Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cavallo Point Cooking School - The Appetizers

We walked into the kitchen and were immediately greeted with a glass of Champagne. Yes! This is going to be fun. Everyone started arriving, and before you know it there were about 24 people there. A little more than we anticipiated. But it's a big kitchen so we figured it would be fine. Check out all these beautiful fruit and vegetables we're going to cook. Yum!

And this SALMON. Holy Cow!!!! This bad boy weighed 9 pounds.

We walked in and set up on the table were these yummy little Tuna Bites, olives, warm pistachio's, Cowgirl Creamery cheese and fresh, crusty bread. My heart started to sing. Waaaaah!!! Food makes me really, really happy. People that say they could care less about food have never had really yummy fresh food.

After a brief introduction from Chef Peggy Knickerbocker and Jayne Reichert, the Head chef of the cooking school, they had us count off and divide into three groups. At first we were all a little surprised that they were splitting everyone up. But it actually worked out ok. Everyone chatted with the people in their group and milled around visiting who they came with. We had a great time talking to a couple from the South Bay that were enjoying a weekend at the resort while their kids attend camp in southern California. Lucky ducks.

Peggy Knickerbocker

We cooked a lot of stuff. So I thought I would break it up into three posts - - Appetizers, Entree and Dessert. Don was in the appetizer group. I worked on dessert. So we'll start with Don.

Roasted Almonds with Chopped Herbs
Warm Figs wrapped in Serrano Ham
Golden Fried Squash Blossoms

Did you know that if you have your oil at the right temperature (hot) your food won't absorb the oil?
Well now you know!

Golden Fried Squash Blossoms dipped in the batter and ready for Don to fry.

Don took over the fryer. 
The guys in his group were getting a little crazy about oil temp.
So he showed them how it's done. Nice job honey.

Next up....  Warm Figs wrapped in Serrano Ham

Here is Don and his group prepping the figs.

Warm figs drizzled with the teeniest bit of balsamic vinegar. (One drop per fig.)

Oops. No photos of the nuts. Just picture raw almonds that have been roasted in the oven with salt. Then they are drizzled with the yummiest olive oil and fresh herbs. They are quite tasty, and slightly messy. But who cares. That's what napkins are for. Right?

And that's it for today. Tomorrow is the main course. mmmmm

Herb Salt Roasted Almonds

1 pound fresh raw almonds
2 t. salt
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
t. olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 300ยบ

1. Pour the almonds in a colander and run a splash of cold water through them so they are barely moistened and can drain. Toss the almonds with the salt. Turn them onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
2. Bake for about 15 minutes, watching carefully. Shake the pan and turn the almonds over with a spatula. Return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or until you hear the first crackle. Beware: one minute too long and the almonds will burn!
3. Pour the almonds into a bowl and add the herbs, olive oil and toss well. Grind a little black pepper over the nuts and serve warm in a bowl. The almonds will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Warm Figs Wrapped in Serrano Ham

12 fresh figs
12 slices Serrano ham
6 to 8 thyme sprigs

Roll up each fig in a slice of ham and place them in a large cast iron pan. Place the skillet on the grill or on top of the stove. Cook just long enough to warm the figs, a few minutes; turn them with a spatula, transfer the figs to a platter.

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