I went to a cooking class earlier this week with a friend … for $20, it gets you the class attendance, the recipes, you eat the meal after it’s made and (this time) leftovers to take home to boot. One of the best bargains around; well, next to a King Arthur Flour class I’m taking next week that’s free, it would be the second best bargain around.
Featuring food that is perfect for spring, the chef instructor started with Green Lettuce and Seared Certified Angus Beef Steak “Carpaccio” Wraps with Lemon Zest, and then followed with Tilapia with Lemon-Chive Sauce with Sauteed Red Chard and Brown Basmati Rice as the main course and a Creamy Citrus Cheesecake with Apricot Lemon Sauce. Everything was delicious and we stopped short of licking the plate (though that could be easily related to hunger just as much as the deliciousness of the food since it made for a later dinner).
As the class was progressing, I watched as he made the brown rice. For me, I have no problem eating brown rice, but find it rather dry, so much prefer it in a stir-fry or something with a sauce to punch it up a bit. He brought the water to a boil on the stove and added the rice, then he covered it and baked it (350 degrees for 35 minutes for this particular brand) in the oven. I’ve never made rice like that before (finishing it in the oven), and I have to say that I think it might have made the brown rice a bit more fluffy and more palatable. So besides camaraderie and a good meal, I learned something. ‘Twas a successful evening all around.
My confession? I use lemon juice from the bottle most of the time when cooking. During the class, he mentioned that he never uses lemon juice from a bottle and always juices it fresh from a lemon. I do sometimes, just not most of the time. For something like Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti, where lemon plays such a dominant role, I would definitely use fresh lemon juice. But for a recipe where it is a supporting character, and a minor one at that, not so much. He said they are worlds apart. Sigh. Just might have to make a decision on taste over convenience … and I did. Last night, we had one of my favorite tilapia recipes (using some of the fresh fish he sent us home with) and sprang for the real lemons instead of taking the easy way out. I don’t know. Truth be told, I’m not sure in a blind taste test I could tell the difference. Of course that could mean I have a less discerning palate that someone else (say, like him), who knows? What say you? Could you tell? Do you take the easy way out?