Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kitchen Academy Food Series Cooking Classes

I love to cook. I've taken a recreational cooking series (12 cooking classes each with a different theme: salads, meats, baking, etc) at the Kitchen Academy in the Arclight complex about 1.5 years ago. It was about $60-75 per class; series classes had a small discount. I enjoyed it for the most part and learned a lot of new skills, such as making my own pasta from scratch which was a lot easier than I thought. I still use some of the recipes quite often (caesar salad, cous cous, jerk chicken, pasta with tomato and mustard seeds). I would have never even attempted to make jerk chicken on my own. It's pretty easy if you have a food processor. Some of my favorite (also simple) recipes that I got from the cooking class below:

Ultimate Caesar Salad Dressing

3 egg yolks
3 anchovies or past
1 garlic clove
2 T parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp tabasco
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 T lemon juice
4 oz canola oil

Whisk (don't use a food processor - whenever I used mine for this recipe, the dressing emulsified too much and tasted like mayonnaise) egg yolks and anchovies first, then add next 8 ingredients, then add canola oil. So easy. I've adjusted this recipe slightly by adding 1 less egg yolk and a 1/2 t of sugar. Make croutons easily (I use the La Brea Bakery Baguette bread-I've tried other brands, but it doesn't taste as good). Pour generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil on bread, bake at 300 degrees for half hour or until hard. I also use Reese's anchovy paste, which I purchase from Bay Cities Deli/Market in Santa Monica on Lincoln.

Grilled Jerk Chicken - simple, tasty recipe
1/2 small white onion
1/2 cup green onion (green only) - about 3 stalks
1 medium habanero chile or chile of choice
1 T fresh thyme
1 T Kosher salt
1 T Ground black pepper
1 T Sugar
1 T Ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T Vegetable Oil
1 T Cider Vinegar
10 boneless chicken thighs

Place all ingredients (except chicken) in food processor and process until smooth-this is the marinade. Marinade the chicken for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours.

I use my oven broiler and grill each side for about 5 minutes. Can use chicken breast, but chicken thighs are so much more tastier and flavorful. Kind of healthy (not much oil used except for the fat/oil in the chicken which can easily be removed).

1 1/2 cups of instant couscous. Follow instructions on couscous packaging (more flavor is chicken stock is substituted for water). Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
1 large onion-small dice
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 T curry powder
1 large carrot-small dice
1 celery stalk - small dice
1 small jicama -small dice
1 large zucchini-small dice
1/4 cup dried currants (dried cranberries may be used)
1/2 cup cashew (walnuts may be used) - toasted and chopped

Over high heat (using non stick saute pan), heat oil, then add onions until lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add curry powder and garlic, cook additional 15 seconds.
Add carrot, celery and jicama, continue to cook until tender, not soft, about 5 minutes.
Add zucchini, about 1 minute. Add currants and cashews. Add cooked couscous and toss well. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

Pasta with Mustard Seed/Tomato Sauce (made with fresh pasta but also tastes good with dried pasta)
1/4-1/2 pound of pasta. Follow instuctions on dried spaghetti/linguine packaging.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion-small dice
1 T Mustard Seeds
3 cloves garlic minced
1 T Tomato Paste
4 large tomatoes - peeled seeded and cut into small dice
1/2 stock or water
kosher salt and pepper

Over high heat, heat olive oil, then add onions and cook until translucent (3 minutes). Add mustard seeds and garlic, cook another minute.
Add tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Add stock/water. Brink mixture to boil and cook for 5- 10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to combine.

Tasty Mac and Cheese (not from Kitchen Academy) Serves 6

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
3 good bread, cut into small pieces
2 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg
Sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, (about 4 ounces)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cheddar cheese, and Gruyere cheese; set cheese sauce aside.
Cook macaroni 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions so macaroni is slightly underdone. Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.
Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.