Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine with Carrot-Watercress Salad
Pickled Baby Carrots
Written and produced by Stephen Exel
Photographs by Jonny Valiant
"Brooklyn foodies have a do-it-yourself spirit when it comes to what they eat," says Brooklyn Kitchen owner Taylor Erkkinen. "They're eschewing the mainstream and embracing back-to-basic cooking skills."
That's why she and husband Harry Rosenblum recently expanded their successful shop, which features a broad array of well-designed and thoughtfully selected cooking tools, to include a cooking school and grocery, the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs.
Taylor, a self-taught cook, is a former project manager for new building construction; Harry was a lighting consultant for TV and theater. It was an easy jump for both from technology to technique. "We developed the curriculum to give people the confidence to create their own cooking style," Taylor says. She focused on basics--canning, pickling, butchering, home-brewing--along with classes that tap into emerging food trends. Texan-Korean barbecue, anyone?
At first, classes were held at the store's checkout counter. Recently, class offerings moved to a renovated warehouse that houses cooking labs, the Meat Hook butcher shop, and amply stocked grocery aisles. Classes are held weekday evenings in demonstration or hands-on format. They range from $40 to $75 and include a meal, or, in true New York fashion, a take-out sampling of that night's lesson. Local chefs and food personalities teach classes.
Kat Randazzo, a Brooklyn-area private chef whose resume includes Gramercy Tavern, is a frequent instructor. "My classes feature ideas for simple ingredients that are well prepared," she says. Her recipes for Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine and Butter-and-Thyme-Basted Mushrooms were both elegant and humble, a reflection of the mastery of their French origins.
Student Alice Turner was inspired to host a pickling party after learning a short-term approach to pickling that allows results to be enjoyed only days or even hours after preparation. The class's recipe for Pickled Carrots had bright, tangy flavor and subtle heat.
"The store is charming, and the class was informal and relaxed, just the way you would expect in Brooklyn," she says.