Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cooking with Lenore

My friend Lenore in Chicago gave me a cooking class for my birthday. Not because we don't know how to cook but because we both like to cook and we both have enough earrings*. Lenore and I have taken cooking classes together before. Or is it just class? I can't remember.

We took Susan and Herman Jenny's class in France in 2002 and had a great time. We were the only two students in the class. We would go to markets or little cheesemakers or olive shops in the morning with Susan. In the afternoon, we would cook. In the evening, we were supposed to eat in the dining room with the B&B guests, but we didn't know them, and preferred to be in the kitchen with Susan and Herman, who, it turned out, had lived in Memphis for years when Herman was working as a big chef for Hilton. Lenore still makes the madelines she learned from Susan and Herman and makes them better than the bakery by her house.

Anyhow. Lenore found this class near her house. We were to make a Tuscan menu of roasted chicken with lemon and wine sauce, tomato soup garnished with pecorino cheese crisps, porcini mushroom risotto with prosciutto (sigh -- serrano ham**), and baked pears with zabaglione. Also a green salad and a white bean and roasted garlic dip. It would take a normal person all day to prepare this meal, but whatever.

The other woman on the team with Lenore and me was very nice and interesting -- a cookbook editor -- but just a touch didactic. She informed us that when one squeezes a lemon, one squeezes cut side down. Which we already knew. As we have both squeezed lemons before. And even if we hadn't, we could have figured out. As neither of us is a complete moron***. Bless her heart.

The teacher demonstrated the magic chicken marinater. Marinates in half the time! he told us. Please do not tell my husband about this gadget! I implored Lenore. I do not need another piece of junk in my kitchen. The teacher assured me that a ziplock bag works just as well for someone who plans. Oh great, I said.

Something new I learned is that when the chicken is ready to be turned, it will release easily from the pan.

The pears partway through the baking process, before the butter is added and the sauce reduced.

The completed chicken. No photos of the risotto because it is hard to take a photo of risotto that looks good. At least, it's hard for me. And because I forgot.

The finished pear in the sauce.

* That reminds me, LPC, that my SH's old wedding ring diamonds converted into drop earrings of different lengths are here and I need to take a photo for you.

** The serrano ham story. Some of you know how SH and I lost $100 of serrano ham at Customs when we returned from our first trip to Spain. Oh, the heartbreak.

*** Have I told you the "Because we do not hire eedeeots?" story? I should. It has to do with equipment guarding, or the lack thereof, and the French technicians installing the machinery.


LPC said...

Yes! I am a sucker for photos of diamonds! To say nothing of the real thing of course.

Marta said...

So, here I am catching up on my blog reading because I have had other stuff happening in my life, but that's not important right now. And I'm really enjoying reading your A.D.D.-ish posts with the random photos interjected, when I realized that you mentioned you had a birthday which I missed and then I had to click back to your Facebook page and noticed that you did not have your birthday listed, so now I'm kind of off the hook and yet, because of my Cuban DNA I still have guilt ("I should have just KNOWN!") and I'm thinking back to whether I actually maybe even chatted with you on your birthday but was so self-absorbed that I didn't know it and so I'm kicking myself because wow! what a losery friend I am who can't even remember a birthday.
All that to say this: Happy Belated Birthday, my blog-friend. =D


HRD said...

Ok, so it's 8.54 in the morning and now I want to eat chicken. Thanks for that......

Susan Jenny said...

Sounds like you two had a grand time in the kitchen! As for your lemon friend there, tell her next time to just stick a handy fork into the half a lemon and squeeze. She'll free up some space on her counter from those plastic (yuck) lemon squeezers and she can just squeeze out exactly the amount of juice she wants. Hermann and I had a ball with you two in the kitchen, lots of laughs, and I suspect the fun between you continues, keep it up!

Jan said...

What? I ALWAYS squeeze my lemons cut side up. Who doesn't love to squirt lemon juice right in their eyes??

There's just something WRONG with you.

Melissa said...

Not to mention that the lemon juice will largely pool in the rind. What? You mean that I've been doing it wrong all this time? *smacks forehead*