A la Carte: Cooking with a pro

Jenine attends the third ‘From the Kitchen of Guy Verdi’ class

Verdi's American Bistro

241 North Collier Boulevard, Marco

We’re back again, and after attending the third “From the kitchen of Guy Verdi…” cooking class I have just one word — wow!

By now everyone in the class has prepared every recipe at least once? That’s a question not a conclusion, so mentally raise your hands if the answer is yes. Yeah sure, I’ve yet to hear someone in class boasting that they prepared, for instance, Chef Guy’s creative take on Ricotta and Butternut Squash Gnocchi. OMG, that delicious class recipe demonstration on Feb. 4 was arguably the best one so far. I even brought some of my taste sampler back to the office and my editor gave Chef Guy’s gnocchi (“take a bit of dough using two fingers to squeeze it flat and pull toward you then push it forward so it curls up into a loose cylinder”) a double thumbs up!

That having been said, here’s another squeeze: The fresh mozzarella recipe that was included in our third cooking class recipe packet.

Chef Guy Verdi began to make the fresh mozzarella from the get-go by dumping a bowlful of fresh milk curd, previously cut up into cubes, into a pot half-filled with simmering water. Like Las Vegas, the exact cooking class information such as numbers, certain amounts or technique direction printed in any of the recipes stays in the cooking class. Then, brandishing a large wooden paddle (possibly causing a few classmates to cower involuntarily) Chef Guy plunged the paddle into the pot and came up with a glossy, cream-colored glob of milk curd cubes in various stages of meltdown clutching the paddle like calamari. Chef Guy coaxed and cajoled the nascent cheese into a manageable mass with the paddle and other hand, stretching it like fondant between thumb and forefinger to form tennis-sized balls that he pulled off and dropped into iced, salted water.

Speaking of briny water, did I mention that Chef Guy’s buddy, Chuck, aka Charles Mundt, vice president of Incredible Fresh Seafood showed up at the beginning of the class to demonstrate the proper technique for filleting yellowtail snapper? Incidentally, that particular fish was Chef Guy’s main ingredient for his Baked Panko Crusted Yellowtail Snapper show and tell entrée recipe.

Backtrack to the beginning of class when Chef Guy’s cooking station table was covered with nothing but a white tablecloth rather than induction burners, pans and prep bowls.

Waiting for the assemblage to settle in, Chef Guy and Charles Munds were standing between the cooking table and another table against the wall that serves Chef Guy as a pantry, a repository for the various ingredients and tools he’ll need for that day’s cooking lesson.

Picture the guys both putting on those surgical-type disposable gloves. I had to suppress a giggle because there was a lull in the conversation when most eyes focused on Chuck’s blue-gloved hand holding up the medium-sized scimitar knife.

Then Chef Guy nudged the white cloth-encased pan holding three plump yellowtail snapper reposing on a bed of crushed ice toward Chuck’s knife to be beheaded.

Then deftly, Chuck slid the blade into the tail end and along the length of the headless fish, using the bone as a guide separate the flesh but leaving the skin on.

The Chocolate Decadence Dessert recipe almost put the chocoholics among us into cardiac arrest.

“We had a request for dessert,” explained Chef Guy giving credit where it’s due to his polite and pleasant kitchen intern, Junior Rigoberto.

“Actually Junior brought it to the table saying it was a friend’s recipe he wanted me to try,” Guy said, adding it was so good he decided to incorporate the Chocolate Indulgence Cake recipe with his own “From the kitchen of Guy Verdi….” recipe for chocolate panna cotta, and create the Chocolate Decadence Dessert by combining the baked cake and the cold pudding-like mixture and topping it with a warm ganache sauce and a dollop of real whipped cream (be still my quivering palate).

Hey, I’d love to hear from someone who has prepared any one of Chef Guy’s recipes recently: Talk to me after the March 4 class ends.

“Nuff said!

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