April 23, 2009

Cooking 101: Part 2

Elizabeth was right. We'd fall better in step in our second "Learn to Cook" class at Prep Kitchen Essentials in Seal Beach. [Here's part 1]

This class went faster and smoother than the first one, I think. Everyone gained confidence from the last class. Now in this kitchen, they could do anything! It was totally awesome.

On the menu last night, Butter Lettuce Salad with Chopped Vegetables and Dijon Vinaigrette, Herb Roasted Whole Chicken with Homemade Gravy, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables, and Romano Cheese and Herb Omelettes.

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We learned the fine art of dicing and mincing. Here's Elizabeth showing us how to dice a radish. On the side there, how to make "pretty" cucumbers. She also showed us how to seed a tomato and properly open up an avocado, and later on, gave me strategy on attacking a butternut squash.

Aurora and I chopped all sorts of veggies including an eggplant and a couple of tomatoes. I just wanted to do them because I don't get to work with these much at home because Brandon doesn't eat either. (Cooked tomatoes are okay, just not raw.) And ditto with Aurora's household. But hey, now we know how to cut up an eggplant if we need to!

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A by-product of that is a section about seasonal veggies. I'm slowly learning about seasons for the veggies as a part of my culinary education.

Having grownup with seasonal fruits for dessert and never actually had to shop for my own produce, I only knew that fruits have seasons, not the veggies. Once I started learning to cook, I was spoiled rotten by whatever was available in the grocery stores. Only recently have I learned about using seasonal--and even local--ingredients. New cooks should know about that first hand, and Elizabeth told us that right off.

Local ingredients in season are going to taste better than something off-season shipped in from wherever.

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Then there was the chicken. Oh, the dirty mind of my side of the table about breasts and thighs, stuffing a lemon up in there, and the poses of the chicken. And only Aurora and I were the only two on our side drinking wine and half a glass even! LOL.

You see, we were roasting a whole chicken. Elizabeth's method is to tuck the wings under the chicken, lay it on the side for the first part, flip to the other side, then finally finish off with the breast up so we have even browning and cooking time.

I couldn't help pointing out that the wings tucking behind the head was like someone lounging at the pool with her hand behind her head. Once we laid the chicken side way, now it was looking like the supermodel poolside lounging pose. It didn't help that the chicken was lathered up in butter, luxuriously reclining over a bed of vegetables.

It was soooo much sexier when it came out of the kitchen at the end though.

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So far we had been very hands on with the slicing and dicing, but the major cooking tasks had been offered up for volunteers. So while some of us were busying with our part, we might miss out on something else. A couple tackled the vinaigrette. Another lady, pan gravy. The rest of us were making proper French omelettes.

I was taught in the school of stir-wait-stir-wait-on goes topping-now flip in a third-now fold the rest on to plate. Elizabeth's was the let sit-lift and pour egg under-on goes topping-lid on-flip in half. The eggs were fluffier her way. It takes longer and more patience, but DEFINITELY fluffier.

Voila. Fluffy and delicious, herb-y and cheese-free omelette that Aurora made. She should be VERY proud!

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A few...okay 3...of us actually got Elizabeth to save the giblets for us to nibble on. The Asian and half-Asian duo over here obviously love this stuff but to our surprise, the Token Male (I think he said he's from South Africa...) also ate some.

I mean, come ON! Perfectly roasted veggies all cooked up with pan juices and giblets that cooked in broth and other deliciousness? You were gonna throw that out?! Blasphemy!

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A LOT of fun and seriously delicious meal. Perfect for anyone's first dinner party!

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Next week, stir fry, pilaf, hard-boiled eggs, and braising.

1 comment:

irena said...

Girl, your food photography is getting awesome. :)