Sunday, March 21, 2010

Braising Lessons and Symphonic Jazz

While everyone waited for the vote on health care, we spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill learning to braise and listening to a melding of symphony orchestra and jazz band.  I’m sure we were having more fun than those in Congress.

The braising class at Hill’s Kitchen was the first class my husband and I had taken together.  As it turned out, there were actually four couples in the class.  I seem to often go into these classes thinking I already know how to do whatever it is and coming out with a lot of new ideas and techniques.  And so it was today.

We learned how to make Beef Bourguignonne, Carmelized Onion Brisket, Moroccan Braised Chicken, and Braised Red Cabbage.  I thought I had the world’s best brisket recipe, but instead I will never again use Lipton Onion Soup flakes and instead will make this brisket that is covered with real onions and flavored with a touch of sherry vinegar.  My favorite recipe of all was the Moroccan Chicken, which I have decided to serve for Passover.   It seems very Middle Eastern, with dried apricots, cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.  It would go nicely on cous-cous, but that will have to wait until after Passover.

The Beef Bourguignonne and Purple Cabbage were right up there too, a tough call.  Because of the slow-cooking nature of braising, Brock had to make two batches of the beef dishes so he could play that magical trick of putting them into one oven and pulling them out of another one as if 3 hours had elapsed.

From cooking class, we rushed over to the Atlas Theater, only a few minutes late for a very unique concert.  The Capital Symphony had joined forces with Chaise Lounge, a local jazz band started by Charlie Barnett (which we heard at Blues Alley last year).  The first half of the concert was a piece written for orchestra by Charlie called Tarot.   It is about the imagery implicit in the Tarot deck, including The Fool, The Star, The Hanged Man, The Magician, and The Emperor.  It had some interesting solo sections as the tarot deck was musically depicted.

The second half paired the Symphony with Chaise Lounge, including their exceptional vocalist Marilyn Older.  They did songs like “Dude, She’s Waiting,” “Second Hand Smoke,” and “Lonely Is as Lonely Does.”  I think I could have listened to this mellow music all night long, but eventually the songs were over.

I came home to a dinner of a mango and a pear topped with homemade yogurt.  That was all I needed after the afternoon’s braising feast.  I find myself wanting to put “baba-daba-doo” to the tunes of Charlie Barnett.

I wonder what happened with health care...


Blogger Rayna said...

YES we did!

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow -- what a perfect day, Barbara! I'm enjoying it vicariously. The chicken and cabbage are especially up my alley (favorites to cook), as is the music! I just looked at Charlie's website and he's got pdf's of The Tarot parts -- cool! I love the concept.

This afternoon my partner and I attended a performance of Schubert's song cycle "Winterreise." Kind of disorienting to experience this melancholy, chilly-themed music the day after the vernal equinox...


11:42 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a gorgeous way to spend the day. You always seem to be learning and loving life! Health care reform will be in the news for a while. We only have so much time to spend with the people we love.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

The Moroccan chicken sounds terrific. I remember being served chicken cooked in a tagine with preserved lemons and olives -- that was fab, too. Moroccans really know their food.

It's cool that you're learning new things!

I bet Reya would love that Tarot piece!

8:52 AM  

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