Tim Foolery

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New Skills from Chopping Block Classes

One of the reasons I love the Chopping Block is not only that they give you great recipes and help you all along the way in preparing a great meal, but they give you the skills to continue this cooking like this at home.  If you are struggling with some aspect of the preparation they don’t take the knife from you and do it, they guide you, show you the proper technique and let you practice on your own.

On the calendar of classes, the Chopping Block not only tells you what you will be cooking but also what skills will be covered in class.  The skills from Rendezvous Under the Stars are: How to Set up Your Grill, Grilling Vegetables, Roasting Peppers, Determining Meat Doneness, Roasting Garlic, Grilling Fruit and Balancing Flavors.  Two skills that I thought were beneficial that weren’t outlined on the course guide, but we did learn were: Segmenting Citrus Fruit and making a flavored salt.

Segmenting isn’t a tough task, it is just something that you need to practice. One thing that I never did before was to “top and tail” the fruit — this just means chopping off the top and the bottom of the fruit, thus giving you a stable bottom so it won’t roll all over while you segment it. Of course, this seems pretty obvious now, but I never did it before.

Making a flavor salt is extremely easy, but again, it isn’t anything I ever did before.  For the pork chop recipe, we needed to use Rosemary Salt. To make this salt, you take two stalks of rosemary, pulled from the stem and add it to 2 tablespoons of sea salt.  You either use a mortar and pestle or just a knife and cut the salt and rosemary together until it becomes a fine powder. This brings so much flavor to he meat. I’ve only used it for pork and it was great — I bet paring it with lamb would be great too.

What is your favorite homemade flavored salt combination? How do you use it and how long can you store it?  What unexpected skill have you picked up from a cooking class or from watching a friend cook?

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