These last couple of months have been filled with custom cooking classes, as more and more people that have come to a themed class bring their friends for a unique experience together! Each one is surprising and interesting in one way or another, from a group of lawyers to a bachelorette party to a surprise birthday party, they are sure to keep me on my toes!
A recent class I was privileged to a run was to be the surprise birthday party of a Thunder bay police officer. Since he and his friends were really into hunting, his girlfriend asked me to put together a wild game menu, and they would supply some of the meat! Not being into hunting myself, and having little experience with some of the wild meats available in this part of the world, I was a little intimidated, but ready for a challenge. After going back and forth for a bit, the menu was decided on:
- Moose mince ravioli
- Mixed greens with feta, apple and wild boar bacon
- Blackened pickerel with pineapple salsa, stuffed potatoes and honeyed carrots
- Chocolate lava cakes with Baileys cream
I love cooking fish, and since spending a lot of time in the Bahamas, my favourite way to cook fish is the “blackened” style (not to be confused with burnt!) with some sort of fruity salsa. So the main course was an easy choice.
Now, wild boar is just awesome. I love that the bacon is super lean- even after you give it a good fry, it retains probably over 80% of its mass, unlike regular bacon that reduces to next to nothing in meat value and a whole lot of grease. I picked up the boar bacon at the market from Northern Unique, and was surprised to be offered some great photos of their hogs to pass around at the class! It was a nice touch. Thank you Rob Walsh. Our wild boar bacon was used not only as a necessary element to the salad, but also to stuff the potatoes, along with some fine gouda cheese from Thunder Oaks.
My party guests supplied the moose meat, which I used in a homemade ravioli, served with a homemade red sauce made with crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic and lots of fresh basil! The ravioli part was tricky, and I wanted to do it the authentic Italian way, so I borrowed one of those archaic Italian pasta machines from a friend. There were just so many parts and the instructions were in Italian, so I called my Italian friend to help me out! She came over right away and we did up a few batches. It is so fulfilling to be able to prepare your own pasta from scratch, starting with a pile of flour on the counter, some salt and a few eggs in the well in the centre. Regardless, I do understand why most people just opt to make their own sauce and buy the pasta!
So, my guests arrived early, except the birthday boy of course. His girlfriend caught me up on the “story” she had weaved to get him to come over. I was to be the proud owner of a pair of side by sides (skids) that he’s been wanting for a while. She advertised these gems at a ridiculously low price, using a fake account and my name and address as the seller. This would get him for sure! When he inquired, she wrote back (as me) to tell him that I worked shift work and would be home at 6:00, so to come shortly after. His friend planned to arrive with him, just to make sure he wasn’t too late! When he finally arrived, all of his friends were hiding in the living room and the class was set up and ready to go. His first comment was, “Nice, I came here just in time for dinner!” and then when he saw his friends, “Wait….” It turned out to be a success, and he quickly got over the fact that I didn’t have the skids after all. All I had to say was, “So, I have this nagging question. What ARE side by side skids?”