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March 4, 2012 / beatricebunny

Cook Like a Viking

Jen stirring

Jen folding crab meat into batter.

Last night, my friend Jen and I took a cooking class at The Viking Cooking school in Franklin, TN.  The school was titled, “A Date Night to Remember,” and the menu was: Spinach salad with Sour Cherry Vinaigrette, Breadless Crab Cakes with Avocado Salsa, Fried Shrimp with Champagne Aioli, Tenderloin, and the pièce de resistance: Creme Brulee.

The food was delicious, and we had a really good time at the class.  Overall, I would recommend any of the classes at the Viking School.  The recipes have been uniformly delicious at every class I’ve had there, and the chefs are very knowledgeable.  Having said that, I did have a few criticisms of this particular class.  It can’t be easy working with 10-12 students in a hands on setting, but we all signed up for a hands-on class, and I felt like the instructors stepped in to do a bit too much in this class – particularly in chopping and other skills that I know I take these classes to practice.  I come to classes to do trickier work under the supervision of a professional.  Also, they opted for some reason to only set up one frier for 10 people.  This seems like an absurd oversight to me, and it lead to us all sitting down to cold steak.  Not ideal.

Still, I usually come to these classes hoping to leave with a few tips that will make me a better cook and recipes to use those skills with.  In that regard, this class did not disappoint.  I deveined and butterflied shrimp.  I am not the biggest fan of fried shrimp, but this recipe was delicious.  It wasn’t greasy, and it had more shrimp than breading.  The champagne aioli was lovely with it.

I also learned some really handy tips for chopping up avocado.  I love avocado, but find it a pain in the ass to work with.  The salsa was really good, but I will definitely make some changes to it at home when I do not have to defer to others’ tastes.

The salad was gorgeous, and I totally failed to photograph it, but I did get one of out dinner plate.  Honestly, I would have plated it a little differently, but it was still pretty and tasty.

Finished Plate

Panko breaded shrimp in champagne aioli, breadless crabcake with avocado salsa, and tenderloin.

We ran a little late, so by the time we sat down to eat (around 9 pm), I was really, really hungry.  I knew from previous experience to ignore offers of seconds because it is so. much. food.  I was sorely tempted by the extra shrimp, though.  Fortunately, I had dessert sitting on the table, and I love, love, love creme brulee.

Also, as proven by my last cooking class post, in which we flambeed, I also really like playing with fire.  We used real hardware store blow torches on the creme brulee, not the little kitchen torches.  I’ve tried to use the kitchen torches before and never really had good luck with them.  I was much more successful with the big mama model.  We used something that looks a little like this, but I am going to ask around at the hardware store to make sure the one I get is food safe.

The creme brulee was very good.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to cut up the vanilla beans ourselves (again, something I would have preferred to learn in the class rather than being out of pocket if I screw it up at home), but it was really good, and we did temper the eggs ourselves.  I’ve had that go really poorly in the past, so I was glad to learn and actually try an effective technique to avoid scrambling my yolks (gross).

Creme Brulee

Creme brulee uncracked.

You can see from the photos that I still need to work on my technique.  The sugar topping should be about the color of a penny.  Mine is darker in some places and lighter in others, and never quite reaches the color.  The taste was spot on though, and the crunchy sound when I broke into it was perfect. (Also, for some reason, not matter how many times I flip this photo, it is inserting upside down.  I admit that I take more time with my food than my photographs.  It will stay upside down.)
Creme Brulee Cracked

Creme Brulee Cracked

I was excellent pleased by how tasty it turned out, and by how crunchy the top was and silky the bottom.  I used three layers of sugar.  The chef said any more than three and it just gets a little silly.  I really love the sugar top though, so I may go a little crazy with it one of these days.





Leave a Comment
  1. Amber / Mar 4 2012 11:26 pm

    Yum!! looks tasty!

  2. Laura Benedict / Mar 5 2012 6:00 pm

    Perfect menu–Sounds like a blast! xo

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