It really is true that we keep on nurturing our minds and discover new knowledge. It's been quite a long time since I last stepped out of the University, but last Saturday, I found myself back in the classroom - this time to attend a culinary class at the Maya Kitchen.
Last Saturday's class was about "Thanksgiving 101," and the guest chef/instructor was Chef Patrick Boucher, the Executive Chef of the Peninsula Manila. According to the Maya Kitchen,
"This native of Canada made a name for himself worldwide with his passion for creating both classic and ethnically diverse cuisine using the finest seasonal ingredients. He has had stints with The Four Seasons Hotel properties in Miami, Dubai and Bali. At The Peninsula Manila, he oversees Old Manila, Escolta, Spices and The Lobby."As the class title suggested, Chef Boucher demonstrated ways to cook and serve a Thanksgiving Spread. This is the Peninsula Manila's first tie-up with the Maya Kitchen, and the first time for them to conduct a culinary class outside of the Pensinsula Manila.
Although we were pretty much the students watching the Chef's actions, Chef Boucher wanted it to be an interactive class - which means anyone can just raise their questions or come near the demo table if they want to try to cut some of the ingredients.
The class lasted three hours, and after, we were treated with lunch - sampling the dishes the Chef cooked that day:
Crisp & Tender Turkey with Gravy. There are so many ways of cooking a roasted turkey, and the method Chef Boucher shared was a simple way of getting a tender with crispy skin turkey. Quite a tricky dish to make, but it sure tasted awesome. Believe it or not, this was my first time to eat turkey meat - something I am thankful about. The gravy served with the turkey was a great compliment to the meat. It wasn't too thick nor too runny, just the right consistency to give flavor to the turkey.
Turkey Stuffing. The bread cuts were slightly toasted prior to stuffing it inside the turkey cavity and was taken out halfway through the baking of the turkey to prevent it from becoming too soggy. The result - soft bread with a little hard texture on the sides. It had a nice, good seasoning thanks to the juices it absorbed while cooking the turkey.
Cranberry Sauce. Another first for me to taste (I did get to eat cranberries before but it was the dried ones); I found it a little sour for my liking, but it actually was able to provide the turkey meat with a twist of flavor. The Chef also added some fresh mango cubes, just to use a local product and to prove that the sauce is quite versatile.
Balsamic Roast Pumpkin. For this dish, they used the local squash as pumpkins aren't that widely available here in the Philippines. I did like this one because the squash was slightly tasteless and the sauce as well as the lemon zest at the top just gave it a whole different dimension, taste-wise.
Cumin and Orange Glazed Carrots. My favorite siding. Well, I am not a big fan of carrots (I love carrot juice, though) - especially if it's cut this big, but I gotta say... cooking it with toasted cumin seeds and orange juice made it oh-so-delicious. The carrots were tender but not too much - easy to cut with a knife and easy to chew, but it still had the nice texture. I think this works best for baby carrots as it's sweeter than the big ones.
We were also served Cranberry Juice, Red Wine, and Carrot Cake - made using Maya's new product, "Think Heart: Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Mix", which will hit the stores mid-October. It was such a great product that I surely will buy it and try it out.
All the students were provided with recipe print-outs, so we can re-create the dishes at the comforts of our homes. The Chef told us that the recipes are flexible and open to different variations and interpretations. For instance, for the stuffing, one can add nuts and/or dried fruits... and like what he did to the cranberry sauce, one can also substitute pineapples for the mango.
There are so many classes open at the Maya Kitchen, if you want to know more about it, you can check their website or you can e-mail them. You may also call their office at 8921185 / 892-5011 local 108. Should you want to visit their office personally, The Maya Kitchen Culinary Center is located on the 8F, Liberty Building, 835 A. Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road), Makati City.
Thanksgiving feast is not really a tradition here in the Philippines, but I do know all of us - regardless of our race and traditions have a lot of things to be thankful about. I for one, am thankful just to be a part of this class...that even if I know I can't bake a turkey (as we don't own an oven), I got to learn a lot of things that day.