All posts by Madeline Hays

“Breakfast In Bed” Cooking Demonstration

Chef Scott Gottlich and Andrea Maricich and Mixologist Seth Brammer “Breakfast In Bed” Cooking Demonstration

2nd floorThis was my first experience with a cooking demonstration, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. The menu sounded decadent, and considering that it combines two of my absolute favorite things on this planet (my bed and breakfast foods), I was eager to attend.  We walked into The Second Floor’s Privé private dining room and were greeted with a drink buffet of coffee, fresh squeezed juices, teas, a fire and roses strewn across the table. (Let’s just say that it was fittingly romantic.)

The chefs gave a short introduction and put an emphasis on learning the techniques they were about to share with us. They explained that, of course, once you master the techniques you can play with recipes for all tastes and occasions. They demonstrated each dish, and then we were delivered a sample from the back kitchen.  You know … to make sure they did it right.

First Course: Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis
Watching these chef’s make crépes made it all seem so simple. It’s all about the batter … if you can mix it right, you can really make any flavor–sweet or savory. The coulis only took about five minutes to reduce, and it made such a fresh alternative to syrup or Nutella. (Not that we’d ever consider replacing Nutella … we aren’t communist.) When it came time to sample this dish, there was definitely something left to be desired … in that I wanted five more helpings. They included orange zest in the filling, which was so refreshing and cut right through the richness of the cream cheese and chocolate batter. The raspberry coulis was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Let’s just say I had to resist the urge to lick the plate.

Tip from the chefs: Make sure to turn the pan in a circular motion to spread all of the batter thinly and evenly. This ensures even cooking and a proper crepe.

Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis
Red Velvet Crépes with Cream Cheese Mousse Filling and Raspberry Coulis

Second Course: Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham, and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
This was another twist on a classic breakfast dish. Since this was one of the dishes Chef Maricich served when interviewing for her position at The Second Floor, I knew this was going to be a winner. The chefs went into detail about how exactly to mix the eggs and fat to emulsify properly in order to make the perfect hollandaise. They added stone-ground mustard and Tabasco to give it a little zing, and then moved on to poaching the eggs. They brought out the sample, and the portion was huge! The oysters were perfectly battered and crisp, yet still juicy. Unfortunately they served us regular Hollandaise and I was so disappointed. (I guess this served as more motivation to make the dish on my own.)

Tip from the chefs: Use a bit of vinegar and create a vortex of spinning water in the pot to helps keep the egg together and round.

Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce
Oysters Eggs Benedict with Tasso Ham and Wholegrain Mustard Hollandaise Sauce

Third Course: Lobster and Asparagus Omelet with Fontina Cheese and Arugula Salad
This was by far the easiest of the dishes to prepare. (Which means I may try it first.) The lobster was fresh, sweet and not overcooked, and the asparagus added texture. There was plenty of cheese and it oozed out of the center with every bite. It was very rich, but considering the fact that this was all for a special occasion, I didn’t mind. (Who am I kidding? I never can have enough cheese, regardless of the occasion … gluten intolerance be damned.)

Tip from the chefs: You may add water in an omelet, but no milk! Milk is reserved for scrambled eggs and will change the consistency of the omelet.

2nd floor omelette
Lobster and Asparagus Omelet with Fontina Cheese and Arugula Salad

Then it was time for cocktails! Mixologist Seth Brammer came out and demonstrated
A) a slew of drinks with fresh ingredients that were just what we all needed to liven us up for the remaining presentation, and
B) a bunch of pretentious drink-snob jabs while simultaneously being so full of knowledge and expertise that he was himself a real pretentious drink snob.

It was the perfect combination … not only did I learn how to make the best quality, fresh squeezed and strong mimosa, a made-from-scratch Bloody Mary and the tried-and-true Irish Coffee … I now know how and where orange juice is made and why it never really tastes like real oranges, what vodka ratio is the best for a true bloody mary (4 parts mix to 1 part vodka) and how to whip cream just perfectly thickened enough for any dish or drink. In Seth’s own words, “people don’t whip their own cream anymore, and that’s what’s wrong with America.” (Amen, my friend.)

Fresh Pressed Mimosa
Fresh Pressed Mimosa

Tip from the mixologist: In order to make the cream float on top of the coffee in an Irish Coffee, flip a spoon upside-down and pour the cream over the back of the spoon.

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

After we all had each of the three cocktails, the chefs came back out and did a quick demonstration of a simple and classic “Egg in the Hole” paired with The Second Floor’s own maple-cured salmon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to eat this dish! This was a huge menu, and Chef Maricich even joked that she maybe “bit off more than she could chew.”

Egg in a Hole & Salmon
Egg in a Hole & Salmon

In the end, I could have certainly bitten off and chewed even more because this entire spread was top-notch. I’m looking forward to practicing and mastering the techniques they shared with us!

For details about the second floor and other events, head to thesecondfloorrestaurant.com.

Cook Hall’s 2014 Grand Finale Beer Dinner

Cook Hall’s grand finale of its 2014 Beer Dinners was grand indeed, and the pairings with Community Beer Company’s local selections made it even better. We were welcomed at the door with a glass of “bonus” beer (score), putting us all in a jolly mood right off the bat.

1menu

Roasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup greeted us shortly after we were seated at the community style tables. I felt right at home because this soup perfectly emulated my grandmother’s signature holiday casserole dish (only much lighter, and sans the two cans Cream of Mushroom Soup). It was fresh and light, loaded with freshly-shaven Parmesan and garnished with herbed oil.  This was paired with Pepe Nero from Goose Island. I found the Pepe Nero to be fairly mild, and a smooth introduction to the meal.

2soup

Out came the Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Black Pepper and Lime Aioli, paired with a Trinity Tripel from Community Beer Company. These nuggets of deliciousness were perfectly juicy, not overcooked, and crusted to perfection. I wanted three plates … but I knew there was so much more to come that I resisted the urge. (Tough life.) The Trinity Tripel was a perfectly golden, citrusy and spicy brew that went nicely with the lime aioli. This was my favorite beer of the night, by far. Shout-out to the local Community Beer Company!

3chicken

Just when I thought my palette couldn’t be merrier, the Foie Gras Brûlée with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche was presented. It was delightfully buttery and there was just enough salt to cut the richness from the brûlée. The Spiced Fig Jam screamed “holiday”, and that decadent combination was complimented by the Belgian strong dark ale, Inspiration, another Community concoction that boasts a 9.6% ABV. (It’s a damn good thing they serve such a large meal to go with all of this beer.)

4FG

I’m a fan of all ribs … but I definitely love me a good short rib. These glazed short ribs, served with herbs, roasted carrots and puree, were a thing of true beauty. Not only did they melt in your mouth, but they were packed with a powerful punch of sweet and savory and blended perfectly with the Delirium Noel (Brouwerji Huyghe). This beer is a strong, dark amber ale loaded with citrus notes and, in my opinion, was an excellent pairing. PLUS the bottle had cute little pink elephants in Santa hats, so, what could go wrong there?

6shortrib

It was time for the grand finale of the grand finale … Banana Crème Pie, Walnut Shortbread and what sounded like the most interesting beer of the evening – Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale from Rogue. It was interesting, indeed. We were instructed to taste the beer first, alone, and then experience it with the food. I was not a fan of the beer by itself, as it was quite dark, dense, and very bitter. Yet, when paired with the Banana Crème Pie, it miraculously transitioned into a sweet, chocolate cappuccino-like dessert in and of itself. The fresh whipped cream just melted and caramel mixed with walnuts and fresh banana chunks oozed out of every bite.

5dessert

At this point, my table seemed to be fading into a heavenly food-and-brew coma, but I was steadfast in my pursuit. I finished it. Every last little bite. Oh, night divine.

Check out cookhalldallas.com to find out when the next Beer Dinner will be hosted … and get your stomach ready for this gastronomic extravaganza.