Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CIA Greystone

On Saturday we headed to the CIA at Greystone for a cooking demonstration and to poke around.
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Beautiful building...

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I saw this sign about the returning swallows that nest under the eaves of the building.

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And experimented with the zoom lens to try and take some pictures...

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Inside was a display about wine keys or something. And different corkscrews. I couldn't examine further, because Mr. Insom told me that we were late for the demonstration.

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So we get there just as the assistant is introducing the chef. We climb the stairs to the last row of the demonstration theater.

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On the menu? Soba noodle salad with pan-seared tuna and toasted sesame seed dressing. Everyone gets a copy of the recipe. Industrious student that I am, I use my copy to jott down cooking notes. I don't know why - it's not like I'm going to ever make this... lol (I've included the full recipe at the end of this post, just in case anyone wants to make an attempt.)

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The chef begins by describing the ingredients he's laid out on the counter. He pauses and asks, "Does anyone know what it's called when chefs lay out their prepared ingredients?" I wait a fraction of a second because someone must know this and I don't want to seem too Pollyana-ish, but no one's called out the answer. It's up to me. Mise en place! I blurt out. "Who said that?", the assistant asks, scanning over the crowd. "Me!" I shout, ignoring the jealous glances thrown my way. The assistant informs me that I get a prize. Yay - I love prizes!

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It's some sort of magazine. Okay, cool. But then the assistant turns around and tells the audience, "and if anyone else wants one, there's a whole stack of them outside to your left." The class titters. Hmmph.

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Enough fun and games. Let's get cooking.


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Rolling the ahi in white and black sesame seeds...

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Searing...
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Look at those knife skills. Go Wusthof!

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Lesson #1 from Top Chef: A strong chef always tastes the food.

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Here's the finished plate:

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After all that waiting (it was about 30 minutes) the resulting effort was just so-so. The tuna was delicious, but the soba noodles needed more seasoning. They were perfectly cooked, but they needed more acidity and just general flavor. But that didn't stop me from finishing my dish.

After everyone had filed out of the theater, I stayed to chat with the chef like a true teacher's pet. We talked for a while about all things food - his favorite places to eat in Napa (taquerias, cookouts at friends' houses, and a microbrewery in Calistoga), the history of Napa, and the Kogi kraze.


We headed to the CIA store where Mr. Insom came this close to buying a $300 knife. Fortunately, reason prevailed.

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Our last stop was outside to explore the large herb garden that keeps the CIA kitchen well-stocked.

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Soba noodle salad with pan-seared tuna and toasted sesame seed dressing


Tuna (Step 1: do this first so it can rest):

Ingredients
1 lb sushi grade tuna steak, trimmed
1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon Shichini Togarashi, Japaense pepper
3 tablespoons rice bran oil

Method:

1. Mix white and black sesame seeds and pepper together in a bowl.
2. Preheat a 10 inch frying pan over medium high heat and add the rice bran oil.
3. Place tuna in the bowl with the spice rub and coat with seasoning.
4. Once the pan and oil are hot, carefully add the tuna to the pan and sear for 1 minute, then turn over to the next side and repet until the tuna has been completely browned on all sides, but being sure that they tuna is still rare in the center. Remove from pan and set aside to rest for a few minutes.
5. Slice the tuna into medallions and place on the side of the soba salad and drizzle with dressing and serve.

Step 2: Dashi

Ingredients

1 quart cold water
1 oz piece of Kombu seaweed
1 oz dried bonito flakes (Katsuo)

Method

1. Add water and Kombu to a 2 quart pan and heat slowly to a bare simmer. This should take about 8 minutes. Do not boil - Kombu develops a strong odor and off flavor if boiled.
2. Remove the Kombu from the pan, add bonito flakes and bring to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. This is done to ensure a clear stock.
3. Allow the stock to settle for a few minutes. Strain stock through a cheesecloth lined strainer.


Step 3: Toasted sesame seed dressing (Makes 3/4 cup)

1/4 cup Dashi or chicken stock
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablesppon soy sauce
1/3 cup rice bran il or other neutral oil (like canola)

Method:

1. Add the Dashi, vinegar, and sesame oil to a blender with motor running slowly. Add oil to form a creamy dressing.
2. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
3. Pulse in a blender if ssauce separates to bring it back together before serving.

Step 4: Soba Salad

Ingredients

4 ounces dried soba noodles
1 sheet nori seaweed, julliened
1 cup carrot, peeled, julliened
1 cup cucumbers, peeled, seeded, julliened
1/2 cup green onions, sliced on the bias
1.2 cup Daikon radish sprouts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Japanese seven-spice powder, to taste

Method:

1. Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large pot over high heat.
2. Separte the noodles and drop them into the boiling water, stirring once or twice.
3. When the water begins to boil add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this process twice, cooking until the noodles are just tender, about 4 to 5 inutes. Drain in a colander.
4. Rinse with cold water until completely cooled, tossing gently to remove surface starch and drain well.
5. Toss the needles with the toasted sesame oil and set aside.
6. When ready to serve, mix together the julliened vegetables and green onions with soba noodles and add 3 tablespoons dressing. Place on a plate and top with sprouts, sesame seeds, nori, and a pinch of seven-spice powder.

2 comments:

weezermonkey said...

That "prize" was so mean!

Lovely photos!

A Feminist Gold Digger said...

Hilarious about the "prize."