Last week before leaving on my trip, I joined a chef friend and three others for a Supper Club with Chef Hugh. This casual evening was an opportunity to work with a professional chef and to learn some cool new tricks. Here's a photographic review.
The table was simply set in keeping with the casual nature of the evening. With Chef Hugh included there were only six of us for the meal, therefore, lots of hands on experience.
|a casual table set for supper|
Chef Hugh had prepared some sourdough bread to accompany the wine that each participant brought. These loaves are shaped like traditional epi loaves.
|chef-made Epi loaf, sourdough starter|
Some of the ingredients to be used during the night, of particular interest was the smoke pork belly and the cheddar cheese from Wisconsin. The kale was particularly good too. The celery root (or celeriac) was nicely peeled and sliced by one of the participants.
|risotto ingredients, kale, smoked pork, golden beets, celery root, arborio rice and stock|
I really like how the chef had prepped the kitchen and the ingredients, mise en place, which made easy work of most chores. When everything is cleaned and ready, cooking is so much easier.
|Chef Hugh introducing us to our squash|
The trick of peeling many cloves of garlic is a good one. Here we used a martini shaker, but two stainless steel bowls could be used too. Simply put the whole garlic heads in the shaker or between two bowls which form a complete circle when put rim-to-rim, and shake, shake, shake until the skins have broken and reveal the fresh garlic.
|a guest uses a martini shaker to remove skins from garlic|
|the shaker made easy work of cleaning four heads of garlic|
Here a guest breaks the seeds from a pomegranate. I prefer to crack the fruit while still whole, alongside the interior of a sink which breaks the seeds loose from the interior. Then I cut ope the fruit to scoop out the seeds.
|a guest smashes a pomegranate to release the seeds for the salad|
The beets and the celery root have been diced evenly, drizzled with olive oil, and are ready for roasting in the oven.
|beautifully diced golden beets and celery root for the risotto|
Black cumin is heated on top of the stove in order to acquire a little smokiness for the soup. After roasting it this way, the cumin is pulverized in a mortar and pestle, releasing the most amazing fragrance--perfect for the squash soup.
|black cumin, previously unknown to me, smoked and then crushed for the soup|
|the squash soup, dressed with cream foam, roasted squash seeds and black cumin|
Although I recall Marcella Hazan saying that proper risotto required 45 minutes of stirring, this one took only about 25 minutes--and was delicious. And hearty--the cheese, the kale, the beets and celeriac--they all conspired to have us begging for seconds and take-home portions.
|a guest stirs, and stirs, and stirs the rice|
In the European manner, we had salad after the main dish. It was most refreshing and colorful.