I made this session a bit more advanced than Cooking 101, but with the focus still being on developing skills and learning new techniques. This time, in addition to my demonstration of techniques and the opportunity for students to practice them, I introduced recipes for the students to create the dishes themselves. We had 9 registrants, so I broke them into three groups, each tasked with preparing all aspects of one of the three recipes I created especially for this day.
Salade Nicoise with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 8 as an appetizer.
Start to finish: 1 Hour
2 x 8 oz Tuna Steaks, thawed
Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin)
Stems from Herbs from Dressing
Whole Black Peppercorns
Nonstick Cooking Spray
6-8 Large Eggs
8 Small Red New Potatoes (about 1 ¼ lbs.) each potato scrubbed and quartered
2 Heads Boston or Butter Lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, washed and drained
1 Small Red onion, sliced very thin
8 oz Green Beans, stem ends trimmed if necessary and each bean halved crosswise
¼ Cup Niçoise Olives, pitted
2 Tbsp Capers, rinsed
8 Anchovies (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare Vinaigrette according to recipe below and set aside at room temperature.
Place the tuna steaks in a shallow container and add enough oil to just cover the fish.
Add herb stems and peppercorns.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
Fill a large bowl ¾ of the way with water and ice.
Gently place the eggs in a small sauce pan, add enough cold water to cover, and add a generous amount of salt.
Over medium heat, bring the water to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook 10 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the water and transfer to ice bath.
When completely cool, peel and rinse eggs, reserving water bath.
Cut with egg slicer or quarter.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil & blanch beans until tender but crisp, 3-5 minutes.
Shock beans in ice water, let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds, dry well on paper towels.
Drizzle beans with dressing, toss to coat, and set aside.
Place potatoes in a large pot, add cold water to cover, and salt heavily.
Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette and set aside.
Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.
Cook steaks 2-3 minutes on each side to medium-rare or internal temperature of 125 degrees.
Remove from pan and set aside, uncovered, at room temperature.
Toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated.
Arrange lettuce on serving plates.
Cut tuna into ½” thick slices and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Arrange tuna atop lettuce in center of plate.
Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl.
Arrange tomato-onion mixture on greens.
Add reserved potatoes in beans in groups to salad.
Continue with hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using).
Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers.
½ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Thyme , chopped, stems reserved
2 Tbsp Basil, cut into “chiffonade” (rolled and thinly sliced), stems reserved
2 tsp Oregano leaves, stems reserved
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place shallots, herbs, mustard, a pinch of salt and freshly-ground black pepper in a medium bowl.
Whisk in lemon juice and, stirring constantly, add oil in a steady stream.
Alternately, ingredients can be mixed in a blender or placed in a cruet and shaken to form an emulsion, Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
Place in a measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
Dressing may be made up to one day in advance and refrigerated.
Bring to room temperature before serving.