Last Friday night I took a cooking class called Spring Seafood 101 at L’Academie de Cuisine. I’ve enjoyed almost every cooking class I’ve ever taken, but this chef was particularly impressive for her vast knowledge. The author of several books, she closed the class with a fascinating mini-lecture about olive oil, delving into the significance of acidity and the cultural customs surrounding the olive growing and cultivation. She really knew her stuff, and she taught us how to make four simple but impressive and delicious seafood recipes.
The first thing we made was a seafood stew. The chef made the dish at the front of the classroom, talking us through each step. There was a big mirror above her so that we could see what she was doing on the counter. Then we got into groups of three and made our own at a station in front of us. It was the first time I’d ever cooked squid before and I was surprised how easy it was. This was a great, practical recipe to learn because it was simple, delicious, and it’s the kind of thing that can be altered based on what seafood you have available.
The next thing we made was the branzino. I think I will replicate this at home sometime when I am having guests over. It looks elegant but is so easy. We just chopped up some herbs, mixed in olive oil, coated the inside and top of the fish with it, and baked it in the oven with some chopped fennel and tomatoes. It was delicious and also very healthy.
The third thing we made was monkfish in parchment. We used the same herb mix and I didn’t love this one as much, but I was glad that she taught me the technique because I used it to cook salmon this week and it was really easy and turned out delicious.
The last thing that we made was my favorite – a shrimp tartini. A tartini is basically an open-faced sandwich. I’ve already made this recipe several times since the class because it was so easy and delicious. It’s just some french country bread, herbed cream cheese (Boursin), sliced cucumbers, and shrimp. We sautéed the shrimp in olive oil with herbs de Provance and a squeeze of lemon. Based on the simplicity of it, my expectations were low but it really impressed me. I am not exaggerating when I say I have made it three times since then.
The class had some amazing helpers to pour us wine and clear dirty dishes. It was a really lovely night and would be fun for a date or a family with older children. I heard about this class through CourseHorse.com. They have a TON of classes in cities around the country, and they’re not all about cooking. They also offer them for languages, beauty, fitness, IT, and more. Don’t you think learning new things adds a certain richness to life? I certainly do.