In the culinary alphabet, C is for… cookware, Corelle, (Le) Creuset, Cuisinart, CucinaPro and Calphalon. But did you know that Calphalon is more than just great cookware?
Sometime last year, I won a gift certificate for a cooking demo class at the Calphalon Culinary Centre in Toronto. It just goes to show how crazy my life has been that I only found the time to use it last week! Now don’t get me wrong, I would be at a Calphalon class every week if I had the time, their offerings are interesting and varied:
Demo classes teach tips and techniques to use in your own kitchen. Taught by a professional chef, each class offers a three course menu demonstrated by the chef step by step, before your very eyes. You get to sample each dish the chef prepares and leave with the recipes and knowledge you need to make them at home!
Hands on classes work in a beautifully outfitted kitchen with twelve cooking stations and all the cookware, utensils, and accessories you need. Students prepare an entire menu from start to finish, and enjoy the fruits of their labour afterwards!
Specialty classes (workshops and shopping excursions) allow you to explore a chosen culinary focus in more depth. From classes that help you master the classics, to educational excursions to local markets shopping for the freshest staples and rare ingredients, these are all-encompassing foodie experiences.
Wine Classes at the Calphalon Culinary Center include wine basics, regional varieties, wine and food pairings, and much more. Classes feature 4-7 new wines, and a professional wine consultant as Guest Speaker.
(information adapted from the Calphalon website)
Calphalon has a culinary centre in Chicago as well – if you live there or are visiting, be sure to check their calendar.
I chose to attend the Parisian Pleasures demo class with Neil, since I am desperately missing Paris in the summer and any way I can even remotely pretend I am there will do for right now…
We arrived at 6.oo sharp and ordered some wine. It’s very civilised!
And yes, that’s a “small snack” :-O
The first item on the menu was an Endive and Pear Salad with Bacon-Roquefort Vinaigrette. A fabulous combination of sweet and savoury – this salad was Paris all over.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
4 cups frisee, washed and spun free of moisture
2 ears Belgian endive, julienne
2 bosc pears, washed, quartered, seeded and grilled
4 oz. Roquefort cheese, crumbled
½ cup bacon, chopped
1 shallot, finely sliced
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp. Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup white wine or champagne vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Featured Cook Ware: Calphalon One Infused Anodized 8” Fry Pan & Unison Grill Pan
1. In an 8 “fry pan over medium high heat sauté bacon until crisp. Remove crisp bacon from the pan and drain excess fat.
2. Place the same fry pan over medium heat and add the shallots and sauté until tender. Season with salt, pepper and add the herbs to sauté a few more seconds with the shallots.
3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine or champagne vinegar and stir to get the bits off the bottom of the pan. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the olive oil. Take tbsp. of vinaigrette and toss quartered pears with it.
4. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and sear pear quarters until slightly soft and grill marks appear.
5. Toss endive and frisee with remaining vinaigrette, garnish with Roquefort, bacon and pears pieces.
6. Plate and serve.
Even though each recipe had a “featured” Calphalon product, it was not a big hard sell like the free demo class I recently attended at Williams Sonoma was. I found this a refreshing change. Great products speak for themselves, right?
The main course was a classic – steak-frites
LOVED this! Perfectly cooked steak. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside frites and lovely green beans. Vive le steak-frites!
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serving Size: 4
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
4, (6 – 8 oz.) portions New York striploin, about ¾” thick
2 shallots, finely diced
1 tbsp. green peppercorns crushed lightly
1 tbsp. herbes de Provence
½ cup sherry
¾ cup beef stock
3 tbsp. cold butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Featured Cookware: 12” Calphalon One Infused Anodized Fry Pan
1. Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon butter and oil. Season steaks on both sides and place in hot pan to sear; about 3 – 4 minutes on both sides for medium-rare to medium. Remove steaks and set aside to rest.
2. Return pan to stovetop, lowering heat to medium. Add shallots; sauté 2 – 3 minutes. Add the peppercorns and herbs; deglaze with sherry. Reduce by half and add the stock; reduce by half again. Whisk in the cold butter, check and adjust seasoning, and serve over the steaks.
Of Southern French origin, herbes de Provence contains an assortment of dried herbs commonly consisting of rosemary, thyme, lavender, basil, fennel seed, marjoram, and savoury. This blend can be used to season many different dishes, from soups to sauces, and from meats and poultry to vegetables.
Preparation time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Serving Size: 4
2 lb. large Yukon gold potatoes – peeled and cut julienne – Potatoes are to be rinsed and soaked for 2 hours and rinsed a second time and dried well
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 litres vegetable oil at 350˚F
Featured Cook Ware: Calphalon One Infused Anodized 6 ½ Quart Sauce Pot
1. Heat oil in stock pot to 200F. Blanch fry frites until crisp, but without colour.
2. Increase oil to 325F and fry frites, a second time, when ready to serve. This second fry is to colour the already cooked potato.
3. Season with salt and pepper and fresh parsley and serve immediately with steak and green peppercorn sauce.
For dessert? What’s more classic than a crème brûlée?
I enjoyed the flavours of this a lot, but prefer my crème brûlées to be in a slightly more shallow dish. The taste, however, was spot on.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6
2 cups 35% cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped or 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar (plus extra for broiling)
Featured Cook Ware: Calphalon Triply Stainless 2 ½ Quart Sauce Pan
Preheat oven to 325F
1. Place cream in a medium saucepan. Scrape in vanilla seeds and bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat; remove from heat.
2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture; discard vanilla bean.
3. Strain mixture through a fine sieve and divide mixture among ramekins or custard cups.
4. Arrange dishes in 13” x 9”-inch baking pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.
5. Bake custards in a preheated 325°F oven until almost set in centre and light golden on top, about 30 – 40 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath and set aside to cool.
6. To serve, sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over each custard. Use a blow torch to caramelize the sugar. Alternatively, place cups on a baking tray; set oven to broil, add custards to oven and caramelize sugar 2 “away from top burner.
7. Serve with fresh mint and berries.
(All recipes courtesy of Calphalon)
Neil and I thoroughly enjoyed this demonstration. Not sure we learned a lot as I find it’s hard to learn when you’re just watching – I am more of a hands-on type – but it was lovely to sit back and let someone else cook a French-inspired meal and enjoy a glass of wine at the same time. After the demo, we went shopping in the store (bien sûr!) where I spent a good portion of my generous birthday gift certificate Whilst we most certainly did not leave empty-handed, we did leave a few items on the shelves that we *really* wanted…
Shortly afterwards, I was contacted by CSN stores who, after generously supplying me with a gorgeous item for my first ever giveaway back in December, wondered if I might like a product for review. Both Neil and I spent a long time debating what we actually needed versus what we wanted. I vaguely toyed with the idea of new dinnerware, but we ended up choosing something that we very nearly bought at Calphalon that night – a smaller stock pot than our gigantic one that is just not very practical for everyday use. I am so excited to test drive this gorgeous piece from Le Creuset:
At George Brown Chef School, Neil and I always covet the stock pots that are the perfect size for chilis and hearty winter stews and we drooled over a gorgeous stock pot at Calphalon on the night of the demo. Unfortunately, my birthday gift certificate couldn’t stretch that far so this opportunity to try out a brand I don’t own one single piece of (the shame!) came along just at the right time. This will come in very handy during the busy first term at school when making large batches of sauces, stews and soups is a life-saver! You can expect a review sometime in the next month or so 🙂