He was totally enamored by the newest addition - his new niece Melissa:
In addition to some drink, dinner, and Williams-College-football-watching girlfriend dates, some friends and I decided to schedule a private cooking class with the fabulous Claudine of Stiletto & Spice.
I've always been a fan of cooking classes, but every time I'm blown away by the complexity of the dishes we usually learn. They're delicious (and almost do-able) when we're in class with the constant help of the head chef, but the recipes are too technical and complex for me to ever attempt at home.
Claudine's curriculum couldn't be more different. She's all about simple, non-technical, easily-substitutable, yet still packed-full-of-flavor-and-nutrition one-dish meals. In her three hour class, you learn how to prepare and cook five uber delicious meals, prepping all the ingredients so you're ready to go for the entire week.
It all starts with a trip to the grocery store. Claudine will gladly do the shopping for you, but, as she so accurately told us, the purchasing is part of the total learning experience.
A few days before our cooking date, Claudine sent us a long list and was available to answer any and all our questions via phone and email:
fresh or frozen edamame?
organic or conventional broccoli?
brown rice or whole wheat pasta?
The awesome thing about her methodology, however, is that it really doesn't matter - her recipes work with almost any variety of ingredients.
When we arrived to our class (held in the rock star kitchen of one of said friends), Claudine was waiting with adorable recipe booklets. We started by chopping and cleaning all our veggies while we cooked up some quinoa (which would serve as the base for two of our dinners) on the stove.
Meanwhile we began cooking a sample of one of our dinners. Tomato-rosemary salmon with asparagus and bulgar:
Take 1 cup of bulgar, 2 cups of broth and pour it in the bottom of a cooking dish
Cover bulgar with trimmed asparagus
Then top asparagus with salmon fillet seasoned with salt and pepper
Garnish with tomatoes and rosemary
Once the quinoa was ready, we prepared a sample of another night's meal: Miso-glazed black cod with edamame quinoa and a Miso slaw. Sounded like something fancy enough to be served at a five-star restaurant, but with instructions and ingredients simple enough for me to actually make it at home.
We also learned how to make:
> fresh pea risotto in the oven (seriously - how simple is THAT), to be served with roasted pesto chicken
> fish tacos (need I say more?)
> shrimp-broccoli-pesto pasta made in ONE POT - you cook the pasta, shrimp, and broccoli in the exact same water (adding them each in at a different time to perfect the cooking), drain them, toss with pesto, and top with pine nuts
The best thing about all of these dishes? You can swap in any veggie or protein or grain depending on what you're in the mood for.
We went home with the basic ingredients prepped to make these five meals all on our own that week (veggies chopped, dressings and sauces made) plus the knowledge of how to make a plethora of nutritious meals down the road. Pretty good deal if you ask me.