Monday, October 18, 2010

Cooking Class at The Chopping Block

Last Christmas we (my dad, sister, and I) gave my mom cooking classes - one with me in Chicago, and one with my sister in Boston. Yesterday we finally, FINALLY got around to doing it!

There were a few different choices at The Chopping Block this weekend, and we decided on "The Basics: Brasserie" class. Here's the menu:

  • Bistro Salad with Homemade Croutons
  • Steak Au Poivre with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Vanilla Crème Brûlée
  • Skills covered in this class include: Making a Custard Base; Caramelizing Sugar; Poaching Eggs; Making a Warm Vinaigrette; Selecting Beef for Searing; Using Fresh Cracked Spices; Deglazing; Cooking with Alcohol; Making a Pan Sauce; How to Tell When Meat is Done.

Those are some of my favorite dishes, especially the salad - which I didn't know would turn out to be frisée aux lardons. And I was very excited to work on my egg-poaching skills (or lack thereof).

That's the spread at the end of the class. We cooked for about 2 hours, and then got to enjoy our lunch.

Here's the salad. One of my absolute favorite dishes is (I should say "was") the frisée aux lardons from Le Gamin. I can't post a link to it...because it's closed. Brings a tear to my eye. Le Gamin was this tiny little French restaurant in New York, on Houston between MacDougal and Sullivan. They had rotisserie chicken roasting right outside their front door on the sidewalk in this outdoor rotisserie cabinet thing, with potatoes lining the bottom soaking up all the chicken drippings. The best chicken I've ever had. Amazing ratatouille, and a wonderful frisée salad with bacon and a poached egg.

And I successfully poached an egg. Actually, I successfully poached 4 or 5 eggs. Hopefully I'll be able to do it again at home.

We made steak with a pan sauce of cognac, cream, butter, mustard, and chicken stock. And garlic mashed potatoes.

Last but not least, crème brûlée. The custard was very easy to make, and right before we ate them we got to use the blowtorch.

I lit my napkin on fire. Oops. It was so, so good. There's few things more satisfying than taking that first crack into a crème brûlée.

Sorry the pictures aren't great, they were all taken with my phone. I'll post the recipes for each dish once I successfully recreate them at home. The class was fun and really easy, there were only 12 of us (the maximum for the kitchen we were in) so it wasn't a big, crazy group. There are several other classes they offer that look like fun so hopefully I'll return to try another one.

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