Cooking Class Week 5: Shell Fish

oysters

Tonight’s class focused on shellfish. I finally learned how to properly shuck an oyster. It took a few attempts but by the end I was able to pick up the technique. To shuck an oyster you hold it in a towel in your hand, cup of the oyster facing down. You then take the oyster knife and push it through the heel of the oyster. Once the knife gets through the heel you twist the knife to pop the shell. You then move the knife across the top shell to separate it from the oyster. Then after taking the top shell off you cut the oyster free from the bottom shell. I chose to cook Oysters Florentine tonight in order to practice the shucking technique.

The chef also taught us a few simple recipes for shrimp, clams, and crab that I will highlight in future posts

Off to Toronto for the Weekend

Flag_of_Canada

I’m headed up to Toronto, Canada for the weekend so there will be no posts over the next few days. However Toronto is an incredible food city so I will be doing a recap of all the bars and restaurants I go to once I get back. I am also looking to find some inspiration for some new dishes too. Enjoy your weekend and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Guinness Reduction Part 2

steak and shrimp

Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day I worked on perfecting the Guinness pan sauce that I made a few weeks ago. Before cooking the steaks I took 4 cups of beef stock, carrots, celery, garlic, and onions and placed them in a saucepan; I then reduced the broth by half to build more flavor in the stock. After fortifying the stock I cooked the steaks in the pan. I sauteed half a shallot then deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup of Guinness. I reduced the Guinness by 2/3 then added the fortified beef broth. I simmered the sauce for ~2 min then added 1tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbs soy sauce, salt, and chopped fresh parsley. I let the sauce simmer for another 2 min then added 1 tbs unsalted butter and 1/2 tsp truffle butter. I then did a final taste to get the salt level right. I then served the sauce over the steak.

To cook the shrimp I took a cast iron skillet and cooked 4 pieces of bacon. I then added the shrimp, which I seasoned with Old Bay and cooked them in the bacon grease.

Guinness

Cooking Classes Week 4: Fish

Snapper1

Week 4 has been my favorite class so far. First we were taught how to scale and skin a fish. Then, instead of following a recipe from the book the chef taught us a few techniques how to cook fish; grilling, sauteing, and butter roasting. After going over these techniques we were able to experiment with seasonings and sauces to pair with the fish.

I chose to butter roast snapper fillets. I seasoned the snapper with white pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, dill, and Spanish paprika. I then preheated the pan. As the pan was heating I lightly coated the fish with canola oil, then when the pan was hot I placed a tablespoon of oil in the pan. I then placed the fish in the pan, turning the heat down after 30 seconds. When the fish turned white halfway through I flipped the fish and added 4-5 tablespoons of butter to the pan and turned down the heat. As the butter melted I basted the fish with the butter for 1-2 min until the fish was done, squeezing lemon juice over the fish at the very end.

After removing the fish from the pan I drained out most of the butter and added a chopped shallot and garlic. I then deglazed the pan with white wine and reduced it by 3/4. After reducing the wine I added spinach and sauteed the spinach. I served the fish over the spinach.

Grilled Garlic Chili Snapper

snapper

I have wanted to try this recipe for a while now but could not find banana leaves to wrap the fish in. I gave up on finding banana leaves last night and improvised by just wrapping the fish in tin foil, in the future I will make this dish with the banana leaves and upload new pictures becasue this picture does not do the dish justice. The ginger soy marinade on the fish gave a subtle flavor that carried throughout the dish and complimented the garlic chili oil that is poured over the fish at the very end. When picking a chili to use in the oil find one that is tolerable to eat. There are big pieces of pepper all over the place and you do not want to make it too spicy to eat. The recipe called to deseed the pepper but I left the seeds in one pepper and removed them from the second one to give it a bit more kick. I would recommend making this in the summer when it is warmer out, it has a great tropical feel to it.

Grilled Garlic Chili Snapper

Pan Cooked Chicken in Pale Ale Bacon Reduction Sauce

Pale Ale chicken

Tonight I continued my series in cooking with beer. The beer featured in this recipe is the Blue Heron pale ale from the Mendocino Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY. I chose their pale ale because I thought its flavor would work better with chicken. Their beer is also great for drinking. The pale ale very good but my favorite beer the have is the red tail ale.

The recipe for the sauce has the same proportions for many of the other pan sauces I have made. You can get creative and switch out different ingredients to build new flavors.  Their pale ale and the bacon in this sauce worked great with each other and built a very complex flavor into the sauce. You can also use this sauce with beef or pork. However if you are making it for beef substitute beef broth for the chicken broth. You can find the recipe below as well as a link to the Mendocino Brewing Company’s website.

Pan Cooked Chicken in Pale Ale Bacon Reduction Sauce

Mendocino Brewing Company

Cooking Class Week 3: Game Birds

Duck1

Week three of the cooking class focused on game birds like duck, pheasant, and quail. At the beginning of the class the Chef talked us through all the different kinds of game birds and how their tastes differ. The techniques for breaking down the game birds were the same as the techniques we learned in week one with the chicken. I impressed myself and remembered the proper way to cut a bird in the European style. The dish I decided to cook was the Margret De Canard Au Poivre Vert, which is a pan cooked Muscovy duck with a green peppercorn cream sauce.

I chose this dish becasue I wanted to properly learn how to cook a duck. The most important lesson I learned is that you cook duck until it has the correct look, no need to stick to a certain time just cook it until your duck skin has a nice golden brown. In order to ensure proper cooking you must first heat a pan over high heat. Then rub oil, such as peanut or canola oil, and salt and pepper on duck. Once pan is heated place duck in pan, keep it at high heat until the edges of skin turn golden brown ~3-4 min. Turn down heat and continue to render the fat out of the duck. As more fat renders out of the duck feel free to drain the pan and keep duck fat to the side. As the duck is cooking take a spoon and pour rendered fat from pan over the duck to start to cook the opposite side. Once the skin side has reached your desired color and crispiness, flip the duck over and cook 1~2 min then remove from pan

Salmon with Maple Bourbon Glaze

salmon

This past weekend I went to my good friend Bill’s bachelor party. We went to a cabin in western PA and the weekend was full of good times,drinks, and food. While we were cooking dinner I decided to make a sauce using whatever I could find in the kitchen. I combined 1 cup bourbon, 1 3/4 cups maple syrup, 1/2 cup sugar then salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste. I simmered the sauce for ~25 min for it to reduce then poured it over the salmon after it was finished cooking. I also have to give credit to John for cooking the salmon perfectly.

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Last Night I made the Beef Stroganoff recipe we were given at the cooking class on Monday night. To warn you in advance this recipe is all about taste, not so much on being healthy. It calls for quite a bit of heavy cream and sour cream. This dish is very rich and is perfect for a cold day. I’m a bit short on time so I will update this post and add the recipe next week. I’m away this weekend so there will not be any posts for the next few days.