Friday, June 15, 2012

What Jean-Georges says to do with leftover herbs

Whenever a new calendar comes in the mail for cooking classes or lectures, I scan the roster and purchase tickets for the events that stand out. A few months ago, I noticed that Jean-Georges (Vongerichten), master chef and owner of some of my favorite restaurants, was to teach a class with his son Cedric (of Perry Street), his wife and cooking show host Marja and Cedric’s wife Ochi.  Upon closer inspection I saw the class was being held on June 13, my wedding anniversary. Marc loves Asian cuisine; Vong, Jean-Georges’ Thai restaurant, was one of his favorites before it closed. So even though a cooking class wouldn’t be part of Marc’s dream evening, he was game. He was game until we realized our boys had their “playoff” hockey game the same time as the class. Marc looked at me somewhat concerned and said “I can’t miss the game.” “Of course you can’t miss the game,” I said knowing Marc would choose sports and the boys over any meal, no matter how delicious. And so I spent my fourteenth wedding anniversary with my mother and Jean-Georges.

We arrived almost an hour early for the class to sign in. You’re called in the order you sign in and we didn’t want to be stuck in the back. I guess I forgot I live in a city where people camp out for Shakespeare in the Park tickets and risk losing their jobs to sign up for Soul Cycle. We were 47th on the list and were told people came to sign up at 10am (the list was put out at noon). So you’ll understand the heads in many of my photos.
Marja Vongerichten (in black), Jean-Georges, Ochi, Cedric and rows of people in front of me, sigh.
Aside from one of the best meals of my life, it was a pleasure to see this family in the kitchen together. At the end of the day, fame aside, cooking with your family members and sharing food is fun.

Amuse Bouche of Asparagus with Sesame Seeds and Scotch Bonnet Sauce, sadly I couldn't lick my plate
Hamachi Sashimi with Avocado, Yuzu and Radish, will I ever be able to cut radishes like that? No.
The ingredient of the evening was chili peppers. Here is Jean-George modeling finger chilies. His beautiful and feisty wife Marja arrived for the evening in flats but changed into killer heels. She only cooks in heels.  I loved her before even before I tasted her kimchi fried rice.
Crab Dumplings with Sambal Oelek (Indonesian chili condiment), Marc would've loved
Slow cooked halibut or "halle-boat" as JG calls it, with spring peas
As Cedric and Ochi prepared the Peekytoe Crab dumplings, Jean-Georges delivered a life-changing tip. If you’re like me you buy fresh herbs for an individual recipe. I get thyme for lemon chicken and fresh cilantro for salmon burgers. Inevitably, the leftover herbs sit in the fridge which is really an herbal hospice and eventually they are tossed. There’s a solution. Take the herbs and layer them on a paper towel on a plate. Microwave (yes, Jean-Georges microwaves) them for 2 minutes. When you’re done, viola- dried herbs you can save, blend with salt or sugar.  I had some sage that was passed its prime and put the micro-dry system to the test. I may have stunk up the kitchen (and perhaps dispelled bad energy via sage burning) but I how have sage for meatloaf in my cute little Veev jar.

Dessert (pictured above)  was a Strawberry Tiramisu 
made with Chili-Strawberry Sorbet.
It was a fantastic evening and when I checked by Blackberry, I found out that the boys had won their game. Even though I didn’t spend the evening with my husband, he said “your mom probably got more out of it than I would” and he may be right, I spent the night with 2 dynamic couples. In 14 years I’ve come to realize marriage is about sharing and laughing and also maintaining your interests and honoring your partner’s as well.
Have you been to a Jean-Georges restaurant or used his cookbooks? Do you cook with chili peppers? Are you going to micro-dry? 
More photos of the class on their site here 


  1. Only looks in heels?! That's incredible. I went to jean-george during a temporary vegan phase a few tears ago and still one of the best meals ever. Trying micro drying, I have wilting mint in my fridge, ideas for dried mint? Doesn't sound very good..

  2. What a fun event! I have tried most of Jean George's NYC restaurants. Mercer Kitchen was one of my first 'fancy' New York dining experiences many many years ago and is still my favorite of all his restaurants. Love going to Nougatine also.

  3. The food looks fabulous, I love that you can always be sure of learning something new with chefs of that caliber. Congrats on your wedding anniversary! I say you rock some heels and have a nice dinner together over the weekend. 

  4. I think mix mint with your coconut sugar and would be good in smoothies, iced tea etc- 

  5. Love Mercer Kitchen don't feel always gets as much attention, Nougatine recently redone- amazing.

  6. As much as I like heels, I cook barefoot- or even worse in slippers.

  7. Great story and happy belated anniversary (one day after my husbands bday :-). What you say about marriage is so true, and I loved this post because it brought back memories of my first wedding anniversary 12 years ago where we celebrated in Hong Kong, and of all places, guess where we ate? At Jean-George's Vong in HK! I had forgotten all about that anniversary dinner-thanks for the memories! And, yes, I cook with chilis, but have never tried the dried herb technique-on my list to try ASAP!

  8. Ooh EA Hong Kong and JG, touche'. Do you remember what you ate? Happy Birthday to your husband. When you all come to NYC we'll have to go out to dinner, Perry Street or ABC Kitchen, my 2 favorites.

  9. I have tried freezing cilantro on the advice of an Indian friend of mine, but it has disappeared in the freezer even after two cycles of cleaning it out. Hmmm, I hate throwing out cilantro. I will try the method. Happy anniversary. 

  10. thanks Caron, when I freeze herbs they turn black, ever happen to you? Try the micro-dry, cilantro is too good to waste (very good in smoothies and green juices).

  11. Love that our annivesaries are just days apart! I think that you had the better time though because you got to do what you wanted. 

    I would kill for the slow cooked halibut right now...looks delicious!

    Have a great weekend Lauren.

  12. It was really good and such an interesting preparation, in a pan with a little olive oil (a little more than a little) 200 degrees, 10 min. 

  13. Happy anniversary and congrats to your boys. I think it's great that you got to have such an awesome time with your mom.....and marriage is about honoring the intrests of the one you love. :)

  14. I wouldn't have changed a thing. Fun with my beautiful mom, marc had fun with the boys. All is good.