5 Things I Learned From Bobby Flay

A short but sweet encounter with the celebrity chef, who gave me 5 invaluable tips

Last night at FAGE’s Plain Kitchen event, Bobby Flay stood in front of a crowd of about 20 people, myself included, and taught us how to make a delicious hummus and a lamb salad using FAGE’s fat-free plain Greek yogurt. The class attendees ranged in age and experience, with the youngest student around 12 years old, and many had never held a knife before. While I felt pretty confident with how I’d perform in the class — as the Cook editor of The Daily Meal and all — Flay still managed to impart some new cooking wisdom and taught me that while I may have been more experienced than others in the class, no one is ever done learning how to cook. Here are five things I learned from Flay last night:

  1. Canola Oil and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Flay uses two, and only two, oils in his kitchen: canola and extra-virgin olive oil. Because of its high smoke point that allows it to stand up to high heat, canola oil is what he uses when cooking. Flay reserves extra-virgin olive oil for no-cook dishes such as salad dressings and aiolis.
  2. Dressing a Salad. Flay feels that a lot of people overdress their salads, especially when making one that uses delicate leaves that can easily become wilted or broken down. To prevent this from happening, he puts a pile of leaves in middle of a bowl and drizzles a tablespoon of salad dressing in a circle around them. He then gently pushes the leaves up against the edges of the bowl, and pushes them back into the center, carefully and very lightly dressing them as he goes.
  3. Lamb Marinade. Lamb and yogurt has always been a good pair, and last night Flay taught us how to make an amazing marinade using the two that will probably stay with me for life. First, we brushed the Greek yogurt all over a lean and thin lamb tenderloin, and then we created a spice rub using paprika, mustard powder, crushed fennel seed, coriander, salt, and pepper to rub all over it. The flavorful spice rub created a perfect crust around the tenderloin, while the yogurt kept it nice and tender while we sautéed it.
  4. Marbling. Flay told us that he always uses yogurt and some type of syrup in his dishes, but mixing the two together is simply not enough for him. Last night, he taught us the technique of marbling, which is when you take the back of a spoon and gently drag the heavier syrup through the yogurt to create a marble effect. You can do this with a number of things that have a thick consistency — like molasses, or a jam — to mix into something white such as yogurt, sour cream, or cream cheese.
  5. Hummus with Texture. Flay likes his hummus with a little texture, so he had us roughly mash up whole chickpeas to fold into the yogurt, cumin, and chickpea hummus we puréed in a food processor. Some other creative additions were minced jalapeño and a few (or more) dashes of Tabasco sauce. 

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce