At least for me, who roasted the turkeys in much the same way that Lucy Ricardo might have done on I Love Lucy - utterly incompetently. There are rules for defrosting a big bird, you know, and then keeping the turkey moist through the cooking process by brining - now there's a chore - or injection. So much work! I once considered deep-frying a turkey but quickly came to my senses; I would have probably burned down the house.
Richard McPeake, the former executive chef for the Gilbert/Robinson restaurant chain and now a culinary instructor at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College, says he's not a big fan of fried turkeys anyway: "Most people overcook them, and the meat is far too dry."
In fact, that's the problem for most home cooks, even the ones with years of experience roasting a fat turkey in their own ovens, McPeake says. "Almost everyone overcooks their turkey."
Those poor, parched squirrels running around my neighborhood devoured every tomato plant in my backyard — the few plump red ones and even all the green ones — a couple of sweltering weeks ago. No tears were shed by me: It became one less area to have to water every morning. And, frankly, the squirrels probably needed those tomatoes a lot more than I did.
Someday, I've promised myself to learn how to "put up" any vegetables I grow (or, more likely, buy at a local farmers market) and make my own pickles. I have made jelly before, but sealing those jars doesn't seem as complicated as the summer vegetables, which require boiling water baths or pressure cookers. Canning and preserving food have always seem terrifying to me. You know, the possibility of botulism and death and all that. Those fears have always made me appreciate the easy availability of Heinz products.
But, wait! Chef Matt Chatfield at the Culinary Center of Kansas City is once again offering his popular "Preserving the Flavors of Summer" class on Tuesday, August 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Culinary Center facility (7920 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, 913-341-4455). There are, currently, just six slots left open for the class.
If you've pledged to become a better cook or drinker in 2010, you have lots of options over the next month.
If you have an eight or nine-inch pan and $50, the secret to weekend
nirvana is yours. The class is this Saturday from 10 a.m. to
If not sweet, then savory. CCKC Executive Chef Matt Chatfield leads a pork lover's paradise class with his wife, Chef Sophia Chatfield, on Sunday. They'll show you how to make a four-course meal of pork dishes, including a pulled pork tamale with mole sauce and dessert with chocolate and bacon. The class runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and is $50.
If you've never worked in the restaurant industry but always thought you could make it as a chef -- you could be on television. Producers are casting Gordon Ramsay's new show, MasterChef, and one of the open casting calls is at The Culinary Center of Kansas City on Sunday, January 17, from 12 to 5 p.m.
The show is from the producers of The Biggest Loser -- whether that's a positive or a negative, I'll leave that to you. The concept is that Chef Ramsay helps a collection of amateur cooks and foodies transform themselves into master chefs -- one can only assume with a mix of cajoling and caustic humor. It's also described as an "inspirational cooking show," so perhaps, the budding chefistas will be spared the wrath of Ramsay.
It's time to take off the oven mitts and get serious about holiday cooking. And if your Thanksgiving meal didn't quite pan out, here are lots of options this month for rescuing your
traditional Christmas dinner. But it means calling in the professionals.
The Kansas City Culinary Center offers a class on Holiday Cupcake "Ornaments" on Saturday, December 12, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Instructor Celia Shea teaches how to create homemade fondant and design a series of mini cupcakes that look like Christmas tree ornaments. The class costs $45.
It's time to go where you've never gone before: your pantry or that cupboard that's filled with dry goods that you haven't touched since you moved in. Tonight you are not going to eat out. You're going to make a meal from what you've got on hand -- and it's going to be good.
Recession Wire has 10 tips on how to cook from scratch, designed to help you save money and learn to cook the basics. The tip that makes the most sense is to begin most of your savory dishes by sauteing freshly chopped onion and garlic in olive oil.
Having just finished up a four-month culinary course, I thought I'd share some of the best kernels of knowledge I've acquired before I forget them myself.
What follows is ten different concepts, tricks or just plain sense that culinary school has taught me so far:
Number Ten: Mis en place. For chefs, this means having an organized kitchen after five hours of non-stop action. For lay people this means finally doing that major cleaning and overhaul of your kitchen's utensils, spices and food so that you know where everything is. The desired results are the same. When a culinary emergency arises, say a pie needs to come out of the oven now!, you're not frantically opening up drawers looking for the one with the oven mitt in it. It's all about making cooking go smoothly.
Number Nine: Ignore meat thermometers. There are better ways to
accurately judge the doneness of meat, without resorting to the amateur
way of cutting into it or trying to use a thermometer. My
teacher at one point said to throw out your meat thermometers because you'll only ruin the meat by using them.
It's all about the touch and how much give
a steak or a chicken has when you touch it. Next time you're grilling,
try it -- you'll notice the meat is firm and doesn't have much give when
Today's the last culinary diary. Last night's class was the de facto final. It was the practical exam that, unlike our written exams, was based on our individual skills in the kitchen. Top Chef without the cameras -- or drama.
The menu wasn't difficult: arroz con pollo with a Waldorf salad and roasted zucchini. The toughest part was making everything within the hour time frame.
Arroz con pollo is a Spanish chicken dish that's virtually error-proof and contains a full meal's worth of ingredients with rice, vegetables and the chicken. You can look elsewhere online for a recipe (here's a good one), but basically it's just chicken you brown in a pan and then put in a braising dish. Throw a little rice into the same pan and add chicken stock, diced tomatoes and peppers and get that mixture bubbling. Once it's bubbling, dump it over the chicken in the braising pan, wrap foil tightly over the top to seal in the moisture, and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes or as long as it takes the rice to absorb all the stock and tomato juice. None of those steps are technically difficult.
It does take some prep work, though. There's the dicing of the peppers, onion and garlic; the browning of the chicken; the gathering of the seasonings, etc. With only an hour to plate everything, I had to work efficiently but fast.
By OWEN MORRIS
Tonight I finally realized why Johnson County Community College has our upper-level class cook in the smallest and most crowded kitchen in the entire school.
The answer dawned on me as I was literally stuck in an impasse between two students cooking on a stove-top with two more students beyond them in each direction. In the best of times the fit between stove-top and warming station is only two-feet wide but a mass of bodies filled that two feet.
I had a flashback to a similar moment years ago in a kitchen where I was a lowly busboy. I was holding some metal pan just out of the washer with my fingers when I got caught in a trap of chefs going both directions at once. The pan was burning my fingers and there was no place to set it down where it wouldn't hurt some food -- except the floor.
That flashback made me realize that this teaching kitchen is designed to be the most like a real kitchen, and because our class is an advanced one that's supposed to simulate real-world conditions, the college had either purposely or through necessity made it a tough kitchen to work in.
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