The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

April 19, 2014

COOKING WITH SIMON: Master classes

You might have seen the article announcing the cooking class that I held last week.

We’re holding a series of classes we’re calling Master Classes. They’re designed to give you the fundamental information and techniques needed for various areas of cooking.

From sauces, pasta, desserts and different types of cuisines – these courses are a fun and interesting way to understand the flavor profiles and methods. No matter your level of expertise – observer, novice or years of being a home chef – these classes fit every need.

The thing I hear the most from people about home coking is they are afraid to cook fish. Chicken is chicken, meat is pork or beef, but fish can mean a number of things. And between selection, smell and what should I do next – it’s often too much to conquer for the home cook.

You might grill shrimp or buy already prepared filets to bake in the oven, but that’s as far as your willing to go. Otherwise, fish is something to eat in a restaurant.

I understand. Fish is more expensive than chicken and beef and if your afraid it might not turn out right then it’s a waste of money.

In the class, we talked about buying whole fish, how to filet, using filets for grilling, searing and roasting, and how to use some of the more intimidating shellfish, like mussels.

There are also different wines to pair with different fish. The white wine with fish rule is not that simple. Which white wine? Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio? White wines are just as complex as red wines and need some interpretation.

For example, there are some grapes that are grown in coastal areas that absorb the moist sea air and the wine has a mineral-salt water quality that makes them pair wonderfully with shellfish and delicate white fish. Also, when cooking fish, the sauce –buttery, acidic (lemon) or creamy – dictates the best white wine.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough space in the newspaper to share all the recipes and answer each of these questions. But this is what we are trying to accomplish with the Master Class series.

The classes will be held monthly and a new topic will be added to the calendar for each class. But if there is one that you miss, we are happy to do a repeat for you and a group of friends.

Teaching how to cook great food is as much of a passion for us as serving great food so we are happy to help with whatever you would like to learn.

Soon we will have new bed & breakfast cabins and we’re encouraging people to book trips for gourmet weekends filled with cooking classes, wine education and lots of great meals. Everything we do is seasonal and customized to meet individual needs. That is why we don’t advertise a set menu or specific requirements.

But back to the fish, the following recipe is something I like to do when I have a few leftover bits and pieces. A filet or two of white fish, a handful of shrimp and a bit of crabmeat are put through the food processor with a little cream and an egg white. Use this as a filling for pasta shells, stuffed into large shrimp or rolled with thin fish filets – like cod or flounder.

You can also grease a ramekin – or timbale, as I call them – and press the mixture into the ramekin. Bake, unmold and serve as a mousse-like seafood cake.

Typically, there are many applications for different foods and the possibilities are endless. That’s what’s great about cooking and with these classes we hope to open your eyes to a whole new set of ideas for meal planning.

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