Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Few Things I Learned...

For our anniversary my mom treated us to a cooking class at Sur La Table. I would love to go once a month if I could, we had so much fun. We both felt at home in the beautiful industrial sized kitchen. We hope someday we'll have an operation that functions with a kitchen.. someday! For now, school and more school, with the occasionally cooking class, and I will be a happy camper.

The food we learned about and made during the class was delicious, but as it was labeled a "date night" the menu was kept more simple, so we could focus on having more fun rather than learning many technicalities. My favorite dish from the class was the Crostini with Chevre and Pesto, which I previously posted on. So delicious, if you haven't tried it yet! Although I didn't learn how to quarter a chicken or sharpen up my knife skills, I still learned some things worth sharing. These tips are simple but fun to know. (If you don't know already of course!)

Simple Rule #1 This one is pretty obvious but... If your knife slips from your hand, don't try to catch it! Also, when slicing, dicing, and chopping, keep fingers straight out, or just clearly out of the way, from the blade.

Simple Rule #2 Always cook on medium heat. Low just keeps the pan warm, and high cooks things too fast (unless the recipe specifies otherwise of course).

Simple Rule #3 Sprinkle salt or other seasonings from a height to evenly disperse.

Other tips and tricks:

#1 To easily remove useable leaves from parsley, cilantro, or other herbs, stick a fork into the base of the bundle just above the stems, and pull straight out. Repeat until amount desired is achieved.

#2 Chicken Broth vs. Stock. Broth is made strictly with bones, and is more of a clear result. Stock can be made with bones as well as meat, and can be more of a cloudy result.

#3 Pesto is always composed of 5 ingredients. Herb, cheese, nut, garlic, and olive oil. The herb is usually basil, but other substitutes are (or a mix of) arugula, cilantro, sage, parsley, etc. The cheese is typically parmesan. The nut is usually pine nuts, but can be substituted with other nuts such as pepitas, or almonds. Also, I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice to help retain the green color, and always a pinch of salt.

#4 Keep a bowl or bin on the counter where you are preparing your food. Use this as an easy access trash bowl, so you can keep your counter clean(er) and you don't have to run back and forth to the trash as you cook. This is one of my favorite take-home tips. It's been so helpful!

Happy cooking!


  1. I loved reading all your tips. Sprinkling salt from a height. So simple, but I NEVER thought of it. Brilliant! xo

  2. I enjoyed reading this post as well - simple things that made me think of the way I usually cook :D
    It's really nice that you got to go to a cooking course, I hope some day I'll have the chance as well
    All the best :)

  3. #4 - I use the plastic produce bags for this (after I've taken said-produce out since chopping something up is probably the first thing I do when cooking). Or, if I'm using mushrooms, the little mushroom container. Then I have no additional things to wash (I don't currently have a dishwasher).


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