Sunday, August 12, 2012

Helen's Kitchen

          Helen’s Kitchen is a cooking school run by Helen Rennie out of her home in Natick, MA. She is extremely knowledgeable about all forms of cooking, and in addition to her classes she has a blog with recipes, tips on buying fish, and video tutorials.

          I attended her class one fish two fish, since fish is something I love but don’t know a ton about cooking. Prior to this class, my experience cooking fish was throw some olive oil, salt, and pepper on it, and stick it under the broiler (usually overcooking it).

          We cooked five types of fish in the class: salmon, swordfish, trout, bluefish, and red snapper. The preparations ranged from incredibly easy to slightly more complicated, but I left feeling confident I could make all of the recipes on my own. Even more important, I now have a couple of go-to recipes I can use on a busy weeknight after work.

          We started with a brief introduction to fish, how to judge its freshness, and the best cooking methods for different types of fish based on their personalities (thickness, texture, fat, and flavor). Next, we sliced and seasoned the fish with kosher salt and pepper, and set aside any we weren’t cooking with in the next hour.

          The first recipe we prepared was salmon teriyaki. This was the easiest preparation; we mixed soy sauce with sweet and sour sauce and coated the salmon lightly. We broiled it in the oven for about eight minutes, adding a bit more sauce as the fish was close to being done. I really enjoyed the combination of the salmon and the sauce, it had a great Asian flare.

Photo by Helen Rennie

          Next was the trout fried in almonds, which ended up being my personal favorite. We coated the trout in egg, dipped it in chopped almonds, and pan fried the filets in grape seed oil. When they were done cooking, we topped the fish with melted butter and fresh herbs. This was only slightly more difficult than the salmon, but still quick and easy enough to make in less than twenty minutes with very little preparation.

Photo by Helen Rennie

          The final three recipes were slightly more involved; we finished these around the same time, plated them, and sat down to a delicious, healthy dinner. These included bluefish with crispy potatoes, swordfish Provençal, and red snapper with fregola salad.

          The bluefish was another favorite. We prepared this by slicing the potatoes thin with a mandolin, coating them with olive oil, and baking them in a cast iron skillet. While the potatoes cooked, we coated the fish with lime juice, garlic, and parsley. When the potatoes were just about done, we added the bluefish on top, baked the whole thing together, and finished the dish with fresh herbs.

          The swordfish Provençal was probably the most difficult dish we made that night. We prepared a sauce of tomato, onion, garlic, and white wine which simmered for about thirty minutes while we worked on other dishes. We then coated the swordfish in lemon and olive oil, pan fried it, and topped it with the chunky tomato sauce.

          The final dish was red snapper with fregola salad; we pan fried the snapper and then served it with a fregola and corn salad Helen had prepared in advance. This tasted great, and we learned a little bit about plating techniques!

          I learned a lot in this class, and enjoyed everything we prepared. I would love to take another class at Helen’s Kitchen, she has a ton of great offerings including knife skills, sushi, French, and more.


  1. Wow, everything looks great! Like you, I love fish too, but rarely cook it at home. I'll check out Helen's classes!

  2. It's definitely worth taking, everything was amazing and I just made one of the recipes again at home last night!