241 North Collier Boulevard, Marco
Guy Verdi’s B Group cooking class on March 4 started on a sweet note with Chef Guy demonstrating how to peel an orange. That done, he proceeded to deftly cut along the membrane to remove the orange segments, prompting a few participants to murmur “Oh, that’s how we do it.” Chef Guy continued to zip along, prepping and demonstrating the additional ingredients for “From the Kitchen of Guy Verdi…” recipe for Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette.
“OK, now we make the dressing,” Chef Guy stated, demonstrating his ginger rhizome peeling and grating technique, pointing out that he was using young and tender ginger instead of mature pieces that tended to be dry and stringy. The grated ginger was added to ingredients in the blender jar and whirled. “Emulsified!” Chef Guy declared, noting that any kind of citrus juice could be used, as well as other varieties tropical fruits in lieu of the oranges called for in the recipe. “You want it sweeter add a pinch of sugar — play with it!
“Now we make some shrimp to go along with our salad — I’m using 15-20 — that’s how many in a pound,” he said holding up a plump, peeled and deveined shrimp for the class to admire before Chef Guy turned shellfish into Crispy Ginger Shrimp.
“It’s a real gingery crust because I’m double-dipping,” he said, explaining he was using powdered ginger in the batter and using the dry, ginger-seasoned flour dredging mix twice to create a crisp, spicy crust on the shrimps when they were deep-fried.
Gail Fischer, who was attending with her husband Emil, wasn’t reticent when it came to asking Chef Guy relevant questions during the class, “Can you use other kinds of seafood in this recipe?”
“Yes, other shellfish like lobster tails or langouste can be used instead of shrimp,” Chef Guy answered.
“Now, how hard was that? That’s our first course, and the next recipe was created out of necessity. We had just finished season and there wasn’t much food left so I used what I had — eggs and butter but no English muffins — we’re going to do Eggs Benny my way,” he declared.
“Has anyone made Hollandaise before?” using a bit of body language to inquire.
Sally Orth, the fourth chair down our table, raised a tentative hand as Chef Guy slapped a couple of prosciutto slices onto a sizzling sauté pan.
“If you don’t like a lot of lemon you can use less, but be careful of your salt in the hollandaise because the prosciutto is salty. I use salted butter in all my cooking, but then I usually clarify it first,” Chef Guy stated without missing a beat as he vigorously whisked the lemon juice and egg yolks together in a non-reactive bowl placed over a saucepan partially filled with almost simmering water.
“You can use salted butter when you clarify?” Gail Fischer inquired.
Chef Guy replied, “Yes, you just separate the whey. Here’s a little secret: A lot of guys make Hollandaise in blenders.”Use 100 degree butter but have ice water handy to use if the mix starts breaking,” Chef Guy advised.
Gail asked if that would make the hollandaise thicker and Chef Guy replied that whisking by hand is what keeps the sauce thicker, noting that properly prepared Hollandaise sauce in a covered container will keep two days in the fridge.
“Are we having a nice brunch so far?” Chef Guy asked and received an enthusiastic reply.
“A good brunch needs something sweet. Instead of chocolaty things we’re going to make banana bread. You can twist it in so many ways. I’ll show you how to make it and you can take the twisted version and make a lot — actually three loaves, “ he said, holding up exhibit A, a large bunch of lightly mottled bananas.
Chef Guy started to peel the bananas commenting that he preferred them black, and suggesting they could also be frozen and used to make smoothies with ice cream.
Gail Fischer steered the dialogue back to baking: “If you peel them from the bottom, you eliminate the strings.”
But Debbie Rogerro disagreed, saying she tried that several times and found it didn’t work.
Meanwhile, Chef Guy hadn’t been idle: The eggs and other wet ingredients were already mixed together, and Chef Guy proceeded to demonstrate how to fold the wet mixture into the flour mixture and then added the bananas noting that over-mixing would produce a heavy bread .
“Depending on the loaves’ appearance after the recommended baking time, or if you’ve used a lot of additions in the batter — bake it longer and check every five minutes. Savvy bakers can probably stretch it for 10 minutes — we twisted the recipe and baked it in Bundt pans,” was Chef Guy’s final advice.
Now then, on the upside, Chef Guy Verdi’s popular Cooking Series A and B groups begins today for A group and B group follows on April 18. Alas, there’s a downside – both A and B groups are booked solid for the next four cooking class series. But, there’s a silver lining! Robyn Mortellito, Lisa Verdi’s assistant, told the Marco Eagle that there are still single cooking class openings left for season’s final cooking series on April 8, 15, 22 29. Of course, Guy Verdi’s popular series will start anew in the fall. For more information or to be notified of class availability, you can contact Robyn on her email address : Rmortellito@Verdisbistro.com and send her your e-mail address so she can send you an update or call her at 394-5533.