Thursday, February 13, 2014

Crawfish, Oysters AND Steak . . . oh my!

On Tuesday evening, Seth and I went to Ruffino's for our cooking class with Chef Peter Sclafani.  I have to admit . . . as much as I was looking forward to it, I was also a bit anxious.  Tuesdays are long days for me.  I was tired.  I didn't want to be tired.  The children were all ending up at the same place, but they were each getting there three different ways so that made me nervous.  I don't know why.  I wanted to enjoy our evening without thinking about all of the other busy-ness and stuff that fills my days.

It was a very cold day.  And it was raining.  I dressed in comfy layers for Bible study but then came home and changed clothes before going to school to get Hannah Kate.  Traffic was horrible due to an accident that blocked all of our lanes.  We sat in the same spot for over twenty minutes.  I was trying to get to Abbie's school to pick her up like we do every Tuesday for dance.  I was finally able to pick her up and then take the girls to dance, but they were a few minutes late for their classes.  Usually we are 30 minutes early.  I had only an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Ruffino's.  On a good day, it would take thirty minutes to get there.  On a bad day, it could take an hour or more.  But this was a really bad day!  I sent a text to Seth and told him I really didn't think I would be able to make it on time because traffic was so awful.  It was definitely NOT the way I wanted to begin the evening.

He called me and stayed on the phone with me while looking at the online traffic maps and reports in an effort to get me across the river and through town and to Ruffino's.  At one point, we nearly called and cancelled our reservation because it just didn't seem like I was going to make it.  But I did.  I was a few minutes late, but I was not the only one, and they were kind enough to wait on us.  And once I did sit down, I forgot about all the crazy, tiring events of the day and just enjoyed the experience.

This is what I sat down to.  This picture makes me happy!  (My husband, on the other hand, had to ask me which fork to use when the first course came out!  Outside.  Always start from the outside.)   
If you don't already know this about me, there are several foods that I really do not like. At all.  First of all, I do not like crawfish.  I have tried.  But I cannot do it.  They are too "fishy," and they stink.  I also do not like oysters.  I don't know what's worse.  Oysters or crawfish?  They say you eat with your eyes first.  Well, oysters have to be one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen!  They don't even LOOK good.  Much less taste good. And the texture?  Oh gross!  I also don't eat steak.  I don't know why.  I just don't care for it.  At all.  Never have.  I eat an occasional burger, but other than that, I do not eat red meat.  So, yes.  I live in Louisiana.  And I do not eat crawfish.  Or oysters.  Seth, on the other hand, loves them!  And steak, too.

We did not know what the menu was going to be, but we knew the theme was "Date Night."  So we had talked about all the "what if's."  What if he serves crawfish?  What if there are oysters?  What about steak?  I really thought the main course would be a steak.  So I was prepared for that.  And I was expecting either crawfish or oysters in one of the other courses but not both.  Certainly not both!  But no matter what, I told myself I was going to at least try everything.  Even an oyster.


They gave us a little mini cookbook of each entree that Chef Peter was going to prepare for us.  When I finally got there and sat down, Seth had already been there for a bit and had looked through the cookbook.  He said something to the effect of, "It's your lucky night.  We're having steak AND crawfish AND oysters."  I thought he was kidding.  I hoped he was kidding.  But he was not.  And then he asked me what I was going to.  I told him I was going to enjoy myself and have a nice time and try everything no matter what.

The evening lasted about 2 1/2 hours, but it didn't seem that long at all!  And I think I would describe it as more of a cooking demonstration or culinary experience than a cooking class.  I was excited to see Chef Peter cut his onion like I cut mine.  People who have seen me cut onions have actually told me they've never seen anyone cut an onion like that before.  Well, obviously I must be doing something right!  I also cut my bell pepper and celery like he does.  I learned several things though.  And there are several gadgets I want to add to my kitchen drawers.  But anyway.  On to the good stuff.  I had only my cell phone with me so all of these pictures were taken with it and not my good camera.  I didn't want to be the nerd with the camera.  So I was the nerd with the phone.

Our first course was Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon Sauce served over a bed of Artichoke Bottom Couscous.  It was garnished with micro-cilantro.  This dish looks fancy, but it really is super simple to prepare.  It was really good!
Our second course was Crawfish and Asparagus Soup.  I love asparagus!  And we all know how I feel about crawfish.  I knew I could easily eat around the crawfish.  But I was at first concerned that the stock would be too crawfishy for me to eat.  I was very pleasantly surprised . . . it was not!  It really was delicious!  He used a combination of crawfish stock and asparagus stock.  The asparagus really balanced it out.  He also added some whipping cream, and we all know that everything is better with cream!  I did eat one of the crawfish.  And then I scooped the rest of them out of my bowl and into Seth's bowl.  After that, I really wanted to lick my bowl!  I'm definitely going to make this at home.  I'm just not sure yet if I want to use shrimp or crab instead of the crawfish.  I'm not sure which would go better with the asparagus.  I guess I'll just have to make both!
Our third course was Open Faced Oyster Ravioli with Bacon Vongoli Cream.  I was nervous about this one.  I really was.  

Pasta is my weakness.  We eat only whole wheat pasta though.  We don't eat a lot of pasta because it isn't Seth's favorite.  I like the whole wheat pasta just fine, but I really miss the "regular" pasta.  I've also never made my own pasta.  That's something I've always wanted to do, but it's really intimidating.  The making-your-own-dough part of it is just too much like making a cake or something, and I never can get a cake to come out right. But as I watched Chef Peter make his own pasta for this dish, I thought to myself, "I can do that!"  So I just might.  One day.  He cut the pasta out in round disks.  He then topped each disk with what can best be described as oyster dressing.  I was expecting the oyster dressing to pretty much ruin the pasta!

So let's just clear this up.  Until I came to Louisiana, I had no idea that there was such a thing as oyster dressing.  Or rice dressing.  Or crawfish dressing.  Or meat or protein of any kind in your cornbread dressing!  No, no, NO MA'AM!  I mean, growing up, we had dressing every Thanksgiving.  Dressing.  Not cornbread dressing.  Dressing.  I never knew until I came here that dressing is not dressing at all.  I have to specifically say CORNBREAD dressing.  As if there is any other kind!

Back to the oyster dressing.  It took several minutes for me to get up enough nerve to taste it.  But when I did, I was pleasantly surprised.  I liked it!  He let the oysters drain their yucky liquor for nearly an hour before he actually used them.  And then he put them in the food processor and chopped them up pretty good.  He added the seasonings, breadcrumbs and sausage.  He then put it in the oven to bake for awhile.  The sausage added a really great smoky flavor to the dressing, and that was really enhanced by the smokiness in the bacon cream sauce.  I honestly would not have realized that oysters were in the dressing had I not known from the beginning.  I ate all of it!
The fourth course was Hangar Steak with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Balsamic Roasted Cipolline Onions.  Hangar steak comes from the diaphragm of the cow.  So there is only one per cow.  Seth had never had hangar steak before.  And, of course, neither had I.  It was cooked medium rare, I think.  The most important thing is that it wasn't still bleeding!  Or mooing, as my daddy would say.  The texture surprised me.  It was almost like butter.  It was sliced into three medallions.  I immediately gave one to Seth.  And then I ate one and half of the other one.  Seth finished the last half.  The mushroom sauce was delish!  And the onion was so yummy!  I LOVE roasted onions!  There's nothing better than a vidalia cored, filled with butter, wrapped in foil and thrown on the grill!  I can eat raw onions, too!  Anyway, I enjoyed this dish also.  I forgot to take my picture before I cut into it so the plate is a little messy looking here.  It was a lot prettier when it first came out.
And, for dessert, our last course was this cute individual King Cake.  There's really nothing more I can say about this.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening!  I ate mine, and since Seth ate only one bite of his (because he just doesn't like sweet things), I ate his, too!
What a truly delightful evening!  I enjoyed such a sweet time with my husband.  The food was phenomenal.  And I'm ready to go back!  My birthday is coming up . . .


Jennifer Hawkins said...

So fun!! Now I want to try a cooking demo class! And that food looked amazing. Jealous... :)

Jennifer Hawkins said...

So fun!! Now I want to try a cooking demo class! And that food looked amazing. Jealous... :)