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Hands-on cooking class

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lili@delightfulpalate.net

The Masterpiece

Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Salad

The Masterpiece:My emotions wavered between genuine satisfaction, a tinge of sadness a speck of regret and immense hope. I also felt a trace of fear. I watch and listen to my oldest son, Sean explain the activities of a day at Pizza Domenica, the new John Besh restaurant on Magazine street in New Orleans. Sean has just landed a job as a line cook there and is learning how to master a fire powered pizza oven.

 

The roasted garlic oil

Assembling the ingredients

My emotions wavered between genuine satisfaction, a tinge of sadness a speck of regret and immense hope. I also felt a trace of fear. I watch and listen to my oldest son, Sean explain the activities of a day at Pizza Domenica, the new John Besh restaurant on Magazine street in New Orleans. Sean has just landed a job as a line cook there and is learning how to master a fire powered pizza oven.

Sean’s morning begins when Chef Michael returns from the farmer’s market and plops down on the counter, several bags of fresh figs, peaches and blueberries, before heading to his office to create the daily market pizza. 

This family conversation about the restaurant’s morning schedule is accompanying  us as we walk to the pool in our new subdivision. The boys have come over for dinner, and we are feeling our way into making this house a home. The saying” home is where the heart is “ has to be true since most of our belongings are still in the old house. The kitchen where countless Thanksgiving turkeys were carved and birthday cakes were iced, where the raucous voices surrounding the TV grew from Nickelodeon to ESPN, is now a pocket-sized version of the old one , new walls absorbing the same soul. 

Sean’s voice is full of excitement about what was on the daily menu. The fresh fig pizza began with a thin film of mascarpone cheese spread over a doughy round. Then, atop featherweight shavings of fresh fennel went, lean slices of prosciutto and slices of those fresh figs. Sprinkles of hazelnuts dotted the top and the pie was finished with aged balsamic. Sean also prepped the ingredients for snapper crudo with homemade blueberry vinaigrette. 

As we made our way back into the house, my nose caught the perfume of roasted garlic. Earlier, Sean had whipped up a batch of roasted garlic oil with which he planned to flavor the eggplant and squash for that evening’s salad. I asked him about his technique for making the flavored oil, and as he explained, I put on my apron and fell into place taking his lead. 

I begin by tossing the thinly sliced vegetables with a splash of the flavored oil and a pinch of seasonings before placing them on a rimmed sheet and roasting them until golden brown. Once cooled,, Sean arranges slices of eggplant and squash and thick slices of homegrown tomatoes on a salad plate. He tears hunks of burrata, a fresh cheese stuffed with milk curds and cream, places it on top of the tomato slices along with tiny basil leaves, and drizzles “Mom’s” Balsamic Garlic Honey over the whole plate. This masterpiece of a salad he created to feed and teach me is an awe-inspiring moment where mother and son connect yet again.

The range of emotions I felt in hearing Sean talk about his job sweep back in, pouring over my head and flow down the tops of my shoulders into my heart. I am reminded of that time in the kitchen of our old house when he was about eleven years old and donned on a bib apron and asked me to teach him how to make homemade mayonnaise.