Years ago in Paris I took a cooking class in a chef’s apartment. It was one of the highlights of my trip and something I vowed to do again, finding the skills I learned to be one of my best souvenirs. As a lover of Thai cuisine, I knew I wanted to attend cooking school while I was in Bangkok. My friend, The Inquiring Chef, recommended Baipai Thai Cooking School, and it was an absolutely fantastic experience.
We were picked up first thing in the morning by the cooking school and, after picking up other students (people from Texas, Australia, New Zealand, London, and China), they drove us to a market where we met Darin,
who taught us about the ingredients we’d be using that day. She also introduced us to different fruits
and local products. The information came in handy for more than cooking school later that evening. When I saw one of these
teeny tiny, incredibly hot chilis in my dinner, I knew to avoid it!
After the market, we were driven to an absolutely incredible house in the suburbs set up for learning, cooking, and tasting. The drive was a great way of seeing the outskirts Bangkok and the setting was gorgeous.
We were greeted with a refreshing cup of lemongrass tea
and led to the open air classroom. The chef and sous chef, Monae,
were outstanding and guided us through three dishes: golden bags; spicy beef salad; and shrimp pad Thai. Each time we’d watch and learn from the chef,
taste his dish, and then go to our own station to prepare
and cook the dish ourselves.
After each dish, we went to a communal table to eat what we had made.
Cooking school was fun and engaging and Baipai thought of every detail from recipe cards to aprons and pictures to make it a spectacular experience.
Recently, I received lemongrass in my CSA box and the smell brought me right back to Baipai. I considered using it to brew some tea until I came across this recipe for Lemongrass Bars with Coconut Shortbread Crust.
The original recipe was provided by Crawford Organics CSA and attributed to Ivy Manning.
Yield: 24 bars
Coconut Shortbread Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 lemongrass stalks (bottom 4 inches only; tough outer layer removed; finely chopped)
- 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 13×9 baking dish.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, blend flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and beat on low speed until moist clumps form.
- Press dough onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of baking dish. Bake crust until golden brown (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Meanwhile, place sugar and lemongrass in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until lemongrass is finely ground.
- Add lemon juice and vanilla and process until well blended. Add flour, a pinch of salt, and pulse until smooth.
- Pour filling over hot crust and bake in 325 degree oven until filling is firm, about 23 minutes. Cool in pan.
- When cool, cut bars lengthwise into 4 strips and crosswise into 6 pieces. Dust bars with powdered sugar before serving.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM HONG KONG TO BANGKOK: 1,099