Confessions and Cooking Class

by Cate on March 12, 2009

Prep WorkI 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.

TilapiaMy 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?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Magda March 12, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Oh…now come on….you must remember that I am the queen of two things: 1) Rice (with every meal!) and 2) cooking with lemon. Please…for the sake of all that is holy…THROW OUT THE LEMON JUICE. Get your squeeze on, girl!

Also, what did you think of the brown rice cooked that way? I have tried and tried with brown rice because it is so much healthier…but my family acts like I’m giving them cous cous.

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Colleen March 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm

The zest is what makes lemons special; the juice is just sour. I’ve been known to substitute even apple cider vinegar for fresh lemon in non-lemon-dominant recipes. Sometimes, cost and convenience trump a fleeting taste note in my book…I know it tastes different, yet it doesn’t taste bad, so, so what? Works for me, at least.

Colleens last blog post..Meals for the Week: Favorites and Flashbacks

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Patsy Kreitman March 12, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I’m intrigued by the baked brown rice. Might make it more palatable… I am not a huge fan of it.

As for lemon juice… I used use the bottled kind, but for some reason I switched and always have lemons on hand these days. Not sure I notice a taste difference, but my boys like to do the squeezing and it’s their job now.

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Betsy March 12, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Since seeing the recipe on CL’s BB that Bobmark posted (it was from Cooks Illustrated), I always bake my rice. I love it since often had to deal with it boiling over when I made it in a pot. Now I cook for 1 hr and don’t have to think about it. Super easy,

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Betsy March 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Oh, and I only use the real thing, I love lemons. Not only the juice, the zest, and the pulp.

I once readt that some company sells frozen lemon juice (just like you get OJ) but I’ve never seen/tried.

The real thing for me,

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Kristine March 12, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Free class from King Arthur Flour? Where?? That would be AWESOME! I love their products and their recipes and their blog… Love yours too! Thanks for your interesting posts!

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Claire March 12, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Looks like fun! We have a place that does cooking classes here but they’re nowhere near as cheap (?) as $20! Sounds like you got a good meal, too. I usually use bottled juice as well…takes too many lemons and too much effort for the real juice. Don’t know if I could taste the difference but there probably is…somewhere! Hope you and Nicholas have fun making brownies…if you end up doing it.

Claires last blog post..Chocolate on Call

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Emily March 13, 2009 at 5:41 am

I’ve wanted to take a class like this, just haven’t gotten around to it.

The cheesecake sounds sooo good. I love the brown rice trick. I’ll have to remember that one.

Emilys last blog post..Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Chip Cookies

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Cate March 13, 2009 at 8:12 am

Emily – after your stint on Food Network, I’d say you’re doing great without class. :) But always fun to go nonetheless.

Claire – and so much more expensive! Lemons are 79 cents each here now, so with two for the tilapia, it can get away from you really quickly.

Kristine – yup! Sometimes it pays to eek out five minutes for me to read the newspaper! Here are their upcoming national classes – they also have classes you can take online.

Betsy – ooh, will have to look to see if the store carries the frozen juice – that may be a good work-around.

Patsy – much better to put them to work! ;)

Colleen – I hear ya. When I’m trying to get dinner made at a reasonable hour with the kids and dog underfoot, sometimes convenience just has to win out.

Magda – I do remember you and lemons, especially for the francaise (still waiting!) and that cubed steak that you make. I think the rice was definitely a little better that way. I had some leftover from the class, so mixed that with a bit of white rice that I made with chicken broth (instead of water) and it wasn’t bad at all.

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Culinary Wannabe March 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm

That’s a better deal than going to a restaurant! How fun! And thanks for stopping by my site!

Culinary Wannabes last blog post..Festive Oreo Truffles

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bbpizzapro March 13, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I bake all my rice. It makes a huge difference.

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