I’d like to share some “take-aways” from a fun event I took part in this week.
If you live in the Westchester area you may have already experienced the delicious cooking of Eric Korn of Good Life Gourmet. He hosted a cooking demonstration for some local food bloggers and I was thrilled to attend. Eric does exactly the kind of cooking I aspire to – using fresh, mostly local/organic ingredients to create simple, yet elegant dishes. His flavors are clean and delicious, and he combines them in new and unexpected ways. His cooking is proof that simple definitely does NOT mean basic or dull.
Eric was joined by another local gem, Stephanie Korn – a health coach and “food whisperer” who was on-hand to explain some of the meal and juice plans that she and Eric are now offering. She also talked a lot about healthy cooking and eating.
We prepared an entire meal together and it was so much fun! Even better, I came away with some great information that I’d like to share with you as we kick off the holiday cooking madness next week. Some of these tips may be obvious to many of you but I am always thrilled to learn something new – which is why Good Life Gourmet is this week’s “favor-ette”:
Step away from the olive oil – Have you been indoctrinated into thinking that olive oil is the be all-end all of cooking oils? I have. I learned that in fact, it is NOT the professional cook’s oil of choice. For one, it has a strong flavor, which can often compete with other ingredients. And it has a very low smoking point – which means that it will burn quickly, imparting that burnt flavor to whatever is cooking in it. Eric explained that the best oil to use, overall, is canola oil. It is flavorless and has a high smoking point, making it a superior (and less expensive!) choice for most cooking. Olive oil should be used primarily when the cooking temperature is no higher than 200 degrees (for example, if you’re oven-roasting tomatoes). So save the fancy artisanal olive oils for finishing a dish (much like sea salt) or when that “olive-y” taste is desired. Click here for a great article that explains the differences in cooking oils.
I have mad knife skills – Well, I do now. Now that Eric demonstrated the proper way to hold a knife. He shared two great tips that I plan to start using right away. 1. Hold (or “choke”) the knife much higher up on the handle. This gives you more control and results in less strain. 2. “Curl” your fingers in and away from the blade as you cut. This basically guarantees that the knife will never slice your fingers. Loved that one!
Do the two-step – Eric taught us a brilliant way to cook salmon – which can be applied to almost any protein. You pan sear one side in a hot saute pan. Once that side is well-browned (when it releases easily from the pan), remove the pieces and invert onto a baking sheet. Finish cooking in a 350 degree oven. This technique results in that nice caramelized crust while retaining an interior that is cooked through yet still moist.
Whole grains rock! I’ll admit it, I’m a white-flour junkie. I really want to be one of those quinoa-farro-wheatberry types but am mostly mystified by what to do with them. Eric made a delicious quinoa salad and explained how versatile these grains can be. And a big batch made on a Sunday can last for several days during the week, incorporated into a variety of dishes. Use them as a great “base” for any vegetables you have on hand. Add dried fruit and agave nectar for breakfast. Or fold in some egg and flour and make fritters (NOW you’re talking!). Ironically, the very next day – in a museum cafe no less – I had a delicious salad of farro, butternut squash, cranberries and pecans (similar to the one shown here). Noah, to my surprise, gobbled it up and I was thinking what a healthy (and simple) side dish this will be.
Skirt the issue – How do you dress your salad? I
dump pour my dressing – all of it – right smack in the center of the salad. I then spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to evenly coat the remaining greens. Eric poured his vinaigrette – a little at a time – around the perimeter of the bowl. The dressing slid to the bottom and resulted in perfectly coated greens. This may be my favorite tip of all.
Happy Cooking – and Happy Friday!
Wondering what favor-”ette” means? Click here!
Good Life Gourmet
Westchester Health Coaching