White Sangria Recipe

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1/2 pound seedless green grapes, stems removed
1 – 2 Red Delicious apples, cored and thinly sliced
3 cups white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, white rioja, alborino, etc.)
1 cup apple juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 cups ice cubes

In a pitcher combine grapes, apples, and white wine. Let sit for 1 to 2 hours. Pour in the apple and pineapple juices. Add the ice cubes and serve with any combination of additional fruit garnish.  Enjoy!    

Risotto with Lemon and Zucchini

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!So… next Sunday August 8th is National “Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day” So… to celebrate and give people something to do with all the Zucchini that will supposedly magically show up on their doorstep this weekend, I’m making Risotto with Lemon and Zucchini at the market on Saturday!

Serves 4


2 Tb butter
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 large zucchini, grated
1 small lemon, zested and juiced
1 C short grain rice (usually you see Arborio or Carnaroli types)
1/2 C white wine
1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c Parmigiano cheese grated
1Tb fresh parsley, minced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1T of butter in a heavy pot over medium low heat. Add garlic, pepper flakes  and onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, lemon zest, a few grinds of fresh pepper and 1/2t salt. This will draw the water out of the zucchini. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the water comes out of the zucchini and evaporates again, stirring regularly.

Move zucchini to the sides of pan and add another tablespoon of butter, allow it to melt and start sizzling. Add the rice and stir it all together allowing the rice to absorb the moisture of the butter and vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly for about a minute. Add the wine and continue stirring until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add just enough stock to cover the rice until it is absorbed stirring constantly. After your first addition of stock has been absorbed add more stock also just to cover the rice stirring constantly until it is absorbed. Continue adding stock gradually in this way until you’ve added the entire quart.

When the rice is almost done take the heat off the bottom of the pot and stir in the lemon juice, cheese, and parsley. Taste for seasoning and serve!

Key Ingredient

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!Diana Miller Cooper has been an instructor at The Culinary Center since 2005. She had previously owned and operated a cake and candy shop in Mission, Kansas where she taught classes and baked and decorated hundreds and hundreds of cakes!

Although her area of expertise lies in cakes, cookies and chocolates, she loves to teach savory classes as well as many of our kids classes. One of her very favorite classes (which she developed the concept for) is our “So You Want to Be the Next Foodie TV Star” class for our Junior Chef Academy program. Kids ages 9 to 14 not only get to experience a hands-on cooking class, but also work in teams to write, produce and star in a short “food-television-inspired” cooking show!

Another favorite class of Diana’s is her Cinnamon Roll Critters class in which an adult/child team work together to make cinnamon rolls in the shape of, you guessed it … a critter! Great fun!

In addition to teaching, Diana wears other hats at The CCKC – she is a facilitator for our successful teambuilding program, develops new class concepts and assists in writing our newsletter. She also has the pleasure of meeting with potential new instructors and working with them to develop new classes … keeping our class schedule fresh and fun.

Diana is married to Patrick Cooper and they have two children, John and Sara.

Classroom Chatter

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The Classroom Chatter has been all kids’ voices this week! I know I’ve talked about it before but this summer  with The Junior Chefs Academy has been a blast!!! We’ve had 4 Junior Chefs classes this week alone! Our 9-14 year old friends made Mexican food twice, decorated cakes and baked pies.  This summer they’ve been to the farmer’s market and haggled for their own fruits and veggies, learned about pizza, eggs, chicken, and some have even come in to cook with yours truly at the Overland Park farmer’s market!

These kids are so hungry (pardon the pun) for cooking knowledge! They ask questions about their food.  They wonder why things are made they way they are, and they’re eager to get in and try it themselves.  They’re also not afraid to fail.  They follow Julia Child’s sensibility of cooking with courage! So what if you break the egg yolk… make an omelet! So what if your pie looks funny, everyone will think you meant it to look that way.

Every time I see the light of realization in one of their eyes, or when one is excited to tell me what recipe they made at home last week it makes me glad I do what I do for a living.  That sense of wonder and reckless abandon is something we could all learn from…especially adults! Why not try that new recipe, that exotic ingredient, that weird vegetable, it will probably be great, if not, you’ll know at least one thing not to do again!

Rachel Ciordas

“Dean of Deliciousness”

Manager of Culinary Curriculum

Junior Chefs Academy

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!Meet Kyle Baker. Kyle is a member of our Junior Chef’s Academy.

I am twelve years old and will be going to Mission Valley Middle School in the fall.  My favorite subject is science because I like to know how the world works around me.  I am an only child.  I have a dog named Tommy which I got from the Independence Animal Shelter.  I have three gold fish named Billy, Bob, and Buck.  I have two African dwarf frogs named Tim and Bruce.  I also have seven goldfish outdoors in a pond.  One of my favorite recipes to make is Rhubarb Pork.  So far I have only taken the chicken class, but I am signed up for many more like the pie making class and the pizza making class. In the chicken class I learned how to stuff and roast a chicken. I encourage all kids interested in cooking to take classes at the Culinary Center.  The classes are a blast!

The Culinary Center of Kansas City™    Junior Chef’s Academy (click here for more information)

Kids and “All Hands for Hunger”

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Manager of Merriment Maria

We have a big day ahead here at the CCKC w/ a kids’ class and two teambuilding events!  One of the teambuildings will be our new and very popular “All Hands for Hunger” model.  This event has been so well received by our guests and of course the recipients of the yummy food donations.  Tomorrow’s donation will be created by various teams from a local corporation, and then donated to Rose Brooks Women’s and Children’s Shelter here in KCMO.  We recently learned that the demand for the services at shelters like Rose Brooks has tripled since June of ’09…….So we’re doing our best to help them in such a desperate time of need!  We’re glad to be able to offer such an opportunity to our guests, both privately and to the public through our newsletter.  Talk about “comfort food” at its finest!

All Hands in the Cookie Jar!

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!Maria Dickson our Manager of Merriment

We had more fun a couple of weeks ago while hosting a new teambuilding model we’re calling All Hands in the Cookie Jar! One of our favorite clients called and said “Hey, we want to have a fun retreat for our staff, but also want to do something to give back to the community in some way.  What do you suggest?”  Of course I talked about our All Hands for Hunger model, but somehow we started going down a little different road….Their mission was to directly impact the kids in need at Rose Brooks Women’s and Children’s Shelter.  So a new concept was born!  Their group was divided into teams, and each team chose a quintessential children’s book to use for their theme (Good Night Moon, The Velveteen Rabbit, etc.)  We were amazed and thrilled to see how creative and beautiful their cookie “story boards” turned out!  Vibrant and cheery baskets were then filled with the books and creatively decorated (and scrumptious!) cookies, which they delivered straight to the shelter on that same day…Talk about WARM FUZZIES!!!!  :)

Dean of Deliciousness tells us how to grill fruit

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!Grill side Chatter

I spent last Saturday morning at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market (as usual) braving the freak early morning heat to cook in the open air and meet some great market goers who stop by to chat with me.  This week people came in droves.  Why might you ask would they take a break from their sleepy shopping to talk to me? It’s the smell.  This week I grilled peaches and the scent of sweet fruitiness caramelizing on a grill was too much to resist. (OK, in all seriousness I knew it would be, I can’t resist it either!) Lots of people stopped by to check out what was going on, and to ask me “You can grill peaches? Really?” The answer is yes, you really can, and not only that, you should.

I’m glad we’re all kissing goodbye the idea that a grill can only be used for overdone burgers and boring hotdogs (you know how we feel about hotdogs around here… have you read the Main Dish’s last blog?)  Everybody is getting brave grilling their salads, appetizers, veggies and even fruit!  Grilled fruit recipes are popping up everywhere, just this weekend there was a planked cheese and grilled grape recipe in the Kansas City Star and our own Bruce Campbell makes a mean rum soaked grilled pineapple in his classes!

Fruit is the perfect grill fodder, it’s mainly sugars and water so a grilled peach or plum will caramelize quickly and become juicy and “bursty” (I think I should trademark that word!) making it the perfect easy (and healthy) dessert.  My advice however is not to try this with the overly ripe “eat it now or it will turn to mush” fruit, but with a barely ripe or just a bit firm piece.  An over the hill peach will quickly dissinigrate and then you’ll think I was crazy for suggesting this fruit grilling adventure in the first place!

All you need is: fruit, oil or nonstick spray, and a grill.

Cut your larger fruit like peaches, plums, apples, bananas (leave the skin on!), oranges in half, really big fruit like melons and pineapple in slices

Coat the fruit with a bit of oil or nonstick spray (never ever spray the grill, assuming that is that you like your eyebrows where they are!)

Grill until fruit is softened and juicy

It’s that simple!

If you’ve got berries or other small fruits a grill basket (usually sold for grilling fish) will keep them from falling through the grates, or you can even wrap them in foil like little berry packets!  Now that you’ve got the basics, you start mixing things up… what about throwing some rum and brown sugar on that pineapple before grilling… sort of a pineapple upside down with no cake? You could also grill a couple of bananas throw all of it on some vanilla ice cream and call it your grilled banana split.  Your family will think you’re a genius and you won’t have even broken a sweat.  Or you could grill those juicy blueberries you bought at the farmer’s market in a foil packet with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drop of honey, and make a grilled parfait with vanilla yogurt and granola or crumbled cookies.  It’s the same effect as taking an everyday boring old apple and baking it with brown sugar  and cinnamon in the fall, instant yumminess only vaguely reminiscent of it’s initial form.  BUT… you don’t want to heat up your house with an oven do you? No way, so throw those fruits on the grill instead for a fantastic dessert with little fuss, very few ingredients, and minimal impact on your waistline. No excuses about marshmallows being the only appropriate open fire dessert, think outside the graham cracker and grill a little fruit instead!

Message From the “Main Dish”

Visit our new website at kcculinary.com!An Odyssey For Food At The Ball Park
Yesterday was a frustrating day for me from a food perspective.  You’ll know what I’m talking about when I tell you I went to the KC Royals game at Kauffman Stadium.   I risk sounding like a food snob but I’m going to go there anyway so bear with me while I vent a bit.  Because I have a hard time just laying out the bad news, I feel the need to further preface my comments by admitting that someone, somewhere along the way, realized that the food options needed to be totally revamped at Kauffman so I know they’re trying out there .  However, here’s my beef.  Why is it so hard to find healthy food choices at the ballgame?   I totally get the fact that it’s going to cost more for EVERYTHING at the ballfield and I understand that sometimes it’s ok to splurge but there I was, standing with my wallet at the ready and prepared to swallow the ridiculous prices, but there wasn’t a darn thing that wasn’t high on the fat/salt/carb/sugar meter.  Ok so maybe a bag of peanuts (albeit with salt I might add) would suffice….but does that really sound like lunch to you?   What the heck is going on?  Am I the only one that sees this?  Surely it’s not about needing to provide the masses with inexpensive food because as I have already indicated, it ain’t cheap out there.   I know.  I know.  I just need to tap into my small town American heritage and have a hotdog but those of you know me would know that a hotdog will never pass these lips.   I am still in awe that someone would actually choose to eat one.  And to those of you who have already started formulating a scathing anti-American response post to this frank “anti-frank” statement, take a moment to do a bit of research first and then see if you can actually tell me with a straight face that I should just suck it up and eat a hotdog.   I can’t help it that I actually choose to put real food in my body.    Back to the food choices…. After a long and somewhat patient search, I did end up settling on a limp BBQ veggie burger that sat sadly on a processed white bread hamburger bun.  What’s the point?  It did get me through the game…along with a beer I might add.  Hey, everything in moderation right?  well….except for hotdogs.  :)

Classroom Chatter

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Chatter from our Dean of Deliciousness, Rachel

Well, what a day at the office folks! Where else can you say that on a Tuesday you learned to roll Sushi? Our Executive Chef Matt Chatfield offered to teach me just this during this Tuesdays’ Japanese inspired staff lunch! Now I know why his sushi classes are so darn popular!

Somehow Sushi always seemed like it would be so complicated, so precise to me.  I’m more of a whirlwind in the kitchen, a tornado of culinary activity.  I can cook like a mad woman, awesome sauces, inventive dishes, but for some reason sushi has always left me stumped.  Apparently what I needed was someone to explain things to me… imagine that?

Chef Matt is great at taking something you might think is intimidating, and breaking down the steps.  He explained the rice, how much to spread, the importance of wet hands, and how much seasoning is nice on the rice, and then he showed me how to roll it all up, all the while I was thinking… “Sure buddy, but you’re the Chef, how many sushi rolls have you made before?   I’m sure MY sushi won’t look like that!”

Then I gave it a whirl… guess what?? It was easy AND it looked like sushi! (I was pretty sure mine would end up looking more like sushi explosion)  OK sure, I’m not going to compete with Iron Chef Morimoto or anything but…. it totally looked at least as good as many a sushi roll I’ve eaten at high priced Sushi joints around town. So then I made more, and more, and then it started to be really fun!

Matt gave me helpful hints on how to make sure my sushi fillings end up in the middle, not off to the side like a couple of rolls were, and told me to practice on veggie rolls at home… veggie sushi can be made for just pennies, instead of the high pricetag you’ll pay to have them at a restaurant, or even the deli counter at the grocery store!  So that’s what I’ll be up to this week, practicing sushi, in fact I think I’ll sign up for Matt’s next Flavorful Weekend Night Sushi Class on July 9th!

What a deal, learn to make sushi, eat a bunch of sushi, and after that I’ll have the skills to host my own sushi party! Hope to see you on the 9th!