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Old 01-31-2009, 10:09 PM   #11
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Combine all of these cooking ideas (the one I would have mentioned is mise en place but GG beat me to it), while making a simple recipe.

Chopped garlic
Fresh basil chiffonade (teach them what chiffonade is) and if you don't know I will tell you
Canned whole tomatoes
Olive oil
salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 kalamata olives per person

In this case the mise en place is pretty easy. Just chop the garlic and put in a small bowl, drain and then crush the tomatoes with your fingers reserving this juice and the tomatoes in a bowl. Cut the basil chiffonade and put in a bowl, grate the cheese, etc., etc. Explain that you know for SURE you can make the recipe because by doing this you know for CERTAIN you have all the ingredients. While the garlic is heating (in a skillet, not pot) you don't have to chop the tomatoes; possibly burning your garlic while doing so.

If you choose to chop the garlic you can very roughly chop the garlic and then show them how to place one hand on top of the knife, while holding the blade, and rock the blade so it chops the garlic or you can show them how to use a garlic press.

Once the garlic has warmed in the oil a bit you can add the tomatoes You can show the benefit of a skillet because the larger base of the skillet will help reduce the liquid out of the sauce faster.

Heat the olive oil on low, add the garlic but don't allow any color to come to it. Add the drained, squished tomatoes and cook until a lot of the liquid has reduced. This won't take that long in a skillet...maybe 15 - 20 minutes on medium heat. At some point near the end toss in the kalamata olives and heat a bit more. When done remove from heat and toss in the basil chiffonade. While the basil is heating in the pan you can talk about the pasta. Always cook pasta in a VERY large pot so the starches release and don't cause the pasta to become clumped and stuck together. The most important time to stir pasta is shortly after putting into the water You also want to salt the water because this is when it will flavor the pasta. All aspects of a dish need to be flavored. The same goes for cooking potatoes for something line potato salad (even mashed potatoes). Potatoes need to be cooked beginning with cold water though. If the pasta is already done then the salt will just cling to the outside, but, potatoes will absorb the salt all the way through. So when you bite into potato salad the inside is seasoned as well.

...back to marinara sauce. I prefer this marinara with angel hair, but, if you use a spaghetti noodle you can actually show them how to tell if it is cooked other than by just tasting it. If you bite into a spaghetti noodle it will be a bit white in the middle - the "raw" part, if you will.

Once the pasta is cooked add to the skillet and toss with the marinara. When combined and heated show them how to plate it in an attractive way. It can either be placed right in the center and stacked kind of high or placed in an oblong oval shape. Foods placed in the center of a plate are more attractive than foods spread all the way to the sides of the plate.

I know you are probably tired of reading this by now. Sorry, I got carried away


"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:18 PM   #12
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Read through the entire recipe before starting. This is where I made most of my mistakes when starting to cook (especially with baking).


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Old 02-02-2009, 11:32 AM   #13
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Wow! This thread helped me so much. Thanks all!
The almost useless Mom in the kitchen! If I can get out of it, I will!!!
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:47 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mommysews View Post
I have been asked to do a cooking demo for my daughters cadette troop. they want me to cover some "basics". These girls are between 12 and 15. What would you consider some kitchen and cooking things that everyone should know in the kitchen?
Hi Mommysews,

What you can do depends so much upon how much time you have to do your demonstration? How much time do you have available?

Is this a one-off demonstration or a series of demonstrations? Do the members of the cadette troup get a certificate at the end of the day - well known to concentrate the attention and work ethic! What does the troop seek to achieve by having you do this? Demonstrations take a lot of time and planning, as previously prepared/made items need to be completed to enable you to maximise the time in front of your audience. There is a reason why chefs on TV pull out of the oven an item made in advance. For example, you could demonstrate how to make muffins but would need a cooked batch to show the finished result.

Where will you be doing the demonstration, what facilities will be available and will the cadette troop be cooking? Personally, if not, why not and why bother doing it as all you will be doing is entertaining the troops for the time they sit before you!

Why have you been asked? Is it because you have a particular reputation for making certain things (?), in which case, I suspect, they will want you to demonstrate those dishes.

How does the cadette troup define basics? They may not want week one of a catering course - Module 101 - peeling and cutting vegetables and use in basic recipies like making soups, but how to make Macaroni and cheese - making a white sauce and cooking pasta - 2 distinct skills?

I would get more information from the troop before planning a demonstration if I were you.

All the best,

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