Classic Cooking Academy

I’m three weeks deep into a 24 week cooking program at the Classic Cooking Academy. The instructor, chef, and owner Pascal Dionot is brilliant. He is European trained and comes from the generation that worked in a brigade-style kitchen. He has worked with some of the best in the business. His experience makes him intense to watch, thorough with his instruction, and entertaining to listen to.

In just three weeks he has taught me the importance of making stocks and demi-glace. I’ve also learned how to make a number of brown sauces that incorporates an intensely meaty flavored demi-glace; bordelaise, chasseur, blue cheese, and a Robert sauce. His demonstrations involve thorough explanations and flawless techniques.

He showed us how to perfectly execute each sauce and had us taste them during and after each cooking stage. Not only did I learn how to make a variety of full flavored brown sauces I learned how to pair the sauces with different animals (star of the dish) so that the sauce compliments the dish rather than takes away from it.

After his demonstration he had us make one of the brown sauces he demonstrated. I chose a bordelaise that he said looked and tasted good but needed more body (more demi-glace). Having a chance to taste his and another student’s bordelaise I couldn’t have agreed more.

After the last class I came home and made a blue cheese sauce that paired perfectly with beef tenderloin. In a few days I will download the pictures and write about it. It was one of the best things that I’ve ever made.

Enjoy the holiday and the great food with your family and friends. Happy Holiday.

What's up, Doc?

I’m not sure who or what I should blame for my association of carrots and Bugs Bunny but it never fails that when I see a carrot I want to say “What’s up, Doc?” My Pavlovian response to carrots goes as far back as I can remember. It may have started with me annoying my older brother for watching Looney Tunes every chance he could get.

This Looney Tunes influenced lunch of cranberry glazed carrots, chickpea puree, and cinnamon crusted pork chops is pretty easy to make and shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes from start to finish. The finished meal should yield enough for two people. The fastest way to get started is to take a handful of washed baby carrots and put them in a small-medium sauce pan over high heat. Barely cover the carrots with some kind of juice-cranberry, orange, apple- and add a pinch of cumin and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover.

While your carrots are simmering drain a can of chickpeas, heat the liquid and reserve, and put them into a processor or a blender. Add a clove of garlic, a couple of pinches of salt and pour the reserved heated liquid and puree. Add a little bit of the liquid a little at a time until you reach the consistency you like. Season to taste and refrigerate.

On medium-high heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan for a few minutes. Massage two chops (I had about 3/4" boneless) with oil and season liberally with salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Sauté the chops on the first side for about 5 minutes. It should be nicely browned before you flip it over and sauté it for another 3-5minutes. Deglaze the pan with some juice or broth and reduce down to about 4 tablespoons. Remove from heat, and loosely cover with aluminum foil.

By now your carrots should be fork tender and ready to be plated. Remove the carrots and reduce the liquid until it is thick and glossy. Put the carrots back into the pan and coat. Plate with puree first, then spoon a couple of tablespoons full of the sauce and top with one chop, finally top with the carrots. Super simple and it shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes to make. Happy Holiday.

“Porky’s Hare Hunt”