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Category — Classes

salt of the earth


The third of the six recipes I taught at my “Gifts of Food” cooking class at Les Gourmettes was the gift of flavored salts.

You don’t need to be a wonderful cook to make these. But every wonderful cook you know would love to receive them!

The Wild Mushroom Salt is fantastic to use in soups and sauces and makes the perfect seasoning for all meats or for sautéing fresh vegetables.

Use the Smoked Paprika and Ancho Chile Salt in every Mexican, Spanish, and Southwest recipe you can think of! Or be adventurous and rim your margarita glasses with it.

Lime-Ginger Salt is also great to use to rim a cocktail glass and is fabulous to sprinkle on chicken or fish before grilling.

The most versatile of the four salts, use the Herbes de Provence Salt to season everything from meats and poultry to soups, vinaigrettes, and sauces.

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November 24, 2015   No Comments

fall granola

Last week I told you I had nothing new in the way of recipes for  Thanksgiving this year. On second thought, I do have a little something for you.

my poached pear

I made delicious pumpkin granola for my “Gifts of Food” class at Les Gourmettes. If you are looking for a last-minute simple and healthy Thanksgiving dessert, this granola, paired with poached pears, fits the bill. Plus, the granola doubles as a great gift to package and give at Christmas.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Recipe adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/3 cup pumpkin purée

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 ½ tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

1/2 cup toasted pepitas
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, and sesame seeds until smooth. Stir in coconut oil.

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November 23, 2015   2 Comments

en Papillote

salmon en papillote

This is the salmon and spinach recipe that I was talking about in yesterday’s post. I’ve corrected two items from the original recipe – which I enjoyed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The first change was the enormous amount of spinach the recipe called for. I’ve reduced it from 2-pounds to 8 ounces. If you make this dish you will be amazed to think that 2 pounds could have ever been used!

too small

The second major change was the shape and size of the parchment. The original recipe called for a 10-inch circle. I’ve made Fish en Papillote (in parchment) several times before, so I should have known better. The traditional shape is a heart, not a circle. Even if a circle is used, 10-inches is in no way large enough, as you can see from the photos above and below.

the good the bad

I’d already cut out the 16 parchment circles I needed for a cooking class, so I went ahead a struggled through by using them … along with about 60 paper clips to hold the parcels together!

I don’t mean to make it sound as though the recipes from Ballymaloe were bad. There were 14 recipes from that wonderful day of cooking and this is the only one I’ve had to correct or modify.

The thing I like best about this recipe is the fact that the parcels are steamed – not baked. Fish en Papillote is traditionally baked, I love this extra-moist alternate way of cooking so much, that I think I’ll steam instead of bake from here on out.

This is the very definition of healthy and delicious!

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December 17, 2014   No Comments

Shrimp Sliders

shrimp burgers

Yesterday, I shared Barb’s Baked Eggs with you – today I’m giving you another of her fabulous recipes! Many thanks to Barbara Fenzl for allowing me to share her Les Gourmettes cooking class recipes with the masses.

Barb made shrimp sliders in class, I made shrimp burgers, with the same recipe and bigger buns, at home. My family went crazy for them!

take out center

One super-smart thing Barb does with her sliders – is she cuts out the center section of the King’s Hawaiian rolls, making them a more manageable size. When you eat it, you get less bun in each bite and more shrimp.

2 thirds

She saved all the center portions of the buns from all six of her classes and used them in her Thanksgiving stuffing. See, I told you she was super-smart!


King’s makes hamburger buns too, so I used the buns in place of the rolls, changing the sliders to burgers. Either way … Delish!

2 sizes

Note: I was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe and made 12 burgers out of 2 pounds of shrimp. The recipe, as written, would have made 6 burgers and makes 12 sliders. Don’t let the photos vs. the recipe quantities confuse you.

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December 4, 2014   2 Comments

Barb’s Baked Eggs

fresh tomatillos

Barbara Fenzl made the most delicious egg dish for her classes at Les Gourmettes this semester. One of my favorite egg dishes ever – and I love eggs, so that’s saying something!

husk and wash

I made it on Thanksgiving morning. We usually don’t have a big breakfast on turkey day because we generally eat the big feast in the early afternoon. Dave and the kids have the tradition of taking a long hike in the morning to leave me doing what I do best – in peace and quiet. Since we weren’t planning to eat dinner until 6:00, I figured that a nice breakfast would be perfect when they returned from their hike.

baked eggs 2 dishes

Before I say that it was perfect, I will admit that I severely undercooked the eggs, so it wasn’t all that it should have been. I used a different type of dish to bake the eggs than Barb used, and it made a world of difference. My casserole was too deep and the eggs didn’t cook as well as they did in Barb’s shallow flat au gratin dish.

Barb found her individual porcelain au gratin/casserole dishes at Standard Restaurant Supply at 2922 E McDowell Road in Phoenix, they cost $2.50 each. And I found my Le Creuset mini cocottes, which are not great for this egg dish but are adorable and amazing for French onion soup – at Sur La Table. They cost considerably more but did not do the job this time!

One change I made in Barb’s recipe was to replace the 1/2 cup green chilies plus 1 cup water she used with 1 cup of the Trader Joe’s Hatch Valley Salsa (that I love so much) plus 1/2 water.

Since I’ve had it both ways, I can honestly say the difference in taste is minimal, so if you have the salsa on hand, use it!

An unplanned and unexpected side benefit for me was that I was only making 5 servings of this for breakfast but the sauce makes enough for 8 servings. I used the leftover green chile sauce in my Turkey Enchiladas with my leftover Thanksgiving bird!

So Good!!! This is going to be my go-to enchilada sauce from here on out. [Read more →]

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December 3, 2014   3 Comments

2014 Fall/Winter Craft Party

It’s that time of year…. Time for the 3rd Annual Fall Craft Party!

fall leaves

This year, I’m not the only one coming up with the crafts. A few of my “usual suspect” crafters are providing craft ideas, supplies, and instruction too.

gift tags

2014 Fall/Winter Craft Party

Sunday, October 12, 2014
10:30 AM

flower art

Please leave me a comment if you would like to join us, and I’ll send you all the nitty-gritty details.

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October 1, 2014   1 Comment

sign up – only a few spots left

My fall series classes at Les Gourmettes are filling up, there are only four seats left.

Raw Chocamoca Tart with Espresso Syrup

Here is the description from the Les Gourmettes brochure and registration:

fall 14


plate of tapas

I’ll give you one guess –  What cocktail will we be making on Week Three with that Ginger Beer from Week One?

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September 20, 2014   No Comments

private class

Last night I taught a private cooking class here at my house. It was a demonstration class with an appetizer theme.

demo class

Since individual appetizers can be time-consuming to assemble and to make the class a bit more fun, I did ask for assistance from the students on a couple of the recipes.

beverage station

The best of both worlds, I teach with free help!

blue cheese grapes

Setting up for a class is a lot like entertaining and many of the techniques I use for a class are the same that I suggest to people when they entertain, such as:

  • Choose do-ahead recipes
  • Mise en place is a must
  • Lay out your serving pieces and “map out” your table long before guests/students arrive
  • Make Lists and a Timeline

recipe 1

All five of these recipes can be done well ahead of time, perfect for entertaining.

Blue Cheese Grapes, Caesar Dip with Crudités, Pigs in a Warm Puffy Blanket, Hot Feta and Tomato Spread, and Smoked Salmon Quesadillas.

mise en place

For a cooking class, we set all the ingredients and utensils needed and place them on individual trays for each recipe. When entertaining (or cooking in general) pull together everything you need and prep (chop/dice) what you can ahead of time. This is known as Mise en Place, or “everything in its place.”

set up [

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September 19, 2014   4 Comments

flat green beans

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Ireland has THE BEST green beans in the entire world! It’s actually difficult to categorize the “Irish green beans” as beans and as vegetables. They are more like long green pieces of sweet delicious candy!

This is not a matter of personal opinion, it is a fact!

I have never seen green beans like these in any grocery store or farmer’s market in Arizona. Never!

flat green beans

I searched for images on Google by typing in “long, wide, flat, best green beans in the world.” What you see above, is what came up.

Yes, I believe that these are the beans. See how flat and wide they are? Since there is no point of reference, it’s hard to tell how long they are, but I still think this may be them. I’m going to order some seeds and try to grow them for myself.

kitchen rack

When our little group of six began the hands-on portion of the day-long cooking class at Ballymaloe Cookery School, we were thrilled to learn that one of the four recipes we’d be tackling (out of the 18 recipes) was the Gremolata Green Beans.

Ballymaloe kitchens

We prepped the beans, then dropped them in the boiling water to blanch. After they were rinsed and then spread out on a platter to be “set aside” while we made the gremolata, we would snag one or two (or ten) every time the instructor turned away. Exactly like little girls, sneaking candy! Well, except for the Irish young woman in our class, Amie. Somehow Amie restrained herself, but we five Americans – thieves. Common thieves were we.

Above is our instructor with two of the bean-stealing “little girls” from my group.

classmates and instructor

The beans were meant to be shared with the other 30 students for our evening meal. We didn’t care, we wanted to snack on them and have them all to ourselves!

In the background of the photo above are some of the “unfortunates” who didn’t get as many green beans as they were entitled to. In the foreground – is our gremolata prep. The beans are either all gone or just out of view.

Ballymaloe kitchen window

I tried to recreate the recipe at home, using our regular old sub-standard, nothing-like-candy green beans, and they were OK. I’m certain that to most uneducated palates, they would be declared delicious and these poor unfortunate “don’t-know-any-betters” would be thrilled with the dish.

My husband, son, and dad thought they were fabulous. But I know better.  Of course, I share the recipe with you below.

My new quest is to get my hands, and teeth, onto the real deal. If you have ever seen, or more importantly know, where to get long, flat, and wide green bean candy, please let me know!

Allow me to apologize beforehand for the out-of-focus photos I took of the green beans during the cooking class.

lunch beans

I may have been high on all the green bean candy I ate and my hands must have been shaky. That must be it – I know you wouldn’t challenge my excellent photography talents!

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July 30, 2014   2 Comments

vinegar-free vinaigrette

Last week, Chef Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink, Bink’s Midtown, and Bink’s Scottsdale, was the guest teacher at Les Gourmettes. Kevin is once again up for the James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Southwest. Fingers are crossed!

Everything he made was, of course, amazing! The thing that I really enjoyed though was a simple, thick, tangy, creamy vinaigrette made without any vinegar. Strange but true and truly delicious.

strawberry arugula salad

Kevin served the vinaigrette over a salad of arugula, strawberry slices, goat cheese, and pistachios. I’ll be serving the same salad for our Easter dinner on Sunday.

Speaking of Easter Sunday, if you haven’t colored your eggs yet, hold off one more day because tomorrow I’m posting a new way to decorate eggs and a bunch of Easter Menu ideas.

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April 16, 2014   1 Comment