Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘cantaloupe

On a cool and drizzling Saturday morning, we were indoors at On the Fly for a cooking class with Chef Christine Keff. We laughed at the irony of recipes for summer parties in this flippant Seattle weather.

Christine relocated Flying Fish from Belltown, where Local 360 is, to South Lake Union about a year ago. Next door is On the Fly, a popular spot for weekday lunch for the surrounding offices.

The walls displayed wines for sale and clusters of cookbooks defied gravity, seemingly suspended in mid air without support.

Neat rows of chairs faced the counter where Christine would be demonstrating the recipes. A door conveniently opened to the Flying Fish kitchen where Christine sought assistance from her team as needed.

Christine was finalising her preparation as we were seated. She unfurled a black knife roll and sharpened her gleaming tools.

We had expected Christine to demonstrate three recipes but flicking through the booklet, there were nine recipes plus the grilled whole salmon not printed! Affable and knowledgeable, Christine entertained us with her commentary and encouraged us to ask questions as she cooked each dish.

The first was the ahi tuna pokē, a Hawaiian marinated raw fish recipe. Pokē is often likened to ceviche but no citrus is used to ‘cook’ the fish and it doesn’t require time to marinate.

Christine recommended Pike Place Market for fresh salmon, halibut and crab as they sell large quantities daily, and Uwajimaya and Mutual Fish for other seafood such as tuna. We learned that tuna doesn’t have to be a dark colour to be fresh; translucence and shine are better indicators for quality.

Scooped into a brittle lumpia cone, the pokē was succulent and infused with the flavours of sambal, soy, sesame, onions and chives. If you have a chopping board and a knife, you can make this deceptively simple hors d’oeuvre! Christine suggested spiking the cones in a bowl of rock salt for presentation. I never deep fry at home so I would serve this on crisp flatbread.

My mother often made potato salad for potluck dinners with family and friends when I was a child. I loved the mixture of waxy potatoes, wedges of hardboiled eggs and crunchy cubes of apples – very retro!

Christine’s version catered for adult tastebuds with green beans and mustard. Boiled in their skins in generously salted water, the potatoes were peeled, cut and combined while warm to soak in the dressing.

Christine shucked and grated ears of fresh corn for the next recipe. There was a lively discussion when she was cooking the creamed corn and poblano. Christine explained that the heat of the chilli is in its membrane and not the seeds. She also warned us not to wash the poblano pepper when peeling the skin as it would dilute it.

The recipe stated one to two tablespoons of heavy cream with optional in brackets. Christine poured in at least half a cup! She declared an additional one to two tablespoons was optional.

The creamed corn bubbled as it reduced, its sweet and smoky aroma wafted through the room. Saffron coloured and studded with kernels, there is something alluring about creamed corn. We each sampled a spoonful and I would have licked the pan if I could!

As Christine sautéed the ingredients for caponata, she elaborated on her remark about the locovore movement. She joked that we would be eating kale for nine months of the year if we only ate food grown in the Pacific Northwest, and we would have to abstain from drinking coffee and using lemons!

Christine supports local producers and she elaborated that food has been shipped for centuries and her preference is to develop cleaner transport than to limit our diet.

We could smell the caponata slowly caramelising as Christine mashed hardboiled egg yolks for sauce gribiche. Olive oil was trickled into the bowl and whisked to form a paste.

The final recipe in On the Fly was cantaloupe agua fresca. Agua fresca translates to fresh water and the cantaloupe was blended and strained with sugar and lime juice adjusted depending on the ripeness of the fruit.

The group walked through the kitchen into the restaurant for the flatbread and whole grilled salmon recipes. Clean and tidy, the kitchen overlooked the dining room.  

Christine rolled out a ball of dough the size of a lime. She then seasoned the sockeye salmon and oiled both sides of the whole fish for grilling.

Flying Fish doesn’t have a weekend lunch service so we were the only people in the restaurant. Two long tables were set up for our buffet lunch. The interior is modern with colour accents.

The first course of our feast was the cantaloupe agua fresca. An orange sherbet colour, the fruit flavoured water was refreshing and summery. 

Charred skin and just cooked, the salmon was grilled to perfection with the flesh flaking easily off the bones.

The potatoes were sliced for the potato salad which maximised the surface area for dressing coverage.

There were audible moans as the pork belly melted in our mouths. A tip from Christine was to cut the pork belly larger than bite size as the chunks will shrink as the fat renders. I’m usually averse to fruits in savoury dishes but this was an exception as the juicy cubes of watermelon cut through the fatty and rich pork belly.

A deep red wine colour, the caponata stained the warm flatbread. The eggplant was silky and imbued with heady spices.

It was a challenge to eat the creamed corn with a fork but we all persisted!

My buffet lunch buffet, clockwise from top: creamed corn with poblano, caponata, grilled sockeye salmon with sauce gribiche, potato salad with green beans and mustard, flatbread, and pork belly and watermelon salad.

A palate cleanser, the rhubarb soda was too sugary for me. It was a pretty drink with the pink hues of the rhubarb syrup at the bottom and the effervescent water poured over it.

We rested our full stomachs for a while and some people were ready to leave to enjoy the emerging sunshine. They were stopped as there was dessert!

A blob of cream dotted with dark chocolate malt balls hid the salted caramel pot de crème. Although smooth and velvety, I had to abandon this as I unfortunately dislike salted caramel.

At $55 per person for recipes, three course meal and matching wines, it is exceptional value. I highly recommend the cooking classes with Chef Christine Keff at Flying Fish!

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