Food Heaven Publix Cooking Class

Publix Aprons Cooking School classes are always enjoyable. You can choose from demonstration or hands-on models. I prefer the chef demos because then we can sit at white-clothed tables, sip wine, and watch the chefs do all the work. We get to taste the food, which equates to a gourmet meal, sample different wines, and take the recipes home. Plus, these classes are reasonably priced for what you’d find elsewhere. Here we are with our machatonim, Es and Rick Cohen. (See Machatonim – The Jewish Chronicle (thejc.com) for a definition)

June 18, 2021 – Food Heaven: Indulgent Ingredients and Wines

We were greeted with a Luc Belaire Rare Rose, a pleasant sparkling rose wine. This set the jovial mood for the good food to come.

Crab and Fennel Bisque with Lemony Crème Fraiche – I really liked this tasty soup that was accompanied by a Jean Bouchard Chablis. The wine was fair in my opinion, a bit too light on body and flavor.

Lobster Rolls with Heirloom Tomatoes, Bacon and Tarragon Aioli – This dish was interesting to taste but a salad would have been a better course here. I could see substituting baby shrimp to make this at home. I’d also serve it for lunch rather than dinner. This came with a B&G Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc wine that had a slightly fruity aroma.

Dijon and Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Shallow Jus and Smashed Potatoes – Very tender and deliciously prepared piece of beef worth the price of admission alone. I liked the Michael David Lust Zinfandel that accompanied this dish. It was dry with a moderate body and legs, in wine terms.

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Pretzel Crust and Mandarin Orange Whipped Cream – This chocolate dessert melted in one’s mouth. It was divine. I also enjoyed the Lola Pinot Noir although by then I’d had enough food and drink that I might have liked anything. This tart was the perfect dish to finish a delightful evening.

Food Heaven Publix Cooking Class #foodies #cooking Click To Tweet

Comfort Food

Home cooking can get tiresome under forced isolation, but not with easy-to-make comfort foods. I’ve been rummaging in the kitchen of our new house trying to find where I’ve put things while preparing meals. Maybe you can find inspiration in some of these dishes that have been on our dinner table in the past week.

We had the kids over for brunch last weekend. I made this Zucchini Biscuit Bake with the recipe from my cookbook, although I added fresh mushrooms this time. I’d also served a Costco quiche, plus thin bagels with cream cheese. Dessert was peach cobbler.

Zucchini Biscuit Bake  Peach Cobbler

Because we’d cut up too many zucchini and onions, I put some aside and made this stir-fry dish for dinner. Sliced hot dogs became the go-to protein addition.

Zucchini Stir Fry

Once those leftovers were gone, the next order was to use the multitude of strawberries we picked before they spoiled. So I made my first strawberry bread using a recipe I found on Pinterest.

Strawberry Bread

Next dinner I made these Swedish meatballs with white rice for dinner, accompanied by a premade salad. If there’s any gravy left, I freeze it to use in Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll share this recipe with you.

Swedish Meatballs

 

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
tsp. garlic powder
1 cup finely chopped onions, divided
cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz. bottle chili sauce
18 oz. jar grape jelly
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

Directions

Make meatballs: Mix ground beef with beaten egg, garlic powder, ½ cup chopped onions, and bread crumbs. Form into small balls. Set aside. (Or use frozen turkey meatballs instead of making them from scratch).

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, blend together chili sauce, grape jelly, and tomato sauce until jelly is melted. Toss in remaining onions and add wine. When mixture is bubbly, add meatballs to pot. Stir gently to coat with sauce.

Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Periodically lift lid, being careful of steam, and stir. Cook for 1 hour on low heat (or ½ hour if using frozen meatballs). Serve over cooked rice as an entrée or by itself as a party appetizer.

These recipes and more can be found in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – Order Your Copy Now

What have you made in the kitchen lately? And no, “a mess” isn’t the right answer.

 

 

Meal Planning

Meal Planning is difficult when you are on a forced staycation for months at a time. Normally, I like cooking at home, but it’s nice to take a break at a restaurant where you can be served and you don’t have to do the dishes. This experience is off the table these days. We have all become home cooks, so what to make?

cooking in the kitchen

I plan ahead for a week at a time. Breakfast is easy. It can be cereal or eggs or a quiche I’ve made previously and stuck in the freezer. Frozen waffles or homemade blueberry pancakes are treats if the ingredients are available. We’ll also buy premade hard boiled eggs to eat with toast or for egg salad.

blueberry pancakes     zucchini pie

Lunches are more difficult. Sandwiches or salads are our usual fare but these get tiresome. Soups, quiches, or even pasta might add variety. Here’s where going out to eat would be a welcome choice. In its stead, we can order home delivery. But to be safe, this should ideally be hot food that can be reheated to zap the germs. Is it risking my health to order delivery of tuna and pasta salads and even nova on a bagel?

    shrimp salad  turkey soup

Dinners are much easier for me to plan. So I’ll share some of these ideas with you. Get used to leftovers. The more nights a dish can stretch, the better. You might get two to four nights out of one dish, depending on how many people are involved. Or freeze a portion for later use. You can add your own side dishes or a salad. Note that most of these recipes can be found in A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK.

eggplant parmigiana  creole franks

WEEK ONE

Sunday – Eggplant Parmigiana
Monday – Leftovers
Tuesday – Tilapia Dijon
Wednesday – Leftovers
Thursday – Beefy Mac & Cheese
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Creole Franks

WEEK TWO

Sunday – Leftovers
Monday – Slow Cooker Mushroom Pot Roast
Tuesday – Leftovers
Wednesday – Store-Bought Ravioli/Tortellini or Spinach-Stuffed Shells
Thursday – Chicken Spaghetti
Friday – Leftovers
Saturday – Baked Salmon Fillets

You’ll have to adjust your menu to suit the ingredients at hand. What do you think? Do you have any better suggestions, especially for lunches?

What are you serving for dinner? Here’s two weeks of suggested meals. #cooking #dinner Click To Tweet

 

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COOKBOOK

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Slow Cooker Sirloin Steak

Try this quick and easy beef sirloin steak recipe in your slow cooker when you want a satisfying meal without much effort. Add your favorite side dish and a salad as accompaniments.

Ingredients

1-1/2 lbs. beef top sirloin steak
8 oz. Trinity mix (chopped green pepper, celery, onion)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup reduced sodium beef broth
½ cup dry red wine
¼ tsp. dried thyme
4 whole peeled garlic cloves, quartered

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet, sear meat on both sides. Spray large slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread Trinity mix on the bottom. Place meat on top of mixture. Combine liquids in bowl, add thyme and garlic cloves, and pour over meat. Cover and set timer for 6 hours on low. When done, transfer meat to cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with pan drippings for gravy. Serves 4.

 

Sirloin Steak

Publix Cooking Class – Noble Vines Winery

This past weekend, we attended a cooking class at Publix Aprons Cooking School. The guest speaker was from Noble Vines Winery, describing the wines that accompanied our meal. These are from the Delicato Family Wines in California. We started out with a welcome aperitif. I liked the Noble Vines 242 Sauvignon Blanc. It wasn’t too fruity and would make a pleasant drink just to sip or perhaps to accompany fish or poultry. Meanwhile, the chefs were busy creating our dishes and demonstrating how to make them.

publix cooking class

Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay was paired with the first course, clams with linguini. While our friends indulged in this dish, I had written ahead to request mushrooms instead of clams. I am not a big shellfish eater except for shrimp. The linguini with mushrooms was delicious and would make a satisfying meal in itself.  We liked the Chardonnay as well. In fact, all the wines tonight were really good.

Next up was pan-roasted duck breast served with mushroom farro and cherry vinaigrette. I’d never had farro before, and I liked this grain that reminded me of barley. The duck was tender. It was paired with Noble Vines 667 Pinot Noir. I could have eaten this dish for a meal alone.

duck breast

The main dish was grilled Korean beef short ribs with coconut rice and wok-friend bok choy. Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon was the accompanying wine. The short ribs were done just right, but I’ve had better. Actually, the ones I tasted recently in my blog post about the Epcot Festival of the Arts were much more tender. I prefer short ribs slowly braised or done in a slow cooker so that the meat practically falls off the bone. The rice was okay but the bok choy had more taste.

beef short ribs

We left enough room for the dark chocolate raspberry tart and the Noble Vines 515 Rose wine. What’s not to like about chocolate?

By now, we were more than stuffed and woozy from all the wine. It had been an enjoyable evening with entertainment and an appealing meal experience. The best part is that we got to take the recipes home.

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March 2020

 

Spirited Cake

The original recipe I used called for Crème de Menthe, but you really could use any type of liqueur you have sitting in your liquor cabinet. This cake is great for a party. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Ingredients

15.25 oz. box white cake mix
3 eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 cup water
3 Tbsp. flavored liqueur
16 oz. can Ghirardelli chocolate syrup
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 Tbsp. flavored liqueur

Directions

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, but substitute 3 Tbsp. liqueur for the same amount of water. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake according to package directions. When cake is done, remove from oven and place pan on wire rack. While cake is still hot, pierce in several places with a fork. Pour chocolate syrup over cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Fold 2 Tbsp. liqueur gently into whipped topping to blend. Spread whipped topping over cake, slice and serve. Serves 12.

Zucchini Dill Soup

If you can’t find pre-sliced zucchini or yellow squash in the grocery store, slice it yourself. Feel free to be creative and toss in your own ingredients to suit your tastes. This soup can be reheated the next day. 

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. sliced zucchini and yellow squash
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, garlic, dill and parsley. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth and bring soup to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. When done, remove pot from heat. Let cool slightly and then blend with immersion blender. If you like a creamy soup, gently stir in the heavy cream at this stage. Ladle into individual bowls and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Zucchini Soup

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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Coronado Springs Resort Dining

Continuing our tradition of trying new places to eat in Orlando, we dined at Toledo, the new rooftop restaurant inside Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. A magical elevator takes you to the top floor where you emerge into a spacious lounge area. You can come for drinks and the view if you don’t care to stay for dinner. Here we are gazing toward Hollywood Studios. You can see the new Star Wars land under construction and the Tower of Terror.

View from Toledo

Inside the restaurant, we were led to a quiet table among the bustle. We began our meal with an olive medley and flatbread with melted cheese for appetizers.

I ordered tilefish for my entrée and was pleasantly surprised by the tasty dish. Dessert was the best, a couple of chocolate concoctions that we all shared.

Dessert at Toledo

Our other days in Orlando were taken up with family visits. On this night, we were celebrating our son’s birthday. We’ll soon have a lot more to celebrate as my husband and I become grandparents for the first time later this year.

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Orlando Explorer

Our most recent visit to Orlando had us visiting Epcot for the Festival of the Arts. I tasted the mushroom risotto at the Masterpiece Kitchen around World Showcase but held off eating more until we went to the Morocco café for a vegetarian platter with hummus and more.
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At Disney Springs another day, I indulged in a root beer float at Ghiradelli. We enjoyed the ambiance as we strolled through the marketplaces and past numerous restaurants. Our adventures continued at historic Winter Garden as we strolled downtown. The main street still has its old-time charm, while a brewery hall attracts a young crowd with several fast-food eating choices. Here’s a peek at the lobby of an earlier era Edgewater Hotel and an adjacent ice cream shop.
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We took walks at Disney’s Riverside and Boardwalk resorts, and gained a couple of extra pounds from dining out the entire weekend. Now we’re home, and we brought a cold along with us as a souvenir.
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