We finished up the Creative and Mindful Cooking Workshop yesterday, working again with Miraval’s executive chef, Chad. Our final session together was more hands on than the previous sessions and we spent the bulk of our time working with Chef on vegetable chopping skills.
The Obvious Option
In my culinary daydreams, large baskets of every kind of vegetable would be laid out and I would be given the best knife around to just slice, dice and play. Oh wait, that happened yesterday! I thought Chef had decided to finally put us to work chopping vegetables for the entire resort, but it was just practice. Chef even laid out band-aids in preparation for an emergency!
After chopping random onions, avocados, tomatoes and cilantro, I realized I had the pretty good makings for salsa so I threw some quickly together. Chef showed me how to use a little bit of the white pith from inside a jalapeno to add more heat and then his sous chef, Justin, came out with tortilla chips for all of us to enjoy.
And, speaking of heat, check out the size of these chilies!
Aren’t they just the most adorable things you’ve ever seen? They pack quite a punch though…just half of one of those babies is enough heat for an entire dish!
Chef also helped me finally conquer my fear of chopping tomatoes. But that’s another post for another time.
Okay fine, I’ll tell you.
So I’m in culinary school back in 2007 and midway through my Basic Skills 1 class. My chef instructor was this ex-marine who fondly referred to me as “the enemy” after I announced to the class on the first day that I wasn’t in culinary school to be a chef—I wanted to be a food writer and restaurant critic. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Anyways, on our second practical exam that November, we had to put our knife skills to the test by concassing and chopping a tomato. It wasn’t a terribly difficult task. However, for every tomato SEED that Chef found while grading, he would knock you down a letter grade. Apparently tomato seeds are the devil, if you didn’t know, and add a whole lot of bitterness to the dish you’re cooking. It took me almost an hour and a half, but I successfully removed all the tiny seeds from my final product. However, that night I found a tomato seed in my ear. And I haven’t chopped tomatoes since.
Story over…wasn’t it great?
Back to yesterday—we ate and ate and ate and ate…and then ate some more.
Quinoa salad with fire roasted vegetables
Thai shrimp risotto
Chocolate cherry risotto! This ended up being my favorite because it was dark chocolate to the max. Chef said he usually serves this alongside fish but I think I would like it for a dessert, maybe even with a little warm milk or cream poured over.
Cactus salad with jicama and oranges. I was completely intrigued with the idea of cooking cacti.
It tastes sorta like bitter green beans…..in a good way!
When the workshop was over, Chef sent us home with cute cooking certificates and a bag full of goodies, including a new microplane, some measuring spoons and an off-set spatula. Personally, I protect my microplane with my life. It’s my very favorite kitchen tool and I sleep with it on the pillow next to me.
Last night I was still so full from the earlier risotto extravaganza that I went with a simple and plain approach to dinner.
Chocolate creme brulee. The light and obvious option.
**I don’t really sleep with my microplane next to me. But I’ve thought about it.