From Farm to Table: The Terra Momo Cooking Class, Part 3

Eno Terra’s Chef Christopher Albrecht was in command again this week for the third installment of the “Cooking with Local Ingredients” series at the Princeton Public Library. After walking through the farmer’s market, he chose yellow and green zucchini, beets, fennel, and garlic scapes to showcase.

He started with beets, showing us many varieties. Albrecht cut a candy cane variety in paper thin slices with a Japanese mandolin to show us the beauty of this vegetable.

Carpaccio is an Italian dish of thinly sliced meat or fish. Beef is the most popular meat used for this preparation, often topped with extra virgin olive oil or a vinaigrette, freshly ground pepper, and shaved parmesan cheese. Albrecht  finely sliced veggies using the mandolin and prepared a yellow and green zucchini carpaccio with all the accoutrements.

The chef demonstrated a French cooking method called en papillote, which allows the food to steam in its own juices in a parchment or foil pouch. He placed whole red beets on a sheet of foil, seasoned them, and folded the foil in thirds over the vegetables, then folded the ends. Due to time constraints, he couldn’t fully cook the beets within our schedule, so his sous chef returned with diced pre-cooked beets for us to taste.

Confit is another French method Albrecht used, which is the oldest way to preserve food. It is most often associated with duck or goose cooked in its own rendered fat. He did a small dice of zucchini, placed it in a stainless steel pot, covered it with olive oil, and slowly cooked it so the vegetable softened, but still had texture. We were given a taste of this dish, and though it was good, it needed the brightness of some acidity to balance it.

Gratin rounds out the trio of French cooking techniques used today. Food is placed in a casserole type dish for presentation or a baking pan, often sprinkled with grated cheese or bread crumbs on top, and baked under a broiler until the crust is browned. A recipe was given for a summer squash gratin containing sweet onions, fennel heads, zucchini, yellow squash, plum tomatoes, thyme & rosemary leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, goat cheese, extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper. Above are the veggies before baking in all their bright colors. Below is after seasoning and cooking.

Everything was placed in a cup for us to sample. The colors were beautiful and each preparation was delicious! So far, I have not been disappointed with this series. Sometimes I cycle through the same meals monthly. These cooking classes remind me of all the great food out there waiting for me to cook, like fennel which I love to eat, but never cook myself. No matter where you live, sign up for a cooking class, or go to demonstrations to freshen up your repertoire. You won’t regret it!

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4 Responses to “From Farm to Table: The Terra Momo Cooking Class, Part 3”

  1. Sounds like delicious fun. Did you get to cook?

    • shutterbuggeek Says:

      Unfortunately, there’s no hands on cooking for attendees. We do get the recipes before the demo so we can follow along and take notes. There is also a tasting at the end. You should register on-line!

  2. If we could figure out a way to get everyone cooking we would. There are limits to being in a library… but this series has been fun.

    Robin’s posts are a wonderful record of these cooking sessions. I can hardly wait until the next one! It is almost full, so sign up today if you want to attend:
    http://princetonlibrary.engagedpatrons.org/EventsExtended.cfm?SiteID=7184&EventID=67606

    • shutterbuggeek Says:

      Janie, thanks for the kind words. It’s such an amazing series. I know it’s not possible to get everyone cooking. One thing for sure, it motivates people. And for those who feel overwhelmed, there’s always the restaurant & bakery! I’m always happy enough to take photos!

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