Couscous. (Grain) As one can see, we also managed to include more vegetables in both the meat and poultry menus. The Roast Chicken was an easy version with the chicken being marinated for several hours and then baked at very high heat for a short period of time. This gave us a juicy chicken with a very crisp outer covering. (skin) The chicken was enjoyed by everyone. The second recipe was cacciatore and contained tomatoes and is Italian in origin. The Jambalaya has its origins in the Southern United States and maybe goes even further back to Africa. The turkey pot pies were made with turkey breast which allowed a short baking time. The pot pies can also be made with thighs which would probably be more flavorful, but there was also a time constriction. The Sweet Potato Risotto, Polenta and Couscous were very well received. There was so much to eat that the students took their Turkey Pot Pies home as we made individual ones.
The week of July 11th was the beginning of Summer Culinary Camp at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village, CA. Let’s Get Cookin’ offers 3 weeks of Culinary Camp to Preteens and Teens between the ages of 10 – 16 and is taught by Sylvia Rieman. The first week was our Basics Camp which started out with instruction in Safety Tips, Measuring and the safe use of knives and slicing techniques. The concept of Mise en Place was also introduced. Mise en Place is the French term that means that all the ingredients and equipment should be prepared and set out before the actual cooking starts. Having everything prepared ahead of time, greatly simplifies the cooking process and eliminates the chance of not having the proper ingredients or equipment.
After the preliminary introductions of the above topics, we got into our cooking techniques. The first day was the use of eggs and the day’s lesson covered Egg Safety Guidelines, Egg sizes, and a cooking guide for eggs. There are countless dishes that cannot be made properly without eggs and we covered just a few. Since this was the first day of camp we concentrated mainly on breakfast foods. Each student had the opportunity to cook Crepes. We filled the Crepes with scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese. Two different methods of cooking Bacon were offered.
Egg Waffles were introduced (Egg Waffles are the popular street waffle that can be found in Hong Kong and other Asian Countries. The waffles comes out soft enough to roll up into a burrito like package, but is still firm enough to hold it’s shape.
Lemon Curd and Chocolate Mousse was made to go inside Pate Choux (Cream Puffs) which the students made along with Cheese Popovers. In addition deviled eggs were also made.
The second day of Camp was Vegetables and the skills we concentrated on were the proper use of knives and slicing techniques along with different ways to serve and cook vegetables. An important part of everyone’s diet is the consumption of fresh vegetables, either raw or cooked. The focus for the third was vegetables, both raw and cooked. The students were presented with an array of vegetables including root vegetables, bulbs, leaf vegetables, stalks and legumes. In addition they were also presented with those vegetables which contain seeds inside and are actually classified as fruit. Some fruits contain little sugar and are prepared and eaten as vegetables.
Each group prepared either a cooked vegetable appetizer or entrée and a salad with the dressing of their choice. About 6 different salad dressing recipes were offered and only one of each kind could be prepared. The object of each group preparing different salad dressings was so that the students could taste more than one kind and perhaps be exposed to something that they had not tried before.
The cooked appetizers were White Bean Bruschetta, and Black Bean Mini-Burgers. The entrees that were prepared was a Mushroom Lasagna with Marinara Sauce, Vegetable Chili and Grilled Vegetables. The students also made Hollandaise and Cheese Toppings to go on the Grilled Vegetables. In addition, biscuits were also made and were served along with the Chili. Brownies were the dessert of the day.
There is almost something you can convert one dish to when you get tired of eating it. Since it is corn season, I tend to use a lot of corn whether it be ‘corn on the cob’, corn salad or corn relish. The problem is that sometimes we get carried away and make too much of one item. If so, let the imagination come into play and convert that leftover item (provided it is not too old) into something new and wonderful.
After eating the corn relish for one or two meals and even using it on sandwiches, it is time to change condiments. Don’t want to waste all that wonderful corn so it is going to be turned into pasta salad. Just take the leftover relish and place it into a medium size bowl (or whichever fits your leftovers). I added sliced olives to it and then cooked up some penne pasta. You can use elbow, farfalla (bowties), ziti or whatever kind you prefer or if you have leftover cooked pasta in your refrigerator or freezer, just use that.
If you are using penne pasta, it will take about 12-14 minutes to cook in salted boiling water. Drain the pasta well and add to the corn relish and sliced olives. Add some diced celery and a little mayonnaise. Taste for seasoning and if need be add a little salt and pepper and maybe some garlic powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This makes a good side dish or if you add some diced chicken or ham you will have an entrée salad. This is quick and easy eating and it still tastes good! Try using your leftovers to create something new. Small quantities of leftover meats are perfect for pasta salads, especially in hot summer weather. It is ‘easy eating’ time!
One of the great things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce that is available. If you don’t grow your own, just pay a visit to your local farmer’s market and see what is available. I visited the Camarillo Farmer’s Market which is open from 8-12 on Saturday mornings. In addition to all the other produce that was available, fresh corn was abundant. There is nothing like corn
right off the cob and if the corn is really good, it will taste good without being cooked. I always test the corn before cooking it to see if there is enough sugar content in the kernels. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough, then I will add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the cooking water along with the juice of half a lemon.
Today I was buying corn to make corn relish, a condiment which is especially nice for summer meals. Along with the corn, I also needed to purchase a red and green bell pepper, celery and sweet onions. To make the relish, remove the kernels from the cob. This can be done with a good knife or a special tool that is designed to remove the kernels. Chop the Onions and mince the
Bell Peppers (without the seeds of course). Finely dice the Celery.
In a large pot Cider Vinegar along with Sugar, Salt and Spices are brought to a boil. The vegetables are then added to the liquid and simmered for 20 minutes. The six ears of corn along with the added vegetables will yield 1 quart of relish. I served the relish for dinner along with our barbecued tri-tip, tomato salad and fresh ciabatta bread. For the complete recipe, check our recipe section under condiments.