As soon as I was back from NYC I was back in the kitchen. Tuesday after work I had a cooking class at the PCC in Greenlake called “Elements of Flavor”. The class focused on the balance and contrast of flavors, worked on technique for cooking different proteins, and pairing the proteins with items that work with them and emphasize with them. Our chef was the interesting and funny Darin and the menu included:
- Lamb Kefta with Minted Slaw and Homemade Harissa
- Pan-seared, Crispy-skinned Salmon with Spiced Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Orange Coriander Oil
- Seared and Slow-roasted New York Strip Steak with Anchovy Salsa Verde
- Spiced Chocolate Bread Pudding with Pistachio Brittle.
Yeah, the menu won me over. I started off with a quick shower on my scooter ride over and a change of clothes in their store restroom. When I was finally comfortable enough to sit in a chair I was able to grab a mug of tea and we were served the chocolate bread pudding with pistachio brittle to warm up with. Heavenly and decadent. He walked through the bread pudding recipe and then we learned how to make the brittle. I am going to make this at home. I am not going to be scared of making candies, and it was delicious.
I will generally break down what I learned in this class (for my memory more than anything):
- Emulsifying ground meat is the best way to keep it to hold its shape. This is just done with kneading it for only 45 seconds, no more. No egg is needed.
- Harissa can be made with a bag of soaked chili arbols, tomatoes, cumin and salt and pepper, in a food processor and kept in the fridge.
- All proteins, except white fish, can be seared on all sides and finished in a low (200 degree) oven later. Time between the sear and the oven is not very important.
- To get crispy skinned salmon you should descale the fillet. The scales in salmon essentially disintegrate but they won’t let you get that crispy skin on them.
- Kosher salt should be used in all slow cooking, sea salt is better for finishing.
- Finishing in the oven on a raised grate is better so it doesn’t cook in its own grease and lose its crust.
- You can make orange oil by simply adding orange peel, cloves, and ginger to oil and letting it stand for a long time.
- Searing is a flavor bonus but should not be used if chance of protein being over cooked (i.e. very thin pork or steak).
- We learned how to make an anchovy salsa verde which pairs great with steak.
- You can seasonsteaks with salt and pepper early, then pat with paper towels right before searing.
We were plated with our three entrees for dinner right at 9pm. Everything was very good. I especially liked the kefta (of course) but the other two entrees I think I learned very valuable tips for their preparation and technique. Hopefully I get to use them again soon!