to learn to cook
It seems as though I never write anymore! Unfortunately, my schedule for the summer is almost more intense than my school-year schedule.
A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to a cooking class at Classic Thyme in Westfield, NJ. The subject was “Supremely Simple Seafood,” which it was. It was as delicious as it was simple. My mom and I recently recreated this menu, and it took us a fair bit of time, but there are a lot of dishes involved.
There were about 15 people in the class, and each group of people was charged with prepping a specific portion of the meal. The first dish of the night was pan fried oysters atop a green salad with creamy garlic and peppercorn dressing. Mom and I got to drain and dredge the oysters. They were huge, freshly shucked oysters and were, admittedly, a little gross to handle raw. Believe it or not, I have never tasted an oyster before this. If I didn’t like clams so much, I would say oysters are my favorite!
The oysters were soaked in a mixture of buttermilk and cajun seasoning, and then dredged in cajun-seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Then, they were fried in oil (not deep fried, just pan fried in enough oil covering the oysters halfway), and dropped on a paper towel to drain while cooling. The oysters take very little time to cook – about 2 to 4 minutes. They had a great crunch on the outside, and were absolutely luscious on the inside. A perfect contrast in textures.
The oysters were placed atop a salad with a creamy garlic dressing. The dressing was really fragrant, and had so many different flavors happening. The dressing involved sauteing some shallot, garlic, and peppercorn melange in some extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once the garlic browned and the shallots were translucent, 1/2 cup of white balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce were added. This mix was reduced by half and cooled completely in the refrigerator. Then, in a blender, that mix was first thickened with some olive oil, and then mayo, dijon mustard, and some herbs were added.
Initially, I was very skeptical about the orange in this dish. I am not a fan of orange-flavored things, and really favor lemon with my fish. However, the orange just…worked. It completely won me over. The fish was lightly breaded and then quickly pan fried, leaving the interior delicate and flaky. White fish has a very subtle flavor, which the orange lifted to another dimension. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, as well. It was seasoned with salt and pepper, and seared in butter (delicious). It was meaty, but not chewy (as overcooked shrimp so often is). It was juicy and succulent; the orange tasted really good with it as well.
This was an excellent side dish. Not only were the mashed potatoes decadent and creamy, but the scallop was seared to perfection. The trick to getting the most flavor out of these potatoes is to salt the boiling water with enough salt so it tastes like the ocean. Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them with butter, horseradish, and heavy cream. That is all it takes, and the result is DIVINE. I love horseradish, it adds a kick of heat without being overwhelming. The scallop was seasoned with salt and pepper, and then seared quickly over high heat so it caramelizes. Searing it on high heat ensures a deep caramelization without overcooking. After removing the scallop, some shallot, garlic, and leeks were sauteed with some lemon juice and butter. This “confetti” of leeks and shallots was placed on top of the scallop. That aromatic and savory confetti balanced the luscious, velvety interior of the scallop.
At this point, you are probably wondering if there was dessert. After all these savory dishes, what sweetness was to be had?
These oat bars were dessert. I am not going to lie, I felt a little ripped off by this. Don’t get me wrong, the bars were really good. Interestingly, the bars never cooled completely, so we had them while they were warm and gooey. But after that intense meal, this dessert did not seem to suffice. I like granola bars as a snack between meals, or even for a quick breakfast if I’m not all that hungry. Dessert? Not quite. They probably should have been served with vanilla ice cream or something to make it more desserty, but oh well. Served warm and gooey, these really quenched my craving for something sweet after all the garlicy-savoriness.
I have cooked a few things recently because I have been home in the evenings (at least part of the evenings), so more updates to come (in a timely manner).