Tuesday, April 10, 2018

French Cooking Class - Eggs

Oh the mighty little egg. Are you good for me or bad for me? I don't know and I don't care. You're delicious and versatile. You will always be welcome in my home. Our egg week consisted of omelettes, Portuguese eggs, deviled eggs with mushrooms and of course poached eggs with hollandaise on toast.

I am of course sorry to say, I completely forgot to take pictures but in my defense, we didn't get to sit down to lunch. We had several plates of goodness eating as dishes were prepared. 

I think the favorite dish we made was the Portuguese eggs. Onions and red peppers (or orange and yellow whatever color you have on had) are sauted in some oil for about 20 minutes until fairly soft. Next, you add some spices. We used oregano, basil, paprika and garlic and 2 diced tomatoes with some tomato paste and you can add some jalapeno or chili flakes for heat. You can always use canned tomatoes too. Then we spread the mixture into a glass baking dish and made wells in the peppers and cracked an egg into the wells, topped with cheese and placed it under the broiler until the eggs were cooked and the cheese all melty and browned. 

We also made a dutch baby. A dutch baby is a thin pancake topped with fruit. It's very easy to make but you should have a cast iron skillet that you can heat in the oven.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

French Cooking Class - Stuffing

This class was a little different. We made a mushroom pate and a chicken liver with red marmalade made out of red onion and raisins. Both were served on toast.


We made a stuffing from beef, sausage and aromatics and stuffed some pieces of zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.

We also stuffed pieces of beef with sausage and served with vegetables.

We made two dishes using puff pastry. One was topped with caramelized onion, anchovies and black olives and the other we made little pastries filled with cheese and softened leeks and herbs.

And last but not least, we stuffed roasted eggplant with a vegetable herb and cheese mix.

We also made something called socca. It's a thin pancake that's made using chickpea flour, water, olive oil and cumin. You make it like a crepe and broil it in the oven. It's thin like a cracker almost. Surprisingly, quite tasty.  I believe the class really liked the cheese stuffed pastry and the caramelized onion puff pastry the best. Here's a picture of my lunch plate for this class.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

French Cooking Class - Cheese

I've made mozzarella at home once. It turned out kinda hard and dense and it was very labor intensive. It gave me a huge appreciation for that ball of fresh mozzarella you buy in the package for $7 or $8 dollars and I'm fairly sure the price is way too low. But anyway, we made a short cut version of mozzarella in class today and it turned out better. Basically the curd was purchased so we didn't have to separate curds from milk and all we did really was warm it up with fairly hot water so that you could form the curd into a ball shape. No kneading, no pulling and no stretching. If you work and pull the cheese curds then the cheese will get tough so we didn't do any of that. We used a good salt and ate the cheese with tomato slices, basil and balsamic and olive oil.

So our first salad of the day was a fresh caprese salad. We also made a queso fresco, which we crumbled on salad greens with a green onion dressing and fresh made croutons.


We also made a marscapone cheese which we sweetened with a little sugar and vanilla and served that with a fresh made biscotti. This was only slightly sweet and almost refreshing after eating everything else.


We also made labneh, which is a drained yogurt usually with herbs such as mint, oregano, sumac, and chili flakes.

The most labor intensive item for the class was a ricotta gnocchi what everyone helped out with all the cutting and rolling of the little pillows of goodness. And we also made a quick marinara sauce with canned tomatoes, onions, olives and wine. And of course, we made our own naan to go with everything.

This was a very filling class but at least this time the food was on the lighter side with all the fresh cheese.

Friday, March 9, 2018

French Cooking Class - Lamb

Today's lunch was all about lamb. Lamb and turning vegetables.

We made a lamb stew with spring vegetables as well as a chicken version for those who didn't want to eat lamb.


We also made braised lamb shank stew served over couscous and popovers and a salad.

The lamb was really good and rich and the price of lamb is pretty high. This would definitely be a meat you would want to serve to impress others but it's probably not going to be in most households on a daily basis.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

French Cooking Class - Cajun

This week our instructor decided to have us cook cajun. I've tried to cook cajun exactly once when I tried to make a gumbo. It didn't work out all that well and if you don't know what it's supposed to taste like then how will you know if you made it right? So I was really glad when we got to make a gumbo, jambalaya, an etouffee and a cajun meatloaf with a hot sauce to put over it.

We were so stuffed the time the gumbo and meatloaf was done it was unreal and we still had to make our bananas foster.

I didn't get a picture of everything together because our dishes were done at different times. I was really happy with all the dishes but I would probably tone down the cayenne pepper. The etouffee was really hot and they used 1 teaspoon of cayenne instead of the 2 the recipe called for so I was grateful but I would've used 1/2 a teaspoon. I don't mind some heat in my food but I want to be able to feel my tongue after eating too..

The bananas foster was really easy to make and served over ice cream which acted like a welcome anti-acid for my poor stomach lining.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Paradise in Bloom Quilt - Part 3

Now that everything is cut out (we hope!) it's time to get those units put together. If you've never done paper piecing, I would urge you to at least try it at least once. Maybe start with a small wall hanging type project first. If you have sewing experience you probably won't like dealing with all the paper. I don't either but I like paper piecing. I don't want to do nothing but paper piecing mind you but I like it. If you are new to sewing, give paper piecing a try. It's a great way to learn the 1/4" seam and sewing on printed lines is awesome. No thinking, just sew on the line.

You will need some things before you start. You will need an add a 1/4" ruler. Yes, there is such a thing. This is NOT a regular ruler. This ruler comes in varying lengths but I have a smaller 5" and a 12" long rulers. I also use a 3x5" index card to place along my fold lines to fold the paper back. The card just acts as a guide. You may also use a glue stick. I first learned using the glue stick but now I find I don't really need it. I do use it if the paper shape is awkward and I can't hold the fabric section in place easily with my hand. Then I use the glue to hold the fabric piece to the paper.

So here's how you paper piece.

This is unit A of my quilt. There are background pieces (lighter sections) and accent pieces (darker areas). On it you see that each section is numbered (Sec 1, Sec 2 etc) and there are dark lines and dotted lines. You fold the paper and sew on the dark lines. You don't do anything with the dotted lines.

Each dark line is numbered 1, 2, 3 etc. This is the order you do the sections in. Another words, don't do Line 1 first then sewn on Line 3.

Another thing to remember is that you are looking and sewing on the back of the pieced section. The front is the pretty side which means that is where the right side of your fabric goes. 

So to get started, we need to put the paper on the first section piece of fabric. The right side of the fabric goes down and the paper gets put on top of it. This is where you can put a little blob of glue to help hold the paper to the fabric. Just remember that the fabric piece must cover the section completely and that includes the 1/4" seam allowance.

Next, you want to trim away the excess fabric. So place your 3x5" index card along Line 1, and fold the paper back.

Place the add a 1/4" ruler along the edge. The index card will fit in the little groove making it easy, and trim away the excess fabric.

Next, you take the fabric for Sec 2 and line up the edge with the fabric edge from Sec 1. The bright orange fabric is my Sec 2 fabric. Now, line up your needle and sew on Line 1.

Open up the fabric and iron.

Now, repeat the steps. So line up your index card along Line 2 and pull back the paper.


Use your add a 1/4" ruler and line it up along the paper and trim away the excess fabric.

Line up your Sec 3 fabric and sew on Line 2, which I didn't get a picture of....

Once you've got the order down, that it.  Place fabric, trim, line up next fabric, sew on line, press open and trim.

Your sew lines will no doubt cross at some point like mine did ,which makes folding the paper back part a little awkward. So if that happens, just gently tear the paper back to where the lines cross that way you can fold the paper back freely.

Here's my finished Unit A for the Paradise in Bloom quilt.

Just remember to read all the instructions of your pattern first and then read them again. When you start your pattern, lay out all the pieces in front of you and just go slowly when you first start out and you should be okay.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

French Cooking Class - Duck

I admit. I've never eaten duck before or at least I don't think I have. We certainly never had duck at our table growing up and you certainly can't find it it at the local grocery store. The only thing I've ever heard about duck is that it is very fatty.

Well, that part is definitely right. In our duck class, we learned about prepping duck and how to cook it. We started our confit of duck legs a few weeks ago and we finished the legs by searing them.  After we seared them they were falling off the bone and I think everyone liked them the best. We also made duck a la orange, duck with flour pancakes and an asian sauce along with our duck fat roasted smashed potatoes seasoned with garlic rosemary, pureed parsnips with apple and pear and an asian inspired salad.

Here's our confit duck legs after staying in the refrigerator for 4 weeks. The legs were roasted about 6 hours so they're already cooked. We seared them on each side, mostly just to heat them back up.

They were really tender and falling off the bone.

We also seared two duck breasts for the duck a la orange. You can see how dark the meat it is.

The duck meat is definitely very rich even the breast meat unlike a chicken. There didn't seem to be much difference in the meat between the breast and legs.

Needless to say, our duck lunch turned out very good and very rich.