Friday, December 19, 2008

A Lesson Before Dining: Chapter 1

This week’s lesson was all about the basics. We took on knife skills, stock making, soup making, and omelets. The class met at Whole Foods in Columbus Circle to peruse the fresh produce and meats, discuss goals for the day, and select the ingredients for the hands on course work. The class chopped carrots, celery, rosemary, thyme, sage and mushrooms for the soup, and skinned chicken legs for the stock. We also made an Italian inspired omelet with a bit of thyme, parmesan, black pepper and a hint of Dijon mustard.

Below is a recount of the participants’ experiences:

The UE said…Stock making has always been a big issue with me. Though one of the most important ingredients in a plethora of dishes and sauces, I have never taken the time to learn how to properly make it, so this week was particularly exciting. Since the class is comprised of just me and my eager partner, it was great to share my knowledge and experience with a good friend who hadn’t been given the opportunity to learn things like dicing and boiling. We sat together at a table while prepping, discussing life and politics, and every so often I’d take the knife to show her how the easiest and safest way to perform a knife skill. It is my personal interest to see just how well this course will enable a culinary novice to be able to make their own foods, but everyone needs some guidance, and since we didn’t have time to watch the videos, this was my best bet. We prepped food, skimmed the stock, tasted and seasoned. Soup is one of those dishes that doesn’t really require exact ingredients, so it was a perfect starter to the course. While waiting for the flavors in the soup to commingle, we decided to make a quick omelet. Eggs are a lot like chicken – you can prepare them any number of ways with different seasonings and garnishes. I decided to make one to my tastes, tossed in some Dijon mustard and threw it on the pan. The food came out amazing – better than expected. I’ve never made soup before and I was scared it would taste weak and bland, but thanks to our selection of ingredients, we had a phenomenal soup on our hands.

Lou said…Daunting to say the least, I’ve always had a love hate relationship with cooking. In my household growing up, it was something that happened on very special occasions and holidays---sort of like a distant cousin that came to visit a few times a year. In my adult life, I’ve often scoffed at how much value is placed on women knowing how to cook (most likely because I didn’t have the know-how), but after years of Ramen noodles and canned Spaghetti-O’s, I find myself welcoming the opportunity to learn what this cooking things is all about.

Novice doesn’t quite capture what I am when it comes to cooking. In my first cooking session with my cooking aid/teacher, I had to be taught how to hold a cutting knife, and embarrassingly enough, had trouble getting the stove turned on. But alas, there was a certain pride I felt walking through Whole Foods picking out fresh ingredients; seeing and smelling them to detect quality. Chicken vegetable soup – with almost 17 unique ingredients was the challenge for the day. I learned to chop, mince, skin and boil chicken, and my aid threw in omelet making for good measure. Nothing was more gratifying than tasting the fruits of my labor. In my first session alone, my distant cousin cooking taught me many valuable lessons and take aways; patience, attentiveness and gratification. Looking forward to next week when we take on pasta and fried chicken.


White Chicken Stock
Hearty Chicken Soup
Fresh 4 Egg Omelet

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shayla said...

love this... keep cooking lou!! yum ;)

what a great idea... i'm sure both of you will learn so much from the challenges and from each other

lemnada said...

how do i get invited to enjoy the results of the next class? ;)