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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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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Tilapia Dijon

2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. white horseradish
4 tilapia fillets (1 lb. or more)
¼ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, mustard and horseradish. Put fillets on a greased baking sheet. Spread mixture over fish. Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the bread crumbs, the melted butter, and the remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over fish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

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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Chicken Basque

1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1 can chicken broth
¼ tsp. each dried thyme and dried savory
1 small jar diced pimento, drained

In a Dutch oven, heat oil. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add onion and red pepper. Cook until slightly wilted. Add garlic and stir. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are tender. Makes 6 servings.

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.
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Zucchini Egg Bake

2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. diced onion
15 oz. can sweet corn, no salt added
2-16 oz. containers sliced zucchini
8 oz. diced tomatoes
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the vegetables and sauté until softened. Remove from heat and stir in seasonings, about 2/3 of the cheese, and the eggs. Mix thoroughly. Transfer into greased casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Top with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more or until browned and bubbly. Serves 6-8.

Spaghetti Surprise

Last weekend’s dinner was one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy to make when you don’t feel much like cooking. This recipe requires that you have several basics on hand, but it’s called a “surprise” because that’s exactly what’s in it. You are using whatever foods you have in your pantry or refrigerator that you wish to use up.

Spaghetti Surprise2

I started out by cooking a package of whole wheat angel hair pasta that we had in stock. You can use any kind of pasta or rice that you have on hand. Ditto for the veggies. Canned or frozen vegetables will work. I used canned chicken, but you could also substitute canned tuna. Any kind of shredded cheese or grated Parmesan will do. My husband wanted tomato sauce, but you could use Healthy Choice Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, or Cream of Celery Soup instead. Oh, and I threw in some fresh chopped basil and chopped onions. Other items I might add are a small jar of pimento or sliced water chestnuts for crunch. A can of diced tomatoes might be another addition, especially if you are using a soup for moisture instead of a tomato-based sauce. A splash of white wine could also provide moisture.

16 oz. package whole wheat angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
1 can chicken breast, drained and flaked
1 large can corn
1 large can peas and carrots
1 jar tomato basil sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh chopped basil
Fresh chopped onions
Sliced almonds

What’s in your kitchen that you could mix into a casserole?

 

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Eggplant Rollatini

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into half-inch slices
2 cups tomato basil sauce
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a microwave-safe dish, lay out eggplant. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes until pliable. Transfer to plate and drain liquid from baking dish. Pat eggplant slices dry. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, egg, and minced garlic. Mix together.

Starting at the wide end of each eggplant slice, spread a teaspoon or so of the cheese mixture. Roll up each piece and lay seam-side down in greased microwave-safe baking dish. Pour sauce over all. Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Microwave until cheese melts, about 2 more minutes. Optional: sprinkle on oregano or chopped basil leaves before cooking. Serves 4.