Our friend Lise Jaeger is a chef and in addition to several other jobs, she does culinary workshops at the Shop Rite, one of our local grocery chains. We've gone to a few of these, where for a mere $20 each, Chef teaches the participants four recipes (usually, a main, two sides and a dessert) around a specific theme, but the teaching is hands-on. The students (and there are usually only 6-8 students in a class) actually do the measuring, chopping, prepping, etc. (always with helpful tips from Chef) and once everything is ready, we all enjoy our finished products. It's a great experience in that we always learn something new, we get four new recipes to try at home, we get to see Chef (who is a very busy lady) and we have a delicious dinner.
Last week's theme was "The Gastropub Experience." The term "gastropub" refers to establishments, orignally in the United Kingdom but the concept is everywhere now, that take typical "pub grub" and bring it to a higher level. The name is a combination of gastronomy and pub, and therefore intends to show that the place serves higher quality food than what is usually expected at a pub. (Not that there's anything wrong with pub food! It certainly has its place in the world).
We put on our nametags, introduced ourselves, washed our hands, gloved up and got to work. The first thing we had to do was to make the brownie batter and get the brownies into the oven so they could cook and cool while we prepared the rest of the meal. Once we did that, we began to work on the main entree and side dishes.
The main course was Beer-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak. Since the class is usually only 2 hours long, Lise had already marinated the flank steak in a marinade of porter, chopped yellow onion, chopped garlic, and jalapenos. She explained the recipe to us and we moved on to work on the side dishes.
One side dish was a Warm Three Greens Salad. It consisted of slicing an onion and caramelizing the slices, then adding some garlic, Swiss chard, kale and spinach to the pan (the three greens). It was amazing to watch all those leafy greens reduce in the pan! Once they did, we removed them from the pan and dressed the salad with some balsamic vinegar, golden raisins and slivered almonds. It was a tasty and healthy side packed with antioxidants!
The second side dish was Cauliflower with Gruyere and Bacon (the not-quite-as-healthy-side-dish). First we made a bechamel sauce to which we added gruyere cheese. While it thickened, we trimmed and blanched our cauliflower and placed it in a casserole dish. We poured the sauce over the cauliflower, sprinkled it with crumbled cooked bacon and then with some panko mixed with a little more gruyere. This cooked until it was hot and bubbly. Creamy, cheesy, and bacon-y - this is one way to get Amy to eat cauliflower!
The last thing we needed to do was grill the flank steak and we could serve the meal. We topped the steak with Crosse & Blackwell Caramelized Onion Chutney with Peppers, the evening's sponsor product and an easy way to get the flavor of caramelized onions without the work. The two Chrises in the group helped Lise plate the dishes. Hardly anyone was talking as we ate because the food was so good. Of course, none of us could forget the Stout-Infused Dark Chocolate Brownies that were waiting for us at the end. We all pronounced the brownies the fudgiest and tastiest we ever had.
Because these recipes are provided by Shop Rite, we don't feel that it is proper to post them. However, if you have a Shop Rite near you, you should look into their culinary workshops. They are worth every penny!
I keep hearing about the "gastropub" movement on shows like Bar Rescue. Sounds tasty!
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