Sunday, August 13, 2006

Evins Mill cooking class

At times it felt Joe and I were the only ones staying at the Inn. And after looking over a map of the place, I'm pretty sure ours was the only room actually in the Inn. The rest are cabins linked by an elevated boardwalk winding through the forest. So we usually had a long porch full of wooden rockers and boston ferns all to ourselves. We were also the only guests to sign up for the cooking class with Evins Mill's gourmet chef, Jason.

We got to watch him work on Saturday night's dinner, which began with Carrot Ginger Soup with coconut milk and lemongrass. This recipe feeds a group larger than I'll ever have the misfortune of serving... but I'll post it anyway.

Carrot Ginger Soup
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbs vegetable oil
3 quarts chicken stock
5 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 handful of lemongrass, tied
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
1/2 heavy cream*

Sautee onion, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes with oil in a large stockpot until tender. (Jason said this step was not really necessary, but he liked to be able to savor the fragrance) Add chicken stock, carrots and lemongrass. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for two hours or until carrots are really soft and mushy. Puree with hand held blender (gotta get me one of these, saw they're only about 20 bucks at Linens N Things). Strain soup (that's what he's doing with that giganto seive in the photo) Then add coconut milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Makes a gallon, can be made in advance and reheated.

* my soup at dinner time didn't have the cream, and I didn't miss it at all. This soup is awesome. And I don't even really like carrots.

Also on the menu was Peruvian Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin. Jason seemed really fond of working with raw meat. Joe and I observed that he seemed to be handling it like it was a live animal that needed a little massage in order to coax it into tasting its very best. Must have worked because we both agreed it was the best beef we'd had. Ever. And I don't even like beef! I see a trend here.

Ah, and this was the hands on part of the class.

Joe thinks: Eh, this isn't so bad. I'll just take my big sharp chef's knife and wack away all that nasty fat.
Jason thinks: That was like $50 dollars of meat you just cut off!

Actually, Jason explained that there's a lot of waste. Choice tenderloin is 15 dollars a pound, but it works out to be $20/lb after you remove all the fat. He tries to save it for stock or the Habitat for Humanity chili cookoff, which he apparently won. (I saw a trophy in the hallway.)

That night's meal was really the best I've had in a long time. We ate by candle light (hence lack of photos) All my courses were butter- and cream-free. And we finished with flourless chocolate cake and very good (decaf) coffee. Joe's had a Baily's glaze, which I dipped my fork into. MMM.
Needless to say, 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts later, both Joe and I are having troubles getting into our pants. I guess the fast will begin tomorrow.

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