Cooking Class at Del Mar’s Mia Francesca

Mia Francesca serves rustic, high-quality Italian food. And they occasionally offer classes of Italian food served at the restaurant so it can be served at home, proving that restaurant style food can be done by anyone.

Making risotto

The classes offered at the restaurant are in a private room. There’s enough space for a small, intimate group, encouraging people to meet each other and ask questions once the cooking demonstration begins.

Cooking classes demo four courses which include a generous portion of everything. The advanced home cook may find some of these recipes easy but if you’re a fan of the restaurant, it’s good way to ask questions from Chef Woody Benitez.

My favorites at their August class were the refreshing string bean salad and salmon fresca with avocados with seared salmon. Copies of the recipes are handed out prior to the class.

String Bean salad

String Bean Salad

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb. string beans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
Parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pot with salted water and bring to boil. Add string beans and boil for one minute. Prepare ice bath and place string beans in ice water to cool.

In a bowl, combined string beans, tomatoes, red onion and season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Toss ingredients together.

Arrange string beans on plate and top with extra parsley.

Salmon Fresca

Salmon Fresca

Serves 4-6

2-4 lbs. salmon
1 bunch asparagus
4 avocados, diced
2-3 diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
basil
parsley, finely chopped
balsamic reduction
juice from one lemon
lemon wedges
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, red onion, basil with lemon juice. Gently mix in avocado.

Peel bottom half of asparagus and toss with olive oil and grill for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

While grilling asparagus, salt and pepper fish to taste and sear on flat top or grill to desired temperature.

When asparagus and fish reach desired doneness, arrange each plate with asparagus and top with a portion of fish. Evenly divide and top each fish with avocado mixture and sprinkle with basil and finish plate with balsamic reduction, parsley and lemon wedge.

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My only qualm is the portion size: The recipe amounts are hit-or-miss and a few amounts seem to be aimed at quantities needed for a restaurant, not a home cook. (A recipe for their pasta melanzane asks for 2-3 sticks of butter and six pounds of peeled tomatoes for their house sauce.) But Chef Benetiz is there to clear up questions. It’s a lot of food and information packed into three hours.

Classes are $60 per a person and future cooking classes are slated for the future. Interested people should sign up on their website for news and information on future classes.

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