Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tidbits From My Cooking Class

In my endeavors to build my knowledge of cooking and technique I have decided to take cooking classes whenever I am able to, or find ones that interest me. At this time, though I really want to attend a full culinary program, my work schedule does not allow me to, hence the decision to take whatever other cooking classes I can instead. This past Monday evening I attended a cooking class at Lulu’s Cucina (an Italian kitchen store) in Downtown Salem.

The class was taught by the owner and chef of Sybaris restaurant in Albany Oregon - Matt Barnett. The theme - Paris in April. The menu – Deviled Chicken (a baked whole boned chicken with a mustard crust), Cream of Asparagus Soup, and Rice Pudding.

Unfortunately, there were no exact recipes/measurements for the chicken and soup (though he gave us rough measurements, I have not had a chance to test and verify the measurements yet). Regardless, I thought I would share with you my experience.

For the deviled chicken, Chef Matt displayed for the class the technique of boning an entire chicken. Though I don’t know how often I would use this technique, it was very informative and helpful as it has always been one of those things that I have wondered how they do. The crust was made up of a thick layer of dijon and whole grain mustard and bread crumbs. It had a nice flavor to it and accompanied the chicken nicely without overpowering it. This could easily be done on pretty much any cut of meat you like ( for those of you who eat meat).

The asparagus soup was a light and creamy soup of pureed asparagus and potato (mainly the potato was used to help thicken the soup). It had a nice fresh taste of asparagus with a touch of creaminess to it. The unique ingredient was a bit of miso paste (which is made from soybeans) . The tools used were a food mill (which is like a sieve with a blade that you turn by hand to help scrape the food through once it has been pureed). This allows you to keep out any remnants of the asparagus in order to give it its velvety-smooth and creamy texture.

Lastly, the dessert was a creamy rice pudding which I will post for you when I can locate where I put it ;). The unfortunate thing was it did not have time to set all the way, but it was still tasty. The trick to the rice pudding is to use short grain rice; it cooks quicker.

Overall, the class was fun and informative and the food was pretty good. I will definitely make the rice pudding recipe, which my husband just happens to love, and I have been wanting to make a creamy parsnip soup. I think this method will greatly help me in making it a successful dish. You can be sure that I will post it when I decide to make it as well.

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