Cooking up a storm over the holidays. That is the modus of my Christmas vacation this year, which is extremely fitting based on the kind of year entertainment has had. Unless you’ve been under a rock its patently obvious to me that its been a horrendous year for legends and icons of music and film.
Hell within 48 hours of Christmas we lost George Michael and Carrie Fisher.
George a musical icon that created some amazing music and of course Carrie who was part of one of the biggest movie franchises in cinematic history.
Beyond the strange string of deaths that lined 2016, I spent a good portion of the year creating. There’s been a new design on the website. There’s been over 60 new songs in production for various co-writes and other things. I’ve been writing new music for release. But my favorite thing this Christmas is the cooking lesson I got as a gift from my sister.
She’s got some great connections in her little spot of the world and its led to us having a nice lesson in cooking last night with Chef Veronica.
Chopping & Cutting
The menu started with crab cakes – so very tasty. It was followed by the group of us chopping up all the ingredients for the main dish Duck L’Orange with ravioli.
The beauty of all the chopping is that I received a super amazing chef’s knife. So sharp that I barely had to drop the knife on the item I was cutting and it would cut itself. Like a hot knife thru warm butter. Drop.
Seriously, having the right tool in your hands makes doing something so much more enjoyable. Like in music, having a great instrument can help you sound better, having a better knife and help you cook better. I’m sure of that assessment. Its probably a lot like getting access to a top end compressor while recording.
One cooking technique I learned was called supreme. Supreme is the art of cutting out citrus so that you don’t have the membrane to deal with while cooking. Yet another reason to have an amazingly sharp knife.
Speaking of sharp knifes tends to remind me of a guitar teacher I had who refused to have any glass or knifes in his house. His reasoning had to do with having an incredible fear of severing his hands – which would mean an end to his ability to play guitar. Aside from rock climbing and bowling, I never shared that fear. For me, rock climbing is super rough on the muscles for my guitar playing. Thus I don’t have a problem with glass or knives, but I don’t do rock climbing and I bowl with my right hand (so I don’t waste my left hand for days on end). BTW – I suck terribly at bowling.
While I’ve made regular pasta, aka spaghetti, in the past, I’ve never made ravioli before. Its a slightly different ballgame in the pasta field.
We got the filling, a mushroom and ricotta filling, finished and chilled first. Then we turned to the pasta dough where we spent time running it thru a pasta roller, over and over. Nothing new there. But when it came time to make the ravioli, thats where things took a turn.
First you lay out the bottom and then get your top half together (hoping that you get them roughly the same size and shape.) Once you have the bottom you dab out the filling in uniform spots on the flattened dough. Once there’s a line of filling, you place the top over it and press down.
I learned a cooking tip that its wise to use an egg wash to help seal both sides of the ravioli together. Meaning I had to do this prior to putting the top on.
Then I had some fun with a couple of different ravioli cutters that were laying around. A heart shaped one, a round one, and also with a pasta cutting wheel to make square ones.
This was the first time I had cooked duck as well. Chef Veronica showed us how to score the skin prior to cooking. Duck is not like chicken. Much like a Les Paul is not Moog. It requires an entirely different method to cooking. So we scored the skin with crosshatches. Then set it into a hot pan to start searing and cooking the fat side down.
Once the duck was nearing completion…
Into The Water
That’s when the pasta took its turn dunking into a hot bath. What’s awesome about fresh made pasta is that it cooks in roughly 3 minutes.
Out of the water came the pasta. The ravioli got covered with a brown butter sage sauce. The fettuccini was topped with the duck and a tasty orange sauce (made from the supreme’d oranges).
What a tasty and fun way to learn to cook something new.
It gives me an idea of how I could bring the idea of producing music into someone’s home…