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Turning up the heat at Sur La Table

Story and photos by EMILY SPAIN

Whether you are a Julia Child cooking prodigy or have never touched a spatula, Sur La Table cooking classes are a fantastic way to take your cooking abilities to the next level. With summer’s end in sight, Sur La Table will help you create transitional dishes for every season. Given Southern California hosts’ endless summers, outside grilling is a year-long practice which led me to take Sur La Table’s “Backyard Grilling” class. 

 “Backyard Grilling” was taught by Chef Alexis, who created an indoor “backyard” for our grilling experience with the help of portable stove tops and Le Creuset grilling pans. First on the agenda was the Panzanella salad: A traditional bread salad with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and pickled onions. In order to maximize the flavor, we grilled the bread and tomatoes until charred. Then after mixing the ingredients together, Chef Alexis and the cooking team carefully combined all of the ingredients together. To ensure the flavors had adequate time to develop, we set the salad aside until it was time to eat.

Turning Up the Heat Summer Vegetables

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Light and tasty summer vegetables with feta vinaigrette

Next up was the Grilled Summer Vegetables with a feta vinaigrette featuring yellow squash, zucchini, red bell peppers and onions. This portion of the class was arguably the most interesting, as I realized there is an art to grilling vegetables. Often, when grilling vegetables like squash or zucchini, they turn out soggy or fall through the grill if you don’t use proper grill trays. Chef Alexis taught the class how to combat the issue by cutting the vegetables into medium sized bites, laying them out on a paper towel and sprinkling them with kosher salt. This step is important as kosher salt will aid in drawing out water from the vegetables in order to prevent them from becoming soggy after grilling. I, also, learned kosher or sea salts are better to utilize when cooking. They have less sodium, and it is harder to “over-salt” your food than when using table salt. After grilling the vegetables, we drizzled a delicious feta vinaigrette made with Greek yogurt.

Turning up the Heat grilled apricot glazed chicken

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Grilled apricot glazed chicken – the finished product

After making the delicious sides, it was time for the main course: Grilled Apricot Glazed Chicken. We used trimmed bone in, skin on chicken thighs as I learned they are one of the tastiest parts of the chicken and easy to grill. Seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, the chicken was first grilled until developing a perfect char. We then made a sweet apricot glaze with spicy brown mustard to drench the chicken in before cooking the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes. The finished chicken was my favorite dish, as it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, truly perfect for summer. 

Last but certainly not least was the dessert: Grilled peaches and plums with vanilla whipped cream. After coating the fruits with a cinnamon and honey glaze, we put them on the grill for a few minutes. Finally, we used the remaining glaze on the fruits and added a generous dollop of vanilla whipped cream. The dessert is a simple yet delicious way to end any summer soiree. 

Turning up the heat dessert

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The class’s finale: grilled peach and plum with vanilla whipped cream

Cooking classes at the Sur La Table located in Corona del Mar Plaza are offered, beginning at $49. With every class you take, you receive a 20 percent discount off of your next class. After taking one class, I can guarantee you will be eager to sign up for more. Additionally, if you enjoyed a particular product used during class, you can get 10 percent off your purchase the day of the class. If you are looking for a fun date night idea or opportunity to learn new skills, I suggest you put an apron on and get cooking at Sur La Table.

To view the Corona del Mar Plaza location class schedule and book your next class, visit www.surlatable.com/classes. Bon Appétit!