For beginners and experienced cooks
- Inspire your cooking.
- Master essential culinary concepts.
- Conserve your time, energy and resources.
- Share the joy of living and eating well.
To help us focus on specific skills, techniques and underlying concepts essential to a cook's sense of confidence and success.
TUITION: These Support Course Classes are $55 each or $250 for the whole series of five classes.
Refer to How Classes Work for sign-up and general class information.
Continue reading for complete 2015 Class Descriptions.
2015 CLASS SCHEDULE, continued...
After seven years of seasonal recipe and menu driven classes here at Come Home to Cooking, this year we are setting aside time to more fully answer many of the related side questions that have so often come up during class. These pertinent topics are always easier to address and comprehend when you can see, do, taste and be tutored in rather than just read about them. So this time, instead of working our way through a set of particular recipes, we will focus on the featured concepts, prepping and cooking together as best serves the purpose of experiencing and understanding them.
Each one of these classes can stand alone, but the subjects are all interdependent and arranged in this order to follow the natural progression of skills we often need to use when preparing either a single dish or an entire meal. So if you elect to sign up for the whole series, you will have the opportunity to cross reference and connect the concepts to further expand your overall sense of culinary confidence and ease.
[NOTE: In response to enthusiastic student requests, both Class 108 and Class 111 build on the "Seasoning with a Sixth Sense" Short Course Class 96 we offered last spring.]
Most cooking projects start with a knife, and a dull blade takes all the fun out of getting the job done. You're also more apt to end up cutting yourself instead. So come learn how to add a sharp edge to your skill set, and bring your favorite knife to prepare for action and practice on. I'll also have a selection of other knives for you to compare yours with, so you can discover which size and shape really suits you best. We'll practice how to most effectively hold and move the knife, and then get to work slicing, dicing, mincing, julienning, chiffonading and chopping our way through a basket full of different vegetable varieties. Let me be your guide. And when we've reached the top of everyone's piles, we'll toss them all together for a simply dressed salad to refresh and reward ourselves with the victory at hand.
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Salt is essential for more reasons than there are varieties. It can be used in wet or dry brines and marinades, for elevating the boiling point of water, adding precious minerals and trace elements, drawing out moisture, balancing acids, and accentuating flavors, just to name a few possibilities. So knowing which salt to select for what and why can make or break your cooking journey. Pepper usually comes next, but now we're considering black, white, pink, or red peppercorns and various kinds of chilis to make things lively. Of course, the list of possible herbs is long and we all have our favorites. But whether to use fresh or dried, how to combine, and when to add them opens up whole new vistas. And don't underestimate the vitality in a suggestion of sweet spices to complete that dance around the palate. You'll taste the difference when you come discover for yourself all the steps, turns, dips and highs this endless source of flavor and texture enhancers has to offer us.
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Long, slow braises warm up our hearths and homes on cold wintery days, but when we're in a hurry or it's already seasonably sizzling outside, we need to cook it as fast as we can. So these practical flash-in-the-pan techniques quickly deliver the goods to make our lives easier and more comfortable for an ongoing benefit the whole year-round. Whether with vegetables or meaty things, that blast of higher heat browns their outsides to intensify the flavors and seals the moist tenderness up inside. All of this works even better if you've pre-seasoned to flavor penetrate and further tenderize, especially with meaty things. And to top it all off, any residual juices or caramelization can be turned into an instant finishing sauce. So why not make it hot and fast so you can save the rest of your time and energy for some of the other good things in life. Like gathering together to sit down around a table in the shade.
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With only a few days left before Autumn arrives, we'll soon start craving all that the cool weather hot silky soup and sauce seasons have to offer us. So here's how to meet that need in more ways than one. Whether you're starting with fresh raw ingredients or taking advantage of a stash from your pantry stock, you'll want to know how to bring it all together to create that sublime sense of smoothness that slides right down with eyeball-rolling satisfaction. We'll compare the various results using flour, rice or potatoes to thicken things, even just a little bit of butter or cream to enrich and bind the liquids and solids, and then both more traditional and modern methods for pureeing the combination to create the ease and fineness of texture your hand and heart desire.
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Help! You started with good ingredients, you followed the recipe carefully, you had a great idea, but who knows what went wrong? The result is just not what you were hoping for. These disappointing moments of truth happen all the time, even to the best of us. But now you can find out what to do about them. Whether it seems like a disaster or only in need of a little something to become a whole lot better, we must first isolate the problematic variable(s). Taste again and tell. Is it too salty, acidic, bitter, sweet, spicy, weak, thin, bland, boring, dead, heavy, sharp or harsh? This class is an opportunity to further educate and expand your intuitive sense about how to analyze and make it right with the help of some reliable quick fixes and tricks of the trade.
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We start off by gathering around the central work table for introductory remarks and a description of that session’s scheduled recipes and/or activities. Then we all get to work, either remaining around the table and/or moving about the kitchen to accomplish the various tasks at hand. During this time we pause for specific directions, observations, tastings and technique demonstrations as appropriate. We also take little breaks to refresh and nourish ourselves, as we coordinate the timing to keep separate activities integrated and moving along. Questions and comments are addressed throughout, and everyone has the opportunity to learn all the steps involved in every recipe and procedure for that particular day.
Then for "Main Course" and special event classes, the moment arrives when everything's done and we sit down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Both these shared meals and any follow-up review session discussions take place either around the dining room or garden courtyard table, weather depending. Because "Support" and "Short Course" classes focus on specific fundamental topics rather than the creation of a meal, we typically remain in the kitchen for any tasting they include.
Many students come with, meet or make friends at Come Home to Cooking, but the intention of these classes is for you to leave feeling more confident and inspired about the supportive role real cooking can play in your life. We are here to celebrate learning as well as to share the joy of living and eating well.
On These Blustery Days—
Like we did in our Seriously Chocolate Holidaze class here yesterday, while the rain clouds gathered to burst overhead. That was our last class for December, the last chance this year to come learn how to cook with ease. To make the most of each season as we learn how to always make some for now and later too. To share the joy of working and playing together, when we all get to come home to cooking. Thank you for your vital part in helping make that dream come true.
Classes will resume in March 2015 with a See and Do It! series of Support Courses, focused on specific skills, techniques, and underlying concepts essential to a cook's sense of confidence and success. The detailed schedule will be announced in January, so we can all start making our plans to cook together again in the new year.
In the meantime, I hope we all get the chance to stock up and kick back. To make the most of our holidays. To come together and bask in the glory of it all.
Wishing you an ongoing feast with a long winter's nap for dessert.
Cheers and Bon Appetit! Kay
To Expand Your Repertoire and Dress Up Your Dishes—
Terrified of making gravy? Always wondered what creamed onions are all about? Wish you knew how to throw together a light little sauce that could magically transform an otherwise ordinary dish? When it comes to feasts like Thanksgiving, I can’t imagine turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes without a ladleful of gravy. Even better if it’s enriched with wild mushrooms, so that’s what we’ll make. And if you’ve never seen how the typically sharp onion family can suddenly slip into silky soft sweetness and cream, then this is your chance.
When You Divide and Conquer to Provide for One and All—
Company’s coming. And you either don’t have a clue or know only too well how many different eating preferences you might have to satisfy. Let’s assume you’d also like to be able to relax and enjoy your own gathering once everyone’s arrived. No problem, right? Or maybe it’s just normal life, a crazy week ahead, or the desire to get everything made in advance and still have plenty left over to save some for later too. Well, you can now rest assured, because this menu is a very workable solution in either case. I call it “Pork ‘n’ Beans ‘n’ Greens”, but it can be made with any other braised meat.
“So much more than a cooking class…. it is a relaxed community sharing love, joy and fantastic food around your family table…
Just magical!” R.R. More feedback...
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