Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nutrition Class, Part Three

Cooking starts with building skill upon skill. You have to be able to do more than read a recipe, you have to start a recipe. Many start with mechanical skills, like knowing the difference between chopping, dicing, and mincing. Another would be basic understanding about the cooking process, like how to sautée ingredients. Then you graduate onto classic French techniques. One of these, the girls in my class call, "The Marriage". They are referring to a marriage of three main ingredients in mirepoix: carrots, celery and onions. You can read about it here on Wikipedia. We made a vegetable soup the first class with it, and then on week two, started the base of our chicken pot-pie. Another technique we used to make the sauce for the pot-pie was a roux. In week three we used the same technique to make reduced-fat alfredo.

Reduced-fat Alfredo Sauce

In a saucepan, melt 2 Tb butter, 2 Tb olive oil. Add 2 cloves of smashed garlic. Saute until garlic softens, about 1 minute. Whisk in 4 Tb flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free). Continue to cook over medium heat briefly until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Then, whisk in 3 cups milk slowly, carefully incorporating small amounts at a time. Continue to whisk periodically for about 8-12 minutes over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and whisk until cheese has melted and incorporated into the sauce. Season with 1 tsp salt and black pepper to taste.

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