Can't Stand the Heat; Cook in Someone Else's Kitchen

La Jolla has more than great restaurants; it has great chefs that can teach you to cook.

Both Cups Culinary and Harvard Cookin' Girl offer cooking classes in La Jolla. Cooking schools offer classes that are a great way to master a new dish, learn a few cooking tricks and even feast with friends in a kitchen where you don’t do the dishes.

La Jolla Patch stepped into the “classroom” of Cups and Harvard Cookin’ Girl this year and went home happy, completely full, with a few new recipes and the confidence that I could really pull off a beautiful and delicious meal from scratch.

offers a variety of small, hands-on classes for beginners to experienced cooks and bakers. Students prepare the food with the assistance of a head chef and classroom assistances. After the class, you sit down and enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Classes are for adults and children. Cups has offered classes for corporate events, bachelorette parties, showers, birthday parties, groups and singles. Some class options includes kitchen basics, gluten free classes, market to table classes, tamales and parents’ night off: cupcakes and a movie. Click to see Cups’ full class schedule.

owner Bibi Kasrai offers a lunch and dinner classes for all age, skill set and class size. Kasrai has a focus on healthier eating options and focus on creating a fun atmosphere around the table in her school’s state of the art kitchen.  Cookin’ Girl has private, semiprivate and group classes for individuals, dates, bachelorette parties, showers, family events, corporate gatherings and mommy and me. Oh yea, and did we mention Kasrai who runs each of her classes also earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. Click to see Harvard Cookin’ Girl’s full class schedule.

Here are a few dishes Patch had the opportunity to try this spring.

Cup’s Tagine Bil Kok Recipe (Tagine of Lamb with Prunes)


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp group turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 lbs leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 threads Spanish saffron, toasted and crunched
  • 15 fresh cilantro sprigs, tied with cotton string
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbs unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
  • Crusty bread for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven or enameled casserole over medium-high heat. Sauté the turmeric, ginger, and lamb until the meat is well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 three minutes.
  2. Finely dice one onion. Add it to the meat along with the broth, saffron and cilantro.
  3. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the meat is fork tender, 1 to 1.5 hours. Discard the cilantro.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200­ degrees. With a slotted spoon transfer the meat to an ovenproof dish and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  5. Bring the sauce in the casserole back to a simmer.
  6. Finely slice the remaining onion.
  7. Add the onion, along with the prunes, honey, cinnamon and pepper to the simmering sauce. Season with salt.
  8. Cook until the mixture thickens somewhat, 6 to 8 minutes.
  9. Spoon the prune sauce over the meat and sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds. Serve with warm bread.

Harvard Cookin’ School’s Seafood Paella Recipe


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound chorizo
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon saffron (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 to 4 cups short grain rice
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 to 2 cups green peas
  • 1 pound striped bass fillet, cut into 8 pieces
(optional or chicken)
  • 18 large shrimp
  • 1 pound mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 2 dozen cockles or clams, scrubbed
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into ¼-inch julienne
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Salt, pepper and Paprika to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges


  1. Place an 18-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add chorizo and or sausage. Add the onions, garlic, saffron and turmeric and sweat until just softened. 
  2. Add the rice; stir to coat and lightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes adding more water as necessary to keep the rice moist.
  4. Stir in the peas. Add the striped bass and shrimp to the rice; making sure each piece is slightly buried in the rice. Cook the paella for another 4 to 5 minutes until the shrimp and fish start to turn opaque. 
  5. Add the mussels and cockles with the hinge sides down, so they can easily open and place the peppers around the pan like spokes on a bicycle. Cover with foil and cook another 4-5 minutes or until the mussels and clams open.
  6. Uncover and sprinkle with chopped parsley and paprika, serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Read more about , the  at Birch Aquarium and other Staycation Guide activities.

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Bibi Kasrai- Owner Harvard Cookin' Girl July 15, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Thank you Dear Michelle for mentioning Harvard Cookin' Girl and it was great having you. I only wished you also mentioned that Cups copied our concept and our recipes and menu and formats:) I chalk it up as "copying is the highest form of flattery". Come back anytime. It was great having you.


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