Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium

Today, Rooster Hawthorne was driving his hens,
Rosie, Glowria, and Zelda,
to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island,
in Manteo, for another cooking class.
We met up with XKT there,
who actually saw an alligator in the canals along 64
when she was driving from ways west of us
to get to Manteo.

She saw him again when she was going home
and stopped to take pics.
"About 10 feet long with a fat belly."

I've seen plenty of huge turtles in the canals,
but never an alligator.
And one time when I was driving through there,
a black bear ran across the road.
That was very exciting!

Today's presentation was
by Chef Jason Smith of the Black Pelican.

On the menu today is a Southwestern Smoked Seafood Tamale
with a Citrus Saffron Beurre Blanc
and Shrimp and Risotto Fra Diavolo.

XKT asked me what Fra Diavolo was and the only thing
I could come up with was Brother Devil.
So I Googled it:
Fra Diavolo (Italian = friar devil) was an Italian bandit and soldier
whose real name was Michele Pezza.
He entered the service of the king of Naples
in 1798 and resisted the 1799 invasion by the French.
He was captured in 1806 and hanged by the French.
Popular superstition invested him
with the character of both a monk and a demon,
hence the nickname.

Alternatively, Fra Diavolo refers to a
spicy tomato-based sauce
usually seasoned with garlic, oregano, and hot red pepper .

First a few facts.
Ann Marie, one of the Aquarium workers,
informed us that shrimp is the most profitable seafood
in North Carolina, netting $13 million per year.
Also, a single shrimp produces 500,000 eggs.

Now some interesting figures from Chef Smith:
(And I hope I got all this correct.)
Black Pelican spent $514,000 on seafood last year.
What did all that money buy?
100,000 little neck clams
983 lbs cobia
3200 lbs snow crab legs
6000 lbs crab meat
5400 lbs flounder
1500 lbs grouper
3000 lbs mahi
200,000 oysters
4200 lbs rockfish
2300 lbs salmon
336 lbs sea bass
3000 lbs scallops
360 lbs mako shark
854 lbs snapper
12,000 lbs shrimp
850 lbs snapper
2700 lbs calamari
2500 lbs swordfish
3000 lbs tuna
2000 lbs wahoo

Here are the recipes with my notes:

I'm going to rearrange the recipes a bit
to make more sense for you.
Chef Smith started on the risotto first,
since that takes the longest.

olive oil
1 diced yellow onion
1 box arborio
1 1/2 gallons chicken stock
Over low heat, pour a little olive oil in the pan
and sweat the onions.
Add in the arborio rice and cook over low heat,
stirring occasionally until rice is translucent.
Pour in a ladle or two of heated chicken stock,
just enough to barely cover the rice.
Let rice absorb the stock,
then add in another ladle full.
Take your time with risotto.
Takes about 30 minutes.

Chef Smith made two preparations with the risotto -
Risotto cakes and risotto with crab meat.

For the cakes, you want to cook the risotto
a little past al dente to make it starchier so the cakes will stick.
Add Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses,
2 eggs, and fresh herbs.
Chef Smith used a combination of basil, tarragon, and dill.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If needed, you can add a little panko
to the mix to tighten it up some.
Roll the cakes in panko breadcrumbs,
then saute in butter.
Finish off in the oven.

With the rest of the risotto,
he added a little chicken stock,
sweet chili sauce, cilantro,
crab meat, butter, and Parmesan.
Salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the shrimp,
heat oil in pan, add garlic, chopped red pepper,
chopped shallot, and shrimp.
Add in brandy, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes.

In the monitor,
the onions are sweating for the risotto
and the chicken stock is simmering.
Chef Smith is preparing the seafood for his tamales.

In a processor,
combine 10 scallops,
18 shrimp,
pinch of seafood spice
(Chef Smith used Baltimore spice,
which is similar to Old Bay.),
pinch blackening spice (Cajun),
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime,
pinch of ancho powder.
Fold in 1/4 pound crab meat.
Add 1/2 cup corn,
1/2 cup black beans,
4 diced green onions,
and chopped red pepper.

Spoon the mixture into soaked corn husks
and tie to seal.
Put a few soaked mesquite chips in a roasting pan
with a little water.
Place the tamales on a rack in the pan
and cover tightly with foil.
Cook tamales over high heat.
Once it starts to smoke,
cut the heat down.
Cook about 8 minutes.
Chef Smith is preparing the tamales for smoking.

Now, he's starting on
a most delicious Citrus Saffron Beurre Blanc.
Combine 3 cups white wine,
10-12 saffron threads,
chopped shallot,
and the juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon, and 1 orange.
Cook at a simmer and let reduce.
Add in pint of heavy cream and reduce.
Whisk in 1/2 pound cold butter,
piece by piece until incorporated.

Chef Smith's beurre blanc is reducing and ...
and he's pan-searing his risotto cakes.

This is the view behind us.
Shrimp fra Diavolo on left.
Seafood tamales on right.

Tender, succulent shrimp in tomato sauce
with a risotto cake.
The shrimp were perfectly cooked.
I'll be making the risotto cakes.
I loved the creamy risotto inside
and the crisp crunch on the outside.

Buster Nunemaker,
as usual, comes in to shoot pictures
for the Aquarium's Face Book page.
How many times do I have to tell this man
I can't be photographed?
Damn Witness Protection Program.

Uh oh.
Once again, Glowria is distracted by a grease spot
on the tablecloth.

Here's what Glow drew last time:

Creative juices are spewing.
And here's what she drew this time.
Sometimes I worry about Glow.
Smoked seafood tamales
with citrus beurre blanc.

I'll definitely be making this.

Here's the creamy crab meat risotto
which was heavenly.

Glowria goes for another face-plant
in her plate.
Zelda, in the orange, is doing her best to ignore her.

Hello Raoul.
Hello, Deborah.

Hello, turtles.

Nelson is curling up to take a nap.
Harriet was hiding today.


Lea said...

Mmmm, risotto is my all time favorite food ever. Like LAST MEAL favorite. Your samples looked GOOD today!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Lea, try the risotto cakes.
They are to die for.

Lea said...

I'll put it on my list! Too warm here for risotto right now though! If it keeps it up, might have to wait until October!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

These things are good any time. You don't need to wait for cool weather. Serve the cakes with a light seafood and salad.

75 gallon aquarium said...

I love cakes:)