My adventures at George Brown Culinary 1 - Day 2

George Brown: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Today's class is all about salads with a good discussion of fresh and dried herb, oils & vinegars and different vegetable cuts. 

Chef Klaus, our instructor is as helpful and charming as always. What I love about being in his class is that he has a lot of years of experience and can speak about the trade from many perspectives – the old, the new & the healthy. 

He hails from Europe and tells us wonderful stories about the practices from decades ago compared to now. For example when he was a young chef in Europe it was looked down upon to provide salt and pepper shakers at the table. It was expected that the chef perfectly seasoned everything. Till today I'm annoyed when my husband asks for the salt shaker.
The demos today are a Cucumber and Onion, Pacific Rim Beef and Tuscan Bean salad and we get to prep the bean salad in the lab. Chef gave us really handy tips on how to bring out the flavours of dried herbs and how to prepare our own Tarragon vinegar without paying an arm and leg for it. He also advocated the use of fresh herbs and spoke about tips to preserve them a bit longer. As most of you know, I am the gadget queen and my eyes just lit up to see him use a citrus juicer that I had never seen before. Goes without saying I will be running to Williams Sonoma to buy it first thing tomorrow. For the beef salad we talked about the best cuts of meat, the dry vs wet aging processes and the benefits of organic meat. As Chef Klaus spoke, he masterfully trimmed the meat down discarding all the silver skin and tougher tissues with the skill of the surgeon. I would have never thought before to trim the cut as much, but it makes total sense.

After we finished our demos and shared tasting the salad, we rushed off to our stations to work on our bean salad. This contains several ingredients like red, yellow and green peppers, onions, tomatoes, asiago, fresh herbs, olive oil, red wine vinegar, proscuitto, garlic, lemon juice, beans, salt and pepper. We worked in a group at our table and systematically went through all the ingredients and chopped, julienned and grated. George Brown is very sensitive to different cultures and religions and so is my team and they were gracious enough to leave the proscuitto out of my salad since my family does not eat pork. The salad was delicious and was quickly packed away for us to enjoy for lunch.

Things I learned

I need to invest in some new good quality stainless steel pans – non stick is useless with high heat
Store dried herbs in closed metal containers, the light changes the colour and strength of the taste
Serve prepared salads at room temp as they taste better
Warm limes in the microwave for 10 secs at a time to release the juice

Don't waste sea and other fancy salts in things where it won't be noticed like boiling salted water - d'uh! why didn't I think of that?

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