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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Publix Cooking Class with Guest Chef

Publix Cooking Class – Guest Chef Timon Ballo

We attended a Publix Aprons Cooking School class last evening featuring guest executive chef Timon Ballo from the Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill with locations in Miami, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn. This popular restaurant features globally-inspired small plates and Spanish-style tapas. The evening’s cooking class was fully booked. We were greeted with a glass of black cherry sangria.

cooking school guest chef

sangria

Next came a Chilled Spanish Ajo Verde Soup that was better than I’d expected. Smoked paprika gave this cold soup a bit of a spicy kick. It would be a good menu choice for the summer. Green grapes and English cucumbers provided the green color, while marcona almonds added a touch of crunch. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc was served with this soup.

ajo verde soup

The second course was Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crumble. I could eat this for a meal along with a salad. It was so good. We learned how to clean and trim fresh beets, then coat them with olive oil before wrapping each one in aluminum foil. These are roasted until tender and then peeled. The goat cheese whipped with heavy cream provided a perfect garnish amid a sprinkle of arugula and crushed pistachios. The chefs dribbled honey on top before serving. La Crema Pinot Noir was the wine with this course.

chef working beets

Pan Roasted Salmon with Spring Vegetables was the main entrée. This was wild caught sockeye salmon, with citrus accents and a medley of fresh sautéed spring vegetables. Another delicious dish. Roth Chardonnay was the perfect wine choice here.

salmon

Dessert was a melt-in-your-mouth Buttermilk Panna Cotta with White Port-Soaked Fruit. This was a pudding-like confection with a berry garnish. Sandeman Ruby Port was a sweet accompaniment to end the evening.

panna cotta

If you have a Publix Aprons Cooking School near you, check out their classes. It’s more fun than an expensive meal in a fancy restaurant and much better priced.

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Chef Jean Pierre Cooking School

We attended Jean Pierre’s Cooking School last night, thanks to a generous gift from our daughter. The complex consists of a commercial kitchen in back, a store selling gourmet spices, olive oil, vinegar, cooking pans, and utensils in the front, and a classroom holding thirty guests off to the side. We received bottled water, but if you want wine, you are welcome to bring your own. We took our seats in the comfortably upholstered chairs. These all faced forward so we could easily see the chef or watch his movements in an overhead mirror.
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Chef Jean Pierre is an entertaining personality who’d operated The Left Bank restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale. We used to enjoy meals there along with his tableside preparations of various French dishes. Now he runs the cooking school, which appears to be highly popular judging from the full-house last night and the distance some folks came to attend.
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The first course was Shrimp Sambucca with Israeli Couscous. It tasted sublime and could easily be a main entrée. It seemed fairly easy to make, except for peeling and deveining the shrimp.
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Next came Steak Diane in a flavorful mushroom tomato sauce. The chef cut beef tenderloins into medallions and pounded them between parchment paper so they came out thin and easy to sauté. The potatoes were made by thinly slicing sweet potatoes and regular baking potatoes on a mandolin. This dish required a lot of preparation so we got to taste the results. Buttered baby green beans accompanied the meal.
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By now I was full, but I made room for the irresistible Bananas Foster. Who doesn’t like this sweet dish of caramelized bananas with vanilla ice cream?
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Naturally I learned a few interesting cooking tips. For example, if you’re using thickeners, flour should be added in the beginning as it needs to cook adequately. Cornstarch can be added at the end. When adding flour to a sauce cooking in a pot, put a strainer in the pot and add the flour. Whisk the flour through the strainer, and this will avoid lumps.
As for storing garlic, you can buy a jar of peeled garlic. Then chop it all up in a food processor. Add a little olive oil and mix. Freeze in an ice cube tray, and you have set portions to drop into your dishes thereafter.
NOTE: These are my interpretations and any errors are mine.
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Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

Lobster Lovers Cooking Class

We attended the Lobster Lovers class at Publix Aprons® Cooking School. My husband and I like shrimp better than lobster, but this menu looked too tempting to resist. We prefer the demo classes where students sit at white-clothed tables rather than the hands-on ones where you have to do the actual work. In the demo variety, after the chef makes each dish in front of us, we get to eat it with an accompanying wine. This makes for a gourmet meal complete with recipes and cooking tips.

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Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Andouille Chowder paired with an Erath Pinot Grigio.

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This was delicious and filling, making it a good choice for a hearty winter soup. We liked the wine, a pleasant taste to our palates. Cooking tip 1: Maine cold water lobster is sweeter than warm water Caribbean varieties. Cooking tip 2: Rather than dunking shrimp into a pot of boiling water, put it into a pot when the water is room temperature and bring it to a boil along with the water.

Spiny Lobster and Mango Spring Rolls with Tarragon-Lime Aioli paired with a Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc.

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This was a tasty appetizer. I especially liked the aioli even though I’m not a big tarragon fan. Cooking tip 1: An emulsifier binds substances together like vinegar and oil. Examples of emulsifiers are mustard, egg yolks, and garlic. Cooking tip 2: Pasteurized eggs reduce the chance of salmonella if you are using raw eggs in a recipe. As for the wine, it didn’t seem to have as much body as the first one and was too light for our tastes.

Pan-Bronzed Lobster Risotto with Roasted Corn Relish and Orange-Sherry Reduction paired with a Layer Cake Chardonnay.

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I liked the lobster, sauce, and corn relish but there was too much risotto in comparison. Cooking tip, if I heard correctly: You can roast corn in its husk at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. I prefer my method, which is microwaving it in the husk for 4 minutes, chopping off both ends, and sliding the husk off. We really liked this wine choice, our favorite of the evening.

Peach Brown Betty with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling.

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This dessert was lip-smacking good. So good and easy to make that I might even make it at home once I lose the weight I’d gained here tonight. However, I’ll use store-bought ice cream instead of making my own. The wine was too sweet for our tastes. Cooking tip 1: Use frozen and thawed sliced peaches instead of blanching and peeling fresh ones. Cooking tip 2: Cinnamon is an anesthetic so if you eat too much, it can numb your tongue.

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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.

 

Jambalaya

The original inspiration for this recipe came from a cooking class I’d attended in New Orleans. Over the years, I’ve modified the recipe, preferring easy ingredients and preparation. So here is the Lazy Cook’s Jambalaya.

The Lazy Cook’s Jambalaya

2 Tbsp. oil
9 oz. package Perdue Short Cuts Original Roasted Chicken Breast
2-11 oz. packages Hebrew National reduced-fat beef franks
2-8 oz. containers fresh diced onions
2-8 oz. containers Trinity Mix (chopped fresh green pepper, celery, onions)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
1 bunch green onions, chopped
8 oz. diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cut up the chicken and hot dogs into bite-sized pieces. Set aside in different bowls. Assemble the other ingredients.

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In a soup pot, sauté the franks in oil for flavor and then remove to bowl.

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Next add diced onions, Trinity Mix, basil and garlic to pot and sauté until tender.

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Return franks to pot along with chicken, tomatoes and green onions. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed.

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Mix in parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Add a fancy garnish if you wish. Serve with a side salad.

Cooking School

Cooking Class

Imagine going to a gourmet restaurant, watching the cooks prepare your meal while following along with the recipes, and then eating a delicious four-course meal with wine pairings. This was our experience at Publix’s Apron Cooking School. It was a repeat visit for us as we greatly enjoy this experience. Tonight’s menu started with a crisp salad using curly lettuce with tomatoes, bacon, dates, and a warm walnut vinaigrette dressing. Dijon mustard gave this dressing a kick while maple syrup added a sweet element. Accompanying the starter was a Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay. I liked this medium bodied white wine that sells for $12.99.

Cooking Tips: Cutting an onion releases an enzyme that causes tearing. To avoid this, leave on the root end. Remove the stem and peel, then slice through almost to the root. Turn onion and dice in the other direction.

To increase the juice from a fresh lemon, roll it on the counter first or microwave it for 8 seconds before squeezing.

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Next came a yummy Portobello mushroom and barley soup. Including carrots, celery, and onion, this was so good that I still smack my lips at the remembered taste. Truffle oil added finesse. I loved the nutty texture of the barley. The accompanying wine was a Pinot Grigio by Ecco Domani. This was good but I liked the Chardonnay better.

Cooking Tips: Cut your vegetables the same size so they cook evenly together.

And—Garlic burns so add it last.

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The main course was buttermilk meatloaf with stroganoff mushrooms and egg noodles.

This was perfection. The wine was a Santa Rita Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. I would have preferred a red wine with the meat dish.

Cooking Tips: Use a tube of tomato paste instead of a can. Then when a recipe calls for one tablespoon, you won’t have a whole can left over.
A roux helps to thicken sauces. It’s equal parts fat and flour. The fat coats the flour and allows it to be absorbed into the sauce. A roux can be light or dark.

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Dessert tempted our palates with warm banana shortcakes. The sparkling wine was a pink Moscato. It was all right but I wouldn’t buy it. I love anything with warmed bananas so this dish hit the spot to finish off the evening.

Cooking Tips: Baking soda helps things spread; baking power helps them to rise (or is it the other way around?)

To roll out dough, put it between pieces of parchment paper. The dough is easier to cut if you refrigerate it first.

To whip cream, move your whisk back and forth rather than around the bowl.

Sugar in the raw is produced when sugar is spun at a high velocity and the molasses separates out. Molasses plus sugar equals light brown sugar.

**These tips are accurate to the best of my hearing ability and are subject to my interpretation.

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Publix Apron’s Cooking School is a fun and tasty experience. You can sign up for the demo or take a hands-on class. Either way, you’ll eat a wonderful meal and explore some new wines.

Cooking Class

My husband and I have attended various cooking classes throughout our time together. We started in Gainesville where he had a fellowship and we had an infant. Taking these courses together gave us something fun to do. We took a series on French cooking and then another on Chinese cuisine. Sporadically thereafter, we’d sign up for adult education classes learning everything from chicken recipes to cake decorating (he didn’t attend that one).

Recently, we’ve been rediscovering this interest since Publix opened a cooking school here.

The classrooms are on the second floor of a newly remodeled store. Last night we attended our third class there. I’d hoped to learn some meat recipes since the only beef I can cook is brisket.

On the menu first was grilled five spiced salmon with coconut crostini. This was a large slab of salmon steak (although it looked like a filet?) grilled lightly to just cook through, served on a toasted crostini with coconut flakes. It was delicious and my favorite dish of the evening. Accompanying white wine blend was Hot to Trot by 14 Hands. I liked this a lot.

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Next came a good company dish—mushroom, spinach, and smoked Gouda stuffed flank steak. I liked the stuffing more than the meat that could have been cooked a bit more. A red wine was served with this portion. We’ve had Chateau St. Jean cabernet before and still enjoy it.

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If you like spicy foods, you’d like the cocoa and three pepper dusted beef tenderloin with grilled fingerling potatoes. This called for three kinds of chili powder along with garlic and onion powders to make a blend and rub on the tenderloin. The potatoes were boiled then halved and placed on the grill for just a few minutes. They were good, but I prefer my own roasted red potatoes with garlic and rosemary.

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The menu was crowned with balsamic strawberry shortcake napoleons. This was an easy fix with balsamic vinegar dribbled over fresh sliced strawberries mixed with a bit of confectionary sugar. Whip some heavy cream into a froth and then put this into individual puff pastry cups you can buy in the freezer section. Top the whipped cream with strawberries and you have a fresh fruit dessert. The wine here was a sauvignon blanc from Simi winery in Sonoma.

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We had pleasant conversation with the chefs and other attendees while sampling all the foods and sipping wines—a pleasant evening to be had by all.