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What a beautiful place for a cooking class–a sunny garden at the foot of a hillside where thousands of ranunculus will bloom in the spring.

This is the Kitchen Gardens at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. A popular venue for weddings, concerts and tours for children, the site now has an outdoor cooking school.

The two chef/teachers are Debbi Dubbs (left) and Mary Platis–check their web pages to see how accomplished they are. A week before classes started they held a preview–a tour of the grounds, then class and lunch.

They taught from a rustic handmade wooden table in a shaded pavilion looking out on gardens where Mexican parrots chattered in their cages.

Tables surrounding the teaching area were set for lunch, which would not be shared platters of tastes but full plates of food for each person, served at the tables and not from a buffet.

The two chefs will alternate at the weekly sessions. At the preview, their dishes were fresh and timely, delicious and appealing. Procedures were clear-cut, and nothing required unusual, hard to find ingredients. Nevertheless, what they made would be impressive on a dinner table.

Platis started the class by discussing cheese pairings with apples. Guests had already sipped freshly squeezed apple juice. Then they were given plates that paired Honeycrisp apple with aged Cheddar, gorgonzola with Granny Smith, and a triple cream cheese with slices of Gala apple.

Dubbs (above) then took the stage to show how she makes pork cutlets Parmesan, a recipe good for chicken Parmesan as well and for vegetables too, she said. Sliced from a pork tenderloin, the cutlets can be pounded ahead of time and stored in the freezer, ready for dinner in a hurry.

Autumn slaw with apples, grapes, jicama, carrot and chopped pecans went with the cutlets (above).

Here’s Platis chopping nuts for the slaw.

Platis then made a roasted root vegetable salad (above) to serve on a bed of arugula. What made the salad really tempting was a sprinkle of spiced sweetened pepitas.

Dessert was Platis’ apple spice cake with buttercream brown sugar frosting and a dried apple slice on top. Go to her website, California Greek Girl, for her description of the preview.

In addition to watching the cooking demo, guests sampled fresh apple vinegar, pickled apples that Platis had made, and they strolled among tables where guest artisans showed their ware. These included Temecula Olive Company, JR Designs, Melano Flowers and Art by Debra. Melissa’s Produce contributed a display of fall fruits and vegetables.

Classes are now in session. They started with Dubbs teaching pan roast chicken with porcini bucatini, panzanella bread salad and chocolate biscotti.

On Oct. 12, Platis will feature pears in dishes such as mahi mahi fillet with pears and endive and a crispy pear strudel.

Pulled pork sandwiches follow on Oct. 19, with Dubbs teaching. Platis will do a vegetarian class on Oct 26 in which she will make Mediterranean fall vegetable brown rice bowl and a golden brown pine nut tart.

Classes are $45. They take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include lunch, printed recipes and displays by local artisans. Click on Eventbrite for complete menus, registration information and a map showing the location.

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