The penultimate (look it up) cooking class at 3015 Trinity Groves focused on braising and poaching, but Chef Mike threw in some pasta marinara, wine poached pears and classic crème anglaise to keep us dependent on him. The menu was all over the map, but the variety was nice and once again, we answered some existential questions like how to cook a meat-clump like a London broil. Answer: braise that beast!
Bottles and bottles of cheap red wine were emptied, and not from paper sacks into my belly. Basically, the beef ribs were browned in the skillet to develop the flavors, then they were showered with wine and unceremoniously shoved into the oven. Presto, a rich n’ beefy main course without any drama. Chef Sharon Van Meter joined us and explained that with braising you take a tough cut of beef and slowly disintegrate the interior fat to produce a tender bite. With this in mind, you can have a rich main course without having to bankrupt yourself buying a bone-in ribeye.
Another two bottles of red were used to poach pears for dessert. The cost-benefit analysis of poached pears is off the charts because the minimal effort it takes to make such an elegant dessert. Peel and core pears, put in pan of wine. Simmer. Eat. If you want to go kitchen ninja, add sugar, reduce that poaching wine to syrup, and serve with the pears and a dollop of store-bought crème fraîche.
The pasta marinara was a fun course since it was simple enough for a weeknight meal but thoughtful enough for the lady-friend you are going to invite over this weekend. The red pepper flakes add the spice and the balsamic vinegar balances with tang. Also, if you aren’t making fresh pasta at home –and Chef Van Meter swears it’s easy–buy Barilla because that’s the best in dried pasta. Or you can split the difference and swing over to Jimmy’s or Civellos for the house-made fresh stuff.
Classic crème anglaise was the final item we whipped up. As you most certainly know it’s simply vanilla ice cream before it’s frozen. We used this simple sauce to pour over our pears. You could use it to jazz up many plain desserts, such as a pound cake with fresh fruit this summer.
The class was truly a trip around the world and it enabled us to learn different techniques for vastly different preparations.
I’m sad to say that the last class is next week and we will learn a few more desserts from Chef Mike. Crème brûlée, éclairs and other such simple wonders will be for the making.
Trinity Groves 3015 Cooking Basics, Mondays 6-9 pm