Pie-Eyed Preparations

by christian.anderson
Chef Sharon Van Meter

The beauty of our Milestone Cooking Class is that everybody walks away from it with new, universal knowledge. I say “universal” because – unlike the Ballroom Dancing lessons, the upcoming Italian lessons, or any of the other learning adventures we’re offering during this summer’s Figaro in Flip-Flops event series – cooking is something we all do every day and something we all strive to do better. Everybody appreciates those who know how to cook a good meal and when you’re single, being able to satisfy somebody else’s appetite is a great weapon for your arsenal. If you’re as single as me, you need all the help you can get!

So, this month we celebrated our upcoming production of Roberto Devereux by featuring an all-English cuisine menu. By “we” I mean Chef Sharon Van Meter developed this delicious British banquet and we helped – much like the children on the classic Shake-n-Bake commercials. Prior to preparing our very traditional English meal, we awakened our senses with a refreshing Wimbledon Cup, which includes Pimm’s No. 1, gin, strawberry syrup, cream, and blood orange juice. It was frothy, pink, and something I’d never order at a bar – but girly-gin is better than no gin! We started with the Scotch Eggs by chopping hard boiled eggs, mixing it with Stilton and curd cheese and shaping them into balls. After chilling for about 10 minutes, we wrapped the balls of filling with sausage, rolled in beaten egg, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried for about 8 minutes. In the end, they weren’t bad but I think we may have used too much Stilton and curd cheese in the filling and I think Scotch Eggs are usually served with a dipping sauce which might have added a little something.

I’m a meat-and-potato-guy so the Shepherd’s Pie was something I was certainly looking forward to as the main entrée. Apparently there’s a controversy about the name of the dish, as some people hold that Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb and Cottage Pie uses beef – and vice versa – but we chose to use lamb. We cubed and sautéed the lamb until it was brown and then sautéed the veggies. Then we combined the two, added flour and gradually blended in stock and tomato paste. For those of you (like me) who don’t cook many things that don’t come frozen, stock is the strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasoning ingredients in water. Meanwhile, we boiled potatoes for 20 minutes and then mashed with butter and milk and mixed it all well. Once the lamb-pie mix finished simmering and thickened, Chef Sharon used a piping bag to decoratively apply the mashed potato crust. The dish was then baked for about 15 minutes and devoured, mostly by me, in about the same amount of time.

Chef Sharon also provided a side salad with her own special balsamic vinegarette with fresh herbs and topped with a pear-half that had been poached in a white wine mix and filled with goat cheese. I noticed many people walking away with the vinegarette recipe in hand so I think it’s safe to assume it was tasty. Personally, I can’t get into salad but the goat cheese filled pear halves put Del Monte to shame. Chef Sharon topped off the meal with a Courting Cake which has strawberries and whipped cream and was very moist, almost like a Tres Leches – except from heaven.

All I can say is that I can’t wait for my Olympic dinner party four years from now…

Cody Rubio, TDO web guy

(The music bed in this video is the Overture to Roberto Devereux)

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