How to Cook Like A Chef?
I recently attended a cooking class at Tante Marie's entitled 'Cook Like a Chef'. The reason I was intrigued by this particular lesson was because of the assertion that there wouldn't be any recipes involved. And as anyone who has ever taken a class at this particular cooking school knows, no recipes is quite a departure from the norm.
For the first half of the one day class, our teacher Chef Malcolm Jessop walked us through the concept of taste and how achieving a balance of bitter, acid, salty and sweet will form the base of a successful recipe. He also outlined other flavour types; heat, astringency, tannin, aromatics, pungency, metallic, herbs, spices and umami which, when used wisely, can further enhance good results when cooking.
Laid out on the kitchen island was a vast array of fresh vegetables, meats and seafood. Malcolm walked us through every item, explaining each one's flavour profile along with preparation tips and pairing suggestions including things we already know without, perhaps, rationalizing why we know it: Duck goes well with cherries or orange, but not with banana, for example.
My favourite part of the day was when we were finally let loose on the ingredients to make whatever we wanted to. The first and most natural reaction might have been to play it safe, make something we were already familiar with and in doing so hopefully hoodwink our fellow pupils into believing we were some sort of genius in the kitchen.
But where would be the fun, or the challenge, in that?
After mulling around some possibilities in my own head, I finally settled on the idea of little raviolis made with raw beet instead of pasta. Before you think me too creative, I will admit that this has most certainly been done before. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered reading about this technique on a blog a long time ago. I also had a feeling that there was a recipe for something similar in one of my favourite recipe books. [Later, when I checked, it turned out I was right, although unlike my version, the one in The Cooks Book turns out to be both vegan and raw.]
So - how to make them? A mandolin is the key: A good, professional quality mandolin that can produce wafer-thin, even slices of a very hard, raw vegetable. Since the class I have tried, unsuccessfully, to make this same recipe at home using my hand held Kyocera mandolin which, although it usually fares me well, is unfortunately not quite up to this more demanding beet-slicing task. If the slices are too thick or uneven, the beet slices will lose their magical sticking qualities and the daintiness you are trying to achieve.
I decided to sandwich each of my ravioli slices together with not one, but two, complimentary fillings. First of all, in the interests of respecting the whole beet, I blanched a bunch of their leaves until tender, squeezed all the water out, finely minced them and mixed them with grated blue cheese, lemon zest, salt, pepper and a little heavy cream for a thick, smooth consistency. Secondly I slow cooked a yellow onion in a little oil and butter to make a confit.
To assemble the ravioli, spoon a little of the cream mixture into the centre of a beet slice, add a little dab of the confit and then carefully place a second beet slice on top, pressing down the edges only, to seal the little parcel. The thinness of the slices and the natural wetness of the beet will ensure that the whole thing comes together with little effort.
I served these ravioli dressed with a simple vinaigrette made with toasted walnuts, lemon and olive oil.
I think if I had a decent mandolin, I would probably even make it again...
* In the class I also learned to make a quick, simple tempura (artichoke and asparagus) using egg whites and corn flour for a batter. [picture courtesy of malcolm]
* Check out the amazing array of dishes made by fellow pupils in the class. [Malcolm, who I'd like to thank for letting me use one of his photographs in my post, was a fellow participant, not to be confused with Malcolm, the teaching Chef of the same name.]
*This class will be repeated later in the year and there are still a few spaces available. If you are uncomfortable being left to your own devices in the kitchen or are looking for a less casual, solid, technique-driven teaching class, this might not be the course for you.
2006 | Farmers Market Finds
2005 | Nosheteria who is recently celebrating a book deal. Way to go Adrienne!
2004 | Woodside High Cheese Club
© 2008 Sam Breach How to Cook Like A Chef?