Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cooking Crew and Sensational Salad

Trio of salads, recipe for one below

Last Friday, I got together with my Cooking Crew. Three to four times a year we get together and take a cooking class. This time, the class was with Myra Kornfield, cooking instructor, chef and the author of one of my favorite cookbooks The Healthy Hedonist. Myra sent over some menu options in advance; we all knew we were in for a treat.

We cooked for four hours, made seven recipes that I know I will make again. However, my favorite part about cooking with friends are those little information nuggets you know will stick with you.
Do you "dashi" I do now, first time making what is basically a fish stock.
Check your soy sauce ingredients- two of the recipes we made had Asian lavors and Myra advised us to use shoyu which is better quality than typical soy sauce.  I use a wheat free tamari but know condiments are where lots of preservatives, coloring and sugar can sneak into our diets.  Be sure any soy product is organic as most soybeans are GM. And while we’re talking ingredients, never use “cooking wine”. Use a wine that’s leftover and passed its prime instead.

Ginger Experience
Do you know the “ginger smash”? Ginger is one of those things that can turn into a mess when prepping it. Myra showed us ginger root could be smashed much like you do a garlic clove. You peel garlic and then turn your knife with the blade horizontal and smash, after give a quick chop whenever ginger is called for.

Kale Secret
Kale Massage
How many times have you burned kale chips? I hear this complaint all the time from clients. Myra says to check kale chips every 5 minutes and pull them out as they get done. Kale cooks unevenly and if you wait for all of the pieces to be done some will burn.

No More Kosher Salt

I think I own every kind of salt white, pink, black you name it. I do fall back on kosher salt while cooking just because I’m familiar with it. Myra’s not a fan of kosher salt and uses Celtic or Himalayan for everything because of the taste and mineral content. Now I have to figure out what to do with the gigundo box of kosher salt, exfoliation perhaps?

A Kitchen Essential

I have a "lime" version of this. Myra points out you only really need the lemon as it fits both lemons and limes. 


This salad is delicious, I made it sans feta with the salmon dish (pictured above) last night.

Turkish Chopped Romaine Salad with Dill and Scallions
6 cups shredded romaine
¾ cup chopped dill
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
Salt *see above and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkling feta cheese, optional

In a large bowl mix lettuce, dill and scallions (this can be done in advance and kept). Whisk garlic, lemon juice and olive oil together or shake in a small jar. Right before serving sprinkle greens liberally with salt and pepper, add dressing to greens and toss together. You'll use less salt if you salt the greens versus adding it to the dressing.
As we were leaving we thanked Myra and told her we couldn’t wait to attempt the recipes on our own. “Do it sooner than later so you remember what we did.” More great advice.
How often do you cook with friends? What's the best info nugget you've learned? And what is your essential kitchen gadget or gizmo?
orange blossom water, we used in a dressing
I am no longer intimidated by baby artichokes, for record different than baby carrots
poking the broccoli 

23 comments:

  1. sad I'm not in this crew! do you have to apply to get in? I love cooking with friends and don't do it as often as I should. I'm usually alone when I cook. My new favorite kitchen utensil is the OXO Hand-Held Mandolin Slicer (and that's not just because I'm a blogger spokesperson for the brand (because I am) but because it's fabulous and makes slicing easy peasy

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  2. Ooh I'm terrified of mandolin's; maybe if we cooked together I wouldn't be...No applications needed to our crew well a few: need to love cooking, be food and ingredient obsessed and free to give up hours of your time to it all. Sound good?

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  3. I'm so glad I read this post because I always want to make kale chips at the demo kitchen where I work, yet I always burn them!! I will try this method of pulling them our every five minutes.....thanks! Oh, and I like to add NY to mine :)
    P.S. Can I come to this event next time you do it?!

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    1. read your comment 5 times Gina, I'm thinking OH (Ohio) and NY (New York), ha. Try the kale checking, I did and ended up with perfect chips. Sure, come cook with us. Or better yet, grab a few local ladies and spend time in the kitchen together. I think it's so worthwhile and fun.

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  4. This sounds like a fantastic way to spend with friends. :) Lovely post, Lauren.

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    1. it's funny I meant to talk recipes but there is something great about being in the kitchen with friends, telling stories and swapping information.

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  5. This looks like a great time and seems like you learned ALOT! I've always used the celtic or himalayan salt so yay! I do not like ginger or dill though! At least, not while preggo. I want to take a cooking class like this! Awesome!

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    1. and I would think ginger + pregnancy perfect together. You really are the healthy ingredient posterchild (thus "healthyapron").

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  6. This sounds like such a good time! But I'm curious why not kosher salt? Every cookbook and chef recommends it as the basic cooking salt. I don't love cooking with others, but our kitchen is open enough that people can hang out adjacent to me while I work. Favorite tool -- tongs. I have like 7 pair of tongs that I just love. Even more than my mandoline.

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    1. I love Kosher too but mineral content not same, she suggested celtic for all. We'll see. Tongs are fantastic, make me feel so professional which is a stretch.

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  7. I also love baby artichokes, I actually never make the big ones because the baby ones are easier to eat and taste just as good! Interesting what you say about the soy sauce, i will have to be on the lookout for organic stuff. I hadn't known about the GM soy problem before - not that we use soy sauce all that much but all the more reason to splurge on the good stuff when I do buy it. As for cooking wine, since we're not big wine drinkers and I don't want to open a whole bottle just to use a little to cook with, I have taken to buying the small bottles (6oz I think) at the store, they usually just cost $2 or less, and I use those for cooking. Typically I'd use the whole small bottle in a recipe, and if I just have a tiny bit leftover I don't feel bad tossing it (or just having a sip).

    Also, I have that citrus juicer too, mine is lime green but I think it's about lemon sized. Love it! I guess I eat a lot of dairy though, because I think my cheese grater gets more mileage...and in the summer it would have to be my cherry pitter.

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    1. I love someone who owns a cherry pitter. I don't have one. Now grater are we talking box grater or one you turn for parmesan etc? I waste a lot of wine opening it for recipes. I should follow your advice.

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    2. Cherry pitters are great at juicing key limes for pie. The more you know...

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  8. What a fun crew, and event! I eat with friends a lot, but don't cook with them much (unless you count my kids little friends who always want to help me cook :-) love the tip about ginger smashing. My best kitchen gadget is probably my knife sharpener. It's amazing how much easier cooking is with a super sharp knife!

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    1. what brand of knife sharpener EA, something else I don't own.

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  9. What a fun activity! I have a few girlfriends who would love to do something like this! I love rose water - now I need to check out the orange blossom water!

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    1. a little goes a long way, a Moroccan ingredient I think. We used for dressing I can see an orangey cocktail too.

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  10. You do the coolest things...love your sense of adventure.

    Cooking is a serious short-coming of mine. I need to join your crew Lauren.

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    1. Ameena, only you (well maybe a few others) consider cooking adventurous.

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  11. So fun! I love cooking with friends! I have a Supper Club and we meet monthly as well, but we don't really cook together, we bring our food already prepared...I bet it's much more fun to cook the food together! My favorite kitchen gadget is probably my Vitamix. An interesting tip for making mushrooms comes from Michael Chiarello...he says don't stir the mushrooms while cooking. Just lay them evenly in the pan (with butter or oil) and then walk away. You'll get a beautiful crusty brown mushroom that's never soggy.

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    1. that's a great tip, supper club sounds good as well.

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  12. I am so late to the game on this! I have one of those squeezy things and I really love it. Mine is green. Frankly, I didn't know there was a difference, I just walked in to the store and grabbed the color I wanted.

    I don't have anyone to cook with regularly, but this post made me think fondly of last summer when I went up to my girlfriend's farm and we picked squash and made supper with it. That was a memorably relaxing evening.

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  13. thank you so much
    http://encyclopediatabkhe.blogspot.com/

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