Regular readers will remember the “Cooking With Company” class I attended a few months ago with Chef Lisa Ryan. I am back in Port Macquarie to attend another of these demonstrations. This class is being held at “About Food” and is a two hour introduction to Tapas.
About Food and Cooking with Company hold regular joint, two hour evening classes on a wide range of different cooking themes. Chef Lisa Ryan was formerly the head chef at Cassegrain Wines and also teaches TAFE so she is the perfect person to be heading these evenings.
I have to be honest about my motivation for doing this course, in part it was to learn how to make some tasty little Tapas, but a huge motivation was sampling the dishes Lisa would be demonstrating, and having some of her delicious recipes as my own.
Susan, Tamara, Vanessa, Cate
Our group of five ladies will be learning four Spanish Tapas dishes tonight. Seared Scallops with Chiroz & Salsa Verde, Garlic Prawns, Pea & Ham Croquettes and Squid stuffed with Chorizo served with a Romesco Sauce. I have brought along Cate from “Cate Can Cook” and we arrive ready to spice up our cooking, and learn a few more techniques.
As a bit of a warm up we are offered some delicious fresh oysters which are served with a aioli mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was made using the “Company Farms” “3 Citrus Marmalade” and is a gorgeous combination of citrus garlic and seafood.
The first dish Lisa began preparing were the garlic prawns. This is a very simple which I have had many times in restaurants. Strangely I have never made it at home before. I also didn’t realize how the dish managed to be brought to the table still sizzling in restaurants.
As with anything, the difference between home cooking and restaurant quality is in the presentation and those little extra touches.
Lisa shared two of her chef secrets with us for this dish and I am looking forward to presenting garlic prawns next time I have drinks with friends.
The next job of the evening was to prepare the squid for stuffing. We had four fresh squid that needed cleaning and the cartilage removed ready for stuffing. The tentacles were also reserved to be cooked.
The smell of the garlic prawns was beginning to make everyone a little hungry, so we were all pleased when it was time to remove the dish from the oven, and sample our first Tapas. Everyone agreed they were delicious! The chili and the smokey flavour from the paprika came through the garlic giving the prawns that extra Spanish flavour.
Garlic Prawn Pots
Once we had finished the prawns we turned our attentions back to the squid. The ingredients for the chorizo filling were combined and cooked off, then placed in the fridge to cool while the Romesco sauce was prepared.
The Romesco sauce is a rich, roasted capsicum and parmesan sauce which goes excellently with seafood. It is made quite easily using a food processor, Lisa has the sauce ready in seconds and it also joins the chorizo filling in the fridge.
Next up Lisa takes a few minutes to explain how the filling for the croquettes is made, and the importance of the roux remaining light. We talk about suitable alternate flavours for the croquettes and she demonstrates how to form the roux into the perfect croquette shape.
The croquette get a treatment of flour, then egg wash then into panko crumbs ready to be deep fried. Once the croquettes have all been crumbed they are returned to the fridge to allow the crumbs to set.
Lyn from “Cooking With Company” serves everyone a lovely glass of Sauvignon Blanc and we move onto the next task which is to prepare the salsa verde.
When ever I eat out I find the sauces are what give that lovely finishing touch to the meal. Tonight I am learning to prepare two sauces which I enjoy, I am amazed at how simple they both are once you know the ingredients and technique.
Pea & Ham Croquettes with Aioli
Lisa begins to fry the croquette whilst Lyn prepares a serving plate with some lovely homemade garlic aioli. We try our second dish for the night and I am in food heaven. They were the most amazing croquettes I have ever tried. Lisa has sprinkled the croquettes with delicious pink salt crystals from the Murray area. The outside of the croquette is crisp, salty and delicious while the inside is so light, creamy and airy with all the flavour from the fillings. Just magic!
The next dish up was the Seared Scallop with Chorizo and Salsa Verde. We are learning that with Tapas, everything is about timing. It is important that the sauces are prepared prior to cooking the main dish and that food is cooked in the right order so as not to over or undercook delicate items such as the scallops. To prepare this dish, the Chorizo is fried off and plated up.
The scallops are patted dry and then added to the pan. Once they have been seared both sides they are added to the chorizo.
The salsa verde is simply spooned over the scallop and we have our third dish up for tasting.
Seared Scallops with Chorizo & Salsa Verde
This dish received the most “oohs and aahs.” There is something very special about being served a deliciously delicate scallop. Naturally the scallop was cooked perfectly, and was just so sweet! The flavour of the smoky chorizo and tangy salsa verde was the scallop was just amazing.
Now, my hubby always has the perfect timing, and managed to “drop by” at this stage. Lyn and Lisa invited him to try this dish. I could tell by the look on his face that his timing was not merely and accident and he was very happy to join our little seafood banquet.
The last dish on the menu was the chorizo filled squid. I was surprised at how little filling was used in the squid tubes, and I began to understand why I have not been successful in the past with stuffing squid. I had obviously been overfilling the tubes. We learnt a lot of valuable tips from Lisa which I am sure will make the difference between success and disaster next time I try this style of Tapas
The sealed squid tubes with their delicious chorizo, lemon zest, garlic and parsley filling were fried off in olive oil until they were opaque.
Lisa skillfully sliced the squid onto a serving plate and spooned over the Romesco sauce. The aroma was mouthwatering. I had been looking forward to sampling these and I wasn’t disappointed.
The squid was so tender, it just melted in the mouth, releasing the delicious smoky chorizo filling. Lisa had used her special Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Vinegar in the Romesco sauce and the flavour hit was fantastic. As with all good sauces, it finished the dish perfectly.
Chorizo Stuffed Squid with Romesco Sauce
Mr GG had kept a presence up throughout the finishing stages of this dish, and he was again invited to sample the Tapas. He thought the dish was spectacular, and he checked with me to ensure I would be making it for him at home.
Each of the Tapas servings had been generous, so by the end of the night we had a delicious meal, and lots of fun learning the various technique and chefs secrets. We were given the two sauces (Salsa Verde and Romesco) in take home containers to finish the night.
Cooking With Company course are run regularly in conjunction with About Food. For more information view either of the Cooking with Company website at the link above or check “About Foods” facebook page. Sue from About Food can also be reached on Ph: 02 6583 7883.