Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Classes for the Emergence of Spring

A Cook With A View
Comfort and Exotica
New Classes for the Emergence of Spring
Continuations Into
The Foundations of Becoming a Great and Confident Cook

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”
~Federico Fellini
   The changes of one season to the next mimic the ongoing changes we experience within our lives day by day, moment by moment. One thing that remains constant is the room to grow and expand our horizons with new tastes, flavors, techniques and experiences in our own humble kitchens. Old techniques will be further delved into, as in the basics of making a quality Stock and transforming it into an exotic and enticing broth. Pasta is carried a step further with the additions of Ravioli and an introduction to Gnocchi into your culinary repertoire. The secrets of a quick and truly easy Puff Pastry and the magical appetizers, entrées and desserts that come forth from it, will inspire your creativity. We’ll travel and discover the exotic allure of various Asian cuisines with culinary memories and recipes from a past life on the road in China, Japan and Thailand. More exotica are uncovered within the mystical realms of the Moroccan table. And lastly, as promised, Beginning Bread Basics with baby steps leading to a comforting, warm slice of simple yeast breads slathered in homemade butter and jams. Yes, I did say homemade butter.
   I am truly excited to finally begin our cooking adventures with you all and look forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones along the way. The recipes have been tested and tried, written and re-written in anticipation of sharing amongst my culinary friends. As with everything in life, as well as in the kitchen, remaining Steadfast and Fearless with a big measure of Patience and Passion are the best ingredients in our lives and in our kitchens.

March 31th, 2012 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Mairzy Doats and Little Lambs Eat Ivy ~
Springtime or anytime, there’s nothing like the succulence of a well-prepared lamb dish. Gamey? Not if you know how to choose, prepare, season and cook it properly. From stewing and grilling to roasting and skewering, the various techniques you’ll choose to cook up your lamb will surprise yourself and your guests with tastes from around the world and back home again.

v  Mom’s Sunday Garlic Studded Roast Leg of Lamb with New Potatoes
v  Irish Lamb Stew
v  Italian Grilled Fennel Lamb Chops with Red Onion Marmellata
v  Honeyed Apricot Lamb Skewers with Fresh Mint
v  Greek Shepard’s Pie
v  Rack of Lamb with a Mustard Herbed Crust

Getting to know your butcher and where your meat comes from is key to a perfect lamb dish. Use all of the fabulously refined senses that I know you possess – sight, smell and touch. Starting with those, the tastes you create will be out of this world!
$50 per person
A limit of 15 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.
The Beginnings of a Beautiful Tomato Marmellata to Anoint the Lamb
April 7th, 2011 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Sensational Soups ~
Why is it so comforting when a steaming bowl of hot, absolutely delectable soup is placed in front of us?  Memories from childhood and the comfort felt on a cold day or evening? No matter what the senses recall, nothing say “Comfort” like soup. By changing a few ingredients, we’ll find that making a recipe your very own is easier than you think!
v  Beef ³ Barley Soup
v  Joe’s “BLP” or Bacon &  Leek Potato Soup
v  Spring Vegetable Minestrone with Gremolatta
v  Potage St. Germaine (A French Take on Fresh Pea Soup)
v  Senegalese Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup with Shrimp
v  Waterzooi, a Belgian take on a creamy chicken soup

Twisting familiar techniques to transform everyday ingredients into that which is more memorable and romantically exotic is simple. Really! Onward we charge into the not-so-dangerous liaisons and thickening tricks for those sumptuous and sensational soups.
$40 per person
A limit of 15 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.

April 14th, 2012 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Duck, Duck (no goose) ~
What is it about duck that strikes fear in the hearts of the everyday cook? Fat? Spattering? Messy ovens? Come on! There are numerous techniques to deal with the fat. Too rich? Get over it! The mouthwatering lusciousness that is received from a properly cooked duck is beyond compare. The techniques involved are curiously simple, yet impressive enough to put a feather (Mallard, of course!) into your expanding kitchen repertoire of knowledge. Come, fly with me and let’s have some fun in the reeds.

v  Roast Duck with Apricot and Chinese Five Spice Glaze
v  Raspberry & Port Duck Breasts with Gorgonzola Pear Risotto
v  Roast Duck in Chinese Pancakes with Plum Sauce
v  Duck aux Clementines
v  Duck Confit with Tea & Honey Braised Fruit

No quacks or kinks in this experience. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your new found confidence and ease in creating an extra-ordinary meal for those you love.  
$50 per person

April 21st, 2011 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Turning Japanese ~
Sushi? No. Let’s start with something everyone will eat. Japanese cooking depends, as in all other cuisines, simple, fresh and perfect ingredients. Fussy? No, but exquisitely flavored that you’ll wonder why you hadn’t explored this cuisine before. Learning the secret of an incredibly delicious Teriyaki sauce, Crisp and elegant Tempura that may be adapted from herbs to shrimp

v  Beef Negamaki – oven-grilled sake beef with scallions
v  Chicken Teriyaki – not on a stick!
v  Seared Spring New Potatoes
v  Grilled Salmon Yakatori with a light Wasabi Sauce
v  Chicken Nanban Udon, otherwise known as Chicken Noodle Soup!
v  Double Ginger Green Tea Ice Cream

Easy Spring into Summer techniques and recipes for simply fantastic dining and entertaining. And you thought Japanese cuisine was all sushi, sashimi and seaweed?! That’s another class! Vegetables and Salads complete this introduction into an ancient and elegant cuisine.
$40 per person

 limit of 15 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.
Learning Texture in a Hands-On Pasta Class

April 28th, 2011 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Gnocchi ~
An Easy Introduction
Making these feather-light pillows you’ll swear an angel helped you in the kitchen. Let your family think you slaved for hours perfecting these undemanding Ricotta Gnocchi or Gnudi, as they are known in Italy. Spectacularly simple variations are only limited to your own imagination. Vieni a mangiare con Giuseppe and let’s have some fun!

v  Basic Ricotta Gnocchi with herbs
v  Spinach Gnudi with a simple Marinara
v  Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
v  Parisian Gnocchi with Arugula Pesto

Be careful! I warn you. The delicate texture of these Gnudi is so delectably delicious you’ll want to eat the entire platter yourself. Oh go ahead. I won’t tell anyone. I promise. This will be a semi-hands on class so that your textural experience is complete – from hands to stomach. Vieni a giocare con me in cucina! Come play with me in the kitchen!
$40 per person
A limit of 15 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.
May 5th, 2012 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Puff! ~
Truly Simple, Easy and Magical Puff Pastry from Scratch
Scared? Don’t be. I’ll hold your hand and guide you into the magical world of making a Real and Buttery dough from scratch. We’ll get out our aggressions and mix, pound and roll flour and butter into the spectacular ingredient it is, Puff Pastry. From there, we’ll create unforgettable appetizers and hors d’ouevres and learn how to make a magnificent entrées en croute along with pot pies. Did I hear you say Dessert? Okay, twist my arm! Go ahead. You don’t have to ask me twice. Puff pastry - So easy. So Simple. So Crisply Decadent.

v  Spinach and Feta Palmiers
v  Seeded Cheese Straws
v  Salmon en Croute with Caper Lemon Crème
v  Provençal Onion, Bacon and Mushroom Tart
v  Light and Airy Strawberry Napoleons
v  Apple Tarte Tatin

Okay, okay. So you tell me you’re too afraid to try and make it from scratch? Give it a try anyway. This will demonstrate the quicker version with still perfect results. You can always go back to that margarine-laced stuff at the supermarket. I won’t hold it against you, but my recipes are “to live for”.
$40 per person
A limit of 12 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.

May 12h, 2012 Saturday 10:00 a.m.
~Vietnamese Fresh ~

Spring freshness delivered in the form of exotic Vietnamese cuisine. Influenced by its past French colonization, China and the surrounding sea, Vietnamese cooking is effortlessly elegant and satisfies a healthy way of eating and dining with friends. With ingredients that may be found at local supermarkets and “Joe’s Scary Stores”, we’ll take the mystery out of this exotic and distant land and its food.

v  Pho – A soup of greens, vegetables, rice noodles, chicken or beef
v  Pork in Coconut Milk with Lime
v  Garlic Ginger Chicken
v  Goi cuon or Fresh Spring Rolls (Nime Chow)
v  Clay Pot Chicken
v  Saigon Cabbage and Chicken Salad
Turning every day ingredients, along with one or two new items, into something curiously new and alluring will surprise not only your family and friends, but I think you’ll be amazed at yourself for taking on unchartered culinary techniques and territories.
$40 per person
A limit of 15 spaces will be reserved on a first come/first serve basis. Class length 3 hours.

Something Moroccan This Way Comes
Thank you for your continued interest and support. You are all my very own Cooks With A View and for that I am truly grateful. In May we’ll continue with introduction classes on Ravioli and Yeast Breads, A Moroccan Table, followed by Salads and the Lightness of their Dressings, a new tantalizing health (but never boring!) series on Fish and Chicken.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Warming a Chill with Food & Friends

Changes. A new home. A new kitchen. Old and new friends to lend support and help amidst those changes that I am forever indebted. I must apologize for not posting to the faithful that have been reading my little blog about food and what it has meant to me and what it means to me. I'm getting used to a new kitchen and unpacking old friends who are ready to lend forth their magic with a little help from me.
We've been fortunate with a mild Winter, here in the Northeast. Today was a "balmy" 50, but the next two days we're to receive a reminder of what season we're in with a blast from the frozen north. So, with that in mind I've summoned together what onion varieties I have and made a nice pot of Onion Soup to serve to friends, warm the house and feed my soul.
Cooking has a way of making everything alright with me. It allows me to concentrate and forget the outside world for a little while and bring everything back to order. Here's wishing you all a year filled with dreams that come true, the best in health, happiness, love and of course success with everything that comes out of your kitchen.

French Onion Soup

2 Tbl. Butter, unsalted
5 Yellow Onions, large; ¼” sliced
2 Large Red Onions, ¼” sliced
3 tsp. All Purpose Flour
¼ tsp. Sugar (optional)
4 Leeks, white and tender light green portions,
   ¼ sliced
2 Garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 Bay leaf
3 - 4” Thyme sprigs, fresh; leaves removed
½ Cup Dry Sherry*
8 Cups Beef stock
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
12 baguette slices, each sliced ½thick
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing
1 Garlic clove, peeled
1½ Cup Gruyère, Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese (or combination)**, shredded

In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat, melt the butter until it foams. Add the onions and leeks, a pinch of salt, sprinkle in the flour and sauté, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar (if using) and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until richly colored and caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (You may need to increase the heat to medium to add some color at the end.) If the onions begin to “stick” to the bottom, simply deglaze with ¼ cup of water and scrape the bottom clean with a wooden spoon.
Wilting the onions and leeks

Once you’ve reached a rich, caramel color, add the sherry and stock. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Richly caramelized. Perfect also for a steak or hamburger!

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the baguette slices on a cookie sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until golden and lightly toasted. Rub each slice lightly with the raw garlic clove. Set aside.
A few choice cheeses to melt and anoint over the croutons.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into individual oven-proof soup bowls. Place 2 or 3 slices of bread on top of each bowl and mound with cheese. Slide under the broiler about 6” from the element. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
An abundance of warm and comforting richness.

*May use a dry white or red wine.
**For a change I like to mix in Stilton, Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano or a French Bleu, whatever is in the refrigerator.