off. My husband chopped all the fresh herbs and the re-constituted chipoltle peppers and added them to the yogourt with all the other ingredients, then stirred vigorously. He then seasoned the fantastic flank steak that was provided for us and took it to the grill where he enjoyed himself no end. The Nella Cucina chef even gave him a few pointers on how to grill properly and taught him to “tent” his meat while letting it rest after grilling.
This was when we pulled the crust out of the oven – and it was a complete fail – possibly just because we used only quinoa flour instead of an all-purpose flour – in fact I’m pretty sure this was why because quinoa flour does not have starch in it, so you would have to use it IN ADDITION to a starchier gluten-free flour such as sorghum flour. Usually the gluten-free all-purpose flours have a mixture of starchy and non-starchy flours. Well, our crust was a crumbly, watery mess so we decided to change the recipe into a crumble since we had a successful filling and streusel.
At the end of the day we did not time ourselves as well as we thought, because we ended up happily waiting for the flank steak to rest and the crumble to bake. When the steak had rested enough, the Luv Luv decided to cut it up. The Nella Cucina cook came back and showed him how to find the grain on a piece of meat and taught him to cut it against the grain for a more tender piece of meat.
We packed everything up in the provided tupperware and cooler that Astro Yogourt so kindly provided us with and headed home with a delicious dinner in hand and smiles on our face.
Thank you Astro for giving me the opportunity to do this and to bond with my husband while trying a spectacular brand of yogourt. I know that I am dairy-free, so I “cheated” that night when I was stuffing my face with the yummy food, but my husband has now developed an affinity for Astro Yogourt, thanks to this spectacular experience. He loved the chipolte yogourt sauce so much that he re-created it at the cottage in Manitoulin the week after!
I love that Astro Yogourt has so many free recipes on their website to encourage us to cook healthier and yummier meals. I also love that Astro Yogourt is having their “Astro Make it Original” contest on their facebook page, where you can submit an original recipe or alter one of the recipes from their site and submit your altered recipe for a chance to win some spectacular prizes (one of which is a Culinary Getaway to NYC courtesy of Astro Yogourt!). What are you waiting for? Get a cooking and go enter the contest (or don’t because then I will have a better chance of winning ) !