Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cooking Class

Last night I took a cooking class with some friends in our neighborhood. How fun!
The class was held at Bekah Kate’s in Baraboo.
If you’ve never been to this store, it’s a must visit. Bekah Kate’s has kitchen tools, home décor, kids’ products, cheese (yum) and wine (YUM).
Our class was a focus on healthy foods for families. Chef Jeanne Raffetto Tentis was our chef for the night. Chef Jeanne is a “foodie”. Her family has owned restaurants for over three generations. She learned to cook from living it every day and learned a respect for food from her Italian grandmother. Chef Jeanne has been teaching cooking at MATC, Bekah Kate’s, and Orange Tree Imports in Madison. Her focus is on good ingredients, simple prep and buying local.
We enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine while watching Chef Jeanne prepare our first recipe. She taught us about texture and achieving a balance between great taste and visual appeal. The first recipe was a carrot hummus. Most hummus has a brownish color that isn’t very appealing and people tend to shy away from it. This hummus had an orange color that looked smooth and inviting.
It was fantastic. I’ve shared the recipe below for you to try:
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
¾ - 1 lb. carrots, peeled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans (or same size can of cannellini beans)
1/3 cup roasted tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Dusting of ground sumac (optional) – this is for visual appeal
Steam carrots until very soft. In a food processor, puree carrots, beans, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice until smooth. Add salt to taste. Sever immediately or chill up to one day. Top with baby carrots and serve with wedges of pita for spreading.
Serves 10 (2 ½ cups)
Next up was a flavorful Kale Pesto. Some of you may turn your noses up at the mention of “kale”, but it’s fantastic and very versatile.
We have an abundance of Kale from our Community Supported Agriculture share (CSA) and have found several different ways to prepare it. I hadn’t tried it in a pesto before and I was pleasantly surprised. Chef Jeanne served this over a pasta, but also suggested serving on bruschetta as an appetizer. It was flavorful and packed with nutrition and cancer fighting glucosinolates. Eat Up!
*Kid bonus* - when I fist saw Chef Jeanne pour the pesto over the pasta, I immediately thought that this would be a great recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. The color is a very rich green and I know my kids would get a kick out of it. Maybe some mint shakes for dessert too!
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
½ cup plus 2 T EVOO
½ lb. kale, tough ribs removed and leaves chopped (either regular, curly or Tuscan kale, Tuscan is more tender)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼- ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano or a mixture of parmigiano & pecorino romano
¼ - ½ cup chicken stock or warmed/hot pasta water (optional)
For garnish: ¼ cup prosciutto, chopped and fried until crisp, if desired
Heat 2 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped kale and salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat the kale with oil. Add about 1/3 cup of water and cook until the kale is tender and the pan dry, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the kale to a blender/food processor. Add the garlic, pine nuts, cheese, and the remaining ½ cup oil. Blend until pureed. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
If the pesto is to be used as a sauce over pasta, add enough warm stock or pasta water until you achieve your desired consistency. Serve over spaghetti, linguine or ravioli. Top with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto if desired.
Makes 1 cup
The kale recipe was fantastic. When making this personally, I plan to cut down on the oil and cheese.
Last we enjoyed a spicy ginger pork lettuce wrap. It reminded me a little of the lettuce wraps P.F. Chang's has on their menu. They were excellent. There are many different variations you could experipent with. You could use tofu, chicken, beans, etc. I think I'll throw some quinoa in the mix when I make them myself.
Here's the recipe:
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
¾ lb. ground pork (chicken or turkey can be substituted)
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1T Thai sweet chili sauce
1T Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
1t dark Asian sesame oil
1T +1t cooking oil
1 can (8oz.) water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2T oyster sauce
2T fresh cilantro, chopped
24 Boston lettuce leaves
1c carrot, julienned

In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork with the bell pepper, garlic, ginger, chili sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and 1T of the oil.
In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining 1t of the oil until shimmering. Add the pork mixture and stir-fry over high heat, breaking it up, until it is cooked through and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the water chestnuts, scallions, oyster sauce and cilantro and remove from the heat.
Spoon the pork into bowls. Stack the lettuce leaves on plates.

To eat, spoon the pork onto the lettuce leaves, tope with carrot, roll up and eat.

Note: Romaine lettuce or Belgium endive can be substituted for Boston lettuce. To eat, use them as more of a scoop than a roll.
This class was a great thing to do with a bunch of friends. We shared different ideas and then got to shop in the store! It was a great night.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? What kinds of tips did you learn?

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