Saturday, March 14, 2009
Last night was the second Julie Jams cooking class. This class's theme was "Wild & Crazy Salads". We swapped the regular garden variety salad for some more interesting choices including Jicama Orange, Spinach Orzo Pilaf, Lemon-Garlic Quinoa, and Scandanavian Slaw.
Since this class was announced via the blog, we actually had a couple of people I'd never met. It was really fun to see some new souls included. There was a mother-daughter duo as well (the mother is a long-time friend of my mom's who happened to be her own "Julie Jams" type in their group of friends!). And a couple of my own friends made it.
We started the night with a few snacks and small talk and then dove right into the salads.
First up for prep was the Scandanavian Slaw. A departure from traditional mayonnaise-drenched variety, this slaw has a refreshing crunch thanks to the apples, fennel, celery, and sliced cabbages. The dressing consists of buttermilk, cider vinegar, oil, and sugar. This one needed a little bit of time to marinate, so it went into the fridge until the end.
Second up was the Jicama Orange salad. Though all the salads have their merits, this might have been the People's Choice last night. After a little discussion on the tuber called Jicama, I peeled the brown knobby vegetable and cut it into matchsticks. A mixture of oranges from Navel to Valencia to Blood varieties brightened up the salad, carefully sectioned and de-membraned (you need a very sharp knife for that!). The juice from a lime on top, followed by a sprinkling of chili powder, salt, and pepper.
Ooooo...this is a beauty of a salad especially if you use the Blood oranges. Their ruby colored juice stains the Jicama and the small flecks of chili powder add visual interest (and a little heat). This salad went straight to the tasters. There were no leftovers to put in the fridge at the end of the night!
Then came the salads with a cooked component.
Thirdly, we made the Lemon Garlic Quinoa salad. It was fun to introduce this grain to most of the guests. At 10.5 grams of protein per cup (plus calcium and other nutrients), this South American grain packs a nutritional punch. It has an earthy almost nutty aroma. After being rinsed of its bitter outer layer, I cooked the quinoa in boiling water like pasta for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I assembled the rest of the salad and the dressing...diced carrots, minced parsley, sunflower seeds topped with a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce, mashed garlic, and lots of lemon juice. Once the quinoa cooked and was drained, I added it to the salad and mixed. We ate this at the end to allow time for it to cool down. This salad is great served cold, as well. And it travels like a champ...nothing gets smooshed or soggy.
Finally, we got to the Spinach Orzo Pilaf. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta. It cooked for about 7 minutes (al dente), then I added it to the baby spinach while it was still hot. A little fried garlic went on top, then it was mixed up and covered for a few minutes to let the spinach wilt a bit. Finally, some freshly grated parmesan cheese finished out the flavors. This one is best served immediately and doesn't really keep that well on account of the wilted spinach. Try it with chicken or fish (mmm...with salmon).
Thanks everyone for coming! I had a fun time with you all. And I look forward to the next class...I'm thinking Mediterranean Dinner night.
If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear back from you.