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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cooking with Chef 101

I’m finally compiling what I learned in the Easter Sunday cooking lesson with Chef at Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu.  Obviously I don’t have time to recap the entire 2 ½ hour session but I did take good notes of my favorite tips, tricks and recipes he made that day.  Someone who does a lot of organic cooking may already know these things but to a processed food princess like me, there was so much great stuff to learn. 

Soup was a huge part of our meal plan at the resort.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the beet or parsnip but the others were pretty tasty!  Chef uses a standard made from scratch vegetable stock in all of his soups.  He started with a huge pot of water and added carrots, chunks of onion (including the skins) and celery.  You can add any extra veggies you have in the fridge that you like.  Some that he suggested were peppers, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. Then herbs like basil and thyme.  Let this simmer together for at least two hours.  Strain out the veggies but don’t throw them away.  Use them as compost for the garden.  Your broth can be frozen in small containers so that you have them on hand to pull out for all soups in the cookbook.  Brilliant, yes? 

Here are a few random tips I picked up:
-Roma tomatoes are best for sauces, soup and pico de gallo
-Always have basil, thyme, garlic and onion on hand (preferably fresh)
-When you cook lasagna, put plastic wrap over the top and then tinfoil to preserve the flavor.  Chef promises the plastic wrap will not melt onto your food
-Always add salt at the end of the recipe when cooking beans
-Make a delicious chili seasoning at home with paprika, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and chili powder
-To achieve the fancy presentation of diamond grill marks on your veggies, think of your grill as a clock.  Place them facing 10 until the desired marks are achieved and then turn them slightly to 2 o’clock. 
-To roast peppers char them black on the grill.  Steam using a microwave bag or by setting them in a bowl and covering in plastic wrap for 30 minutes.  Once they have finished steaming the skin will peel off very easily.  Cut the top core out, de-seed, chop and enjoy!

Are you craving chocolate and want a sweet dessert that won’t break your calorie bank?  I love this one! Take half a banana, cut lengthwise and lay on dessert plate.  Slice one large strawberry and half one pineapple ring or use two medium size chunks.  Melt ¼ ounce of Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Drizzle over the fruit plate and refrigerate for a little while until chocolate hardens.  


One of my favorite parts of the cooking class was super simple fish marinades that could also be used as dressing.  And remember, if I say simple, you know they are because I’m not a made from scratch kind of girl.  I will give you the recipe for the marinades but the great part about them, if you want to turn them into a super easy summer dressing to put over mixed greens, veggies or fruit, just add a little bit of Xanthan Gum (such as Bob’s Red Mill).  Did I mention it is gluten free?  Just another perk, people.  Oh, and make sure, if you are going to use the lemon one as a dressing, strain the seeds when you juice it but that’s not required for the marinade. 

Chef made two marinades in our class. One was an orange that we used on salmon and the other lemon that we used on tilapia or shrimp. This tiny recipe will marinate 5 pounds of fish because the flavor is so awesome.

Orange Marinade

Zest one large orange.  Squeeze juice into a bowl.  Add thyme, garlic powder, onion powder and a little seat salt.  Mix together.  While stirring, slowly add 1 ounce of olive oil or less.  Add the zest.  Whisk again.  Add salmon to the bowl and make sure completely coated.
Lemon Marinade

Zest one lemon.  Squeeze juice into bowl.  Add fresh or dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder and a little seat salt.  While stirring, slowly add 1 ounce of olive oil or less.  Add the zest.  Whisk again.  Add tilapia, another white fish or shrimp and make sure the fish is completely coated.

Marinate the fish for 1 hour.  Also, you could substitute lime for the lemon if you want a little more zing.  If you want to get crazy with the lemon marinade you could use a very little rosemary instead of the dill.  Is anyone else totally drooling thinking about some grilled salmon now or is it just me? 

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