I would say the MOST AMAZING thing about the cooking classes I do…. the most AMAZING thing about the Food & Wine Tasting Dinners are:
WE ALWAYS ATTRACT NICE PEOPLE.
Is it that Foodies are nicer than most people? Smarter than most? Happier than most? More interesting than most? Well, Yes.
Yes. That’s what I think I am saying here. LOL
Prep TIME for the Lasagna. We started the pasta and I said: Boil that water….. and Salt it like the ocean!
Cook noodles till they’re 3/4 of the way done (you’ll be cooking the lasagna again later, no?). Strain – and pull apart. Geez that’s hot! Place in freezer to stop the cooking. Remove from Freezer when cool.
Save 4 cups of pasta Water to thicken sauces (always a good idea).Cut then Crumble cheese in a food processor and place in fridge.
From chunks to crumble - you can DO IT! Parmesan from the Food Processor takes much less time!
Remove dough 45 minutes from fridge before using to allow to rise (I got lazy and instead of using my breadmaker to make my own crust, I got it from a local pizzeria – if they charge you more than $3.50 a ball, you are being ripped off). Caramelize onions and shallots. Chiffonade
basil. Roll dough, sauce, cheese (less is more), top with caramelized onions and shallots. My crazy secret to making a GOOD pizza: red chili powder
, followed by garlic salt. You olive oil the crust, and top with some basil. If you would like to stuff the crust with cheese, it is a good idea. 420 degrees in a convection oven – DOES THAT MEAN IT’S 420 friendly? – (450 in a regular oven) for 15 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let it rest a couple of minutes, before cutting. The cheese needs to be less runny before you tackle that.
Notice I’m not hand holding you here? You have to learn how to cook instinctively. And if you get stuck there’s always firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask and you shall receive! XD
Surprise! Not all the skin is gone!
There’s something to be said for cutting each piece consistantly thin (not too thin… look at the picture)! And there’s also something to be said for leaving some of the skin on. A purist would say LEAVE ALL THE SKIN ON. But that’s not me. I want some of the flavor…. some is enough for me.
Now, my buddy Michel Stroot of Golden Door fame would tell you YOU NEVER bread or dust eggplant with flour. But here’s what I’ve found: if you use a spray in the pan and on the eggplant for the purpose of less oil, the eggplant will absorb even less oil if it’s dusted with flour. Now, I use the Organic white whole wheat flour. I’ve seen it at Ralph’s and even Stater Bros. So just look for it. You will not find total recipes here…
Just some thoughts for your kitchen… and a ‘game plan’.
take that eggplant and dust with flour, salt / pepper (garlic salt if you prefer)
Pan sauté – light oil spray
Caramelize onions, shallots, mushrooms (brown them together)…. and make that one of your layers.
The color of brown for both eggplant and croutons
Layer Rao’s eggplant sauce, eggplant, cheese, spinach, your magic mushroom concoction, eggplant, cheese, sauce. Cook 350 thirty min or until top is brown.
Croutons from scratch
When you use raisin bread to make croutons, you will ALWAYS end up with a darker crouton. The raisins may even LOOK burnt, but they’re not. You’ll have to experiment. Every oven is different.
But the key to every crouton is to start out with day old bread. Well, what happens when you don’t have day old bread? Do you shrivel up and succumb to buying those lousy things called croutons in a box or a bag?
Start with Ezekiel Raisin Bread
YOU DO? Really?
I think NOT.
Simply cut the sides off and leave out over night. If you have a pan like mine, that is more like a net, that air can get through then BRAVO! The next morning the bread WILL BE HARD and YES! DAY OLD BREAD!
Cut into small crouton size bites. Spray with olive oil. Add garlic salt or just Kosher salt (lightly), red chilli powder, pepper, parmesan cheese.
Cook 350 until brown. Toss so that both sides brown.
Best Sauce when it isn't YOURS!
Did I mention Rao’s?
A picture’s worth a thousand words.
My eggplant Parmesan uses the Roasted Eggplant Sauce (almost as good as my own and none of the work) and my Lasagna uses their Marinara Sauce. Hey…. it’s all too much work sometimes. Let’s cut corners where we can!
Important veggies to layer into Lasagna
Spray pan and make your first layer tomato sauce (so it won’t stick for sure). Use Lasagna noodles to coat the bottom all going in a horizontal direction. Add crumbled cooked sausage to onions and peppers. Ricotta cheese is next: dot with basil and parmesan cheese. Another layer of vertical noodles, sauce, ricotta (with added roasted garlic and basil right into that mixture), shredded mozzarella, parm, and the onions, shallots, and mushrooms you cooked earlier. Top layer horizontal again, add cheese and sauce to cover that pasta. Why? We cover it so it doesn’t get hard and crunchy. Now, we went one way with the pasta, then the next layer another way.
Why? If we go one way with the noodles and the next layer the opposite way, the pieces when cut, will hold up, instead of running all over the plate. Make sure you let it rest a couple of minutes, before cutting. Another fine game plan!
Broccoli with corn and roasted Garlic
Peel, steam, al dente. Add roasted garlic and corn. My roasted garlic has to be somewhere on this website no? Go look for it!
Caesar salad dressing
This ain’t my first rodeo…. and I’m thinkin’ it’s not yours either. You must have eaten or even made Caesar Salad Dressing before…. NO? Anchovies, Lemon, Parmesan, Dijon, Garlic (roasted if you made it earlier for other things…. like spreading on a baguette as a ‘starter’)….. Check out this Website…. I’m thinkin’ we’ve got this dressing in more detail here. If not, you can always email@example.com and let me know you need more instruction.
Did I mention I can come into your house and teach you to cook ONE on ONE? Or you can gather 5 -8 people together on a Saturday, Saturday night or Sunday and we can do a cooking class? Yeah. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s nothing like trying to make something with an instructor along side whose got your back.
Here’s a helpful hint from one of our Foodies: Go to the UC Davis website
to find their study on how to get wine stains out. That makes sense right?
I’m always telling you to ‘prep’ and pre-cook ahead, so that the day or evening of your dinner is you doing NOTHING BUT ORCHESTRATING that food, combining things and putting them into the oven……. In my next blog? I’m going to talk about what foods can you CAN NOT make ahead of time.
When your legs grow straighter.