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Eggs Benedict His Way

My husband is taking an on-line course to learn to make the “mother” sauces. Well, when he got up to the lesson on how to make Hollandaise Sauce, I was an eager and very willing taste-tester! Eggs Benedict is one of our favorite breakfast meals – and it’s all about the sauce!

His version of this classic dish starts with a lightly toasted egg, everything bagel cut into thirds (to create a thinner bagel), then two thick-cut pieces of bacon, baked in the over until crispy, next comes the perfectly poached egg, lastly comes the velvety Hollandaise Sauce and finished with freshly cracked pepper.


My Love of Iced Coffee

The season is here!  Iced Coffee Season!  I love iced coffee, but when you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier, store-made ones are not always the best choice.  But, when I try to make them at home, they just don’t taste the same.  My mission this summer is to create a recipe for iced coffee that is both healthy and tastes good, without a trillion calories!

Today I experimented with just brewing a cup of Gevalia Cappuccino K-cup in my machine using less water than the package suggested.  I then let it cool a little, added it to a glass of ice, topped it with Lite Cool Whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Not bad, but I feel like it was a cheat.

So…my quest of the perfect homemade, healthy, iced coffee begins…..


Another Great Weekend of Cooking

So my husband and I attended the NYCE Weekend at the International Culinary School in New York City this weekend. It’s our third year attending and, as usual, had an awesome time. It’s two intensive days of cooking, eating, tasting, sweating, laughing, learning, drinking and, best of all, spending time with friends who love to cook.

Day 1:

The weekend started out with a nice breakfast of small pastries, yogurt, juice, and coffee. Then, at 10:00 a.m. it was time to go to the first class of the weekend. Our first class was entitled, “Southern French Classics,” taught by Chef Alain Sailhac. We learned to make Seared Salmon with Sautéed Spinach and Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette. I have to say the salmon was delicious (my husband make a great crispy skin salmon too) but the Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette was awesome! I was supposed to be tasting it, but I was eating it by the spoonful. I can’t wait to replicate that and I think it would be really delicious on steamed green beans.

We also learned to make Hazelnut Crusted Lamb Chops with Ratatouille. I am not a big fan of lamb or Ratatouille for that matter, but it was fun to see how a professional chef makes them. I learned that you don’t necessarily need a lot of liquid to marinate the lamb-we used just a sprinkle of olive oil, smashed garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and lightly crushed juniper berries. We just lightly rubbed the lamb with the herbs and garlic and let it sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour.

At lunchtime we sat down to a lunch of a choice of 3 different burgers, sauces and homemade potato chips, while listening to Dorothy Cann Hamilton, President of the International Culinary Center, speak. She leads an interesting life and has many inspiring ideas about bringing healthy lunch food to students across the country.

We then went to the classroom for our afternoon session with The Great Chef, David Bouley. He taught us to make Glazed Japanese Turnips with Morels, fresh Vanilla Bean and Black Organic Dates, Black Truffle Gnocchi with Kale and Sage, Organic Chicken Breast with Almond Milk, and Rosemary and Pineapple Carpaccio. We learned to cook the turnips slowly in butter, adding a little water to make sure they cook, but don’t burn, along with the split vanilla bean, morels, and dates. It was an interesting combination that I never imagined would taste so good.

We also made a sauce for the gnocchi (the gnocchi were pre-made for us by one of Chef Bouley’s assistants. He’s a master at making gnocchi. It was the tiniest, most tender, most delicious gnocchi I’ve ever had.) The sauce was basically a brown butter sauce with cream, garlic, lightly sautéed kale and yummy black truffles. It was heavenly and so easy to make. Chef Bouley told us that we could get in touch with him and he would arrange for us to have a one-on-one lesson with his “gnocchi chef.” My husband and I will be taking him up on that offer. That was one of the most heavenly dishes I’ve ever had.

We then moved on to the chicken dish. We learned how to souvide at home. It’s basically a slow cooking method for chicken and fish. We seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and placed a small branch of rosemary under the skin of the chicken. We placed it in a plastic zip top bag along with almond butter, almond milk and sliced morels. We brought a large pot of water to a boil, then brought it down to a simmer at 170 degrees. Placing a thermometer in the pot, to make sure it maintained that temperature once the bag of chicken was dropped in. The chicken remains in the water until cooked through, about 30 minutes. This same technique can be used with fish with just a little chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of the milk and appropriate herbs. To serve, we removed the chicken carefully from the pot and removed from bag and placed it on a cutting board. Once we let the chicken rest, we removed the skin and sliced on a diagonal. We then placed it on a plate with the turnips along side and on top.

The Pineapple Carpaccio was a simple dessert of thinly sliced pineapple arranged in a pattern of a sunflower. We sprinkled it with coconut cane sugar and the juice of ginger. And, as a special treat, Chef Bouley placed a scoop of homemade espresso gelato on top of that. Perfection!

After class we moved to the reception area for wine and light snacks. My husband and I left the party to go back to our hotel. We were exhausted, but excited to get ready for our special dinner at the David Bouley Test Kitchen. It was a night of delectable food, endless glasses of champagne and wine pairings and a lot of laughing, all in honor of a great chef, teacher and extremely generous person, David Bouley.

The dinner was made by some of the chefs he’s made an impact on and who respect him. It took place at his test kitchen, which is a really cool refurbished “loft” in Manhattan. As soon as you get off the old-fashioned elevator you feel like you’re walking into some one’s really cool apartment, except that there’s a huge open kitchen smack in the middle of the space. One can watch and smell everything that’s being prepared for dinner, all while snacking on delectable passed appetizers and delicious sparkling wine.

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Day 2:

This day also started with a nice, simple breakfast of yogurt, coffee and scones. The morning session was a bread class! We learned to make 3 different types of doughs using “ancient grains.” This was my favorite class of the weekend. Since I’ve only made bread a couple of times in my life, always using white flour only, it was interesting to learn how to use grain when making bread. We also learned that toasting some of the grains intensifies their flavor and adding something like bourbon can make a bread even yummier. I really enjoy eating breads with more nutrition and flavor, instead of plain, old white bread, so Chef Zach Golper really inspired me with his interest in experimenting with these grains. He also dispelled two common myths about bread-making that I thought were true; that you need sugar to feed the yeast and that you can’t make bread from just Whole Wheat Flour. He told me that, with a little extra work, bread can be made completely of Whole Wheat Flour and doesn’t need sugar to rise! He also stressed that, really, the bread is all about the crust and the flavor, not the fluffiness of the inside! I agree!

These are the three bread doughs we made:


On to lunch, we were served different types of sandwiches and salads and a yummy peach iced tea while listening to Pat LaFreida speak about his MEAT business. It was very interesting to hear the “inside scoop” on the meat business.

After catching a breath of fresh air and sun for about 20 minutes it was time to go to our afternoon class. The last class of the weekend was taught by Elizabeth Karmel. She loves her some North Carolina BBQ! She had us break into teams, one Eastern North Carolina BBQ, the other was Western North Carolina BBQ. Each team was sub-divided into teams as follows, banana pudding, BBQ sauce, cole slaw, pulled pork, deviled eggs, and collard greens. Each sub-team made these items. The BBQ on each team was slightly different, one using tomato as the base and one just strictly using several vinegars. It was fun to work as teams and engage in friendly competition on who made the best. Both teams won this battle! At the end of class we joined the chef in doing a shot of bourbon and a heaping plate of BBQ with all the fixings!

So it’s the end of Day 2 and a wonderful weekend came to an end. We joined the rest of the crew at a reception of more wine and snacks. But, before we went to the reception room, we picked up our swag bag. It’s a huge canvas bag filled with goodies, like a grill pan, spatulas, candy, coffee, tea….etc…what a bonus!

Not only did we learn invaluable tools to cooking great meals, but the proceeds go to a scholarship fund for future students of the International Culinary Center.

Can’t wait for next year’s event!

Rustic Rustico Cooking Class

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy with the holidays, like everyone else. I recently attended a cooking class in Manhattan and had such a good time. My husband and I have always wanted to take a class together – so he did some research and found a company called Rustico. It’s a cooking school run by a husband and wife team. She teaches all of the cooking and he works as the web master and over-all manager. We made five recipes – Casonsei (Sausage and cheese Pasta Horns) or Sausage and Cheese Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter, Braised Pork Ribs with Carmelized Onions and White Wine, Risotto with Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnips, and Fennel with Sage, Parmigiano and Nutmeg, and Double Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce.


bread pubbing

I’ve watched my mother make pasta, including ravioli, while growing up but never actually made it myself. I have experimented recently with making ravioli with won ton wrappers. They work nicely as pasta, but are a bit thicker than the pasta used for ravioli. I also made a brown butter sage sauce, also, very similar to Michol’s recipe. I did make my a little browner than she did, but I guess that’s a taste preference.

I really thought I knew a lot about cooking, and I do, but I actually learned a lot at the class.

At the end of the night we sat down with other students and enjoying the dishes we had cooked and a couple of glasses of wine. Really enjoyable night!

So, the day after we attended the cooking class we decided to make the bread pudding since we had all of the ingredients. Well, I think you can tell by this photograph, it turned out very well! So delicious, even without the caramel sauce.
Rustico Cooking
40 West 39th Street
Third Floor
New York, NY 10018

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