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Isabella's Cooking Classes


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Before Christmas, my wife mentioned that she wanted to have a tapas party before she destroyed my cheesy-ass DR screenname and moved to Mont. Co., so I got us both cooking lessons at Frederick's Spanish tapas restaurant Isabella's. Though Zaytinya and Pazo are noticeably better Tapas places, Isabella's is decent, inviting, smoke-free, and walkable from our house. Last night we had a wonderful first of three nights entailing drinking pitchers of sangria, standing around the kitchen stove, and shoveling food into our faces.

Since liability issues prevent the classes from being participatory, we watched Chef James cook three dishes that aren't on the menu but reflect his background in and desire to open an Italian restaurant. Of the three dishes, the following recipe was by far the best (ahhh, the amazing power of butter and bacon fat). It was actually the best dish I've ever had at Isabella's. It seems pretty easy to make, too, so I thought I'd post (after I got the chef's permission).

1 1/2 lbs. shrimp shelled and deveined; tails on

10 slices of smoked bacon--chopped

5 pepperoncini

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh basil--chopped

2 large tomatoes--diced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup cold butter

5 cloves minced garlic


Preseason shrimp with salt.

Cook bacon until crispy.

Add shrimp, garlic, and pepperoncini and saute for one minute.

Deglaze with white wine and tomatoes and reduce by half.

Sprinkle pepper flakes.

Turn off the stove and add butter. Swirl in butter as it melts.

Finish with basil and season with salt.

Serves 4

I'll share anything worthwhile from next week's class, too.



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Tonight I tried making another recipe from our Isabella's cooking classes last month. This one was quite successful and very simple. Give it a shot:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast deboned and skinned

3 TBSP fresh lemon juice

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

flour for dusting

1/2 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 sprig of thyme leaves removed

1/2 cup toasted almonds

Fresh ground pepper

Kosher Salt

Wash chicken and pat dry. Cut into 1 inch cubes and season with lemon juice, fresh pepper, and a little salt. Dust with flower.

heat oil in a large saute pan. Brown the chicken for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove and keep warm.

Deglaze the sherry. Add chicken stock, minced garlic, and thyme. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by one-third.

Add chicken breast to sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove and add the almonds.

Serves 4.

*I was just cooking for 2 tonight so fiddled with ingredients a bit to reflect half the chicken called for and it still came out well. Definitely didn't need to simmer for full 10 minutes, but my pieces might have been smaller. Also added more like 4-5 sprigs of thyme. Probably would have a little less lemon so it's not the most dominant taste and potentially marinate it an hour or so in the sherry to bring that flavor out some more, though I know the deglazing is what's trying to concentrate the sugars from the sherry.



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