Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium.

Regular readers of my blog know that the Hawthornes
look forward each winter/spring to the series of seafood cooking classes offered by the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo on Roanoke Island. Yesterday, we were fortunate to have Chef Renee Waddington of the Black Pelican, in Kitty Hawk, as our instructor. Chef Waddington is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked under many certified master chefs. Chef Waddington started her culinary career at age 13 working at a restaurant on the Outer Banks. After graduating from the CIA, she moved back to North Carolina and became sous chef at Austin Creek Grill on Hatteras Island. After working there for several years, she moved to Florida, studying wine. Waddington also worked as Chef de Cuisine at a restaurant in Fort Myers, Florida, in 2006, then moved back to North Carolina in April 2008, and became the Pastry Chef and kitchen manager at Black Pelican.
The featured seafood yesterday was crabmeat. We started out with a Drunken Crab appetizer with a Bloody Mary Vinaigrette, served with crackers..
For the Drunken Crab: 1/2 pound crabmeat 1 cup Bloody Mary Vinaigrette 1/2 red onion, diced 2 Roma tomatoes, diced 1/2 cucumber, diced Mix all ingredients, saving crabmeat for last. Gently fold in lump crabmeat, being careful not to break it up. Chef Waddington suggested serving this in a decorative glass, like a margarita glass, with lemon juice rubbed over the edge and rimmed in Old Bay Seasoning. For the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette: 1 cup tomato juice 1/4 tsp celery seed 1/4 tsp celery salt 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp tabasco sauce 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp horseradish 1 tsp red wine vinegar 1 TB sugar 1 TB lemon juice 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning 2 TB vodka 1/2 olive oil Mix all ingredients, then whisk in olive oil.
Chef Waddington adds in crabmeat for the Drunken Crab.
Here, she prepares the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette.
It's a pretty appetizer. My opinion here, since that's what I get paid for: Both Mr. Hawthorne and I are crabmeat purists. All crabmeat needs is lemon juice and melted butter. We liked the Bloody Mary Vinaigrette, but I thought it would be better suited for something less delicate than crabmeat. For example, I'd pair the vinaigrette with shrimp. I'd tinker with the ingredients also. Didn't taste the horseradish or the vodka. Our next dish was a Crab Souffle with Key Lime Sriracha Aioli and a mixed greens salad with the Aioli dressing.
For the Crab Souffle: 6 eggs 1/4 cup flour 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce 2 green onions, sliced 1/2 pound claw crabmeat 1/2 pound backfin crabmeat Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs. Add flour, Old Bay, chili sauce, and green onion. Fold in crabmeat. Pour in mold and bake about 15 minutes. For the aioli: 1 cup mayonnaise 1 TB sriracha 1/2 cup Key Lime juice 1/2 cup sugar
Chef Waddington prepares crab mixture.
Chef releases the "souffles" from sil-pat molds.
Here, she's plating the salads and the souffles.
Topping off with the key lime sriracha aioli.
Mr. Hawthorne loved the aioli and we will be making it. I didn't care much for the "souffle." In fact, I wouldn't call this a souffle at all. A souffle is a light, fluffy dish made with egg yolks and stiffly beaten egg whites. There were no egg whites in this dish to lighten it at all. It was dense. It was kinda chewy. It was too bready. It wasn't light. Like I said, Mr. Hawthorne and I are crabmeat purists. Just give me crabs, lemon juice, and melted butter and I'm a happy camper. Now, more of my opinion, which is why they pay me the big bucks. The cooking classes are supposed to be about LOCAL seafood. Most Outer Bankers are aware of the Outer Banks Catch marketing program which promotes using locally caught seafood. The program makes consumers aware of which restaurants, seafood markets, and other merchants provide locally caught seafood and provides information on the local commercial fishing industry. In 2008, Outer Banks fishermen landed 22.7 million pounds of seafood in Dare County, valued at more than $23 million. The North Carolina statewide catch was 71 million pounds with a value of about $87 million. In 2010, Dare County's catch increased to 29 million pounds. Considering that, Dare County's catch is extraordinary. Locals and tourists alike fill their grocery carts with seafood and order seafood at our restaurants and our fishermen catch millions of pounds of fish here, and often, sadly, one has nothing to do with the other. To bridge this gap, the Outer Banks Catch program promotes locally caught seafood and informs consumers about what types of fresh seafood are available when. Our commercial fishing heritage (Many Outer Banks families can trace 7th and 8th generation relatives to the local commercial fishing business.) is a significant part our economy and the Outer Banks Catch program tries to educate consumers about the numerous advantages of requesting locally caught seafood and what's in season. Our unique, diverse Atlantic coast ecosystem provides us with year-round selections of fish and shellfish. And we should take advantage of that by buying or ordering local seafood that is in season. Seafood, like produce, is seasonal. And people need to be educated about that. You don't order soft shells in the winter. You don't order oysters in the summer. (Although, yes, I eat softshells in the winter because we properly clean them after buying in spring, and individually wrap them, and deep freeze them.) For month by month availability of seafood from the Outer Banks, please click here. Click here to see a list of stock status of important coastal fisheries in North Carolina. Know that North Carolina fisheries are managed for long-term viability and sustainable harvests so that we can enjoy seafood today and in the future. Which all brings me to my point. Yes, I actually have a point. Last week we had shrimp from Indonesia. This week we had crabmeat from Thailand. Howzabout using local and seasonally available seafood? Crabs are not available, locally, in the winter Oysters and clams are available now, as are mackeral, sea trout, rockfish (aka striped bass), bluefish, and bluefin tuna. Any of those could be obtained locally, thus contributing to our Outer Banks economy. I've written about Outer Banks Catch before, in case you want to read more. Back when the buzz for the OBC logo was buzzing, Mr. Hawthorne and I liked this design I drew. We thought it would be a really neat idea to have a contest in the schools and let the children come up with a winning logo. That way you educate the children on a grass roots level and they in turn educate their parents about Outer Banks Catch. But no. The Charlotte-based marketing firm of Corder Phillips was selected for that and here's what they came up with: Why don't people Just Ask Rosie? They could have saved a bunch of money.


Marilyn said...

Why aren't you up there teaching those classes, Rosie?

And I don't think they pay you enough, either.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Sadly, Mar, I am underpaid and overworked.
I need to be more of an underachiever.

Rocquie said...

The seafood you cook looks so much better.

dle said...

I think we need to have Rosie teach some classes...your food looks better and I am sure tastes better...I also liked your Logo!! I would bet more people would buy a shirt with that on it than the other... I would like 2 please if you ever make them!

Amy said...

I just found your blog today. Very entertaining. We will be down your way for the Taste of the Beach weekend in March. Looking forward to it. I did not realize the aquarium had cooking classed. Good to know!