Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cooking School as Tweetup Destination

Last Saturday, the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School became part of a new social media trend – the “tweetup.” The Beachmere Inn in neighboring Ogunquit coordinated a series of events over the course of the weekend, and a group of Twitter followers congregated to meet and participate. The group booked a private event at the Cooking School, and at 6:00pm sharp, a convoy of cars brought 28 people to class.

The menu was to die for. Eggplant Stacks with Mozzarella, Tomato, Panko-Breaded Eggplant, and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart with Herbed Crust served with Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Lemon and Parmesan Bread Crumbs (both recipes below). Goat Cheese and Sun-Roasted Tomato-Stuffed Chicken served with Ultimate Mashed Potatoes and drizzled with Pomegranate Grille Sauce. Chocolate Bread Pudding with Spiced Rum Butterscotch Sauce. Beyond delicious. And if the overall buzz through the crowd was any indication, enjoyed by one and all.

Throughout the class, instructors Donna Speirs and Beth Kozemchak intermingled helpful hints that many in the Tweetup crowd found particularly interesting, including discussions about the gender of eggplants and the best starting water temperature for boiling potatoes (in case you’re wondering, cold). Naturally, many participants tweeted along the way. All in all, a lively class!

Thanks to Sarah at the Beachmere Inn for coordinating the event. And to our own Jessica Elsemore who served both as prep assistant for the class and photographer! More pictures from the Beachmere Tweetup can be found on their Facebook page and ours.

Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart with Herbed Crust

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
Pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup) well chilled and diced

Filling:

2 strips thick country-style bacon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 cups sour cream or crème fraiche
1 cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese

Make the Crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the flour, herbs and salt until finely mixed. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add enough cold water so that the dough JUST starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (Alternatively, mix the flour, herbs and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands or a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add enough water so the dough just begins to come together.) Place the dough on a large sheet of aluminum foil, seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Prepare the Filling:

In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side until crisp. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Crumble or cut the bacon into ½ inch piece. Discard all but 1 tbsp of the bacon fat.

Heat the skillet with the bacon fat over low heat. Add the oil, onion, shallot, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the onion is golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sour cream and mix until well blended. Add the cheese and the bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste and then the cooled onion mixture. Mix to combine.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 9 inches wide. Settle the dough into a tart pan that is about 11 by 8 inches with a removable bottom. Let the dough hang over the edges and then press the dough into the tart pan, trimming the edges on all sides.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the dough and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the tart puffs up slightly and has a beautiful golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the tart from the pan and place on a serving platter. Cut into 12 large squares or 24 smaller ones.

Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Lemon and Parmesan Bread Crumbs

2 bundles Asparagus
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated imported parmesan cheese
Fresh squeezed lemon juice

Cut and trim asparagus. Place in a glass 9 X 13 inch pan. Pour olive oil over asparagus; salt and pepper; drizzle with lemon juice, then sprinkle parmesan cheese bread crumbs over the asparagus. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 min.

Bread Crumbs:

1/2 cup fresh coarse bread crumbs
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of salt
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 2 tsp of the olive oil, 2 Tbsp of the Parmigiano, the parsley, and a pinch of salt.

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