Monday was the final night of the 3015 Trinity Groves Cooking School and I ate three desserts for dinner. We made éclairs, crème brûlée and a lemon tart with shortbread crust, which I’m pretty sure beats the bowl of Rice Chex and almond milk you threw down.
After the team huddle, we started on the shortbread crust for the tart since it needed time to assemble, chill, bake and then cool. Basically this is just a giant shortbread cookie that is topped with a tangy and sweet lemon curd. If you get a bag full of soul-crushing dry lemons, microwave them for a few seconds to loosen them up before you break your fingers trying to release the juice. It’s a good tip and works. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Roasting and Baking were the topics du jour during class four at the 3015 Trinity Groves cooking school. I was looking forward to this one because we were going to roast a chicken and make penne al forno (ostentatious mac n’ cheese) and really, what more does an American need?
As usual, we started with a team huddle and group hug (not really) to talk about our action plan for the night. Dr. Mike, class instructor, talked a bit about how to use the convection oven. This was great, because I’m scared to death to use mine. He said when using the convection, simply assume the oven temperature is 20 degrees hotter than your recipe states and then shorten the cooking time by a third. So if the recipe says 350 degrees for 30 minutes, just assume it’s at 370 degrees and cook it for about 20 minutes. No sweat, I got this. Continue reading →
Class Three at 3015 Trinity Groves Cooking School involved butter. Lots and lots of butter; clarified butter, pats of butter, ladles of butter. And cream. It was a heart buster and I don’t see any reason why nobody serves beurre blanc in milkshake glasses.
We made sautéed trout with beurre blanc, veal piccata, and stir-fried shrimp with jasmine rice. Although it only looked like three main dishes, one could make about 15 different meals with these basic recipes. You know it’s a def class when somebody says, “This is the best white rice I’ve ever had.” If the white rice is good…. Continue reading →
Class two at 3015 Trinity Groves was a booming success simply because I managed to leave with all fingers attached to my hand. This week’s seminar built on the stock class from last week and focused on sauces. Chef Sharon Van Meter even stopped by for a few minutes to say hello and make sure her cookhouse hadn’t been set afire. Not yet!
Dr. Mike did us a solid because right there on the stove was five pounds of melted butter. He talked to us about the importance of clarified butter (melt; then skim off milk fat) in sauces and cooking in general. The class went on to make velouté (fancy talk for gravy), basic brown sauce, Madeira, and hollandaise to top pork tenderloin, chicken cutlets and asparagus. Continue reading →
Mondays are no longer a kick to the gut now that the Trinity Groves 3015 Cooking Basics class has begun. This six-week series aimed at the home cook meets every Monday for three hours and covers everything from stocks to genoise. I have the first class under my belt and I can tell this is going to be a lively ride because Dr. Mike Johnson is teaching and he is funny as hell. Mike has worked in the food industry since he was a teenager and is apparently an overachiever because he’s also a doctor. This will probably come in handy since I am 67% sure I am going to slice off a bit of my finger at some point. Continue reading →