Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pan Handling (Chopping Block class)

I got the impression when I signed up for this class that is was going to be a survey of different pans and their use. And then as soon as I got done and thought back on it, I thought I had no idea what the focus was. Finally, looking back through the recipes, I realized that the topic was specifically use of the saute pan.

Oh, okay. I really think that could have been a LOT clearer. I'm totally one for a clear, strong thesis statement. Granted, I was a hair late and might have missed a minute (and I mean, literally, 60 seconds of instruction), but I think that if could have stood some better explanation.

That being said, it was some good recipes and a good experience. I ended up buying the ScanPan saute pan that we used, having decided that my crappy Calphalon omelette pan just wasn't good enough, so maybe I did get at least part of the message subliminally.

The instruction was okay, but generally on the lower end of my Chopping Block experiences. I learned more about pie crust and the recipes than I did about techniques for the pan or anything. I think, in part, a lot of content is covered in the other classes I've taken (browning and deglazing, for example). But the recipes themselves are really, really tasty and I had a neat group to work with, so it was definitely worth the time.

In this class, we made:
  • Caramelized Onion Crostada
  • Sauteed Mushroom Bruschetta
  • Chicken Piccata
  • Seared Sea Scallops with Celery Root Hash
The various learnings and tidbits includes:
  • I'm amazed at how much I like celery root. It has a slightly sweet taste and very smooth texture. I think I was expecting something more turnip-like from the look and texture when chopping. I've seen it occasionally at the local Jewel - it's totally one of those things in produce that you overlook until you know to look for it. Also, this really opened up my eyes to roasting all kinds of vegetables.
  • I'm liking the free-form tart thing a lot. I've seen a lot of recipes for various types recently and this was my first try. This was quite good and I think I'll be doing others. Though the dough for the tart wasn't technically part of the topic, the instructor made the point that we should hold and roll the body of the rolling pin, not the handles. Also, to use plenty of flour to prevent sticking and to rotate the disk 1/4 turn after every stroke.
  • When sauteeing the onions for the tart, we started at medium high to get the caramelization, then dropped to medium and then low for the softening part. I don't know if I would have done this by instinct or would have pulled them off then they were browned, but still too firm, for fear of burning.
  • The best places to buy fish in the city, by a long shot, are apparently the Fish Guy (4423 N. Elston) and Dirk's (2070 N. Clyborn).
  • When searing scallops, you have to be careful not to overcook them. However, if they don't release from the pan easily with tongs, they're not done yet.

1 comment:

Lonbeehold said...

Hal, I love your blog. Everytime I hit a Chopping Block class, I think I might see you there :) I agree with you 100% about the Pan Handling class. Check out the Kendall College website. They have some great sounding classes; I am going to try and take a few this summer. Happy cooking!