On Monday I was so super stoked to be apart of the Yelp Elite community. For this event a group of 50 of us were given a night of cooking instruction at the the Blue Ribbon Cooking Center in Eastlake (right down the road from Bryan). From 6-9 pm we were given craft cocktails and appetizers while we were divided into cooking groups and rotated through 3 of 5 different stations (of our choosing) before sitting down to eat our homemade dinner served to us by course. It was an awesome instructional experience and priced at over $150 normally. The menu we learned fit the season, was delicious, and included:
Appetizers (prepared for us and served as snacks throughout the night):
-Thai Grilled Chicken Skewers with Chile-Honey-Peanut Sauce, Coconut and Cilantro
-Modern Caprese Tart with Heirloom Tomato Jam, Fried Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella marinated in Basil-Infused Olive Oil
-Mixed Baby Greens with Grapefruit, Fennel Shaved Pecorino Romano and Champagne Vinaigrette
-Slow Roasted Troll-Caught Salmon with Martini Sauce
-Cider Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Flambéed Apples and Caramelized Walla Walla Sweet Onions
-Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
-Sautéed Green Beans with White Wine and Shallots
-Caramelized Apple and Rosemary Tarte Tatin with Caramel Sauce, Gray Salt and Crème Brulee Ice Cream
And Blue Ribbon’s Signature Coffee with Hand-Whipped Cream and Ibarra Mexican Chocolate
The three stations I chose included all of the above except for the dessert course and the cocktail station. I actually really learned a lot. Provided that each station was only given 30 minutes of instructional time we could not see everything through but we did get all of the crucial information and did get to work with our hands for a good part of it. As much as I feel skilled in making a pork tenderloin (especially paired with apples and onions…a la Mom) I want to try this dish at home soon. It was super easy but really delicious. The sweet potato gnocchi was also a standout for me. I am not a huge pasta person but I love sweet potatoes, I prefer gnocchi over a lot of other pastas, and it was far simpler than I would have thought. I also that the brown butter sage sauce was killer and super simple. Here are some key learnings from the night:
- Brining makes a huge difference in moistness and tenderness of poultry. Brine with 3/4 cup salt + 3/4 cup sugar in one quart of water for up to 24 hours for a super tender piece of meat.
- The brine juice also helps give you the great sear and caramelization as you retain some of that sugar in the crust.
- Practice flambeing with one cup of rice in a saute pan outside in the grass.
- Sear the side of the meat or fish that you want to present first.
- A vinaigrette is essentially salt, sugar/honey, vinegar, and oil.
- Pecorino romano and parmesan reggiano are the highest fat contents of cheese, including brie. Pecorino romano is saltier than parmesan.
- Remove all whey from ricotta cheese before adding to gnocchi dough so you need less flour to bind it.
- Making gnocchi is essentially like playing with play-doh.
- We rolled out the gnocchi with our hands into dime-sized snakes before cutting into equal pieces and then rolling it along a fork to create ridges for the gnocchi to hold the sauce. Roll out dough in rice flour as opposed to all purpose because it will release in the water better and make the gnocchi less gummy.
- Blanch green beans in salted water to retain flavor and color.
This was just a sneak peak into all of the things that I will soon be learning in my cooking series course. I am beyond excited and can’t wait to make many of these dishes on my own, for friends, and with Bryan.