Recently, the folks at Hollywood Casino contacted me and provided me two free seats to a cooking class at The Party Source and a giveaway for all of you!
The Party Source has a ton of great classes that range from $15-$75. They have demonstrative and hands-on classes as well as tasting events. This one was " Hollywood Casino: A Taste of the Final Cut Steakhouse with Chef Clendon Springer" and cost $35/person:
Originally from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, Chef Springer refined his craft at the Four Star, Four Diamond Cafe L'Europe and the Four Star Four Diamond Grill at the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach. At the Final Cut, Clendon strives to create dishes using seasonal products from the Midwest along with fabulous ingredients from worldwide purveyors, to create dishes that are alive with flavors and entice the palate.
The menu for the night was Oysters Rockafeller (recipe only - they didn't make), Lobster Risotto, Braised Beef Short Ribs and Sauteed Fruit with Rum & Vanilla.
The biggest tip he passed on was that you cannot rush risotto! It was clear - that you need to plan some time for this dish. He did say if you're trying to save time when preparing for a dinner party, you can precook the rice (3/4 of the way) and then spread it out on a cooking sheet and refrigerate it until the next day. Then heat it back up with a little extra liquid and go from there.
We also got into an olive oil discussion and he suggested keeping your olive oil in the refrigerator so it doesn't go bad. Chef also gave us the differences between Virgin and Extra Virgin - he added that if you're cooking with the olive oil - you might as well use virgin because heating extra virgin lowers the quality. Save the extra virgin for salads, etc... (So many tips!!!)
Larry & I also got introduced to truffle oil! We had just seen the news item on 60 Minutes the night before about truffles (very interesting) - we wanted to jump up and ask if the truffles were from China (bad). Chef passed around a bottle of truffle oil and it is POTENT - he said you would only use 5-6 drops in something (I guess so at $50/bottle).
One last risotto tip - if you have leftover risotto - fry it up like a potato cake!
(If you'd like this or any of the other recipes mentioned, post a comment with your email or dm me @foodhussy and I'll send them.)
Dutch oven I'm dying for! (Why can't I get a Le Creuset giveaway?)
One of the best lessons we learned was that you don't NEED recipes! He reiterated that once you learn the technique - you can make the dish your own. The technique for braising for example is to brown the meat - take it out; brown the veges - take them out, then cook the meat and veges in a liquid for a long long time on a low heat. That's it!
Here's an herb tip for you - you know when you buy the container of fresh sage (or whatever) at the store and there's enough for an army of people - just freeze the extra! It still holds the flavor and is far better than the dried stuff in a jar!
Braising meat also has a similarity to risotto - you can't rush it. Don't turn your meat/veges all the time while they're browning - just let them rest and let the heat do it's thang! He also said that you can braise in a short cooker (for those of us that are Dutch ovenless) - nice!
The last tip for this one was that it's almost better if you make it the day before - the flavors all get together and make magic. If this was any indication of that magic - yahoo!!!
Last up for the night was Sauteed Fruit with Rum & Vanilla. Larry was REALLY looking forward to this - he is always talking about how his grandma sauteed apples and such. This one was really delicious - he used nectarines, peaches and blueberries. The blueberries broke down and made the sugar sauce all blueberry-y - it was divine!
For fruit tips - he mentioned using any firm fruit (pineapple, peaches, nectarines, apples, etc...) and said that you can use blackberries and raspberries but add them in after you take it off the heat or they'll break down too much.
The gist of this was melt butter, add fruit and saute until it softens. Then add blueberries, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean (the stuff inside the bean). Stir, add rum - cook a bit more. Take the pan off the heat and voila - magic! So delicious!!!
Everybody left with full bellies and full brains! Chef Clendon taught us so much and I can't wait to visit Final Cut and taste more of his excellent cooking.
And guess what? One of you will get to have dinner for two at Final Cut - up to $165!!! - for commenting on this blog!
That's right - leave your comment about which dish you'd like to try the most along with your contact info and you're entered to win Dinner for Two!
I have been to the Marquee Cafe and had their Mega Burger and that was quite a treat - so I can bet that this will also be a great experience for one of you. And hey - if you win - you can always take me as your date!!!!