Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gourmet salad

Ok, so the goat cheese wasn’t with the appetizer, but rather the salad for those of you who really are gourmet cooks and wondered about the combination.

Actually, the salad was timely with baby spinach leaves as the base. Many of us have fresh spinach in our gardens. On top of the spinach, Chef Steve meticulously placed a strawberry and the goat cheese truffle and topped it all with lemon vinaigrette. I say “meticulously” because it was interesting how important the placement and overall presentation of the food seemed to be. I guess the closest I have come to this is to make sure I have appropriate color in my menu. However, it was appealing to see the food placed with care.

Again, the vinaigrette was three parts oil and one part vinegar. I do think he used extra virgin olive oil and tarragon vinegar. I did not make a note of that. Correct me, Kim, if I am wrong. He squeezed fresh lemons into the mixture and mixed.

He did not tell us how he made the goat cheese truffle, or if he did, I did not write it down. I suppose a recipe could be found with a search.

Today we are attending the Symphony in the Flint Hills. I will interrupt my gourmet food class to tell you about that. It should be exciting.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Linda a gourmet cook? Well...

Gourmet cooking means, “relating to or preparing high-quality food that is sophisticated, expensive, rare, or meticulously prepared.” After attending a class with Kim last Saturday afternoon, I would go so far as to define it as an art.

Kim purchased our place in the class at a fundraiser auction. I was extremely pleased she invited me to go with her.

The teacher was Chef Steve Krutzsch from Denver, Colorado. He came back to Salina to visit his wife’s family and agreed to do this for them. He was in his second year of Chef’s school and is one of several chefs at an exclusive country club in Denver. Before that, he was a chef in the Navy where he often served dignitaries aboard his ship.

The official description of the appetizer was, “crab cake “Sandwich” with Fried Green Tomatoes, served with a sweet Corn Relish, and topped with tomato vinaigrette.

It should be noted that there was no recipe to be seen. I did not see many measuring utensils either. He did say they all come out when he bakes, though.

He made the crab cake similar to the way I make salmon patties. He mentioned Italian bread crumbs and hot sweet mustard as ingredients. Excellent little inside tip that made a big difference. His favorite three herbs were rosemary, thyme and parsley. He put them in several dishes including the crab cakes.
Finally, he fried the crab cakes in butter (he loved butter).

He had already put together the sweet corn relish. A relish is a combination of ingredients that is pickled. Salsa is also a combination of ingredients, usually tomato based, in its own juice. A chutney is dried fruit, honey, vinegar, whatever that is cooked together. I am sure everyone knows this bit of information. My education in cooking came from my mom cooking for men on the farm. There wasn’t much chutney served there.

The appetizer was supposed to be topped with a fried green tomato. He was unable to find any. Too bad as I would have liked to see how he cooked them. It was topped with a vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette's are three parts oil and one part vinegar. Then add anything. The trick is mixing the oil and vinegar. He suggested using a whisk and gently mixed until it emulsified. Fresh herbs should be added last and dried herbs first.

Presentation was important for each menu item. This is how he plated the appetizer. The relish was a little pile in the middle with the crab cake kind of leaning against it. He added a little ball of goat cheese rolled in herbs, Last, the vinaigrette dressing gently poured over the plate.

It was wonderful.

Tomorrow, the Salad.