Yesterday I attended a cooking class that I recieved as a birthday gift from Dancer. I was skeptical when I received the certificate, as I knew the class was going to be held in someone's home; I wasn't sure about the professionalism of the class, or even if I would learn anything.
The class was planned by TasteDC.com, hosted by Charlie Adler with Chef Brian Boots from Elegance A La Carte as our teacher. The class was in Charlie's home, up near American University in Washington, DC.
Again, I had no idea what to expect...
So imagine my surprise when I walked in a was greeted with "We're having a butter tasting, take a seat and get started. And have some wine."
It's just 12pm and we're tasting seven butters and drinking wine. And more wine as the day went on.
So the seven butters. I don't remember the names of them. But what I know is that Kerrygold was rated as the best tasting butter. Yeah! You know I love my Kerrygold. I felt justified in constant search and purchase of my favorite butter. In fact, I had two blocks in my fridge while we were tasting! There is one obvious caveat for this tasting...Kerrygold was salted butter, the others were unsalted. But for tasting purposes, salted butter is ok. You do want to try to have unsalted for cooking purposes.
And know that Kerrygold is a little more spending than your average butter. I pay about $4 for 8oz. of Kerrygold at Safeway. For 16oz. of unsalted store brand, I'm usually paying $3-4.
Back to the class. We were seated in the dinner/living room of Charlie's home. Chef Boots was situated at a table in front of us with two small gas burners for cooking. Charlie had a large screen HDTV hooked up to a video camera that would catch what Chef was doing at the gas burners.
A number of items were prepared and served, starting with:
Buttery Cornbread with Habanero Compound Butter
The cornbread wasn't bad. It was cornbread, moist and dense. The butter was mixed with habanero, salt, pepper and basil. Delicious. I couldn't taste the basil, so I might skip it in the future.
Indian Butter Chicken
The chicken was marinaded in mild yogurt blended with spices, then tossed in the oven. Chef prepared the sauce on the gas burners in just a few minutes. The sauce is butter, tomato, spices and cream. The chicken was served with the sauce spooned over the top. The chicken was moist and tender. The sauce was good. I do like my Indian Butter Chicken recipe more though. Dispite the extra steps needed; they are worth it. The Butter Chicken Chef prepared was very mild and a good introduction for someone not familiar or comfortable with trying Indian food.
With the plates cleared we moved onto something a little more traditional in the butter sauces:
Seared Sea Scallops with Saffron Beurre Blanc
Butter and wine sauce with Saffron. Can you go wrong? I have before! I still don't know what went wrong, because what Chef did was similiar to my preparation, and Chef's prep was much much better.
Not being a seafood person, I tend to approach seafood with caution. Chef's Beurre Blanc was prepared by simmering white wine until it was reduced by half. Roasted garlic, saffron and lemon juice was added. Then heavy cream. The blend was allowed to reduce by half again, then the sauce was mounted with butter. Mounted with Butter. Sounds scandalous! Well, the heat was turned off and pieces of butter were stirred into the sauce until melted and incorporated. Great!
Following Beurre Blanc we moved onto Flounder Meuniere and Roasted Potatoes with Beurre Noir
Again, seafood. But the flounder was great. Lightly coated in flour and fryed in butter. Mmmm! The potatoes were alright, slighly under-cooked. The Beurre Noir (Black Butter) was alright. I didn't get much flavor from the Beurre Noir. But I would like to try it again on my own.
Next we had Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
The asparagus was ok. I think it was slightly over cooked. The Hollandaise Sauce was good. It was more runny than the Sauce I've made. It had a richer golden yellow color then mine as well. Flavorwise it was good. Needed a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
The last dish was had was Buttery Fudge Brownies with Butter Rum Sauce
The brownies were not very good. I was a little bummed as I was most looking forward to them. The Butter Rum Sauce was tasty though. It could have used a little more rum though. The recipe looks like it called for 4 teaspoons of rum extract. I know Chef used actual rum and I'm not sure the quantity was increased to make up for the less concentrated flavor or the rum.
And we're done...oh, wait, nope one more thing.
Chef made Butter! You need heavy cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. The pasteurization process remove bacteria. That's a good thing, for health reasons. But on the flavor side of things, it's bad. So, find heavy cream that has only been pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized. Pour about a few cups of cream in your mixer and run it with the whisk attachment. This goes on for awhile, first you have the cream...then you have whipped cream...then...then...oh...wait for it...butter!!! But you're not done yet. The butter needs to be squeezed and pressed to remove the buttermilk. Then we ate it. Very good. I can't wait to try it myself.
Now we're done.
My table of six people had 5 bottles of wine and lots of butter.
This was fun.
Wine. I tried three of the wines. Two of them were really good:
De Loach 2005 Pinot Noir
Mebmer Riesling 2005