For the last 2 1/2 years I have been teaching a cooking class for local ladies who either need some fresh inspiration at dinner time or have little cooking experience. I named it "Confidence In The Kitchen" because I believe confidence and determination are the keys to success in almost every area of life. You know, natural talent can only take you so far. If you don't believe in yourself and you give up easily; it really doesn't matter how talented you are. You will question yourself. You will always start and never finish.
Over the years, I have learned not to take myself too seriously, to laugh at mistakes, to trust my instincts. But above all, to NEVER GIVE UP!!! Of course, this applies to cooking. So what...you burned a few meals, you cut your finger, you started a small fire, and you added 1/2 cup SALT instead of SUGAR. That doesn't mean you'll never be a great cook! Just learn from your mistakes and move forward. Julius Caesar says it best, "Experience is the teacher of all things." Keep practicing--you'll be making meals you are proud of in no time!
As for the class...it has been an adventure for all involved! I know I have grown in many areas; and the girls have gotten a lot out of it too. They are becoming quite skilled with their knives, and are definitely growing in confidence. Many of them report they are cooking several times a week and often have hilarious kitchen stories to share. The class itself has also created a LOT of funny conversation and memories. You just never know what will happen when girls come together to cook!
Every year we have a Christmas party/class. All the girls bring a dish of their own and copies of their recipe to pass around. I teach them to prepare a meal that is elegant enough for Christmas Dinner or a formal dinner party, BUT that won't push anyone over the edge with difficulty! This year we cooked Flank Steak Medallions, Herb Risotto, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts. It was a fun finish to a great year of Confidence In The Kitchen!
Thanks Girls. I love you all!
Stuffed Flank Steak Medallions and Creamy Herb Risotto
1 ½ lb. flank steak
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 Tb. olive oil, separated
8 oz. wild mushrooms, sliced thin
1 bunch fresh arugula
6 pieces of prosciutto
6 thin slices of provolone
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and Pepper
6+ cups chicken broth
2 Tb. olive oil
1 chopped shallot
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup+ parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tb. chopped fresh thyme
2 Tb. chopped fresh rosemary
Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add 2 Tb. olive oil and mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until soft—about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper well. Sauté another 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Lay the flank steak on a work surface. Using a meat mallet, pound the steak into a 9X10 inch rectangle—1/4 inch thick. Lay the cheese over the steak, leaving a 2-3 inch area uncovered along one long edge. Next, lay the mushrooms over the cheese, followed by the prosciutto and arugula. Starting with the long edge covered with ingredients, carefully roll the flank steak. Tie the steak roll in 4 places with kitchen twine. Rub the roll with salt, pepper, paprika and flour. Preheat oven to 350*. In a large skillet heat 2 Tb. of oil over high heat. Carefully place the steak roll in skillet and sear 3-5 minutes turning to brown on all sides. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until cooked through and cheese is melted—40 minutes. Tent with foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes, then carefully slice in ½ inch pieces.
Measure the chicken stock into a pitcher and heat in the microwave. Heat the oil in a large skillet to medium. Add the shallots and sauté until soft—about 4 minutes. Add the rice and sauté another 2 minutes. Pour about 1 cup of warm broth into the rice at a time, stir in well. Wait until the broth is absorbed—then repeat until broth is gone. This should take about 25 minutes. After all the broth is completely absorbed into the rice, add the lemon zest, parmesan and fresh herbs. Stir and remove from heat, adding a little more broth for extra creaminess. Serve risotto warm, topped with beef medallions and roasted brussel sprouts.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
2 lbs. brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 oz. chopped bacon
1-2 shallots, sliced
Juice of one lemon
2 Tb. melted butter
Salt and Pepper
2 dashes of crushed red pepper if desired!
Preheat oven to 425*. Cook the bacon in a skillet, then drain—reserving the bacon grease. Lay the brussel sprouts and shallots on a rimmed cookie sheet. Pour the bacon grease over them and toss with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Mix the lemon juice and butter together. When the sprouts are tender toss them with the bacon, butter and lemon juice.
A decadent treat for Christmas Eve—serve with hot chocolate or flavored coffee!
1 pint ice cream, any variety
8 oz. chocolate bars (not chips!)
1 Tb. vegetable oil
*garnish if desired, crushed candy cane, chopped nut, toasted coconut…
Find 2 large baking dishes that will fit in your freezer. Cover both with wax paper and put into the freezer. (You may want to turn your freezer to the coldest setting!) Once the dishes are very cold, use a tablespoon-sized scoop to make 12-14 small ice cream balls—the rounder the better. Dip the scoop in warm water to make the balls come out easier. Place them on one of the frozen dishes and put back into the freezer until very hard—at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a glass bowl over a small pot with 1 inch of water in the bottom (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl). Set over medium heat. Break up the chocolate bars and place in the bowl. Stir the chocolate until mostly melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and add the oil—stir well. Once the chocolate has cooled for about 5 minutes, remove both dishes from the freezer. Working fast, insert a skewer into the first ice cream ball. Spoon the chocolate over the ice cream ball—covering it completely. Place the bonbon on the second frozen dish and remove the skewer. Fill the hole on top with chocolate. Sprinkle garnish on top if desired. QUICKLY repeat with all ice cream balls. Serve immediately OR return to freezer until ready to serve!
*You could also leave the skewer or a lollipop stick in the bonbons to make bonbon pops—extra exciting for little ones. Just dip the bottom of the bonbon in the garnish so it will be on top when they are held upright!