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Posts tagged ‘cooking class’

Snap pea, radish, mozzarella salad in Le Parfait (with a wine pairing!)



On Sunday, I taught my last class before starting my summer hiatus. We have grand travel plans this summer, and who wants to be in a hot kitchen on a beautiful summer evening, anyway? Thinking about summer brings back memories of waddling around a kitchen last summer, hugely pregnant, teaching from a stool and trying to avoid picking up my heavy tubs of equipment and groceries. Ha! So glad that’s not me this time around. Instead, I’ll be cooking over a camp stove, eating dinner from a picnic table, and happily lugging around 22+ pounds of purely adorable baby chub in a hiking pack.

Before we head out on our adventure, I want to share with you a perfect summer recipe from this last class – it doesn’t require any heat, and packs perfectly for picnics or lunches or backyard barbecues. The class was a collaboration with my friends over at Table Wine, with special gifts from the French jar company Le Parfait. We put together a beautiful, summery salad of farmers’ market snap peas and radishes with torn fresh mozzarella, dressed with lemon and sesame and garnished with chive blossoms from Vitruvian Farms, and paired it with a lovely Italian white wine (more on that, below).  Read more

Smoky, spicy watermelon and prosciutto bites with goat cheese and mint


One of the weirdest things about this crazy year we’ve had is that my concept of seasons and time is completely off. We spent most of what should have been winter in South America and Southeast Asia, where it was plenty sunny and warm, then most of what should have been late spring/early summer in wet, cold, waterlogged Central Europe (aside from our last few blisteringly hot days in Budapest). We’ve been moving so much that we’ve become a little untethered, and I regularly find myself blanking on what day it is, what month it is, and sometimes even what city or country I’m in at the moment (that last one is a little disarming).

But now we’re back in the United States, and back for good, and I’m finally feeling a little more grounded in time and space. Here in Portland it’s definitely summer, despite a bit of rain. The markets are full of berries and tomatoes, there’s plenty of light late into the evenings, and the stores are full of supplies for picnics and camping and outdoor adventures.

So the recipe I’m sharing here is perfect for summer, wherever you are – quick and easy to do with no heat, great for entertaining or bringing to parties or picnics, and light and refreshing for when things are a bit hot and steamy outside. Read more

Workshop recap: Peruvian Cooking Experience

When we first started planning our trip, I had visions of learning how to cook traditional foods wherever we’d go. In South America these visions consisted of images like me and a well-worn abuela, making empanadas. Me and an Argentinian butcher, grilling up all those cuts of beef I’d never heard of before. Me and a Chilean fishmonger, me and a Peruvian potato farmer, so on and so forth. Heads together, laughing, eating, poking fun at each other, exchanging knowledge (in a mostly one-way exchange, let’s be honest). But I’m not exactly sure where I thought I’d find these people; people with time and patience to spare and the interest in opening up their homes, their businesses, and/or their kitchens to teach a gringo how to make their traditional food. People who I’d be comfortable enough with to poke fun at. Now that I’ve been to some of these places, the thought is hilarious at best and embarrassing at worst. Also, I probably should have taken into consideration the consistently recurring fact that I don’t speak Spanish. Brett does a wonderful job translating for shopkeepers and hotel receptionists and flight attendants, but that only goes so far and gets pretty exasperating after even the shortest of exchanges.

And thus it was that, with only a tiny bit of logic and reasoning, my dreams of picture-perfect, authentic, intimate South American cooking lessons were bashed.

So in the absence left behind, I’ve sought out tourist cooking classes as we’ve planned each city – entirely touristy, yes, and almost certainly of the sort that merely guide you through a couple of recipes and send you on your way, but still a chance for me to ask questions about the food and get answers from people who at least somewhat know what they’re talking about.

But – it turns out these sorts of classes aren’t as common or as affordable as they are in other parts of the world (I’m looking at you, Southeast Asia …), and in each city I’d come up empty-handed. Until Arequípa, Peru, that is. In Arequípa, I found one that was even better than I could have hoped for, a three-part workshop designed by the owner of our hotel, who used to be a professional chef, and set in the hotel’s beautiful outdoor courtyard. 



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Adventures with sushi

At this point, I’m pretty comfortable in the kitchen with most things – give me fruits and veggies, a piece of meat, some dough, and some random spices and herbs and I can produce a pretty good meal, likely complete with cocktail and dessert.  But there are certain cuisines or items that completely elude me or throw me for a loop – like rice, and poached eggs, and a few of the other items on this year’s List. These items require a little preparatory reading, a little experimentation, or perhaps some sort of hands-on training.


That’s one reason I have “make sushi” on this year’s list – I’m a big sushi fan, but felt like I needed a little direction to get started making it on my own.  With that idea in mind, Brett and I signed up to take a sushi class a couple weeks ago at Hipcooks, where I’ve been assisting (TAing, you might say) with cooking classes for the last three months. The philosophy of Hipcooks is to get more comfortable in the kitchen, trust your intuition, and release your “inner chef” – and that’s exactly what we did for three hours, surrounded by sushi rice, veggies, fresh seafood, and other ingredients.


The teacher talked about the variety of ingredients and where to get them and lead us through a variety of small appetizers – spicy tuna wrapped in cucumber ribbons, inari stuffed with shitake and green onions, sashimi salmon with ponzu and serrano peppers, dynamite sauce, and more – before showing us how to make cut rolls (regular and rice-side out) and providing us with a huge variety of potential ingredients to put in or on top of our rolls.



The class was a great overview – straight-forward and covering a variety of sushi items – and helped me understand what was necessary for the process, how to pick good fish, and how to use the sushi rolling mat to make great-looking cut rolls. I feel pretty confident that I could work my way through a selection of seafood, rice, sauces, and other ingredients to put together a good meal, which was exactly the point.



So. Anyone want to come over and make sushi? Let’s do it.