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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Valentine’s Day Cooking Class

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 17, 2019

For something different than the usual dinner at a restaurant for Valentine’s Day, we signed up for a Publix Aprons Cooking School class. We’ve enjoyed these before, and the night’s menu looked appealing. It was a popular choice. The place was full with 48 people present to watch the demo-style class.

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As we waited for the show to start, one of the chefs poured us each a welcome glass of Cupcake Sparkling Rosé wine. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I grew up on rosés before learning to appreciate drier varieties. Remember Lancer’s?

First course was a Pistachio Shortbread with Goat Cheese, Strawberries, and Mint-Honey paired with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This was almost like dessert. The shortbread was a tasty cookie. The wine went well with this selection but it was a bit too fruity for my taste. I’d like it better before dinner.

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The next course was really good and very hearty. I could have made a meal out of this alone. We got a generous portion of Seared Sea Scallop Chowder with Smoky Sourdough Croutons paired with Bread & Butter Chardonnay. This wine went on my “I Like It” list. The soup was delicious. You could vary the recipe at home and make it with shrimp or lobster instead. If you use scallops, remove the abductor muscle from the sides.

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The main dish showed me a cooking technique I’d never heard of before. It used a temperature-regulated water bath. You insert the food in a vacuum sealed plastic bag, so you’d also need the vacuum device. I’ll never make this at home with all the extra equipment required, but the meat was tasty and tender. The dark things are purple potatoes. Sous Vide Lamb Loin with Butter-Roasted Radishes, Carrots, and Baby Potatoes paired with a La Crema Pinot Noir. I liked the dry red wine. Tip for pearl onions: cut off the bottoms and blanch in boiling water for a minute, and the skin peels right off.

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The dessert, a Butterscotch-Toffee Budino (pudding) was paired with a Veuve Cliequot Brut Champagne. Apparently, the tinier the bubbles, the more expensive the brand. This one had lots of tiny bubbles. The pudding was like a dense flan, a rich dessert that melts in your mouth.

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We had a gourmet meal and wine for a decent price, plus we got to see an entertaining cooking demo and take home the recipes. Let’s check their calendar and see what’s appealing that is coming up next.

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Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Recipes, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Aprons Cooking School

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 16, 2017

Publix Cooking Class

We always enjoy the cooking classes at Publix Aprons Cooking School. You can choose between demo classes, where the chefs do all the work, or hands-on where you don the aprons. My husband and I like the demos. We sit at white clothed tables and follow along with our set of printed recipes while the chefs explain each preparation method. For our latest class, they started us off with a welcome glass of Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris. I liked this light golden white wine.

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The first dish was an Apple Pear salad. As one chef showed us how to prepare the ingredients and mix the dressing, two other guys dished out the food onto a series of plates for serving. The salad was delicious, a balance of sweet to the tang of blue cheese. This was paired with a Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. It was too fruity for my taste.

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Next we enjoyed an Alaskan Salmon Terrine with Asparagus Sauce. We always learn tricks of the trade or new info at these events, and tonight we learned about salmon. Here are the five different types/grades from the top rating down: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Keta (from the Arctic) has more oil than Sockeye so is good for grilling. (Any mistakes here are due to my misinterpretation.) Sockeye is never farmed. This dish, that looked like a paté, reminded me of gefilte fish. The asparagus sauce was a very good accompaniment as was the Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay served with it.

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For the main entrée, we had Cedar Plank Wild-Caught Salmon, along with a Couscous side dish that contained corn and cilantro. I’m not a cilantro fan and the couscous was from a mix, so I’d probably choose another flavor. I did learn that if you want to take the kernels off a stick of corn, hold the corn on top of a bundt pan in the center hole, and then scrape downward. I’d also have preferred this fish to come with a sauce so it wasn’t so plain. The Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon won my approval. Yes, we had a red wine with fish, and it worked fine.

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Dessert was homemade cheesecake with raspberry sauce. What’s not to like?

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You can see cooking lesson videos for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/user/LightsCameraCook/videos or check out the Publix cooking schools here: http://www.publix.com/recipes-planning/aprons-cooking-schools.

So did I make you hungry?

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Spaghetti Surprise

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 19, 2016

Last weekend’s dinner was one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy to make when you don’t feel much like cooking. This recipe requires that you have several basics on hand, but it’s called a “surprise” because that’s exactly what’s in it. You are using whatever foods you have in your pantry or refrigerator that you wish to use up.

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I started out by cooking a package of whole wheat angel hair pasta that we had in stock. You can use any kind of pasta or rice that you have on hand. Ditto for the veggies. Canned or frozen vegetables will work. I used canned chicken, but you could also substitute canned tuna. Any kind of shredded cheese or grated Parmesan will do. My husband wanted tomato sauce, but you could use Healthy Choice Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, or Cream of Celery Soup instead. Oh, and I threw in some fresh chopped basil and chopped onions. Other items I might add are a small jar of pimento or sliced water chestnuts for crunch. A can of diced tomatoes might be another addition, especially if you are using a soup for moisture instead of a tomato-based sauce. A splash of white wine could also provide moisture.

16 oz. package whole wheat angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
1 can chicken breast, drained and flaked
1 large can corn
1 large can peas and carrots
1 jar tomato basil sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh chopped basil
Fresh chopped onions
Sliced almonds

What’s in your kitchen that you could mix into a casserole?

 

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Shrimp Brown Rice Recipe

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 21, 2015

Here’s an easy one-dish meal that you can serve alone or with a salad.

Shrimp Brown Rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
16 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. saffron powder
48 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 lbs. cooked, deveined shrimp
12 oz. frozen broccoli florets
8 oz. frozen peas

In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, red pepper, and mushrooms in oil until tender. Stir in the rice, garlic and saffron. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, then add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add broccoli, peas, and shrimp, and cook until heated through. Serves 6-8.

Shrimp Rice

Find more of my favorite recipes at http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/recipes/

 

Posted in Food, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Moussaka Recipe

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 4, 2015

Moussaka

After buying a plump eggplant at the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale, I had a choice of three dishes to make with it: My chopped eggplant appetizer, eggplant parmigian, or moussaka. I chose the last one and made a substantial dish that will last us several nights. Full recipe below.

First I peeled and sliced the eggplant, then salted the slices. This bleeds out the bitterness.

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Next I made the beef mixture then set it aside while I did the sauce.

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Make sure you stir constantly during the sauce stage.

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Once the ingredients are prepared, you can assemble the dish. Cover and Refrigerate to bake later if desired.

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And here is the finished meal. Doesn’t it look good enough to eat? Add a salad and a glass of red wine, and you are all set.

moussaka

MOUSSAKA

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
15‑oz. can tomato sauce
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided

Salt eggplant slices on both sides and let sweat on a plate for a half hour, then rinse and pat dry.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onions and cook until beef is brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, wine, parsley, oregano and cinnamon. Simmer until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk, whisking until smooth. Boil until thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

Beat eggs in small bowl to blend. Whisk small amount of hot milk mixture into eggs. Return egg mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

Grease 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of eggplant slices in bottom of dish. Spread meat mixture over. Top with remaining eggplant. Pour hot custard cheese sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Cover loosely with foil and bake 1 hour. Uncover and continue baking until golden brown. Serves 6-8.

For more Recipes, visit http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/recipes/

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Vegetable Shepherd Pie

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 29, 2014

I like to experiment with healthy cooking, and recently I adapted this recipe from one we ate at Disney’s Rose and Crown Pub at Epcot.  Their version may have had cheese on top and been called Cottage Pie, but in the interest of lowering the fat content, I omitted the cheese in my version. As you’ll see, I take the easy route and buy prepared mashed potatoes that can be heated in the microwave. Buying other pre-chopped ingredients also speeds the process.

VEGETABLE SHEPHERD’S PIE

Ingredients

12 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
24 oz. package prepared garlic mashed potatoes
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
2-6 oz. packages chopped fresh celery
1-8 oz. package chopped fresh onions
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
8 oz. crinkle cut carrots, halved
6.5 oz. package peeled pearl onions
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. Worchester sauce
Paprika

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together vegetable broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Strain and chop mushrooms when softened and reserve liquid.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms and 1 Tbsp. olive oil and cook until mushrooms are browned. Remove this batch of mushrooms from pan. Repeat process to cook off the remaining mushrooms. Remove to bowl.

Return pan over medium high heat and add remaining butter and olive oil, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add turnip, carrots, parsnip, herbs, pearl onions, and Worchester sauce. Cook until vegetables are softened.

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Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits. Stir in reserved mushrooms and mix well. Remove from heat and transfer vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.

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Prepare potatoes according to package directions. Thin with butter and milk or half-and-half if desired. Spread potatoes on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees until top is golden and mixture is bubbly, about 20 minutes. If you want a more browned look, put briefly under broiler. Or sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and put dish back in the oven until melted. Serve hot. A salad makes a nice accompaniment. Makes 6-8 servings.

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Cooking School

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 14, 2013

Cooking Class

Imagine going to a gourmet restaurant, watching the cooks prepare your meal while following along with the recipes, and then eating a delicious four-course meal with wine pairings. This was our experience at Publix’s Apron Cooking School. It was a repeat visit for us as we greatly enjoy this experience. Tonight’s menu started with a crisp salad using curly lettuce with tomatoes, bacon, dates, and a warm walnut vinaigrette dressing. Dijon mustard gave this dressing a kick while maple syrup added a sweet element. Accompanying the starter was a Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay. I liked this medium bodied white wine that sells for $12.99.

Cooking Tips: Cutting an onion releases an enzyme that causes tearing. To avoid this, leave on the root end. Remove the stem and peel, then slice through almost to the root. Turn onion and dice in the other direction.

To increase the juice from a fresh lemon, roll it on the counter first or microwave it for 8 seconds before squeezing.

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Next came a yummy Portobello mushroom and barley soup. Including carrots, celery, and onion, this was so good that I still smack my lips at the remembered taste. Truffle oil added finesse. I loved the nutty texture of the barley. The accompanying wine was a Pinot Grigio by Ecco Domani. This was good but I liked the Chardonnay better.

Cooking Tips: Cut your vegetables the same size so they cook evenly together.

And—Garlic burns so add it last.

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The main course was buttermilk meatloaf with stroganoff mushrooms and egg noodles.

This was perfection. The wine was a Santa Rita Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. I would have preferred a red wine with the meat dish.

Cooking Tips: Use a tube of tomato paste instead of a can. Then when a recipe calls for one tablespoon, you won’t have a whole can left over.
A roux helps to thicken sauces. It’s equal parts fat and flour. The fat coats the flour and allows it to be absorbed into the sauce. A roux can be light or dark.

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Dessert tempted our palates with warm banana shortcakes. The sparkling wine was a pink Moscato. It was all right but I wouldn’t buy it. I love anything with warmed bananas so this dish hit the spot to finish off the evening.

Cooking Tips: Baking soda helps things spread; baking power helps them to rise (or is it the other way around?)

To roll out dough, put it between pieces of parchment paper. The dough is easier to cut if you refrigerate it first.

To whip cream, move your whisk back and forth rather than around the bowl.

Sugar in the raw is produced when sugar is spun at a high velocity and the molasses separates out. Molasses plus sugar equals light brown sugar.

**These tips are accurate to the best of my hearing ability and are subject to my interpretation.

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Publix Apron’s Cooking School is a fun and tasty experience. You can sign up for the demo or take a hands-on class. Either way, you’ll eat a wonderful meal and explore some new wines.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Cooking Class

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 23, 2011

Last night we attended a cooking class for the first time in years. It was held at our Publix Apron’s Cooking School on the second floor in a room specially designed for cooking demos. Four chefs took turns at each of the dishes, while the others assisted. We sat at white-clothed tables with regular place settings and wine glasses. They hold other classes where you can participate in the food preparation, but this one we got to sit back and enjoy.

The first course was a homemade Caesar salad. It tasted deliciously of anchovies. It took the chef less than 30 minutes to do the dressing and put the salad together. On the side, the other chefs had dished out prepared salads onto plates for each of us. We enjoyed this starter with a fruity white wine. About 20 people sat in the classroom, where flat-screen TVs mounted on the walls allowed us to see the action from any angle.

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Next came sautéed shrimp over wilted mustard greens. I can’t say that I enjoy mustard greens or kale; I’d substitute spinach. But sautéed with diced onions and mixed with parsley and tomatoes, the mustard greens came out a tasty choice. The shrimp, smothered in butter and white wine sauce, was finger-licking good. A dry white wine accompanied this course.

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The main entrée was grilled sirloin with warm potato salad. I almost enjoyed the latter more than the meat. Flavored with bacon, and including onion, garlic, red pepper, and parsley, the small cut potatoes turned out moist and flavorful. We learned how to grill sirloin steaks, something I wouldn’t normally do at home but a good choice for meat-lovers. The red wine was a pinot noir.

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Probably the best part was the dessert, peach cobbler and homemade buttermilk ice cream.

While I would more likely buy vanilla ice cream at the store or use Cool Whip, the peach cobbler is on my list to make at home. It was relatively simple and oh-so-sweet. I was smacking my lips afterward wishing for more. My diet self was happy I couldn’t have seconds. Sorry, but I was too busy digging into this treat to take a picture.

Now that we’ve been introduced to the Publix cooking schools, this visit won’t be our last.

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TURNING LEMONS INTO LEMONADE

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 31, 2010

Kitchen Fiasco Number One 

I am having a dinner party tonight, and I wanted to prepare two items for the first time. One was called Olive Cheese Nuggets that I ate at a friend’s house many years ago. The couple coming tonight likes olives, so I thought this would be a great time to try the recipe. Essentially, it’s medium sized stuffed green olives wrapped in pastry. So I follow this recipe:

4 oz grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter                                                                                 

3/4 cup sifted flour

½ tsp paprika

40 medium stuffed green olives (I bought a ten-oz jar of Queen sized Publix brand olives)

I mix up the grated cheddar, softened butter, flour and paprika. This is supposed to make dough. Then you wrap one teaspoon of dough around each olive and bake them. Sound okay? My mixture turned out to be dry and crumbly. No way would it wrap around an olive. I couldn’t even knead it. I added some milk I had on hand to moisten it. Still no good. Even if it worked as dough, there was nowhere near enough to wrap all those olives! This recipe must be faulty. I give up, but I don’t toss out my mixture. Instead, why not make them into cheese biscuits?

Having no idea if this idea would work or not, I add more milk, mix it all up, and make four balls out of the resultant dough. I flatten each ball in my hands, spread them out on a greased baking sheet, and bake them at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes. Voilà! Crispy cheese biscuits, a bit doughy for my taste, but edible. I don’t think I’ll add this to my repertoire, however.

Kitchen Fiasco Number Two

 

I planned to make another new recipe, artichoke and spinach stuffed mushrooms. One day ahead, I drain and chop the artichokes. This morning, I come into the kitchen and my husband confesses he ate half the artichokes, thinking it was egg salad. C’mon! Don’t you look before you eat? Can’t you taste the difference on your tongue? I send him out to get a new can of artichoke hearts. When he gets back, I put him to work (he’s a good guy to do kitchen duty) washing and de-stemming the mushroom caps. Meanwhile, I made a zucchini chocolate cake. I have leftover shredded zucchini, half the chopped artichokes from the first batch, and mushroom stems that I don’t need for the stuffed mushroom appetizer. What’s a creative cook to do?  I tossed these three ingredients in the food processor with some light mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. I’ll microwave the mixture later to heat it and serve it as a spread to go with whole wheat crackers.

What are some of the kitchen saves that you’ve done?

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