July 24, 2012

Summer Harvest Cooking Class

I really like cooking classes, whether they're hands-on or demonstration only, I always walk away with new knowledge and/or skills.  The Mid-Summer Harvest cooking class I attended at the Milwaukee Public Market this past weekend was no exception.

I've attended one class there before with the same instructor, and would highly recommend Elizabeth Crawford's classes.  The market has a great space for classes, and I loved the weekend option (Sunday at 1pm) since the majority of classes begin at 5:30pm weeknights, which is hard to do after work.

In 2 hours, eleven of us watched Elizabeth make four dishes.  She started with steamed beets served with aioli and arugula.  She recommends steaming beets instead of roasting them, and I'm anxious to try her method because they were seriously the best beets I've tasted.

The method is simple.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Trim the beets, leaving a 1/2" of stem attached, and wash well.  Set the beets in snug-fitting pot with a cover, and add an 1/8" of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pot).  Cover and bake until a knife easily pierces the beets (about an hour).

Most of the ingredients used in the class came from Elizabeth's friend's farm near 43 and Brown Deer.  Her friend harvested everything the morning of the class, and even the eggs were laid that morning!

When I saw anchovies being added to the caesar salad dressing I was convinced I wouldn't like it, but forced myself to try it and was surprised at what a great flavor the salad had.  Although I doubt I would add anchovies when making this salad at home.

The homemade garlicky croutons was definitely my favorite element of the salad.  The croutons came from baguette slices brushed with olive oil on both sides, then baked for about 15 minutes.

Elizabeth also made a gratin, which I didn't care for and therefore am not sharing a photo of.  I loved the idea of a new potato and shallot gratin made with gruyere cheese, but as I was eating it all I could think about was how much I preferred the gratin I made recently.

The final dish she prepared was a berry tart with creme patisserie.  The crust, known as pate sucree, is a sweet pastry dough and similar to a butter cookie.  She topped the crust with a delicious pastry cream and fresh berries dusted with powdered sugar.

In addition to seeing recipes prepared, I also like hearing various cooking tips.  Here are a few that she shared during the class -

  • Always cut off any green parts of potatoes because that portion contains toxins.  Elise, of Simply Recipes, has more information on this blog post.
  • Aioli originated in Provence and is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, which is also the way Elizabeth made it. 
  • Shallots are stronger than onions, but less flavorful than garlic, so if you're substituting for garlic, use more shallots and if you're substituting for onions, use less shallots.
  • Always smell your spices.  If there is no smell, there is no flavor and the spice needs to be tossed.  Flavoring elements are critical to cooking.
  • To clean a food processor blade, remove the majority of whatever is in the food processor bowl, then pulse the blade a couple times.  She learned this tip from Jacques P├ępin.

1 comment:

  1. I took a french cooking class at the MKE public market before. I'd love to find a class that is more hands-on though.