On a sunny Saturday afternoon, a lucky group of 18 “students” got the opportunity to learn how to make a traditional Sunday dinner – Miami-style, from one of South Florida’s top chefs, Edge Steakhouse & Bar’s Executive Chef Aaron Brooks, during his first pop-up cooking class of 2013.
After being greeted on the Edge patio with welcome “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” cocktails and crudités, the students were escorted to the restaurant’s impressive garden to pick fresh herbs to be used in the dishes. Brooks explained to the group that even if the herbs have blossomed, they can still be used and bring an amazing burst of flavor to a dish.
The first course the group learned how to make was an heirloom tomato gazpacho with Key West pink shrimp. The students cut up the Teena’s Pride tomatoes while Brooks explained the process for making the gazpacho. He emphasized the importance of using fresh ingredients while seasoning and tasting the dish every step of the way. The final result was a fresh, tasty gazpacho that is perfect on a warm Miami day.
Next on the menu was a porchetta served with a warm salad of roasted butternut squash, local greens and pickled red pepper salsa. Porchetta is a traditional Italian pork roast where a pork loin is wrapped inside of a pork belly. Brooks brined the Berkshire pork loin in a mixture of honey, salt, garlic and fresh herbs, and let it sit overnight. However for the pork belly, he didn’t brine it but let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out the meat, helping to create that sought after crispy crust. Before wrapping the two pieces together he seasoned them liberally with herbs from the garden, panko bread crumbs, lemon zest, and then loosely tied everything together.
To teach the group how to make the butternut squash and pickled pepper salsa, Brooks handed over the teaching duties to his Sous Chef Jose Gamez. The students learned a diverse, yet easy, pickling method that could be used for any vegetable you may have around. The guests then helped cut the butternut squash, that was grilled up and tossed with “pepitas.” The light salad and the tangy salsa were the perfect complement to the rich, melt-in-your-mouth porchetta.
For the final course, pastry chef Sarah Thompson taught the group how to make her grandmother’s apple cobbler with warm caramel sauce and vanilla cream. A dish she said she made every weekend while growing up, the incredibly informative Thompson shared many of her tips while preparing the dessert such as not mixing the dough with your hands since it melts the butter and using granny smith apples so you don’t encounter graininess. For the cobbler topping, she made an almond based crumble with salty notes, something she likes doing in her recipes to help wake up the palate and bring out the flavors of the dessert. Needless to say, there weren’t any leftovers.
Full, happy with a slight wine buzz, the students left the class with a goody bag filled with some of the items they learned to make during the class along with all the recipes (downloadable here).
Want to experience a class yourself? On April 20, Brooks will be teaching a seafood based class and on May 18 the theme will be “Bubbles and Brunch.” The classes are $75 per person. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss, so make sure to call 305-381-3063 and reserve your spot as these classes will fill up quickly.