A million years (or six months) ago, my brother and sister-in-law got us gift certificates to Chop, Wok & Talk!, a local cooking school. We decided that rather than go together to a single class we would employ the “divide and conquer” method – we each picked a topic of interest from the class schedule and went alone, vowing to bring home the recipes to share. Last night was my turn, and my chosen class theme was “An Elegant Brunch”. It could have easily been called “Stuffed to the Gills”. Or “You’ll Never Need to Eat Again”. Or “Please Help Roll Me into Bed”.
Our host and instructor was Dorothy Tague. I had her permission to take all of these photos.
We started out the evening making strawberry soup and scones. (And I’m just going to get this out of the way now – there are a couple of things on this list that fall dangerously close to breaking my rules. However, I promised myself I would set aside preconceived notions and prejudices for the night, even in the case of fruit and cream combinations.)
The strawberry soup was made with sour cream and topped with creme fraiche. (Doesn’t break the rules because it’s not sweet cream.)
The scones were plain and made to be slathered with decadent things like clotted cream and mixed berry preserves.
After we enjoyed the soup and scones, we headed back into the kitchen to tackle the heavy stuff: quiche, eggs benedict, roasted asparagus, dessert. Oh and a light salad! Dorothy reminded us several times that one would not likely serve all of these dishes at a single brunch – unless one was interested in killing his or her guests. Eggs, butter, heavy cream and various pork products were popular ingredients in most of the recipes.
We made a blended hollandaise sauce with fresh lemon juice. Slowly adding the melted butter to the egg mixture prevents it from curdling. (More on that later.)
We also wrapped asparagus in prosciutto (roasted together with olive oil in the oven) and got the salad ready. Salad ingredients: fresh garden greens, roasted almonds, raspberries, goat cheese and plum/chile dressing.
Flagrant rule breakage right there. But I think because the goat cheese was so mild I was mostly okay with it. The slight kick to the dressing helped, too. I would swap the raspberries for tomatoes next time, but those of you keeping track at home should be proud of me for trying it! Full disclosure: I ate the salad first and saved the raspberries for last, so there wasn’t any cheese-fruit blending.
I’m getting ahead of myself, since we made all of the rest of this before sitting down to actually try it. “The rest” includes this lovely, rich quiche with bacon and gruyere cheese.
And eggs benedict (Should that be capitalized? WordPress thinks so. But then again, WordPress doesn’t recognize “WordPress” as a word, either.) because you can’t have too many egg/starch/meat dishes in one sitting, right? (See “intended lack of death of guests”, above.)
Look at that gorgeous poached egg. I do mine one at a time, when I do them at all. Dorothy did four at a time. Impressive.
So yeah, after all of that we sat down to this:
Starts with N and ends with OM. Also O and MG.
Oh, notice how the hollandaise sauce got funky – it just sat a little too long in between perfection and serving. No big deal, especially when you take into consideration the level of preparation going in to all of the other dishes at the same time. Clearly didn’t prevent me from eating it all.
Now if you were paying attention and not just drooling on your keyboard, you may have picked up on my mention of dessert. Lemon creme brule. Done in the broiler. Not too shabby, eh?
Yup, that was my Monday night. While I was eating enough fat and calories for a week’s worth, Avi learned to count to a hundred. And while I was learning to snap asparagus to find the sweet spot, Avi was eating shrimp and chips. When the boys picked me up after class, he made me go through everything I made and said, “Mmmm, mommy, that sounds so yummy!” after everything including the salad. Brilliant child.
Thanks, Dorothy and Chop, Wok & Talk! for the great evening. And thanks Michael and Valerie and Finley for the awesome gift. It was delicious.