Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium.

Monday afternoon, the Hawthornes, Glowria, and Zelda
went to our cooking class at the North Carolina Aquarium.
I always have to stop by and say hello to the otters.
They remember me.
The turtles are always happy to see me. They elongate their necks to greet me.
The alligator was out sunning. Where was I? Oh yes, cooking class. Today's presentation was was given by Chef Wes Stepp of Red Sky Cafe in Duck. I love to watch Chef Wes' performance theater. It's so much fun to watch him work, since he juggles about a dozen things at once, plus he's very engaging and entertaining. We got to have appetizers while Chef Wes started on his presentation.
I believe he said this was an artichoke and Asiago cheese mix on a crostini, topped with a pico de gallo- diced tomato, pepper, and onion. I couldn't taste any artichoke in it, but every now and then I'd get a real salty taste in there, as did the others in our party. Still good though. I actually made this for dinner that night. Or, rather, my version of it. What can I say? Chef Wes inspires.
Wes is a dynamo. He stormed through 4 different dishes at once and had it all served and we were done in about an hour. I think that's a record. This is a positive thing, but it also has a negative impact for a "cooking class." If you're a novice cook, I don't think you'd be able to follow the man. Some people can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is not an option for them and I heard several people voice this. Even I missed some of what he was doing and I had the ingredient list in front of me. Let me give you Chef Wes' menu for the afternoon: 1. Jalapeno laced crab cakes with a Creole shrimp cream to finish. 2. Bronzed rockfish with strawberries and balsamic glaze, finished with goat cheese. 3. Oysters 'D' with noodles, spinach, and mushrooms. 4. Shrimp and grits. Wes started off by lightly browning the crab cakes and searing the rockfish. Both were finished off in the oven while he prepared his oyster dish, shrimp and grits, the Creole shrimp cream, and a Balsamic-stung strawberry salsa. Quite the storyteller, Wes recounted the tale of people wondering, "How does a boy from West Virginia know how to cook fish?" His reply, "If you can make 'possum taste good, you can do fish."
Behind Wes in the overhead monitor, he's got his Redneck Risotto going front right, which is Shrimp and Grits, Oysters D back left, and his Creole Shrimp Cream in the back right. Wes had Shrimp and Grits on his menu for a while and noticed it really wasn't a mover and a shaker. Really, now, what do you Yankees who come down here to vacation know about grits? Wes realized this too, so he changed the name of the dish to Redneck Risotto. Yankees will eat something called Redneck Risotto. Smart move there, Wes. This is Mauritzio, who's been with Wes for years. And I hope I spelled his name right. Mauritzio makes beautiful garnishes - tomato roses, scallion flowers, lemon cups. Now, I present to you the recipes, with my notes. This is basically what my recipes look like. Ingredients and no amounts. I can read this and I totally get it. Wes, I know this is how you rock 'n' roll, and I know you like to razzle-dazzle, but you must remember, this is a cooking class. You're not auditioning for a catering job here, although I'd give it to you. ; ) I just don't think everyone there would be able to go home and prepare these dishes. That's all I'm saying. For those of you too lazy to click on the menus, Rosie is going to the trouble of typing it all out for you.
Jalapeno laced crab cakes 1 pound crab meat
diced jalapeno
diced red onion
Creole mustard
one egg
oil to fry

Creole shrimp cream to finish
heavy cream
Cajun spice
tomato paste Bronzed rockfish with a Balsamic stung strawberry salsa/goat cheese rockfish filet
Cajun spice
olive oil
Kosher salt
Balsamic stung strawberries
Quartered strawberries
Balsamic glaze
Goat cheese to finish Oysters D NC oysters
heavy cream
Kosher salt, cracked pepper
olive oil
white wine
Cajun spice
mushrooms, sliced

Shrimp and grits
heavy cream
tomato puree
pico de gallo
bacon crumbles
Redneck Risotto
Parmesan crisp
Chef Wes' signature presentation on a mirror. Mauritzio is drawing with sauces.
Don't you love the jellyfish?
You can watch as they plate the mirrors.
Shrimp cakes down the left side. Bed of spinach, awaiting ...
... Oysters D.
Redneck risotto.
Bronzed rockfish surrounding the grits.
Balsamic strawberry salsa going on rockfish.
Mini crab cakes with Creole shrimp cream sauce on left. Tomato rose. Oysters D on right.
Mini crab cakes with Creole shrimp sauce.
Oysters D. It has pasta in it, which wasn't listed in the ingredients list.
Redneck Risotto surrounded by bronzed rockfish with Balsamic-stung strawberry salsa.
Glowria tends to wander a bit in class. She thought her grease-stained mat looked like Chucky. She drew this for me. Chucky in heels? Sometimes, I worry about Glow. Back to class. Focus, Glow. Focus.
That's Buster in the background shooting pictures of our class. He always asks if any of us don't want to be on the North Carolina Aquarium's Facebook page and my hand shoots right up and I always have to remind him that I'm still in the Witness Protection Program. This picture is from the North Carolina Aquarium's Facebook. Mr. Hawthorne isn't there. He'd gone to the bathroom. Can you guess which one Rosie is? Dang it all, Buster. If I get whacked, it's gonna be on your hands. And check the clock. Class started at 12:00 and it's not even 1:00. Wes is like the Energizer Bunny.
Here's my plate
My favorite was the bronzed rockfish with a Balsamic stung strawberry salsa.
Oysters D. I got no oysters. :(
Crabcake. Sorry, but I tasted no crab and no jalapeno.
Shrimp and grits. Bacon crumbles were supposed to be in here and I didn't taste any. And there was no Parmesan crisp as called for in the recipe.
Chef Wes' presentation on mirrors is great for a romantic Valentine's dinner for two (which is not the way we roll), but for a cooking class, it really doesn't work. The dishes were plated from the mirrors and because of that, the dishes were inconsistent. There were no oysters in my Oyster D or Glowria's. I never tasted any bacon. I didn't get the goat cheese finish on top of my rockfish. I didn't get the Creole shrimp sauce on my crab cakes. And I would have liked more sriracha aioli. Rockfish with the Balsamic strawberry salsa kicked ass. Enjoyed it. Thanks, Wes.
Mr. Turtle in the tank with the alligators.
Happy alligator.
These otters will miss me.


Marilyn said...

The bronzed rockfish did look good.

Catherine said...

Dear Rosie, Just dropping by to say hello. It looks like the class was fun. Blessings my friend, Catherine

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Mar, I loved the balsamic glaze with the strawberries. Made it last night for our scallops.

Hello, Catherine. Thanks for stopping by.