Cooking Class at CuisinArt Resort in #Anguilla

Cooking Class at CuisinArt Resort in #Anguilla
On Friday, February 18th, the 4th day of our trip to Anguilla, we took a cooking class at the beautiful CuisinArt Resort (associated with the ubiquitous kitchen gadget brand name). The offer several kinds of cooking classes, and the one we took was with Chef Guillaume, working under executive chef Daniel Le Guénan. We didn’t know a lot of the details surrounding the class, as our awesome travel agent Sheila Gallant-Halloran and Sherrill Hughes of Paradise Cove booked the class for us.

I’m so glad we took the class. It was an informal, and informative, class. I haven’t worked a lot with fish before, and 2 of the courses were fish. We attended the class with one other couple, who had signed up for the class based on the “secret ingredient” aspect of it – the same ingredient was to make an appearance in all of the dishes. As it turned out, the secret ingredient was a simple vegetable stock, very tasty, which I’m very pleased to have in my repertoire. The recipes I’m listing here are based on the notes I took, adding up all of our contributions to the pan or the pot – we’d forgotten to ask for printed versions of each recipe.

We began with demonstrations for chopping, then moved to individual workstations stocked with vegetables, cutting boards and knives. Sadly, the knives were a little dull, but they were serviceable. I was using a serrated knife at my workstation, which made the brunoise a we did a little difficult. The chopping wasn’t a considerable portion of the cooking class, however.

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Vegetable Stock

3 – 4 red onions

3 stalks celery

3 carrots

3 leeks, light green and white parts only

a generous amount of thyme

water, to cover

Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes to half an hour. Keep hot if using for soup.

After making the stock, we got to the starter course:

Green Pea Soup with Roasted Scallop

Serves 4

olive oil

1 red or white onion, coarsely chopped

a generous amount of frozen peas (about a kilogram, maybe a bit less)

vegetable stock, to cover

herbs, such as basil, tarragon, or mint (optional) (at the class, we didn’t add any)

butter

additional olive oil

4 scallops

Heat olive oil in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Add the coarsely chopped onion and sauté. Add the peas and stir to heat through and combine. Add vegetable stock to cover the peas. Add any herbs, if using. Bring the soup just to a boil, and immediately purée in a vented blender (this will help maintain the bright green colour of the peas).

To roast the scallop, melt equal parts of butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the scallops and cook on one side for about 2 minutes, taking care not to let the butter burn. Turn the scallops and place skillet in the oven to finish roasting, about 3 minutes (I think the oven was at 350º F).

Serve the dish by plating the soup, then setting a single scallop in the middle of each bowl. Serve with rolls and butter on the side.

The soup and scallop were delicious. I think when I make this at home, I’ll likely replace the onion with shallot and add tarragon (my current favourite herb). I’m looking forward to pea season!

Lunch’s second course was a toasted couscous tabbouleh with spice-dredged John Dory. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to toast couscous for a dish, as it adds a lot of interest to the flavour profile. The tomatoes, red peppers, basil and cucumbers used here were all from the resort’s hydroponic farm – so delicious.

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Toasted Couscous Tabbouleh

serves 4, with leftovers

1 pkg couscous

vegetable stock, to cover

olive oil

salt

4 tomatoes

4 red peppers

2 English cucumbers

2 onions

4 cloves of garlic

a generous handful of basil

basil leaves, for garnish

Heat a skillet. Add the couscous to the dry skillet and toast until the couscous takes on a considerable amount of colour, and the general colour of the couscous is a deep golden brown. Remove to a bowl and add vegetable stock to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, cut the outer layers off of the cucumber, red pepper, and tomato. Cut these outer layers in a thin julienne, then cut crosswise to create a brunoise. Finely mince the onion and garlic, and cut the basil into a chiffonade. Once the liquid in the couscous has been absorbed, combine all of these chopped ingredients with the couscous. To plate, use a ring mold. Pack the couscous evenly into the ring mold. Top with a leaf of basil.

Spice-Dredged John Dory

serves 4

For this recipe, we learned to filet the fish – it was a lot more difficult than it looked, and certainly bears more practice on my part. We were told that snapper is a decent substitute, if you can’t find John Dory.

Garam Masala (buy it packaged, or you can toast and grind your own)

8 small filets John Dory

olive oil

basil-infused olive oil

Pour a thick layer of garam masala onto a plate. Dredge the filets in the spices until thoroughly coated.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the filets and cook 2 minutes per side. The filets can be cooked up to an hour ahead, chilled, and reheated for 2 minutes in the oven.

Lay on the plate alongside the tabbouleh. Drizzle the plate with basil-infused olive oil, if available.

Dessert was a dish of banana bread, crème anglaise, and vanilla bean ice cream, garnished with berries and a vanilla bean. (I felt bad for one of our classmates – she mistakenly thought the vanilla bean was a chocolate garnish, and bit right into it.) The only thing we made in the class was the banana bread, which I was a bit disappointed by since I’ve made it a lot and was hoping to learn something more advanced, but I was the only one who bakes on a regular basis. Next time I go, I may try the pastry class.

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Banana Bread

makes 12 mini-loaves

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

about 7 or 8 very ripe, small bananas

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon Mount Gay rum (delicious!)

The amounts of butter, flour, and sugar are based on the amount I remember eyeballing.

Cream together the butter and sugar until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mash in the bananas until the mixture looks somewhat uniform, with a few large chunks of banana. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. Add the rum and stir to combine (I’m not sure why we added it at the end; I’d usually add it with the eggs). Scrape batter into a piping bag fitted with a large tip and pipe into loaf molds. Bake at 170º C (350º F) for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

To plate, cut each mini-loaf into about 4 slices and drizzle with crème anglaise. Serve with a scoop of good-quality (or homemade!) vanilla ice cream on the side.

So that was the class, and a delicious lunch. Additionally, we got a tour of the hydroponic farm, which was wonderful, but will be covered in my next post. If you love to cook and are heading to Anguilla, I highly recommend signing up for one of CuisinArt’s cooking classes. It was a lot of fun, and since I’ve come home I’ve begun to practice brunoising (if that’s a word) constantly. They offer classes in local cuisine and pastry as well, and I’m sure that at least one of those will be featured on my next trip.