This may seem like a weird topic, but it’s been on my mind all week. I recently learned that I have no idea what’s what when it comes to cooking with onion. In a recent conversation with a neighbor, she mentioned needing to run out for an onion because the red onion she had at home wasn’t right for what she was cooking. I said, “What are you making?” She said, “Soup.” I said, “Why not just use the red onion?” She said, “Well it’s soup; a red onion doesn’t work for soup.”
It doesn’t! I would have used the red onion without a second thought, but then I realized I’ve never really considered my choice of onion in all the years I’ve been cooking. If a recipe calls for onion, I just throw in whatever I have on hand; which is usually a red onion (because I think they are pretty) and sometimes yellow because, somehow, I am aware that a yellow onion is pretty multi-purpose. Truthfully, if I had scallions in, I’d toss those in there too.
I give no thought whatsoever to which kind of onion would be better for a dish. Well, my neighbor was indeed correct and she piqued my curiosity.
I did a quick google search for “what onions are best…” and wouldn’t you know; all sorts of results popped up. Here’s what I learned:
At the start of 2016, I committed to getting out more, saying yes to things I would normally say no to and trying new things. Things are going pretty well. I’ve started my first book club, I tried couples golf and, just Saturday night, Tony and I took the girls to a comedy show in Boston. I’m not going to lie; it was rainy, I was tired and a part of me didn’t feel like going. But I rallied and we all had a lot of laughs.
Taste Buds Kitchen-Cooking Class
I also just recently tried a cooking class at Taste Buds Kitchen in North Andover. It was a blast. When owner, Laurel Holmes, opened Taste Buds back in May 2016, I thought it might just be for kids. I also thought it was an independent business. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. The North Andover location is one of several franchises from Montana to New York. The company is based in New York City and offers all types of classes, camps and parties for people of all ages.
The Adult BYOB cooking class drew in the fun group of women I joined. BYOB – enough said! There were many dates and menus options to choose from; Steakhouse, New York Pizza, Tasty Thai and Handmade Pasta are just a few of the foods we could learn to cook. We decided on Tapas Espanolas. I was excited about this choice because I love small plates and I’ve never tried my hand at Spanish cooking.
Upon arriving I was immediately taken with the open floor plan and vibrant green/orange color scheme. I adored the industrial chic ambiance inside the West Mill space on High St. I’m a huge fan of the brick, wood, stainless steel vibe.
My party occupied about half of the cooking stations. The remainder of the cooking class was full of other students ready to whisk, mix and roll right along with us. In the course of two, fun-filled hours we prepared three delicious tapas; Butternut Squash Empanadas, Patatas Bravas (diced potatoes with spicy sauce) and Albondingas (turkey meatballs). My favorite dish was the Patatas.
Before the night ended, we sat together to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Leftovers were nicely packaged for us to take home and we were each given the recipes for what we prepared in our cooking class.
It was a great night and I would be happy go back . In fact, Karla, Sue and Susan; how about a cooking class for our next GNO?
I love to cook. That’s a lie, but I do love to watch other people cook. I’ve been watching cooking shows since the days of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS. Today I’m obsessed with The Food Network – especially “Chopped.” I could watch that show for days.
But since we all need a little less screen-time, I decided to go live with my cooking curiosities. Last week The North Andover Country Club put on a cooking demonstration led by their knowledgeable and charming sous chef, C. Ross. I was accompanied by a few friends – a good thing since otherwise I might never have dragged myself out the door on a weeknight (2 teenage daughters=tired=old=I don’t care, I love staying in).
C. Ross opened with a beautiful serving of sushi. He shared that mastering sushi rice at home involves three very important ingredients: rice vinegar, salt and, to my surprise, sugar. It was delicious.
He upped the presentation by showing us how to make the prettiest wasabi shell.
Even my friend Maureen, who typically doesn’t eat sushi, enjoyed her tasting. Way to go Mo!
How to cook sous vide
For the entrée, we were enlightened about a cooking method called sous vide. It involves food placed in air-tight plastic bags, then submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. The end result is food cooked to an ideal temperature with ultimate moisture retention. Imagine flawless sous vide steak, salmon, chicken, eggs or veggies. No more hockey-puck filets for this girl! The concept behind the sous vide technique is that you heat the food just enough for it to reach the desired doneness, essentially eliminating the risk of over or under cooking.
On this night we were having sous vide chicken flavored with blood orange, thyme and a touch of salt. Once out of the water bath, C. Ross gave it a quick sear to give it that crispy exterior we all love, meanwhile the center remained juicy and full of flavor.
Served with tender, sous vide carrots and the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten; I figured I couldn’t possibly ask for more.
But then out came my absolute favorite dessert, crème brulee. This was again prepared sous vide and although I was already stuffed, I savored every last bite.
This was an entertaining night that made me happy I’d gotten out, enjoyed a great dinner and learned something new. By the end, I declared C. Ross to be the next Food Network Star!
Interested in a Sous Vide machine?
I researched sous vide equipment online and found that Williams-Sonoma has a device that may just make my 2016 Christmas list.