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Holiday entertaining classes teach gourmet tips and tricks

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

Bobby MoorePhoto by Briana Gerdeman. Bobby Moore, executive chef of Barking Frog, teaches the audience to make agro dolce, a chutney-like condiment, at a Holiday Boot Camp entertaining class at Willows Lodge. Are you intimidated by the thought of making roux, sweating and deglazing vegetables or chopping ingredients in a Robot Coupe?

Barking Frog executive chef Bobby Moore explained all that and more at last week’s Holiday Boot Camp, the first of three free entertaining classes at Willows Lodge hotel this December.

The series of classes, now in its fifth year, are a tradition for many people. Kirsten Andresen, a representative for Willows Lodge, said they’re designed to help people who are hosting a holiday party or family event for the first time.

"If you’ve never done the holidays before, what do you do? Where do you start?" Andresen explained.

The first class focused on appetizers — braised lamb shank with agro dolce, cauliflower tempura with white cheddar fondue and crab and shrimp fritters.

"I try to think of items that are easy to make for the home cook but also high end — and things you can eat in one bite," Moore said.

The cauliflower, for example, is a plated appetizer at the Barking Frog, but for Holiday Boot Camp, Moore made it into a bite-sized treat.

He peppered his demonstration with tricks of the trade — such as the best order in which to cook the three appetizers and possible substitutions — and made elegant recipes easy to understand by comparing them to comfort foods.

"It’s not much different, really, than making a mac and cheese sauce," he said of the white cheddar fondue that accompanies the cauliflower. Blending halibut, crab and shrimp for the fritters is just like making meatballs, he said.

And his enthusiasm showed when he talked about the ingredients and techniques he uses.

"I’m using some really fun cheese tonight," he said — a goat’s milk cheese called Grand Ewe. He added later, "This is the cheese of the moment for me. I’m really loving this cheese."

Aspiring cooks have two more chances to learn the recipes of Willows Lodge. This week, pastry chef Matt Kelley will teach a holiday desserts class that covers spiced hot chocolate with candy cane macaroons and eggnog cake with rum-whipped ganache. Next week, Wine Director Matt Davis will share recipes for holiday cocktails. All classes are held on Wednesdays at 5:30 in the Fireside lounge.

Holiday Boot Camp also gives guests a chance to do some holiday shopping. Products from Woodinville Lavender and SaltWorks are for sale, as well as Road Toad Seasoning, a blend that Moore has been using at Barking Frog for years.

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