Friday, February 20, 2015

Mardi Gras Cooking Class


Fun! Flavor! Flames!

Billed as The Best of New Orleans, this Sur la Table cooking class featured a knowledgeable and humorous instructor (Chef Thanh Tang), a three-course and flavor-packed menu straight from NOLA, and an amiable group of sixteen students. Well, I can only speak for our congenial team of four, but no fights broke out anywhere in the kitchen. Flames and occasional shouts, yes, but no harsh words or fights.

Photo: Chef Thanh Tang
Photo: Our focused, smiling team at work in the Sur la Table kitchen.


Peel and Eat Shrimp with Remoulade Sauce 


We built a new-to-me version of the versatile Louisiana remoulade sauce, a mayonnaise-based blend incorporating some sweet pickle relish, capers, anchovy paste plus a hit of Tabasco. Akin to a zippy tartar sauce it added a nice flavor punch to the perfectly poached cold shrimp. Everyone had a part in the prep and cooking, sharing roles as cooks and as diners throughout the evening. 
Photo: Team Hilary, Marilyn, Ron and Dee (not shown) cooking & consulting
Smoky Red Beans and Rice and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo came next, giving us some opportunities to... 
  • analyze sausage quality (big, visible chunks of meat, please), 
  • practice knife skills (pinch blade with fingertips and grip handle lightly; grasp food but tuck fingertips, bend knuckles, and slide the knife down past the second joint...without any unnecessary clunking please),
  • guesstimate the measure of a pinch of salt, 
  • negotiate spiciness/heat levels within the team (how much salt, pepper and cayenne is enough? and watch the Tabasco!)
  • use 1-count, 3-count measures for oil; preheat to shimmering before adding food.  


We sliced, seared, sauteed, stirred, seasoned and finally savored two delicious dishes served with a scoop of perfectly cooked white rice... and now know the secret of cooking one-knuckle rice. Oh... My... Goodness... these were good eats!

Photo: l. Okra joins the "holy trinity" of bell peppers, celery and onion; c. a simmering pot of red beans; r. bowls of gumbo and red beans and rice. 

Bananas Foster

Photo: Five simple ingredients plus a little flame add drama to dessert.
Heat some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon; add lemon-coated bananas and warm; stir in a little rum and continue cooking and stirring until warm. Then flambe! Easy peasy, right? (Our sauce seemed faintly harsh in flavor - was it over-browned butter or was it the rum?) Generously spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this dessert disappeared quickly! Hmmm, know anyone who loves sweets?


The class wrapped up with a review of recipes, techniques and cooking tips, plus hugs or handshakes all around. It's easy to bond over good food and a cooking adventure. 


3 comments:

  1. Yes, my eyebrows are still intact, but that flambe shot impressively skyward! The kitchen's ventilation system must be very powerful since four cooking stations didn't set off the smoke alarm.

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  2. Totally fun! What a great class! It doesn't have to Mardi Gras around here for Bananas Foster, have you tried them on pancakes yet??

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sandy. Agreed that Bananas Foster are terrific year 'round. We love them on ice cream, pancakes, crepes, waffles, bunelos, sweet grits and even steel-cut oats... or just straight from the pan with a large spoon. grin

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