by Jay Kitterman, consultant, Lincoln Land Community College Culinary Institute
Are your current culinary offerings based around Hamburger Helper or pasta sauce in a jar? If so, a cooking class may be just what you need.
Today I will present 10 reasons why you should consider taking a cooking or baking class, and some information on upcoming classes and dinners at LLCC.
- It’s fun! Short-term cooking classes have no pressure, no homework and provide new experiences. They provide a chance to meet new people, bond with your daughter, get your husband into the kitchen: all are great reasons to take a class.
- You will learn something new. Yes, you can watch the celebrity chefs on the Food Channel, but they don’t give you the true hands-on experience of being in a real live class with a trained chef. The chef instructor will coach you on proper techniques while answering all of your cooking questions-all in real time with no worries wondering if you programmed the DVR correctly.
- Try something new and get inspired. Are you in a cooking rut? Do you have a basic 15 to 20 dishes that you always cook? A class will inspire you to try out new things and to alter those standard recipes you always use, plus learn to use new spices and ingredients.
- No dishes to wash. Cooking classes give you all the fun of cooking, but the clean-up will be in the hands of someone else.
- Save money. If you dine out often, taking a class can save you some money. Yes, the class will cost you initially, but in the long run, you will be saving money by not eating out as much as you currently do. By cooking at home, you can eat healthier and have total control of the ingredients in your dish.
- Work with new, unique Ingredients. Cooking classes will introduce you to new and different ingredients. Classes will teach you how to work with them and to use them correctly in recipes from class and others you will want to try.
- Cooking classes will provide you with a unique souvenir. After you return from class you will have lots of recipes. Your friends will truly prefer the pizza you learned in class over the four hour slide show of Italy. T-shirts and trinkets are nice but recreating the recipes in class will be much more rewarding.
- Real-life questions with real life answers and no yelling. Unlike the TV chefs, our instructors do not scream and yell! It’s your opportunity to interact and ask questions of these professionals and take advantage of their culinary knowledge. Many of our instructors have years of experience and truly enjoy sharing their kitchen stories.
- Develop your skills. Many of the recipes involve basic skills, and classes will help you bring life to old recipes.
- The best part is, you get food! Often you will be part of a team preparing more than one dish. You definitely won’t go hungry and will sample multiple dishes.
Now that you are sold you on taking a class, here’s what’s coming up this fall at Lincoln Land Community College. Did I mention that all of our classes are held in new, state-of-the-art baking and cooking labs?
Boot Camps. This fall we will be featuring two, two-week boot camps. The Cooking Boot Camp with Chef Denise Perry will be Sept. 17 and 24 at 5:30 p.m. Over the two weeks, you will learn stocks/sauces and techniques of cooking. The Baking Boot Camp with Chef Nicole Swartz will feature breads, cookies, restaurant desserts and pastries. Sweet! (Cooking Boot Camp Course Code 500-55A; Baking Course Code 500-55B)
Wine Academy. Do you enjoy wine but, like many people, would appreciate the opportunity to learn more? We have just the class for you. Bradley Beam is a wine enologist. Sounds like a dream job to me. Brad gets paid to make and study wine. He has produced award-winning wines himself and consults with wine makers. We are fortunate that Brad will be offering a four-week class on Tuesdays starting Sept. 22. Session 1 will focus on Sensory Evaluation-identifying wine aromas and flavors, Session 2 will cover the major white grapes, Session 3 the major red grapes, and week four will feature my favorite, sparkling wines, dessert wines, and aperitifs. (Course code CEW 500-59B)
Are your kids watching the chefs on the food channels? We offer a series of “Parent and Me Classes” where you and your child/grandchild will prepare culinary treats in our labs under the direction of a culinary instructor. This fall we will offer Great Pumpkin (Course Code CEW and YES 500 43B) where everything prepared will feature pumpkin, Souper Cheesy (Course Code CEW and YES 500-43A) preparingsoups and sandwiches, and Gingerbread (Course Code CEW and YES 500-43C) where you create your own Gingerbread house.
Frost, knead, taste and learn your way through our comprehensive collection of baking and pastry classes. Cakes-All about the Fillings (Course Code CEW 500-40A) is a new class that will focus on flavored fillings, Artisan breads (Course Code 500-40E) is a returning favorite, Sprouted Bread (CEW 500-40B) is another new one using whole grains allowed to sprout/germinate, French Pastry (Course Code 500-40C) ooh la la, and another new one French Macarons (Code 500-53A) – yes I spelled it correctly-Macarons not Macaroons. Jack Kostroub, owner of Mirabelle Fine Pastries in Urbana, joins us to teach the Cakes and Macarons class. The listing would not be complete without the All American Pie Class (Course Code CEW 500-40D) with Chef Terri.
Each year brings new cooking classes and the opportunity to learn about different cuisines from our talented chefs and culinary experts. Do you know Kimchi? (Course Code 500-53B). Siracha? (Siracha & Hot & Spicy Course Code 500-51E). Like sushi but dislike paying six or seven dollars for a dozen pieces? (Kimchi Sushi Course Code 500-51D). Find it difficult to be a vegetarian during the holidays? (Meatless Holidays Course Code 500-51F) Want to “kick it up” this Thanksgiving and give it a Southern twist? (Southern Fried Thanksgiving Course Code CEW 500-51G). Youngsun Gen from Masijta Grill in Urbana joins us for the Kimchi class and Chef Mark Andrews of Illini Country Club will bring his native Southern comfort foods recipes for all to prepare and share.
When you’re busy and trying to stick to a budget, dinner needs to be quick and cheap. But there’s no need to skimp on delicious! Save money and time and take one or more of our Budget Friendly series of classes with our own Chef Tracy Stout. Prepare weeknight dinners your family will love.
(Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Course Code CEW 500-50A; mSoups & Stews Course Code 500-50B; One Dish Wonders Course Code CEW 500-50C)
Kick start Your Health-We are proud to partner with the registered dietitians from Memorial Weight Loss and Wellness Center. Often it is not restricting amounts of foods but rather choosing the right foods in order to lose weight and stay healthy. Lower cholesterol, better diabetes control, lower blood pressure, as well as improvements in energy and mood are some of the many benefits. (Cooking & Dining with Diabetes Course Code CEW 500-41A).
Freezer Meals-Prepare a variety of healthy meals to take home and freeze (Course Code 500-41B).
You probably have heard about our Bistro Verde Dinners. They are multi-course dining experiences- often prepared by area chefs along with our culinary students. We have a few coming up and I must warn you-they fill up fast! Dinner includes wine and you must be 21 to attend.
Julia Child Dinner prepared by Chef David Radwine (Course Code CEW 503-50B).
Fall Crush Dinner with Chef Justin Richardson from Capone’s Hideout in New Berlin. Ms. Susan Danenberger of Danenberger Family Vineyards will join us and serve some of her award winning wines. (Course Code CEW 503-50C)
German Dinner with LLCC Chef Terri Branham. Experience German delicacies and enjoy wines from the Hoffman Family White Oak Vineyards in Carlock, Ill. (Course Code CEW 503 50D).
Chef Terri provided the following recipe.
Knocks ‘n’ Brats Soup
*2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*2 16 ounce pkg hash brown potatoes (square or shredded)
*1 onion, thinly sliced
*Salt & pepper
*1 1 pound package shredded cabbage
*1 10 ounce package shredded carrots
*1 bay leaf
*1 bottle beer
*Fresh dill (chopped) a generous handful
*Flat-leaf parsley, (chopped) a generous handful
*1 teaspoon caraway seeds
*1 32 ounce container chicken broth
*3 tablespoons spicy brown or grainy mustard
*1 to 1½ pounds smoked kielbasa, cut into ½ slices and then halved again
In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium to medium high-heat. Add the potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage, carrots, bay leaf and beer and heat to a simmer, then five minutes more. Stir dill, parsley and caraway seeds and cook for one minute. Stir in the broth and mustard, bring back to a simmer, then add sausage and lower the heat and keep warm.
I have done this recipe in the crock pot. I started in on the stove top, and then switched it to the crock pot before adding the broth. I cooked it most of the day and it worked perfectly.
For a complete list of classes: www.llcc.edu/culinary-institute or call 217.786.2355.