Think you can’t make a wholesome meal in 30 minutes? Think again.

Meet Kristi Tutt, a new teaching chef at The French Kitchen who is offering “Quick Lunch” classes. For $19 per person, you join five other home cooks and prepare a healthy menu that includes a protein and side dish in 30 minutes. (Dessert is provided.) While the cooking stays within that timeframe, you can plan on another 30 minutes to enjoy feasting on that meal with your classmates. Or, if you need to get back to work or get on with your day, you can pack up your meal and take it with you.

There are several cuisines from which to choose: Indian, Thai, Chinese, Creole and Croque Madame (French grilled cheese sandwich). Other entree dishes include steak, chicken, trout, salmon and pork. There’s usually a starch or vegetable to round out the meal. During each class, you learn cooking techniques and ingredient tips. Recipes are included. What I learned from the two classes I took could easily be used for a family dinner or dinner party.

At the Indian class, we made chicken curry with vegetable fritters, a combination that was delicious and has become a go-to for a speedy weeknight dinner. Cooking techniques included pan-searing the chicken, making a simple curry sauce, and breading and pan-frying the fritters. The fritters were made with zucchini, onion, and garlic held together with garbanzo flour and water.

Tutt used equal parts olive and sunflower oils to pan-sear the chicken.

“Because we are going to get the oil very hot, the sunflower oil will prevent the olive oil from burning,” she said.

Canned chickpeas were added to the creamy curry sauce. Tutt’s tip: To remove the shells from the chickpeas, fill a large mixing bowl with tap water and add the drained chickpeas. Rub the peas between your hands and the husks will float off. Discard the husks.

The menu for the second class I attended was steak tarragon tagliata and couscous. The technique taught was how to braise a less- tender cut of beef, in this case flat iron steaks, to create a great-tasting dish.

Tutt’s tip: Use San Marzano tomatoes in the braising liquid and a good red wine that you like to drink. For the class, she used The Original Dark Horse big red blend wine, which she said costs less than $10 a bottle.

For both classes, Blandine Brutel, owner of The French Kitchen, made tarts for dessert. We had strawberry tarts for one session and a choice of strawberry or lemon tarts for the other. Both tarts were excellent, and now I want to go back for the sweets class. But not before I do the next “Quick Lunch” I’m signed up for: Thai shrimp soup with basmati rice.


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Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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