Posts Tagged ‘brine’
Sydney has more than seven times the population of Seattle but sometimes it feels like both cities have the same volume of traffic. It was gridlock en route to The Pantry at Delancey‘s Back to the Basics cooking class on a weeknight. I slowly inched towards Ballard, anxious about being on time. I noted a reminder on my calendar several months ago for the release of their winter schedule and reserved a spot for this class and the coveted Great Pizza at Home with Delancey owner and chef Brandon Pettit.
Located at the back of Delancey, The Pantry has a stepped garden entrance. The patio would be lovely during summer for post class al fresco dining.
Decorated in a neutral white, the kitchen shimmered in glossy tiles and brushed stainless steel.
A bookshelf is laden with classic and contemporary cookbooks.
In a nook illuminated by tealight candles, I love this rustic honeydew sideboard stacked with ceramic crockery, serveware and linen.
Salvaged metal shelves displayed goods for sale including olive oils, salts, cooking chocolates, jams, granola and Weck jars.
At the heart of The Pantry is the communal table where groups gather to learn, cook and eat.
I tied my apron and settled into an azure stool. I sipped a complimentary glass of wine while flipping through the recipe booklet.
First was homemade butter. Butter is simply churned cream. We huddled over the KitchenAid to watch the progression from cream to butter. The ‘super pioneer style’ butter was drained and rinsed of residual buttermilk.
Brandi and Olaiya waxed poetic about the flavour profiles of creams, some have grassy notes and others are sweet with hints of caramel. Homemade butter cannot be used for baking due to its varying moisture content.
Murmurs of appreciation echoed through the room as we nibbled on the thick smear of homemade butter on fresh bread.
Next was roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary. I’ve roasted beef, lamb and pork but never chicken. I consider this a fundamental cooking skill and Olaiya was an excellent teacher. The chickens were soaked in a heavily seasoned brine for at least eight hours. Brining reduces the risk of overcooking, infuses the aromatics and tenderises the meat.
Mustard seeds, water, salt and vinegar were ground to a paste in a food processor for homemade mustard. We sampled this mustard and one made two months ago. The new mustard was too pungent for my palate. Mustards mature with age and the two month old was still sharp but more balanced.
We assisted in the preparation of the roasted winter vegetables, and roasted beet and arugula salad with hazelnuts. Gargantuan beets were halved and wrapped in aluminium foil.
I despise eating Brussels sprouts but I was okay with peeling and cutting them.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips were chopped into similar sized chunks for even cooking. The onions were sliced with the grain to maintain its shape. The winter vegetables were loosely scattered on a sheet pan so they would roast and not steam.
Brandi is the pastry chef at Delancey and desserts are her specialty. She whisked the ingredients together for a bittersweet chocolate sauce.
Brandi also demonstrated how to make vanilla ice cream. A split vanilla bean was steeped in milk, cream, sugar and salt, and tempered with egg yolks. The French custard was stirred, chilled and churned in an ice cream maker.
Olaiya expertly emulsified a vinaigrette for the salad. She recommended tasting the dressing for mouthfeel and adjusting the acidity with additional sugar.
We were warmed by the heat of the oven and the perfumed air whetted our appetite. The chickens were rotated and rested. Brined chicken retains a pink hue. Cut into the thigh and if the juices are clear, it is ready.
Tossed with toasted hazelnuts and crumbled Bleu d’Auvergne, and drizzled with the piquant vinaigrette, the roasted beet and arugula salad was a delicious and seasonal first course.
The highlight of the meal was the beautiful birds. The blushed portions were succulent and the charred lemon had an intense citrus tone.
Despite my aversion to Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, I ate one of each. I chewed fast and they were caramelised. All the vegetables were well roasted.
Dessert was a sundae of homemade vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce sprinkled with salt flakes. The savoury flecks were a contrast to the sweet and creamy sundae.
I lingered a while afterwards and chatted with Brandi. She lived in my beloved Sydney for six months and we exchanged anecdotes about the Emerald City.
I purchased a container of Maldon sea salt and returned home happy with the tips on improving my basic skills.