The New Sur La Table Darien is a Culinary Experience

Photography by Andrea Carson

At Sur La Table Darien, Chef Yves Lovinski (center) teaches more than just how to follow a recipe. We learned proper knife skills and ingredient pairing, among other things.

Sur La Table’s Chef Yves Lovinsky describes the company’s new Darien store as “not just a shopping destination—it’s an entire experience.” On a recent visit with former NC/D editor Julee Kaplan, we had an opportunity to sample that experience by attending a cooking class in the beautiful light-filled kitchen at the new Darien Commons location.

Lovinsky was joined by Chef Emily Green, resident chef at Sur La Table in New York. Ahead of our visit, Green helped to pick a sampling of recipes from the company’s upcoming winter offerings: prawns with chermoula sauce, roasted carrots with preserved lemons and feta and a kale and grapefruit salad with white wine vinaigrette. The class offerings change regularly in order to incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients and highlight different themes and holidays.

When we arrived at the kitchen, our workstations were perfectly prepared—from the kitchen tools we’d be using to the pre-measured ingredients. The chefs led us through the recipes step by step while sharing an abundance of knowledge they’ve gained throughout their personal and professional cooking histories.

In addition to the proper way to prepare the recipe, the chefs described the food science behind how the ingredients interact, they demonstrated proper knife skills, defined and explained culinary terms, advised on how to care for your kitchen tools and so much more. Julee is a more skillfull cook than I am, but we both walked away from the class having learned new things.

The best part of the experience, of course, was sampling our culinary creations once they were done. After complimenting ourselves for a job well done, we made a beeline for the shop to pick up all the cool kitchen gadgets and some of the ingredients we had used in class that we now couldn’t live without. While, as Lovinsky mentioned, this new location is an “entire experience,” anyone who has been to a Sur La Table before knows the shopping is pretty incredible as well.

Below, we’re sharing the three delightful recipes we took away from our class.

Takeaway tips from the chef: Shrimp (above) is finished cooking when the tip and the tail curl and touch. When building a plate, such as the roasted carrots (left), you should have a balance of textures and flavors.

Yield: 4 servings

This roasting method will soon be your favorite way to prepare summer carrots. It is a simple dish where the quality of ingredients is paramount. When purchasing, look for firm carrots with bright green bushy tops and only use the best quality seasonings available.

1 tablespoon harissa paste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly
ground black pepper
2 tablespoons preserved lemon,
finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds fresh carrots,
peeled, stemmed, cut lengthwise
into four-inch long pieces
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add harissa, oil, salt, pepper and lemon; whisk to combine. Add carrots and toss to coat with seasoning. Spread carrots out on the prepared baking sheet.

Transfer to oven and roast until carrots are caramelized; begin checking at 20 minutes and stir as necessary.

To serve: Toss carrots with any pan juices and transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Top with crumbled feta and fresh mint.

Yield: 4 servings

1 bunch of leafy kale, washed and trimmed
1 large grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1/2 cup pistachios, roasted and chopped
1/2 cup feta crumbled
3 green onions, thinly sliced
cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper

In a bowl combine the washed and chopped kale with one tablespoon of olive oil and a small pinch of kosher salt. Mix to combine and set aside for ten minutes. To prepare the salad, layer the grapefruit, crumbled cheese, pistachios and green onions over the kale. Gently combine.

In a small glass bowl, combine the vinegar, grapefruit juice, honey, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Whisk together. While whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil to combine. Taste and adjust flavors if needed. Add a pinch of salt if it’s bland or extra grapefruit juice if the Dijon is too strong for your preference.

Drizzle salad dressing over the salad. Mix gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Chermoula is a traditional sauce for seafood in Moroccan recipes, whether fried, cooked with vegetables in a tagine or baked. It consists of coriander, garlic, sweet and hot peppers, cumin and coarse salt mixed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Chermoula Sauce:
1 preserved lemon, flesh removed,
skin roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon saffron threads,
soaked in 2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound large prawns, shelled and deveined Olive oil, for brushing grill pan Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare chermoula sauce:
To the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add all sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To grill prawns: Using paper towels, pat prawns dry. Season prawns liberally with salt and pepper. Add prawns to a preheated grill pan set over medium-high heat, brush with oil.

Grill prawns until cooked through, about two to three minutes Using tongs, transfer prawns to a medium bowl with chermoula, and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

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