Publix Cooking Class – Oregon

We attended a Publix Aprons Cooking School Class featuring the Willamette Valley in Oregon. I always enjoy these demonstrations with a sampling of different wines and recipes to take home.

Aprons Cooking School

We started out with a taste of Elouan Rose wine. It was light and on the dry side and a pleasant welcome drink.

STARTER COURSE

The first course was Coriander Encrusted Sea Scallops with Cauliflower Puree and Apricot-Shallot Jam. This was delicious. Normally I wouldn’t make scallops at home or order them in a restaurant because they can become rubbery if overcooked, but these were tender and done just right. They paired well with the jam. The accompanying wine was a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc that was a pale yellow color with a slightly fruity taste.

Starter Course

Cooking Tips from the Chef (any errors are due to my misinterpretation):

Iodized salt, like table salt, can turn bitter when you cook with it. He prefers Morton kosher salt, which does not contain iodine and is consistent in quality. A second choice would be sea salt, but characteristics can vary depending on place of origin.

The chef prefers grapeseed oil as you can cook at higher temperatures with it. He suggests you don’t use extra virgin olive oil for cooking as it burns at a lower temperature. Vegetable oil or regular olive oil is okay. Use the EVOO in salad dressings and such.

If oil isn’t hot enough, the food can absorb it. Test with a popcorn kernel. When it pops, the oil is the right temperature.

When preparing scallops, remove the abductor muscle.

SALAD COURSE

Baby Kale Salad with Pears, Burrata, Bacon, and Spiced Yogurt Vinaigrette was our salad. The dressing went well with it. The accompanying wine was A to Z Pinot Grigio. We liked this one.

Salad Course

Cooking Tips

Slice an onion from root to stem, not the other way.

Burrata cheese is a mozzarella cheese stuffed with a ricotta-like cheese. It comes in a ball, and you can find it in the specialty cheese section.

MAIN ENTREE

Pan Roasted Duck Breast with Orange-Cherry Gastrique and Shiitake Risotto was a tasty entrée and fairly easy to make. The accompanying wine was a Sidur 2017 Pinot Noir. This was okay but I like a Cabernet better.

Main Entree

Cooking Tips

You can buy the boneless duck breasts in the frozen food section. Defrost and slash the fat side to prevent it from curling when cooking.

Put honey for 20 seconds in the microwave to liquefy if it’s crystalized.

DESSERT

Peach Panna Cotta with Biscotti Crumble and Blueberry Compote wasn’t overly sweet and was paired with an A to Z Riesling.

Dessert

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Valentine's Day Cooking Class

For something different than the usual dinner at a restaurant for Valentine’s Day, we signed up for a Publix Aprons Cooking School class. We’ve enjoyed these before, and the night’s menu looked appealing. It was a popular choice. The place was full with 48 people present to watch the demo-style class.
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As we waited for the show to start, one of the chefs poured us each a welcome glass of Cupcake Sparkling Rosé wine. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I grew up on rosés before learning to appreciate drier varieties. Remember Lancer’s?
First course was a Pistachio Shortbread with Goat Cheese, Strawberries, and Mint-Honey paired with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This was almost like dessert. The shortbread was a tasty cookie. The wine went well with this selection but it was a bit too fruity for my taste. I’d like it better before dinner.
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The next course was really good and very hearty. I could have made a meal out of this alone. We got a generous portion of Seared Sea Scallop Chowder with Smoky Sourdough Croutons paired with Bread & Butter Chardonnay. This wine went on my “I Like It” list. The soup was delicious. You could vary the recipe at home and make it with shrimp or lobster instead. If you use scallops, remove the abductor muscle from the sides.
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The main dish showed me a cooking technique I’d never heard of before. It used a temperature-regulated water bath. You insert the food in a vacuum sealed plastic bag, so you’d also need the vacuum device. I’ll never make this at home with all the extra equipment required, but the meat was tasty and tender. The dark things are purple potatoes. Sous Vide Lamb Loin with Butter-Roasted Radishes, Carrots, and Baby Potatoes paired with a La Crema Pinot Noir. I liked the dry red wine. Tip for pearl onions: cut off the bottoms and blanch in boiling water for a minute, and the skin peels right off.
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The dessert, a Butterscotch-Toffee Budino (pudding) was paired with a Veuve Cliequot Brut Champagne. Apparently, the tinier the bubbles, the more expensive the brand. This one had lots of tiny bubbles. The pudding was like a dense flan, a rich dessert that melts in your mouth.
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We had a gourmet meal and wine for a decent price, plus we got to see an entertaining cooking demo and take home the recipes. Let’s check their calendar and see what’s appealing that is coming up next.
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Publix Cooking Class – Seafood

We started the evening at Publix Aprons Cooking School with a glass of light golden sparkling Chloe Prosecco. This was a pleasant drink that’s good for sipping before dinner.
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The first course began with Grilled Shrimp Skewers accompanied by Corn and Pineapple Relish. This corn would make a good side dish by itself. The dish seemed reasonable to make at home, although I’d substitute parsley for the cilantro. The wine with this starter was a Buried Cane Chardonnay. It was a medium gold color, and I liked it enough to put it on my buy list.
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Cooking Tip: If you want to know if the oil in your pan is hot enough, add a couple of kernels of popcorn. When they pop, the oil is ready. Be careful the popped corn doesn’t hit you in the eye, so avoid leaning over the pan.
Next we watched the chef prepare Louisiana Lump Crab Cakes with Tasso Tartar Sauce. These were really good; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I could eat a meal just with these crab cakes. They were served with salad greens.
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In keeping with our seafood theme, the main course was Key West Jerk Snapper with Papaya and Red Pepper Jam. We each got a firm piece of fish that was moist and tasted good with the sauce. The wine was a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc with a medium gold color. This was light and fruity.
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Cooking Tips:
Don’t marinate fish or shrimp with citrus, such as orange or lime juice, for more than an hour and a half or the citrus might cook the seafood, as in ceviche.
Dry the fish by patting it with paper towels before frying it. Our chef used a stainless steel sauté pan.
Pigeon Peas with Rice accompanied the fish as a side dish. This had a tomato base, unlike the version I like to make. The Earth Heart Erath Pinot Noir was good with this entrée.
Dessert was a divine Mississippi Molten Chocolate Cake, otherwise known as a lava cake. It melted in our mouths, the heat dissolved by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My mouth is watering at the memory. I wasn’t fond of the Stella Rose Prosecco that came with this last course.
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Needless to say, I came home and conked out. Too much to eat and drink, but it was definitely worth the effort. I can’t wait to sign up for another class. Look for one near you at Publix Aprons Cooking School.
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Publix Aprons Cooking School

We’ve enjoyed the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School in the past. This evening’s Australian Wine and Dine theme appealed to us since we like Australian wines. Did you know we went to Australia on our honeymoon, among other places? Visions of Ayers Rock rose in our minds as we read the menu. This would be a fun night.

This class drew a full house. The place was packed, and three chefs took turns doing the demonstrations. You can choose hands-on or demo classes where the chefs do the work. Either way, you sample the food and accompanying wines. None of the portions or drink pours are huge but your stomach is filled by the end.

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Tonight we started with a 19 Crimes red wine called “The Uprising.” This was really good and will go on my buy list. This brand is fun as every cork relates a different crime. I have two of them in my home office. One reads, #11. Stealing roots, trees, or plants or destroying them. The other one says, #15. Clandestine marriage. Imagine this being a crime. It could provide fodder for lots of stories.

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The started course was Barbecue Shrimp with Spring Pea Salad. This seemed relatively easy to make. The shrimp were tasty, and I liked the pea salad that was served cold. It could easily be heated as a vegetable side dish. Did I mention that you get all the recipes to take home? With this course, we had an Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. It was light golden in color and a bit fruity. We liked it. Our tablemates called it “refreshing.”

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Next on the menu was Crispy Scalloped Potatoes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche. These potatoes took a bit of effort to make, being sliced and dipped in batter than fried. They were crispy tasty, and I liked the smoked salmon with them, but I’d probably use potato latkes or vegetable pancakes from the freezer section instead. The accompanying wine was 19 Crimes Chardonnay. This was a nice golden color and dryer than the sauvignon blanc with more body.

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The entrée was Marinated Pepper Steaks with Wild Mushrooms and Couscous. We’re not big meat eaters these days, but this dish was delicious. The beef is cut into thin strips, marinated and then stir fried. Then it’s mixed with mushrooms, bell pepper strips, sliced onions and diced roasted tomatoes. The wine was 19 Crimes 2017 Shiraz. It was a deep burgundy color and tasted stronger (or drier) than the first wine.

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Dessert was a Double Chocolate Lamington Cake with Coconut. It tasted like a coconut-coated brownie cake. While appealing to chocoholics, this dish might have been better served with a vanilla sauce. The last wine was a 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon. It tasted very dry to our palates. Out of the three reds, we preferred the first one the best.

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We got the recommended app on our phone called Living Wine Labels. It’s fun to scan a 19 Crimes wine bottle label and see what happens. Overall, we greatly enjoyed this class, although it’s a lot to eat and drink by the time you’re done. We’d better go for some long walks this week to wear off the calories. I already know which class I want to sign up for next. Do you go to cooking classes or experiment with new dishes at home?

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Aprons Cooking School

Publix Cooking Class
We always enjoy the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. You can choose between demo classes, where the chefs do all the work, or hands-on where you don the aprons. My husband and I like the demos. We sit at white clothed tables and follow along with our set of printed recipes while the chefs explain each preparation method. For our latest class, they started us off with a welcome glass of Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris. I liked this light golden white wine.
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The first dish was an Apple Pear salad. As one chef showed us how to prepare the ingredients and mix the dressing, two other guys dished out the food onto a series of plates for serving. The salad was delicious, a balance of sweet to the tang of blue cheese. This was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. It was too fruity for my taste.
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Next we enjoyed an Alaskan Salmon Terrine with Asparagus Sauce. We always learn tricks of the trade or new info at these events, and tonight we learned about salmon. Here are the five different types/grades from the top rating down: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Keta (from the Arctic) has more oil than Sockeye so is good for grilling. (Any mistakes here are due to my misinterpretation.) Sockeye is never farmed. This dish, that looked like a paté, reminded me of gefilte fish. The asparagus sauce was a very good accompaniment as was the Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay served with it.
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For the main entrée, we had Cedar Plank Wild-Caught Salmon, along with a Couscous side dish that contained corn and cilantro. I’m not a cilantro fan and the couscous was from a mix, so I’d probably choose another flavor. I did learn that if you want to take the kernels off a stick of corn, hold the corn on top of a bundt pan in the center hole, and then scrape downward. I’d also have preferred this fish to come with a sauce so it wasn’t so plain. The Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon won my approval. Yes, we had a red wine with fish, and it worked fine.
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Dessert was homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. What’s not to like?
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You can see cooking lesson videos for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsCameraCook/videos or check out the Publix cooking schools here: http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-cooking-schools.
So did I make you hungry?
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French Cooking Class

This past weekend, I gave a talk at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore on Navigating the Rocky Road to Publication. We spoke about the different routes to publication, query letters, synopses, approaching agents, organizational tools, and more. My most oft repeated advice was to study the markets and network with other writers.

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We dodged rainstorms on the way home and stopped at Nordstrom so I could reward myself with this pair of shoes. It’s hard to find turquoise sandals in the strappy style I prefer. Aren’t they cute?

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That same evening, we attended another cooking class at Publix Cooking School. These are always fun. I like the demos where we sit and watch the chefs do all the work while we taste the fruits of their labor and sip a different wine with each course. Saturday night was the French bistro class. We received a taste of a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc as a welcome drink. Our starter menu included a filet of sole with a brown butter caper sauce and a scoop of garlic mashed potatoes. This was delicious, served with a lovely Cote du Rhone white Reserve wine.

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I didn’t care for the next dish, a warm lentil salad with sausage. It didn’t smell appetizing to me, nor did I like the taste. We had another Cote du Rhone Vintus white, but I preferred the one above.

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Next came a grilled strip steak with a couple of large-cut French fries and a ramekin of Swiss Chard Gratin. I liked the vegetable dish but would make it with spinach at home. The meat was okay but a bit chewy for my taste, and the potatoes nothing special. I usually don’t eat steaks. I prefer juicy prime ribs or tender filet mignon when I eat out and want beef for a change. The red wine, another Cote du Rhone, was very good.

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The dessert, a dark chocolate mousse, was light and frothy with a semi-sweet taste that suited my palate. If I were making this, I’d add whipped topping. A sweet dessert wine topped off the meal.

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I highly recommend the Publix cooking classes if you have them in your area. You can do the demo class or a hands-on lesson, and either way you get a gourmet meal with wine at a reasonable price, plus recipes to carry home.

 

Cooking Class

My husband and I have always enjoyed taking cooking classes together. This time, we brought our grown children along. They were visiting for Thanksgiving weekend and we thought it would be a fun experience.

Here’s a recap of the weekend up until then: We enjoyed our traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, followed by an evening of TV viewing wherein the ladies watched the Hallmark Channel and the guys watched sports. Friday morning, we ate breakfast out and then headed to Westfield Mall to shop at Dillards. Lunch followed at the Red Robin. Then we saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. It kept your interest although the movie dragged out with too many close-ups. That evening, we ate out at J. Alexander. Saturday, my daughter and I indulged ourselves in nail treatments at the salon. Then we all took a walk at Volunteer Park on Sunrise Blvd.

Volunteer Park

Saturday at 6:30 found us at Aprons Cooking School inside our local Publix. If you have one near you, by all means go take a class. But bring an appetite. You’ll come away stuffed from all the delicious dishes you get to taste. You can choose either a Demo class, where you get to watch the chefs; or a Hands-On class where you do the work. I prefer the former at this stage in my life.

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Chefs Maggie and Wes poured us each a welcome drink, a Pinot Grigio. I liked this light white wine. Oh, did I tell you the title for tonight’s adventure? The class was called “Girl’s Night Out.” I called up in advance to make sure guys could attend. I told our family during the drive over. The guys took it in with a sense of humor. No matter; one of the chefs was male, and it was a small class so the title really didn’t matter.

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We began the night with a Walnut and Brie Strudel with Cranberry and Florida Citrus Jam. The strudel pieces looked like egg rolls, but they were lip-smacking good! This was my favorite of the evening and it was served with a Sauvignon Blanc wine.

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Next came crispy fried crab fritters, with the crab on the side for people allergic to seafood. “A slice and a slice equals a dice,” said the chefs as they demonstrated techniques. Served with an avocado remoulade, it hit the spot. Another winner. I liked the Chardonnay served with this dish.

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The entrée was a Caesar roasted swordfish with citrus roasted asparagus and a scoop of an orzo mixture on the side. A parmesan crisp added a decorative touch. Swordfish is a meaty variety with a fishy taste. I was surprised when the chefs said that tilapia, one of my favorites, has little nutritional value compared to other fish. Think I’ll stick with salmon. A different Chardonnay accompanied the seafood.

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Finally, for dessert we had red velvet cupcakes topped with cassis cream cheese. These melted in the mouth and so did the warm frosting. They’re unlike anything you’d buy in the store and are like a dessert from a gourmet restaurant, including the presentation. However, the ruby port wine served with this sweet was too strong for our taste.

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All in all, we had a great time and walked away a few pounds heavier and with a packet of recipes to try at home.