Friday, November 22, 2013

Italian Master Class with Chef Suzette Gresham: Swordfish Salad with Roasted Onion and Tomatoes

Today I photographed two of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival cooking classes. The first was the Italian Master Class with Chef Suzette Gresham-Tognetti and Italian wine expert Giancarlo Paterlini, both of the famed Acquerello in San Francisco. Together, their passion and knowledge has earned Acquerello a Michelin star every year since 2007.

Sergio, Chef Gesham, Jack Persinger

For her first dish, Chef Gesham prepared swordfish using a method she calls leaching. The method was used in Italy, years ago, by fisherman hoping to preserve a portion of their catch. A pot of cold water, 2 sliced lemons, 1 sliced onion, and 3-4 tablespoons of salt is brought to a boil. The heavily salted water is an attempt to mimic the seawater that was used on board the fishing vessels, and it helps to leach out any impurities and acts to sanitize the fish.

Once the water has come to a boil, the heat is turned off and the swordfish goes in the water for about 5 minutes, or until about 75% cooked. A bit of olive oil goes into the bottom of a container that will hold the fish in a tightly confined manner, followed by the swordfish and 2 1/2 - 3 cups more olive oil, enough to completely cover the fish. The fish is allowed to cool in the uncovered container of oil. Once completely cooled, it is ready to be served. Chef Gesham served it with roasted Roma tomatoes and roasted red onion slices, and a small parsley and olive salad.

Plated for the class attendees

For the camera - Classic presentation

A more modern presentation is achieved with smaller pieces of swordfish, with a small mound of roasted onion underneath one or two pieces, pureed roasted tomato added to the plate with a squirt bottle or brush, dots of parsley oil or parsley mayonnaise, micro herbs, and lemon zest.

For the camera - Modern presentation

The second dish was Tuscan White Beans with Sage, from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, by Loma J. Sass. The cannellini beans were prepared very simply, and in a pressure cooker, with only a small amount of sauteed garlic, dried sage, and olive oil added to the water. Once cooked, she added another tablespoon of olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

The second cooking class was called Southwestern Holiday Showstoppers, with Tiffany Vickers Davis, the Test Kitchen Manager of Cooking Light Magazine. I'll tell you about that one in another post. 

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