Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cooking Class with Geoff Russell

Before we do a couple of year end posts and head back to England on the Marmelade Gypsy, I wanted to write about one other great thing I did to wrap up 2018. It was to attend a holiday cooking class with Chef Geoff Russell.

Geoff is an area chef who had rich culinary experience . He has started offering small cooking demos and tastings in a home setting here in Lansing, Michigan. I loved how it worked -- we didn't do the hands-on. Instead, we sat at the counter while Geoff cooked and explained his recipes and techniques as we peppered him with questions. The class included the recipes for all the dishes prepared, which I covered with notes!

We were greeted first with a Wassail cocktail, perfect for the season. Then we joined Geoff in the kitchen as he prepared Rillettes, a savory appetizer of braised dark meat and cornichons on crostini.

He then went on to prepare a delicious mincemeat Bakewell tart, a riff on the original tart recipe with homemade mincemeat. (True confession -- I had never tried mincemeat before; I thought it sounded terrible. I cannot wait to make this one myself! All that great fruit was delicious!)

It was fun watching him make the frangipani and assemble the tart. And oh, so good when done!

He showed us how to do turkey breast sous vide, a rolled breast cooked at a constant internal temperature for rather awhile in a special machine. I don't know that I'll do this with the machine but learning the rolled technique was good.  And when it was done, it sliced like a dream.

He also showed us how to cut a chicken without destroying it.

(I asked how many chickens were mutilated in his learning attempts and he said "many." I can see why!)

The new potato dish was fascinating. They are boiled with an enormous amount of salt in the pan and water barely covering. When done, the pan looked like this... (it cleans easily, it's just salt.)

...and the potatoes like this.

And after he added some oil and spices and served with the rest of our meal later, they were delicious and surprisingly, not too salty. (Potatoes always require more salt than you think!)

But my favorite dish was the massaged kale salad. I have never been a fan of kale. That changed big time!

This salad requires way more kale than you think it does! After it's washed and dried, it's finely minced (rather like the parsley in tabouli) and then you get in with both hands and massage the heck out of it with olive oil and salt to tenderize it. (Maybe that's the problem. I never had tender kale.)

Then he added wonderful ingredients -- blue cheese, toasted walnuts and baked grapes which were succulent and sweet. The it was tossed with a mustard/shallot vinaigrette.

It was the best thing ever (and I've made it twice since.) And then, the big reveal!

Isn't that a gorgeous platter? And I can tell you, that glorious feast tasted as good as it looked!

The table was beautifully set and the food was just delicious. The carrots sweet, the turkey tender and the potatoes perfectly seasoned.

The dessert was a sweet wrap up.

And our little group of happy learners were delighted!

I learned a lot at this class, including many cooking tips and loads of info on food science, preparation and just how things "work" together.  I hope to take more of Geoff's winter series, which includes five sessions on the tastes -- sweet, sour, bitter, tart and unami. If you are in the area, check them out here. The classes were about three hours altogether with dining. The winter ones include tastings as well, detailed in the website descriptions. You can check it out HERE.

Sharing this week with:  Dishing It and Digging It    /    Pink Saturday     /   Let's Keep In Touch    


David M. Gascoigne, said...

Massaged Kale seems to be THE thing this year. I have heard about it so many times, but amazingly no one has served it, at least where we have visited. The one thing you didn’t mention, Jeanie, was the wine. I am sure that had you taken Rick along with you, he would have noted this essential component of a fine dinner!

DUTA said...

What a special culinary learning experience!
My favorite picture - the one with the beautifully set table.

Marilyn Miller said...

I would take this class in a heart beat. Everything sounds totally delicious. I love mincemeat pie, but have never had it quite the way he made it. I served mince tarts at a tea before Christmas and one of my guests had never had mincemeat either. She liked it too. I also never like kale until having it in a kale salad that was rubbed with salt. It is a family favorite now. Your ingredients in the salad sound very good. The potatoes look delicious, in fact everything looks absolutely delicious. Yummmmm~

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

Chef classes are popular around here, too. I know of three who do them including for groups and private. I won two group classes and have taken one. What a fun way to spend an evening and learn at the same time. (I don't cook but I'm a good watcher. LOL) My mom used to make mincemeat and it was so good. I haven't found a commercially made mincemeat to compare. Thanks for bringing that memory back.

peppylady (Dora) said...

I've never had a culinary experience
Coffee is on

Blondie's Journal said...


I've never taken any sort of cooking class but it is on my list! I would love to just take notes and learn, like your class, and of course, sample! The potato prep sounds fascinating. I've heard of massaging kale, it is tough and I've found, tasteless. Thanks for the tips. Can I ask how much the classes are in $$?


Julia @ Vintage with Laces said...

That sounds like fun and the dishes look delicious. I'm intrigued by the way he cooked the potatos. I always give a massage to thinly sliced onion rings before adding them to any kind of salad. It makes them soft and I like the taste better.

Joyful said...

I'm sure you had fun in the class and had a delicious meal to boot! When I was young I didn't like mincemeat tarts now I love them :-)

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

How incredibly fascinating. What a way to learn about food prep and eat something fabulous, too.

I learned something new, too. I use lots of salt when I boil potatoes for my potato soup. But I learned I'm using too much water and all the salty water is heading down the drain, or being saved for veggie broth.

My grandmother made mincemeat pies every year at Christmas. They were delicious, but didn't look like the chef's tart. I bought some prepared mincemeat once and about gagged it was so bad. The real deal is the only way, in my opinion.

Thanks for this very informative post. BTW, you are right about parsley in tabouli, so I can understand how much kale you would need.

Valerie-Jael said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful evening, Jeanie, and the food sounds delicious. Glad you liked mincemeat, it's a wonderful thing made properly. Hugs, Valerie

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Jeanie, hello!!!! WOW, that platter is exquisite and fit for a marvelous dinner party! Isn't it fun to take classes on things that interest you, and better yet, things you can learn to bring such joy to others? You have been "partayin'" down this holiday and bravo to you!

Thank you for visiting my blog; I am having a BLAST learning about my new camera, that quite frankly, is a superior instrument in the hands of a lesser photographer such as myself. Yes, that photo on my post is with my new camera, and I can see a huge difference in the sensitivity to light and shadows that I am after. The resolution is marvelous.

Jeanie, here's to a good and BETTER 2019 on all levels, for all of us.

Joanne Huffman said...

It sounds amazing. I had forgotten; but, about thirty years ago I took a cooking class in a chef's home and it was a great - and, tasty - experience.

La Table De Nana said...

I have only been to two and LOVED them..This one looks great! Funny the word mincemeat always turned me off too for desserts..?Then I amde a Jamie O recipe one Christmas..and I liked it..I've never used it or made it again but not because I did not like it..too many things to bake :) It looks fantastic Jeanie and I am a massaged Kale fan:)

roughterrain crane said...

It is a great gift for us to get a chance of learning something we are interested in.

Victoria Zigler said...

I knew you'd like mince pies!

Sounds like a wonderful cooking lesson, and a delicious meal. That kale salad sounds very good. I hope you can make it to the other classes too.

My name is Erika. said...

What a great way to spend 3 hours. In some ways better because you didn't have to do the cooking but you got all kinds of great hints. The food sure looks good. I've never had wassail. Is it sweet? Happy end to 2018. Hugs-Erika

Mae Travels said...

Your write-up and the website give the impression that this is an excellent professional teacher with both experience and expertise. I hope you enjoy the further classes: they sound very well-thought-out.

best... mae at

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

The holiday cooking class looks and sounds like fun! :) Wonderful photos. I'm quite hungry now!

Iris Flavia said...

Wow, you have never had mincemeat before?!
Does America have no meat pies like in Australia?

A-ha. So I did it all wrong with the kale salad!

And the potatoes look just so yummy!

Sounds a lot like Jamie Oliver´s work, which I love.

Stacey said...

Sounds like so much fun, Jeanie. I'd love to find something like that here. Off to look!!

Sketchbook Wandering said...

What fun, what learning, what delight, what beauty!! And in a home setting! I can't eat a lot of those foods, but they sure look wonderful! I will try a minced salad using kale, though. Thank you!!!

William Kendall said...

Quite a menu!

Running on empty said...

Fruit mince pies are just a normal thing here at Christmas. Cath, in Aus.

The French Hutch said...

I keep reading about kale and I haven't been to any dinners where it was served. I eat kale cooked and in smoothies. Guess I need to be the one to serve it. This looks like a fun evening and that platter looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing your evening.........Happy New Year Jeanie!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie,
What a fun evening. The food looks delicious, lovely presentation too.
I wish you and your family all the best in 2019. Happy New Year!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Love the idea of learning in a home. Great pics and lots of fun! said...

This sounds like a lot of fun, I like the idea of watching and eating rather than hands on for a cooking class! I hope you share the kale salad recipe, the baked grapes have me curious! I have heard of those salted potatoes but never tried it...Sous vide cooking is supposed to be very divine, but I'm not on board with it it means another appliance...Thanks for sharing Jeanie!

Red Rose Alley said...

That mincemeat tart looks sooooo good. I've been craving mincemeat pies lately. They're kind of like fruit cakes - you either like them, or you don't. The holiday cooking class sounds fun! I think the girls would love to do something like this, as they love to cook.


Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, what a fabulous class! I would love watching the preparation, asking questions, and then eating the chef’s meal. This is a great idea. Fun, fun, fun!

The Liberty Belle said...

England, grandchild turning one, art camp, wassail cocktails, etc. You've had quite a year! I hope that 2019 proves to be filled with joys, peace, adventure, and love for you.

Olka said...

Wow! All these meals sound amazing! I was shocked about potatoes! I was sure they'll be too salty :D
And a kale - it surprises me as well! I'm not a fan of kale too, but I've recently are delicious kale crisps. And I think I need to find some nice recipes for kale meals. Can you share the recipe for the salad here on your blog? ;)

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh my gosh - this looks and sounds amazing and I could have eaten everything except the tart, I think! The turkey looks so juicy and tender and those potatoes sound amazing! I had a delicious kale salad that sounds like what you've described at a restaurant in Asheville. Kale can be truly delicious if it's prepare right. If it's not massaged then - BLEH!! It's gross!

tartan lover said...

OH MY I just found you on twitter through the magic of twitter and Susan Branch. I luv everything about you and wish I lived in Michigan so we could b friends:) This looks like a perfect class I would love to have gone. Will be following you from now on. Thank you for everything you share. You made me really happy today!

Charissa or Tea, Tartan, and Tom on twitter

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