Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cooking Up the Perfect Girl's Night

Ladies that Cook  by Ms. Brett Conner

A family elder of mine always said, “If you can make gravy you can get any man you want.”  So What better way to spend some time with your Bridesmaids, the women that are always there for you,  than a little wine, some great food, and tip or two on preparing the perfect meal.   Three of my best friends and myself picked up a couple of bottles of wine from Vino Per Tutti, and took our girl's night to the one and only Olivelle for a cooking class!  We were greeted by their helpful staff before being escorted to the private kitchen, a large island with 12 seats around the stovetop, in the back. Our chef for the evening was the lovely Ms. Mary May.  Mary received her education from Institute of Culinary Education in New York and has since traveled and been employed in Australia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico before settling in our favorite, and as everyone knows the very best place, Montana.

Mary started with our appetizer, Crispy Bagguette with Crème Fraiche Artichoke Spread,  discussing knife skills, types of knives, and how to use them.  When one of my girls announced, “oh I cut the tip of my thumb off cutting green onions”, what did Mary make her do?  Yep.. come to the front and cut green onions! Even with the terror of almost losing a phalange, folks she did survive and so did the audience!  And the onions….perfect!

Moving from our delicious appetizer, Mary pulled a rack of Lamb out and started to prepare the side,  Baby Potato Medley withpeas and asparagus. As the potatoes were coming to a boil,  she added the bottom half of the asparagus stalks and little water to the food processor and pureed away, whipping up the base for the potato, pea and asparagus medley.

After trimming the lamb and dressing with a little mint and salt, Mary returned the lamb under the broiler for a bit.  The finishing touch, she topped them with a fantastic goat cheese and let that melt in the oven for just a couple of minutes. Once everything was prepared,  Mary finished the plates with a perfect presentation.  I was mesmerized… as nice to look at as it was to eat!

While we were devouring our lamb, Mary prepared our dessert,  Lavender Crème with Berries.  She pre-made the whipped crème, but explained the procedure (which to be honest, I am definitely better off NOT knowing how to make something so luscious!). She started the berry concoction in a saucepan… berries, simple syrup and water. After cooking that down and mashing it up, she folded in the whip crème .  Voila… the perfect end to a delicious meal… a real palette cleanser!

But it did not stop there.  Following the class and the meal and the wine,  we were treated to ten percent off everything in the store, so needless to say we ladies had to indulge in a little post meal shopping extravaganza (is there any better post meal activity)!  We all bought completely different items so we could continue our cooking tradition at home.  It was a perfect night for me and my girls... we enjoyed the company of good friends, shared a lot of laughs, had a great meal, and even learned a thing or two. It may have been the best girls night ever….well at least till we get together next time to cook this meal ourselves!

I know you are drooling, if not you should be! Don’t worry I have the recipe below: If you are looking for a fun evening with friends, grab a few bottles of vino and hit a cooking class….way more fun than just going out to dinner.  Or just cook up your own meal, and enjoy with your dearest.

SPRING IN PROVENCE Dinner(*you can find these specialty items at Olivelle or a specialty store)
CRISPY BAUGETTE WITH CRÈME FRAICHE ARTICHOKE SPREAD(Serves 6-8) 1 Baguette. 1 Can Artichoke quarters, well drained.  ½ cup Artichoke Parmesan Tapenade*½ cup of crème fraiche.  ¼ cup finely sliced green onions, green part only.  1 T Caramelized Garlic EVOO*Sel Gris*Pepper
 1.    Slice baguette on the diagonal. Place on sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set
2.    Combine all remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse to combine. Leave a bit chunky.
3.    Serve on toasts as is, or mixture can be spread on the toasts and warmed a few minutes under broiler.

BABY POTATO MEDLEY WITH PEAS AND APARAGUS(serves 6-8) 10-12 baby red or white potatoes.  1 cup frozen green peas.  1 bunch asparagus, 1” trimmed from bottom and stalks cut in half.  Pasta Rocks* (Salt rocks).  Sicilian Lemon EVOO*  Citrus Dill Sea Salt*  Pepper 

1.    In a medium/large saucepan bring water to a boil. Add pasta rocks from 2-3 minutes and remove. Add
       potatoes and cook until tender, approx. 5 minutes. Scoop potatoes from the water and set aside.
2.    In the same boiling water cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes remove and set aside. Blanch peas for 1
       minute, remove and set aside.
3.    In a food processor, process bottom half of asparagus stalks with a little water to make a puree.
4.    In a bowl, toss potatoes, peas and remaining asparagus spears with olive oil, salt and pepper.
5.    Spread some of the asparagus puree on a plate and top with vegetable mixture.

MINTED LAMB CUTLETS WITH GOAT CHEESE(serves 6) 2 racks of lamb, trimmed fat, or individual cutlets.  Goat cheese log, sliced into rounds, one round per cutlet.  1 small package fresh mint leaves, chopped.  Sel Gris, approx ½ cup.  Pepper.  1 T French Lavender EVOO*.  2 T Primagoccia EVOO* (plain EVOO).  Fig Balsamic Glaze*.   Preheat oven to 400 for about 14 minutes for the lamb, or set to Broil 
1.    Trim lamb racks of excess fat, slice into cutlets. Combine olive oils, rub into lamb and place cutlets on a
       sheet pan.
2.    In a food processor, add mint leaves and salt. Process until well combined. Sprinkle on cutlets. Follow
       with pepper.
3.    Broil lamb approx 2 minutes. Top with goat cheese. Broil again until goat cheese is melted and turns
       golden. Approx 3 minutes.
4.    Served drizzled with fig balsamic glaze and side of baby potato medley.

 LAVENDER CRÈME WITH BERRIES(serves 6-8) 1 pint whipping cream.  1 10oz. package of frozen berries.  2 T Lavendar infused simple syrup*.  3 T water   

1.    In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peak stage. Set aside.
2.    In a small saucepan, add berries, syrup and water. Bring to a boil and simmer approx. 3-4 minutes. Until
       berries begin to burst. With potato masher, crush berries lightly. Place berry mixture in a bowl to cool.
Fold berry mixture into the whipped cream and serve in wine glass or decorative bowl. 

For Information on cooking classes…  Olivelle
(406) 522-9100

2855 N 19th Ave Ste K, Bozeman, Mt 59718

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