Looking to improve your cooking technique, or maybe just to have a fun night out while fine-tuning your eating skills? Then grab your toque and set your GPS for Thousand Oaks, where 20 cooking classes are being offered by the Community Enrichment Department, part of the Conejo Valley Adult School.

“We're offering more cooking classes now than we used to,” says Christina Alwood, coordinator of the enrichment program. “They are becoming more popular all the time. Our instructors are so outstanding and they get a reputation. They gain a following.”

Taught by area food experts, including chefs, caterers and cookbook authors, the classes cover a wide range of topics, from seasonal cooking and baking, to learning how to preserve and can foods. Alwood says among student favorites are three classes that focus on using Trader Joe's products to create new dishes.

A few courses are geared to more advanced students, but most are appropriate for all levels. For example, Alwood says the Perfect Pies class covers basics for inexperienced bakers, such as instructions for making and rolling out dough. Another class promises to teach techniques to save time, money and sanity in the kitchen. Students will leave with recipes and a finished meal for the next day, a sure-fire way to boost anyone's mental health.

There are three Ethnic Night Cooking Classes, where students will learn to prepare a French, Italian or Cajun meal, while also getting a taste of different music and cultures. (And if this inspires you to say “Bon Appetit” in multiple languages, the Conejo Adult School offers Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish language classes. There also is a class in American Sign Language.)

Classes take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and are $60, unless otherwise indicated. Class size is limited to 22 students. For more information on the classes and on the instructors go to www.ConejoAdultSchool.org or call (805) 497-2761.

Class Schedule:

September 5 or October 17 — Cooking With Trader Joe's

September 10 — Gourmet Grilled Cheese

September 12 — Autumn Brunch

September 13 — Sushi for Beginners (cost $65)

September 19 — Simply Indian Trader Joe's Style

September 20 — A French Experience

September 24 — Canning, Yes I Can

September 27 — Buona Cucina

October 3 — Advanced Cooking with Trader Joe's

October 4 — The Flavors of India

October 10 — Food Trends 2012

October 11 — Tapas for Everyone

October 15 and 22 — Simple and Sane in the Kitchen (6 – 7:30 p.m., cost $55)

October 18 — A Cajun Experience

October 24 — A Very Spirited Party

October 29 — Holiday Desserts

November 7 — Perfect Pies

November 8 –An Italian Experience

November 14 — Flavorful Fall Soups

November 15 — A Thanksgiving to Remember

Conejo Valley Adult School: 1025 Old Farm Road, Thousand Oaks.

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