Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium.

For joy! For joy! The 2012 Seafood Series Cooking Classes at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island have started. Mr. Hawthorne and I have been attending these classes for the past few years and have enjoyed them immensely. Yesterday, Mr. Hawthorne was the lone rooster driving a truck-full of hens to the Aquarium, the hens being Rosie, Zelda, of Biscotti 101, Biscotti 102, and Struffoli fame, and Glowria, who recently returned to the states after being sent to boarding school in Europe, and of no particular fame, although she was great friends with Dixie. Fish sculpture and fountain at outside entrance. I love the arched entrance with the manta mobile. I love going to the aquarium. I get to see my friends, the otters.
I think this otter remembered me
from last year.
I'm pretty sure he remembered me. He seemed quite comfortable in my presence.
I had to stop by to say hello to the turtles.
Hello, turtles.
Hello, aggilator. Best I could get of the alligator. Window was smeared. Today's presentation was given by wife and husband team, Johanna Lachine, Catering Manager, and Justin Lachine, Executive Chef, owners of Cafe Lachine. Do check out their website. It's quite nice. Easy to read. Easy to navigate. No extraneous BS, unlike some restaurant websites. (Above link is worth clicking on.) Cafe Lachine is opening next Monday in the Outer Banks Mall where Tropical Smoothies used to be. Hours are 8AM to 8PM. Everything is served to take out, but there are a few barstools inside and bistro tables outside.
Justin and Johanna.
I love a good mise en place. Everything was very neat and organized. Rosie likey.
The Lachines prepared 3 dishes for our gustatory pleasure: Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops and Truffle Oil Shrimp and Grits Seared Rockfish with Parmesan Cream over Pesto Orzo with Tomatoes In case you're wondering about "rockfish," what we call rockfish on the Outer Banks is not a true rockfish. It is a Striped Bass that lives among rocks, hence the moniker. Liz, one of the informative aquarium employees, explained more about the rockfish. It is an anadromous fish, meaning it lives in salt water and spawns and hatches in fresh water, the Chesapeake Bay being the main spawning area. Rockfish provide a yearly $100,000,000 revenue for North Carolina. The record rockfish caught was a 64 pounder caught in 2011. I've talked about Outer Banks Catch before, but it's worth mentioning again. Outer Banks catch is a program in Currituck, Dare, Hyde, and Tyrell Counties designed to educate consumers and promote awareness of the advantages of requesting fish that is in season and locally caught. The unique Atlantic Coast is a diverse eco-system, offering year-round selections of fish and shellfish. One needs to be educated to know what fish are in season and when. 80% of our seafood served nationally is imported and only 2% is FDA inspected, so when you go to a restaurant and order shrimp, it may have been harvested in Vietnam. The fish you order may have come from China or South America. Outer Banks Catch focuses on promoting local seafood. Species listed as "Local Catch" are managed for long-term viability and sustainable harvests, meaning will will enjoy seafood today and in the future. FYI, here's a Seafood Availability Chart, provided by Outer Banks Catch. All dishes were excellent. Mr. Hawthorne, Rosie, Zelda, and Glowria were impressed.
Johanna just gave birth to a baby boy last Friday. She's here on Tuesday and opening a restaurant next Monday. Wow.
Buster Nunemaker always comes in to shoot pics. Funny thing. Today, he actually asked if anybody cared if he shot pictures of our group to be on Facebook. Immediately everybody's hand in the front row went up, along with my hand in the back row. And I once again had to remind Buster that I'm still in the Witness Protection Program. So no photo-op for me.
Justin buzzing the cauliflower soup. Which, by the way, was divine.
Houston, we have a problem. Early into the demonstration, no burners appeared to be working properly. I was getting antsy that we weren't going to eat today, plus I felt really bad for the Lachines. However, I must say, the Lachines showed remarkable talents in the face of adversity. Thankfully, somebody may have switched gas tanks or something, because the situation was eventually remedied, and we once again had fire. WHEW!
I love their looks of determination.

I really enjoyed the Lachines' presentation. I also appreciated how they interacted with each other. I don't think we've seen a wife and husband team before at these cooking classes and it was quite refreshing. It's a dance in the kitchen. It ain't ballroom, but it's still dancing. Reminded me of Mr. Hawthorne and myself, or as my dear friend, Maxine, refers to us, the M... & A... Show.
Plus, these kids are freakin' cute. And Johanna just gave birth 4 days ago! Justin and Johanna are a great team. They were a joy to watch. Justin did most of the presentation, and Johanna (The Glue) assisted and facilitated, cooking the scallops and the fish, plus clarifying and expounding upon finer points. When Johanna was talking about the scallops, bringing up the dry vs wet scallops I've talked about, she took out individual scallops to show us how to get the scallop "foot" out. She examined the first scallop and pronounced, "There's no foot here." She went to the next two scallops, with no "feet." Then Justin finally told her he'd already cleaned the scallops. Hee! It was an enjoyable two hours. I love watching a good partnership.
Johanna is drizzling a few drops of truffle oil into the cauliflower soup puree.
Oh my goodness. This is bliss. The truffle oil was a lovely touch. And I just happen to have truffle oil in my pantry.
I savored every bit of the scallop. I think I made 6 bites out of one scallop.
Glowria always has fun. She loves to eat.
Apparently Glow didn't get enough soup 'n' scallops. She dove into the bowl and tried to lick it.
Johanna is plating the cheddar grits.
Justin adds the Andouille and Holy Trinity to the grits.
Next the shrimp.

Shrimp and Grits. With Andouille sausage and the Holy Trinity.
I'm loving this.
Now, here's where it got really funny.
Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, in the room had been served. All except Glowria. The servers missed her. She is very tiny. I swear, I had to restrain her. She was getting violent.
Finally, Glowria got her meal and proffered me her last shrimp for a photo-op.
Dang. Glow should bring a spatula. Or a sponge.
Another face-dive into the plate for the last of the shrimp and grits. Glowria never knows where her next meal is coming from.
Now, we're heading to a delicious course: Seared Rockfish with Parmesan Cream over Pesto Orzo with Grape Tomatoes.
Glowria was served first this time, after the previous faux pas of not being served at all. I tried to get her to wait to eat until everybody else was served. Glow did not wait. She can be a bitch that way. But she's from Jersey, so I let it go. Didn't want a horse head on my pillow in the morning.
I loved this. I can do a lot with that Parmesan Cream Sauce. Orzo and pesto - wonderful. Fish - delightful.
Thoroughly sated by our 3-course meal courtesy of the Lachines, our little group, consisting of Mr. Hawthorne, Rosie, Glowria, and Zelda, headed to the Piggly Wiggly in Manteo. Mr. Hawthorne wants to can another batch of his Salsa Ranchera, so he stopped to buy assorted peppers and tomatoes for WAY lower prices than on the beach. And I bought cauliflower!
Apparently, major endorphins were released during our 3-course meal.
And just look who we met in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly! Sorry. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Can anyone out there tell me what my channel was on Monday night and exactly who these people are?
These two fruits are having entirely too much fun in the produce section. They were FIGHTING OVER PRODUCE. And Zelda seems to have quite a hold on her Reynold's freezer paper, while Glow has a death grip on her carrots.
We're loving the Piggle Wiggle.
Zelda, however, got mad and left.
Now for the RECIPES!
Very simple. Very easy. Very doable. Very delicioso. !!!!!!!!

 Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops and Truffle Oil
 1 head cauliflower, florets
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 TB butter
 1 Qt. vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt/pepper large
sea scallops
 white truffle oil
chopped chives
Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add cauliflower and potatoes. Cover with vegetable stock. Low simmer until tender. Remove from heat. Puree. In small sauce pan, heat heavy cream. Add to cauliflower mixture. Season with s & p. Keep warm. Remove feet from scallops and dry between paper towels. S & P. Sear scallops in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. Ladle soup in bowl. Place scallop. Finish with truffle oil. Garnish with chives.

  36 shrimp, peeled and deveined
 2 cups grits
 The Lachines used Lakeside Mill Grits. I will have to look into that
. They wanted quick cooking grits, not stone ground grits,
which take double the time.
 I've always love my stone ground grits from Byrd Mill,
in Ashland, Virginia, but the Lakeside Mill quick grits
 turned out to have a lovely smooth texture.
 8 cups chicken stock
2 TB butter
1 cup diced onion
 2 cups diced green pepper
 2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced Andouille Sausage
 6 TB Canola oil
Paul Prudhomme Redfish Magic Blackening Seasoning
In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock to simmer. Whisk in grits. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and add cold butter and cheddar cheese . Season with salt and pepper. Hold warm. In a large saute pan, heat 3 TB oil over medium heat. Add onions and Andouille. Cook 3 minutes. Add green pepper and celery and cook another 5 minutes. Onions, green peppers, and celery. That's the New Orleans Holy Trinity. Season with blackening seasoning and hold warm. In another saute pan, heat 3 TB oil over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with blackening seasoning and saute about 3 minutes. Ladle grits onto plate. Top with scoop of Holy Trinity/sausage mixture and shrimp. Absolutely DIVINE!
And for the Last Recipe:
 Seared Striped Bass with Parmesan Cream
over Pesto Orzo with Tomatoes
 Oh my goodness. This was so good. And I'm so glad that I butchered all my basil plants in my garden the day before Irene hit. I cut 'em all down and made pesto. Froze in ice-cube trays. Plopped into freezer bags. I have a gallon or so of pesto in my freezer so I can have a taste of summer whenever I want.
Cook orzo according to directions on package. Heat 3 TB oil over medium heat. Saute tomatoes to caramelize. Add orzo and pesto to coat. Keep warm. Season fish with salt and pepper. Sear skin side up in pan until golden brown. Turn fish and cook until done. Place orzo mixture onto plate. Top with rockfish fillet. Finish with Parmesan Cream Sauce.

 1/2 lb. fresh basil leaves
 3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp black pepper
 Process garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil leaves in processor. Add olive oil and pulse. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

1 TB butter
 1 TB flour
 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 freshly ground S & P
 Make a roux: Melt butter. Add flour. Cook 2-3 minutes. Get out the RAW. Heat cream separately. Add heated cream to roux. Heat until thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan. Season with S & P.

BOTTOM LINE: This was an amazing 3-course meal. The two M-/L-achines complemented each other and I loved watching that symbiosis.


Marilyn said...

All of the food looks divine. Thanks for "bringing" me along. Wish I could have really been there!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Wish you could have been here too!

southdrivein said...

Rosie ,next time you are in Greensboro buy some Old Mill of Gillford Grits they are made over in Oak Ridge out of Flint Corn . The owner of Hominy Grill in Charleston swears by them