Lessons Learned in the Pantry

This Thursday I was back at cooking classes and it was great to back…especially on such an awfully chilly day in Seattle during the summer.  Six of us went to the class, which was a demo style but had the two components:  the chef = technique and the store owner = product knowledgeable.  And boy did I learn a ton.  I wanted to share some of the things that I learned in the class that I will start using in my own cooking.

  • Rice bran oil is my next purchase.  I would have bought the half gallon for $13.50 right then and there but I wasn’t sure if it was a good price and I didn’t really want to take it on my scooter.  But now I need it.  We learned that rice bran oil is far better to cook with than olive oil. Olive oil is cold pressed and is best used in salads and for finishing.  It has great flavor and is healthy but loses both its flavor and healthfulness as soon as it reaches hot temperatures.  Rice bran oil on the otherhand can heat up to 450 degrees without being altered chemically.  It has all those monounsaturated fats that are good for you and they stay good for you.  It also has a 3 year shelf life unlike olive oil that is best used in about 3 months.  It is also flavorless which makes it better for a multitude of applications in cooking.  And finally it is much thinner so you end of using less of it when cooking.  And cheaper!  I need my half gallon and then I can save some good olive oil for salads and what not.
  • We learned a ton about salts.  Basically my take away was unless you don’t live around salty waters (soils) or eat seafood you get plenty of iodine and should not be using iodized table salt or kosher salt.  Everyone essentially should be using sea salt when they cook their own food.  We got to taste test a few included fleur de sal.
  • Olive oils are still amazing when used as they should be.  We sampled four different olive oils.  We sampled one with nicoise olives so it is a bit nuttier and buttier, we sampled one with kalamata which was less of the above, one that was fermented like they used to do years ago, and one that was Sicilian and very grassy tasting to me with a big hit of pepper.
  • We learned how to make a roumelade (or essentially a mayonaise or aioli).  You use two egg yolks so to be safe she explained hos to either sit them with the lemon juice or vinegar that you are using for up to an hour at room temperature, or you can put the eggs in boiling water for 90 seconds to kill the bacteria.  Then we used a mini food processor to blend the yolks and lemon juice together.  We added a very little amount of EVOO at first to make sure the emulsificaiton process started.  Then you add the oil in a steady stream until all combined.  Super easy but unlike mayo that you buy at the store this mayo only lasts 3 days in your refrigerator…makes you rethink how long we store mayo in our fridge and what they must do to it to make it last so long.
  • We talked about differences in capers…ones salted and ones brined.  The salted ones keep their texture better and just need to be rinsed off.  Ones brined should also be rinsed to remove some of the brine but they are generally mushier.
  • We learned how to select chocolate, how to cut an onion the best way I’ve seen, how to mince herbs, and how to use a mandolin slicer.

All of the food was very delicious and these were actual recipes that I probably have ingredients for at home (or you know in storage) and would feel comfortabe making again.  I just learned so much and that was a pleasant surprise!


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