Friday, June 3, 2011

Eating, Writing, Retreating, and Recipes

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a CulinAerie cooking class as part of Eat Write Retreat, an intensive, learning weekend for food writers, photographers and bloggers. The full schedule for Eat Write Retreat looked fabulous, and I was sad not to participate in the entire thing. However, I had been browsing the classes at CulinAerie for awhile and when Eat Write Retreat offered the class a la cart, I jumped at the chance to meet some fellow bloggers and take my first ever cooking class.

I arrived at CulinAerie a little early, and had a chance to meet the assistants and instructor, Chef Susan Holt, before the class began. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I took a quick spin around the facilities, and it was gorgeous. A large, beautiful, industrial kitchen was set up with everything we would need to create a culinary masterpiece, which I found out was going to be Salad of Endive, Avocado, Tarragon, and Grapefruit; Olive Oil-Braised Endive with Gremolata; and Endive with Scrambled Egg with Chorizo.

I grabbed a seat near the front, but also close to the large flat screen televisions, so I could carefully watch the Chef's technique as she sliced, diced, and chopped her way through the recipes. Once we were given a tutelage, we were set free to create our own meal under the eye of the Chef and assistants.

Salad of Endive, Avocado, Tarragon, and Grapefruit (from CulinAerie)
Serves 4
  • 8 bulbs of red endive
  • 1 large or 2 small grapefruit
  • 1 medium avocados, cut in half, pit removed, removed from shell
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
  • Finishing salt and fresh pepper

I happened to be lucky enough to sit in front of the ingredients for the Salad of Endive, Avocado, Tarragon, and Grapefruit.

I started with the grapefruit. Using a sharp, flexible knife I sliced off both ends. I placed the widest end down on the cutting board and sliced around the grape fruit, removing the rind. Then, holding the grape fruit in my left hand, and my knife in my right, with a bowl underneath, I cut between each segment, freeing them from the pith. I let the segments drop into my bowl as I cut, squeezed the remaining juice on top. Lastly, I tossed the peel and pith.

Surprisingly, this is one technique I already had down, but I didn't know what it was called until the class: to Supreme.

I set my grapefruit aside and went to work on my avocado. I sliced my avocado in half, holding my knife in my left hand, keeping it still, and rotating the avocado around it. I removed my pit by whacking it with the knife and twisting. Then I took a large spoon and removed the avocado from it's shell. I placed each half on a cutting board face down and made tiny, vertical slits almost all the way through the avocado. I left a bit at the end unsliced to hold the avocado together. Then with the heel of my hand, I pressed on the avocado gently and twisted it to create a pretty fan.

Next, I cut my endive on a bias in 1" pieces, discarding the core. I set that aside and placed my avocado on a dinner plate. I added my grapefruit slices, then the endive, and poured my olive oil and grapefruit juice on top. Lastly, I sprinkled on my tarragon and finished my plate with some pepper and finishing salt.

I ended up with a gorgeous, summery salad. You might notice I added a little cheese on their too. Their happened to be some leftover Manchego from the egg dish. I borrowed a little since I don't eat eggs and it was a fantastic addition. I'll definitely be making this salad again and again. It was so great.

Here are some other pictures from the class:

Beth of eat. drink. smile pouring the eggs into the pan of butter and chorizo.

Jessica from Linday Olives preparing the Oil-Braised Endive with Gremolata.

The class was fantastic. In fact, it was so much fun, I signed up to be back as an assistant. I helped with my first class last night and had a great time assisting, learning, and in the end, eating and drinking. Such a blast.


  1. This does look like a blast! What did they make at the class you assisted?

  2. Sounds like so much fun! I definitely want to attend a cooking class too...

  3. Salad of Beets, Avocado, and Chevre; Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Rhubarb Chutney and Warm Potato Salad; Grand Marnier Souffle with a Vanilla Bean Anglaise.

    It was all incredible. Even the beets!

  4. this looks like so much fun! your salad is beautiful, could totally go for one right about now!!

  5. this salad looks out of this world, i will definitely have to make it. also, i did not know that tip to cutting grapefruits! this will be a big timesaver!

  6. Awesome they asked you to be an assistant!