One of the highlights of the recent foodie adventure my mother and I took to New England was the cooking class at the Essex Culinary Resort and Spa in Essex Junction, Vermont.
My mother is an experienced cook. While I describe myself as a bit of a foodie, I am not all that comfortable cooking. The class was designed in a way that everyone, regardless of experience in the kitchen, could enjoy participating.
The class was small and intimate because they limit it to six students. In our class were Aaron and Lindsay from New York City and Kirk and Donna from central Maine. Lindsay and I teamed up to make the potatoes au gratin. P.S. That’s my favorite new sweater from Gap. Here’s a coupon for you.
They compost all waste at the resort for use on the beautiful gardens or, occasionally for feeding animals kept on the resort.
The resort places an emphasis on farm-to-table meal preparation and an awareness of where we obtain our food. This appealed to us very much with our family’s background in cattle ranching.
In the three-hour course we cooked (and ate!) French onion soup, broccolini, New York strip steak with red wine and shallot sauce, potatoes au gratin, and…
Crème brûlée. Ohhh, that crème brûlée. Here Chef Lisa instructs us on how to get that perfect caramelized sugar top that you just can’t wait to break open with the edge of your spoon! And, yes, we all got to play with the torch.
If you don’t yet have a culinary torch, you must obtain one immediately, so here is a coupon for free shipping at cooking.com.
At the end of the course, we sat down to dine together. After cooking together for the past two hours, we felt like old friends.
We toasted to a successful class and our fantastic instructor, Chef Lisa. Because you must have a nice glass of red wine with steak, check out this wine coupon. You’ll need it for the red wine and shallot sauce, too.
Here is the crème brûlée recipe. It serves 6:
- 3 cups cream
- 7 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided into 2- 1/4 cup measures.
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
- 10 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Bring cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, and scraped vanilla bean to a simmer in a small saucepan.
- Whisk yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow, about two minutes.
- Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Be cautious to not add hot liquid too quickly and cook the eggs.
- Divide custard among six custard cups. Arrange cups in a 13x9x2-inch pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come half-way up the sides of the cups.
- Cover entire pan with tented foil.
- Bake custards until gently set in center, about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove cups from water and refrigerate uncovered until cold. This can be made a day ahead, just cover cups and keep chilled.
- Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over each custard, then move a culinary torch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until sugar is caramelized.
- Let stand until caramel is hardened, 2-3 minutes.