Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Ideas for cooking class


achevres
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm looking for ideas for a beginner cooking class. I don't need the actual recipes (unless you are dying to share). I would also appreciate any advice, if you have taught cooking before.

I am teaching someone how to cook (I'm sooo excited) and thinking of what to cook. She can cook a few entrees and would like more to add to the rotation. And we need to start easy. My goal is to teach the basics so that she can later follow a recipe on her own. I'm hoping to do at least one make-ahead entree per class, and one for that day.

I cook all kinds of foods and have a huuuuuge cookbook library so I thought it would be easy to come up with ideas and menus at first, but I've really had to go back to when I started cooking. I do have a list of options, but would like more ideas.

Some things are so second-nature to me that at first I didn't think to teach them. For example, I just thought of shrimp cocktail, which couldn't be easier, but how often do we have perfectly poached shrimp (unless making them ourselves)? Then poached chicken (base for a lot of dishes) and poached salmon came to mind, using the same technique.

For a first make-ahead I'm thinking of a baked pasta dish such as baked ziti or cannelloni. Lasagne, I think, for a later class. Other obvious things like marinades, sauteed chicken, pan seared steak, pan sauces etc. are on the list, as well as sides and vegetables. And as soon as it gets colder there are a lot of stews and braises that are easy too.

The family likes Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, BBQ foods, in addition to "regular" American food.

Thanks for any help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is gonna be FUN! Beef Stew for a covered stove top braise; maybe lamb shanks for a baked braise, roast chicken for sure, roast cauliflower, or asparagus, or artichokes, or brussel sprouts, veggies on the grill to go with BBQ meats, maybe a day of cold salad things like a super good tuna fish salad, egg salad, potato salad, etc. For your "absolute Basics", how to cook rice, blanch a vegetable or fruit so it can be peeled, how to cook potatoes until done but not dead, pasta the same, roasted potatoes cooked with a roast (maybe the chicken?) I could keep going, but I'm out of breath! :laugh: HTH!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a good bonus to the class would be to find different ways to use some of the left overs. Sometimes a lot of people do not know what to do with leftovers because they are afraid of going outside the recipe. I don't know that many people who buy just the right amount of groceries for the particular recipe, especially at home. If you taught them how to make, for example, mashed potato and some sauteed greens of some sort, maybe with some of the leftover, you can show them how to make Japanese croquettes (korokke) and udon noodles with some of the greens and what not. Keep up a post on how it's going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a first make-ahead I'm thinking of a baked pasta dish such as baked ziti or cannelloni. Lasagne, I think, for a later class.  Other obvious things like marinades,  sauteed chicken, pan seared steak, pan sauces etc. are on the list, as well as sides and vegetables. And as soon as it gets colder there are a lot of stews and braises that are easy too.

I suggest that you take a look at Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without A Book. Anderson gives basic template-like recipes for many of the dishes you mention above. The point is to learn the basic recipe, then mix and match ingredients--whatever's fresh at the market, or left over in the fridge. The recipes are easy and geared to weeknight dinners.

When the book came out, Anderson gave a class near me that I attended. I always remember this tip: When she's cooking dinner, she starts the onions frying right away, because when hungry people can smell dinner cooking, they're less impatient. They know dinner's on the way. :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First start out with an Introduction to Kitchen Equipment, then quickie version of ServSafe: temperatures and disinfecting...and make mini meatloaves to test our temp. knowledge.

2nd, Intro to different types of knives, followed with a knife skills class and something like a stew that was already suggested will get them to use those knife skills in cutting up vegetables. Salsa and Gazpacho would also let them use knife skills.

3rd: Pasta, Spaghetti sauces. Marinara and pesto and a Salad

4th: A roasted chicken dish and a cut-up chicken dish so they learn how to cut-up a chicken into 8 pcs. Also a salad and side vegetable

5th: Into to baking - Cookies, Cupcakes, etc.

Other Suggestions

Appetizers, dips and party food

Breakfast Dishes - Smoothies, Granola, etc.

Mexican Fiesta

Pizza

Healthy - Low Sodium, Gluten Free, etc.

Dog Treats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I teach cooking school (but am about to move on to a new job!) and we teach a wide variety of classes, including basic cooking techniques for adults and some for kids.

I've found that people really benefit from a good knife skills class, with emphasis on knife grip, control, stance, rocking the knife, and various cuts.

Using the ingredients (chopped onion, tomato concasse, basil chiffonade, etc.. and maybe a broken down chicken) to make a dish would be a good way to transition from knife skills to a basic cooking technique like sauteing, roasting, grilling, etc...

I think fostering an understanding on how to cook with intuition and instinct is much more rewarding than a good recipe.

Hope this helps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also agree that it's better to teach general concepts and techniques which are applicable to a wide range of dishes rather than focusing on specific recipes.

One thing I've noticed that beginners have problems with knowing when it's ok to make substitutions for ingredients in recipes and when it's not, so it might be nice to spend some time going over that.

Edited by sheetz (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a great intro to cooking is the omelette. You can actually make a few different omelette for very little money and use the opportunity to explain a few cooking basics.

You can even finish the course with a soufflé.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a great intro to cooking is the omelette. You can actually make a few different omelette for very little money and use the opportunity to explain a few cooking basics.

You can even finish the course with a soufflé.

I think egg cooking is, indeed, an important area to cover. Eggs are so incredibly versatile, plus they're a good basis for teaching a variety of dishes. For example, there's custard - sweet - as a dessert; with flavorings it becomes pie filling. But it's also a savory dish - quiche, or a vegetable flan.

A few months ago I contemplated doing a cooking class for teenagers. One of the things I thought about was gougeres. The basic recipe + pudding (custard!) is a dessert, creme puffs. It also can be made in to profiteroles and eclairs. But with cheese added, it's an appetizer by itself, and made with or without cheese, it can house a chicken, tuna, or crab salad for a sandwich.

When I taught a young friend to cook, the first thing we did was stew a chicken. She had meat and broth (and the bones could have been saved for stock), which can be turned into chicken and noodles; chicken and dumplings; chicken pot pie, and many other things.

Have fun!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe a summer squash casserole. Knife skills: cutting the squash, chopping onion, slicing mushrooms and grating cheese. You can use canned soup or make either a cream of mushroom or cheese soup/sauce. Making the soup/sauce teaches the use of a roux, whisking while adding the liquid and cooking something that can burn. You can point out that she can now make gravy etc. In addition, you can discuss the extension of the techniques to a wide variety of dishes.

Edited by Mikels (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to enjoy this thread. As it happens I'm teaching a friend to cook. Rob's had two lessons so far.

In his case I'm letting him in most cases tell me what he'd like to learn to cook.

He started off by learning how to make a simple lettuce & tomato salad to go with an omelette. This taught him some beginning knife skills, to tear not cut lettuce and how to make a vinaigrette. The eggs were lightly beaten & he learned some timing as he had to make 4. (His wife & mine are the 'customers" at Chez Rob.) Two were with lardons & cheese & the other two with parsley.

Nothing fancy, but all turned out well.

Next I got him over to help prepare for a more elaborate meal. (12 people) I had Rob prepare & make gazpacho. Making this much was great for his knife skills as well as learning how to peel tomatoes & peel & de-seed cucumbers. At a previous meal Rob had admired some bread sticks I'd made so I had him make a batch for this meal. This taught him about simple yeast doughs, adding things to them, egg washes & so forth.

Being with me in the kitchen the whole time he was able to observe how the rest of the dishes were put together.

He wants to learn how to do risotto next, but I think we'll mess with a few pasta recipes first before we progress to something as delicate as risotto.

Anyway, so far he's having fun & so am I. Lets keep each other posted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OMG, thanks to everyone so far. The first class is Wednesday and my mind is going crazy because, as I read these posts, so many other topics come to mind. But I'm trying to remember it will all come together and I'm not teaching rocket science.

This is gonna be FUN! Beef Stew for a covered stove top braise; maybe lamb shanks for a baked braise, roast chicken for sure, roast cauliflower, or asparagus, or artichokes, or brussel sprouts, veggies on the grill to go with BBQ meats, maybe a day of cold salad things like a super good tuna fish salad, egg salad, potato salad, etc. For your "absolute Basics", how to cook rice, blanch a vegetable or fruit so it can be peeled, how to cook potatoes until done but not dead, pasta the same, roasted potatoes cooked with a roast (maybe the chicken?) I could keep going, but I'm out of breath!  :laugh: HTH!

Beef stew, lamb shanks, osso bucco are definitely on the list for later, when it's colder and she has more skills. The other things we'll be tackling right away, like rice, pasta, potatoes, blanching veggies and roast cauliflower and asparagus.

I think a good bonus to the class would be to find different ways to use some of the left overs.  Sometimes a lot of people do not know what to do with leftovers because they are afraid of going outside the recipe.  I don't know that many people who buy just the right amount of groceries for the particular recipe, especially at home.  If you taught them how to make, for example, mashed potato and some sauteed greens of some sort, maybe with some of the leftover, you can show them how to make Japanese croquettes (korokke) and udon noodles with some of the greens and what not.  Keep up a post on how it's going.

Absolutely.

For a first make-ahead I'm thinking of a baked pasta dish such as baked ziti or cannelloni. Lasagne, I think, for a later class.  Other obvious things like marinades,  sauteed chicken, pan seared steak, pan sauces etc. are on the list, as well as sides and vegetables. And as soon as it gets colder there are a lot of stews and braises that are easy too.

I suggest that you take a look at Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without A Book. Anderson gives basic template-like recipes for many of the dishes you mention above. The point is to learn the basic recipe, then mix and match ingredients--whatever's fresh at the market, or left over in the fridge. The recipes are easy and geared to weeknight dinners.

When the book came out, Anderson gave a class near me that I attended. I always remember this tip: When she's cooking dinner, she starts the onions frying right away, because when hungry people can smell dinner cooking, they're less impatient. They know dinner's on the way. :biggrin:

Thanks for the reference, I'll take a look.

First start out with an Introduction to Kitchen Equipment, then quickie version of ServSafe: temperatures and disinfecting...and make mini meatloaves to test our temp. knowledge.

2nd, Intro to different types of knives, followed with a knife skills class and something like a stew that was already suggested will get them to use those knife skills in cutting up vegetables.  Salsa and Gazpacho would also let them use knife skills.

3rd:  Pasta, Spaghetti sauces. Marinara and pesto and a Salad

4th:  A roasted chicken dish and a cut-up chicken dish so they learn how to cut-up a chicken into 8 pcs.  Also a salad and side vegetable

5th:  Into to baking - Cookies, Cupcakes, etc.

Other Suggestions

Appetizers, dips and party food

Breakfast Dishes - Smoothies, Granola, etc.

Mexican  Fiesta

Pizza

Healthy - Low Sodium, Gluten Free, etc.

Dog Treats

I better review the temperatures :huh: ! I am planning to start with knife skills and I'm bringing my good knives, just in case, and my knife sharpener, in case her's need to be sharpened. Also an oven thermometer to test accuracy. I just found out that my oven is 5 deg off, and affecting baking.

I want to make meatloaf, but I'm not 100% happy with any of the 5-6 recipes I've tried in the last few years (every permutation)...

Definitely making pastas and if she has a blender or processor, pesto. I'm going to wait on cutting the chicken till later. But roast chicken with the potatoes roasting underneath is a great idea.

She doesn't want to bake desserts :sad: but I am hoping to convince her to make the no-knead bread, which is so easy and so good.

Mexican is on the list and all that is easy and so much better when made at home (guacamole, refried beans, carne guisada, chicken for tacos, etc.).

I also agree that it's better to teach general concepts and techniques which are applicable to a wide range of dishes rather than focusing on specific recipes.

One thing I've noticed that beginners have problems with knowing when it's ok to make substitutions for ingredients in recipes and when it's not, so it might be nice to spend some time going over that.

I agree, and my greatest hope is that I can transmit some of that intuition give her more confidence, but I think in the beginning it's so comforting to have a recipe, and to be able to follow the instructions of a recipe, which she can't do right now. My plan is to start with a recipe so then she can learn the different techniques in the recipe, and we go from there.

With experience we learn how to fix things or tweak them, but in my experience when most beginners try to cook without recipes the results are...dissappointing and frustrating. One of the things that you almost never see on cooking shows is what to do when things go wrong, which, at least for me, is many times. But nearly always I know how to fix, substitute, fake, etc, so that the final dish is good. Or I go on egullet and ask!! I'm sure some things will go wrong and then I can demonstrate how to fix them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a great intro to cooking is the omelette. You can actually make a few different omelette for very little money and use the opportunity to explain a few cooking basics.

You can even finish the course with a soufflé.

I think egg cooking is, indeed, an important area to cover. Eggs are so incredibly versatile, plus they're a good basis for teaching a variety of dishes. For example, there's custard - sweet - as a dessert; with flavorings it becomes pie filling. But it's also a savory dish - quiche, or a vegetable flan.

A few months ago I contemplated doing a cooking class for teenagers. One of the things I thought about was gougeres. The basic recipe + pudding (custard!) is a dessert, creme puffs. It also can be made in to profiteroles and eclairs. But with cheese added, it's an appetizer by itself, and made with or without cheese, it can house a chicken, tuna, or crab salad for a sandwich.

When I taught a young friend to cook, the first thing we did was stew a chicken. She had meat and broth (and the bones could have been saved for stock), which can be turned into chicken and noodles; chicken and dumplings; chicken pot pie, and many other things.

Have fun!!!

Also agree (and I love to cook with eggs). We are starting with dinner menus first, so I'll get more info on Wednesday on whether she likes eggs etc. I love all those chicken dishes you mention, thanks.

Maybe a summer squash casserole.  Knife skills: cutting the squash, chopping onion, slicing mushrooms and grating cheese.  You can use canned soup or make either a cream of mushroom or cheese soup/sauce.  Making the soup/sauce teaches the use of a roux, whisking while adding the liquid and cooking something that can burn.  You can point out that she can now make gravy etc.  In addition, you can discuss the extension of the techniques to a wide variety of dishes.

I was thinking of ratatouille or roasted vegetables, since the fresh veggies are so great right now in the markets.

I'm going to enjoy this thread. As it happens I'm teaching a friend to cook. Rob's had two lessons so far.

In his case I'm letting him in most cases tell me what he'd like to learn to cook.

He started off by learning how to make a simple lettuce & tomato salad to go with an omelette.  This taught him some beginning knife skills, to tear not cut lettuce and how to make a vinaigrette. The eggs were lightly beaten & he learned some timing as he had to make 4. (His wife & mine are the 'customers" at Chez Rob.) Two were with lardons & cheese & the other two with parsley.

Nothing fancy, but all turned out well.

Next I got him over to help prepare for a more elaborate meal. (12 people) I had Rob prepare & make gazpacho. Making this much was great for his knife skills as well as learning how to peel tomatoes & peel & de-seed cucumbers. At a previous meal Rob had admired some bread sticks I'd made so I had him make a batch for this meal. This taught him about simple yeast doughs, adding things to them, egg washes & so forth.

Being with me in the kitchen the whole time he was able to observe how the rest of the dishes were put together.

He wants to learn how to do risotto next, but I think we'll mess with a few pasta recipes first before we progress to something as delicate as risotto.

Anyway, so far he's having fun & so am I. Lets keep each other posted.

Thanks so much. I knew there had to be other egulleteers teaching. I think my student is on the shy side, and with that plus not knowing about food she has not been able to formulate requests for specific dishes. I'm sure as soon as we start she'll tell me or I'll get a better idea of what kind of things she likes.

I think for the first day to do the menu below and do the shrimp another day, to keep it focused and not overextend.

Plan:

equipment check and shopping for these ingredients (at least this first day)

Italian Meatballs (M Hazan's recipe -- she can freeze them for later) and spaguetti

Marinara sauce (can also freeze)

Roasted vegetables

vinagrette

salad

if we have time, chicken paillards with pan sauce

What do you guys think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Roasted vegs in your first menu

This is the marinade I learned to make for grilled, roasted, or smoked veg when I took the Homechef course years ago (the founder, Judith Ets-Hokin, was still in charge then). It's one of my favorite marinades. Roasted marinated eggplant would taste delish with your pasta menu.

Marinade for Grilled, Roasted, or Smoked Vegetables

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp freshly chopped oregano, basil, or rosemary

4 TB freshly chopped parsley

assortment of vegetables, pared, trimmed and cut up

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, add the veggies, and let marinate for 1 hour or more.

To roast veggies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove veggies from marinade and place veggies on a baking sheet or baking dish. Brush veggies generously with marinade, sprinkle with S & P. Roast about 30 mins until soft and well-browned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Roasted vegs in your first menu

This is the marinade I learned to make for grilled, roasted, or smoked veg when I took the Homechef course years ago (the founder, Judith Ets-Hokin, was still in charge then). It's one of my favorite marinades. Roasted marinated eggplant would taste delish with your pasta menu.

Marinade for Grilled, Roasted, or Smoked Vegetables

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp freshly chopped oregano, basil, or rosemary

4 TB freshly chopped parsley

assortment of vegetables, pared, trimmed and cut up

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, add the veggies, and let marinate for 1 hour or more.

To roast veggies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove veggies from marinade and place veggies on a baking sheet or baking dish. Brush veggies generously with marinade, sprinkle with S & P. Roast about 30 mins until soft and well-browned.

Thanks!!! I'm printing this out. It's similiar to the one I have, but I like the addition of balsamic and sugar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I vote for chinese for a variety of reasons.  It teaches mise en place, knife skills, high heat cooking and starch sauces.  Plus, any leftovers or ingredients can become a stir fry.

Of course. I'm not doing Chinese first because I want to leave her with an entree for the freezer this first time, due to scheduling issues, but will do soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about a primer on sauces! I've been asked several times how to make GRAVY! So a basics of sauces could be beneficial. Maybe making a bechamel, and then how it can be changed into other sauces by changing ingredients; Identifying the color stages of a roux; using the created sauces in various recipes from simple mac and cheese sauce, to etouffee.

Make a basic yeast bread recipe, and focus on proper consistency of the dough, not too dry or too wet. Use the created dought to make a basic loaf or a pizza!

Pie crust! For both savory and sweet pies!

Bob R in OKC

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think for the first day to do the menu below and do the shrimp another day, to keep it focused and not overextend.

Plan:

equipment check and shopping for these ingredients (at least this first day)

Italian Meatballs (M Hazan's recipe -- she can freeze them for later) and spaguetti

Marinara sauce (can also freeze)

Roasted vegetables

vinagrette

salad

if we have time, chicken paillards with pan sauce

What do you guys think?

A pretty good start I would think.

I'm not too sure about the roasted vegetables as they fit with the chicken, but not with the rest of the dishes. Another time, perhaps or only if you have time for both the veggies & the chicken?

I've been keeping the lessons short so the focus stays sharp and also so that Rob gets tangible results each time.

So far, so good. I would by the way highly recommend "The Cook's Book" for your beginner. It covers most of the basic techniques in well illustrated lessons as well as having some dynamite recipes. Last I saw it was an amazing bargain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about a primer on sauces!  I've been asked several times how to make GRAVY!  So a basics of sauces could be beneficial.  Maybe making a bechamel, and then how it can be changed into other sauces by changing ingredients;  Identifying the color stages of a roux; using the created sauces in various recipes from simple mac and cheese sauce, to etouffee.

Make a basic yeast bread recipe, and focus on proper consistency of the dough, not too dry or too wet.  Use the created dought to make a basic loaf or a pizza!

Pie crust!  For both savory and sweet pies!

Bob R in OKC

She's not interested in baking, but I am going to try to convince her to learn the no-knead bread, because I don't know of anything else so easy and so impressive.

Gravy is a must, I agree. so many times I'm passed "gravy" and it turns out to be just all the pan juices plus the fat, just like that. A major pet peave of mine. And I love bechamel, and other white sauce permutations, but, at least in the beginning, we'll do mac and cheese and chicken a la King (veloute').

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We'll sometimes show students how to make a "date night dinner." They come over, and we all go to the supermarket, they buy the ingredients, we come home, and we cook a nice dinner. Our typical menu: chicken roasted with a lemon inside and garlic, vegetables (don't forget that carrots and celery can be used to kludge a roasting rack!), and little potatoes in the bottom of the roasting pan, a bag of salad (remember, these are students who are often pressed for time) plus a little something to add to the greens (grape tomatoes, or grapes, or an apple to slice and add, some nuts to candy, or something else that's in season and looks good), a loaf of bread, and something for dessert. If birds are on sale, we'll often buy a few extras for ourselves and use them to give a butchering lesson while dinner's in the oven.

When the chicken is roasted we'll let it rest, make a quick pan sauce, give the bread a bit of oven time, light the candles on the table, and turn on some music. By then it's time to carve the bird and eat.

We've heard that this has worked quite nicely for several people trying to convince someone to go out with them. We just haven't yet figured out what to teach as a follow-up. Chicken soup, maybe?

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still teach on occasion, and these are great suggestions. I've also found that a bit of "kitchen science"...but just a bit, added to the teaching of techniques helps a fledgling cook know WHY they are doing things a certain way.

While you don't have to entertain like Alton Brown, if you have a good look at Harold McGee before you start teaching Vinaigrette (emulsification) will help give her some stepping stones to use for herself.

I'd rather be making cheese; growing beets or smoking briskets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I've been too busy to post, but finally have time for an update.

The first class ended up lasting 4.5 hours :shock:. First we shopped for ingredients. She had a lot of good questions about how to pick produce, which oil etc.

Then we went back to her house and I'm a little embarrased that we did not do the mis en place, but I'm learning as a teacher too. I felt somewhat pressed for time and neede to get things in the oven. Luckily, things did go smoothly. I brought her a binder with the recipes in sheet protectors.

After all the good advice from this board, we made: 1.Italian meatballs with tomato sauce made in the same pan (skills: knife handling, chopping, grating parmesan cheese in processor, frying, deglazing, basil chiffonade), 2. poached shrimp (skills: court bouillon, peeling shrimp, poaching), 3. green beans with brown butter and almonds (skills: blanching and shocking the beans, finishing them with the butter), 4. roasted eggplant and zucchini (skills: knife practice) and 5. roasted asparagus with balsamic sauce (prepping asparagus, reducing liquids). We didn't have time to boil pasta, but I went over it. she froze the meatballs for the next week.

We both had a great time. I forgot to eat until the end of class, which is a miracle for me and an indication of how into teaching I was. It was a great feeling for me to be able to teach skills that are second nature to me and I couldn't ask for a better student. She and her husband love to eat well and are not picky eaters and little by little she will be able to make good food at home. She liked the experience so much that we are planning for 1 class per week if we are both available. :smile:

This week's class lasted 4 hours. We started by shopping for kitchen essentials she was missing and, with my advice, got really good quality items. We bought a heavy skillet with straight sides and lid, heavy 2 qt pot with lid, 2 tongs, microplane, 2 large cutting boards and a chef's knife.

I had sent her the shopping list ahead of time. For some items I also listed where in the grocery store they could be found, but next time I'm going to be even more specific and try to put synonyms and maybe a picture, because finding something like "green onions" took her a while.

This week I was better prepared. (For the first class it took me a long time to set the menu and take extra equipment just in case and getting the recipe binder ready that I ran out of time.) This time I had gone over the cooking sequence the night before. And I made 3 of the dishes for myself ahead of time, so I was able to see how to modify the instructions for a beginner. And we did my modified mis en place, which is to set out all the ingredients and then move them back as they are used.

We made 1. roasted beets with a simple vinegar and olive oil dressing from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook and 2. roasted beets in a light ginger syrup, an E. Lewis and S. Peacock recipe (skills: knife practice, roasting and checking for doneness, making a syrup), 3. pesto, 4. white rice, 5. chicken lettuce wraps and 6. the Southern marinade for chicken breasts. She was serving the wraps that night and grilling the marinated chicken breasts the next night and serving them with the rice and a salad with the beets. They love beets, as you can guess.

I was thrilled when I saw she had a food processor during the first class and immediately planned to make pesto. There is a thread here about hand chopped versus mortared pesto, but for me is the processor all the way. So easy it's like magic and then she can have the pesto in the freezer ready to go. She is allergic to alliums, so we made it without garlic. This time we did boil spaguetti and had the pesto for lunch. To give an example of a skill I take for granted that she didn't know, she learned was how to boil spaguetti without breaking it. She knew some people didn't break them but she couldn't figure it out until she saw me do it.

To teach knife skills I had to break down the different motions in my head to be able to explain it. Seeing her learning and trying to do it made me realize that holding the knife correctly and doing the motion correctly are skills that are hard to learn on your own. I've heard that when you teach then you really learn, and it's true.

The chicken lettuce wraps are easy, but a lesson in logistics. It has 3 sauces: a stir fry sauce, a peanut sauce and a soy-ginger dipping sauce. Each sauce has about 7 ingredients, many of them the same. My idea was to set out 3 small saucepans and measure each ingredient into each one, then do the cornstarch and water at the end and cook them at the same time. The skills here were measuring accurately each time, more chopping, working with cornstarch slurry and grating carrots in the food processor. She was serving this for dinner so all she had to do was wash and dry the lettuce and re-heat the chicken. I went over how to plate it.

For this class I brought the beets and the basil from my favorite farmer-to-consumer market and also a peach and an apple for her to try. She is coming with me next week and I'm thrilled to introduce her to this great market and she can taste how great fresh, local foods are.

We are not having class next week (scheduling problems), but we're making fish next time (sole meuniere or similar fish).

I don't expect to go into such detail in future posts, but I did with this one to see what areas are of interest to other members. Let me know if there is anything else you are curious about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just haven't yet figured out what to teach as a follow-up. Chicken soup, maybe?

MelissaH

My problem with roast chicken is that the ones from the farmer's market are always better than mine, so I'm reluctant to do roast chicken, although everyone recommends to teach it. I would consider cornish hens, though. Chicken soup is always great after roast chicken and you can teach about stock.

My favorite leftover chicken recipe is chicken ala king, which can be served with rice or on patty shells. On patty shells it looks impressive. I plan to teach this recipe. It is from Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet cookbook, easy and delicious. Forget any bad versions you may have had, this one is a winner. I'll post it if there is interest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...