This is a demonstration class, so you just sit back, watch and eat loads of food. Garcia-Andre has been teaching cooking classes for almost eight years at Clark College (almost five years at Portland Community College). For the past four years, she’s taught pressure cooker classes. For many years, Vikki Michailoff has assisted Garcia-Andre. These two pros run the class like a well-oiled machine — Garcia-Andre talking and cooking, and Michailoff making sure everything else runs smoothly (washing dishes, getting ingredients, serving students food).
Garcia-Andre doesn’t like to see hungry faces staring back at her. Many times during the class she said, “We don’t want people to starve to death during classes.” Starving to death isn’t the issue at this class. Here, the problem is consuming all the food placed before you. Bette Ford, who was seated to my left, came prepared with plastic containers to bring food home. Ford took Garcia-Andre’s soup class with her son and learned that this instructor makes a ton of food, doesn’t waste it and encourages students to bring food home. Take out containers were provided for those who didn’t bring their own.
The menu was carefully constructed to highlight a broad range of recipes cooked in a pressure cooker. A packet of recipes was handed out at the beginning of class that included pressure cooker basics and recipes for hummus, Spanish green beans, pork pot roast, gingered beef and flan.
Garcia-Andre swiftly worked her way through all these recipes, often with four or more pressure cookers moderately hissing because they’re cooking food or hissing like a basket of angry snakes and cats fighting each other to quickly release steam so the pressure cookers could be opened.
To my left was Apryl Graham. She learned about Garcia-Andre’s classes as a board member for Friends of Hospice Southwest Washington. Garcia-Andre teaches six cooking classes each year to raise money for this local organization that supports families through established hospice and palliative care organizations in Southwest Washington. Graham has made cheesecake and pea soup in her pressure cooker. I was impressed because I’ve only made beans.
If You Go
What: Cooking classes.
Where: Clark College Continuing Education, Columbia Tech Center, 18700 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
Information: ecd.clark.edu or 360-992-2939.
The class is listed as being from 5:45 to 8 p.m., but no one can cook all these dishes that quickly. I lost track of time until I noticed it was 8:30 p.m. and Garcia-Andre was browning chuck for the ginger beef. Chuck roast is tough but forgiving and cooks well in a pressure cooker. The flan still needed to be made. Both dishes were worth the wait. The ginger beef came on a bed of fluffy basmati rice. The tender beef with baby carrots, snap peas and baby corn had a sweet, gingery sauce.
The recipe for flan came from Garcia-Andre’s mother. We were told to keep the recipe a secret, but I will share that it was easy to make and delicious. I won’t reveal the secret ingredient that adds creaminess. You will have to take this class to find that out.
Rachel Pinsky can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @couveeats.