Double-Duty Bar Gadget

February 5, 2016

As seen this month in the ‘Get This Gadget’ feature in FEAST Magazine, The Culinary Center of Kansas City ‘Main Dish’ Laura Laiben reviews gadgets from our Kitchen Shop that we think are pretty darn nifty. See if you agree…


In addition to being a cute little replica of a manly saw, this gadget has a dual purpose for your bar – it offers both a bottle opener and a citrus cutter. It’s a handy size to take along to any party or tailgate! Father’s Day is not that far away.  This would make a sweet little gift for your favorite manly man … who drinks cocktails made with citrus.  Real men do that you know.    (Click here to order on our website.)

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Half Price Deal for a Lucky Blog Subscriber – ACT NOW!

February 3, 2016

Say GoodBye To The Fish FryOnce again, it pays to be a Kitchen Talk subscriber – here’s why…

Win a HALF PRICE seat in TONIGHT’s Lusciously Lenten, Say GoodBye To The Fish Fry class taught by Lauren Abel at The Culinary Center of Kansas City. We’re ONLY announcing this here on our CCKC Kitchen Talk blog.

There’s one remaining seat in the class. If you sign up online, it’s $55 (+tax.) Be the first person to call us at 913-341-4455 and request the HALF PRICE in the class, and we’ll hook you up with that seat for $27.50 (+tax)!

Click on this link for more information about the class, Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Act now – we have just that one seat left in class and we want it filled…  You Must Be The First Caller at 913-341-4455 to Win!

Pays to be a Kitchen Talk subscriber, doesn’t it?!


Comfort Food in a Bowl

February 2, 2016

This recipe is a staple of our All Hands For Hunger™ interactive teambuilding model where local companies create freezers full of food for local charities here in the Kansas City area.  It’s hearty, healthy and freezes well.  Oh yes … and it’s delicious. We have it available for sale by the quart in our Dinners on Demand freezers too!

Tuscan Bean SoupTuscan Bean Soup

  • 1/8 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, washed, peeled, diced
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • ½ cup celery, washed, diced
  • 1 white potato, peeled, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 large red bell peppers, washed, seeded, medium dice
  • 1 1/2 quarts white beans, cooked, drained
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 cup whole tomatoes, canned, processed slightly in food processor (or blender)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon rosemary, fresh, washed

In a 1-gallon stock pot heat add bacon and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly crisp, stirring constantly.  Add oil, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and peppers and sauté until halfway tender, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Add beans, water, tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and rosemary.  Stir to mix and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.  To serve, ladle into individual soup bowls.  Serve warm. 

Makes 4 quarts.

ETC: Serve a moist cornbread and honey butter alongside this soup for a full meal experience.    

Find this and other CCKC favorite recipes in our cookbook –|
“The Culinary Center of Kansas City’s BEST RECIPES – SECOND EDITION.” ™
Available for purchase online at www.kcculinary.com and in our retail store – “The Kitchen Shop.”™



6 Foods You Should Always Have In Your Pantry

January 30, 2016

Next up in our series of ‘Sandy’s Six‘ blog posts, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, allows us a virtual peek into her home pantry.  Sandy, a wealth of culinary knowledge, shares with us the essentials she always has in stock at home…

Keeping in mind our crazy Midwest winters, I probably stock the pantry a bit tighter this season than any other. These are a few of the most important items I like to keep on my pantry shelves…

  • Dried Beans.  Dried beans are fantastic for a go-to meal and they’re easy to store. I like to keep a variety of them, including a mix of soup beans, Great Northern beans, cannellini beans, lentils, split pea…  have I mentioned I like having dried beans around?!
    Dried Beans
  • A variety of pasta.  Like the dried beans, I keep a number of different kinds of pasta available for use at a moment’s notice. Among my stash, you’ll generally find spaghetti, bucatini, penne, and I’ll include in the list soup pastas, brown rice, black rice and quinoa.
  • Olive oil.   I don’t usually have vegetable oil in my pantry, but many home cooks may want to keep that in stock also.  VinegarsI like to cook with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), but use what your budget allows. Make sure you store your oils in a cool, dark place.
  • Several kinds of vinegars.  I like to experiment with vinegars in my cooking. Don’t always just default to using white vinegar!  Include red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic and white balsamic vinegars and sherry vinegar in your pantry, and play around with flavors.
  • Small containers of spices.  Buying spice in bulk for home use is probably not going to provide savings for you. You shouldn’t keep spices for too long in your pantry, or they lose their magical spicy juju. Here’s a quick guide to remember – if you can’t smell them, throw them.  I’m speaking in generalities, of course, but it’s a good, basic rule.
  • Mirepoix vegetables.  Mirepoix – pronounced “meer-pwah” – is a combination of chopped onions, carrots and celery used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, soups, stews and sauces, and as a base for braising meats, etc. They’re vegetables that I constantly use in my cooking, and ones that don’t have to be refrigerated. They’re pantry staples.Mirepoix

There are probably a few other things you’ll ALWAYS find in my pantry, but these are definitely at the top of the list. I also keep a couple jars of prepared salsa and pasta sauce in there to use if I’m in a pinch for time. I’m not a big believer in canned goods, so there aren’t many of those, except some tomato paste and beans, and those are usually BPA-free and organic.

What are the staples in your pantry?



Show Us Your Love!

January 29, 2016

#LoveDTOPIt’s practically February, and we’re hoping you can show us a little lovin’ with Valentine’s Day approaching… 

Please vote for The Culinary Center of Kansas City as your favorite business in its first-ever People’s Choice Award for 2015.  Click here or on the Downtown OP logo to the right, and list The Culinary Center as your fave.  It’s just a brief 2 question survey that won’t take but a minute. Please cast your vote before Friday, February 5.

And there could be a little somethin’ in it for you too. Each person who completes the survey will be entered to win a $25 Downtown Overland Park gift card!

So, spread the love, won’t you?  Thanks!



Mama Mia, That’s A Meaty Bolognese!

January 26, 2016

There’s just nothing like a homemade pasta sauce to make a meal seem like a big, happy family dinner, is there?  Chef Sandy made her famous Bolognese sauce served with penne pasta at Tuesday Lunch this week. She’s sharing her recipe with you here on the blog, but if you’d really just like to buy the Bolognese meat sauce already prepared and ready to serve, you can buy it by the quart in our Dinners on Demand freezers.

Penne BologneseBolognese alla Penne


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound penne pasta, uncooked (or most any pasta you want…)
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the ground chuck and season again generously with salt. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and taste frequently. Season with salt, if needed. (You probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the penne. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Water should taste like the ocean. When the water is at a rolling boil add the penne and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the sauce from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining sauce. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Give a big sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil.




And… We Have A Winner!

January 25, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken DinnerIt did pay to be a Kitchen Talk subscriber for Sarah T…

Sarah T. won a FREE seat in TONIGHT’s Introduction to Middle Eastern Cooking class at The Culinary Center of Kansas City.  Congrats!!

Sarah T. was the first person to call us and request the free seat in the class.

It’s too late to win this time, but look for more opportunities to win here on the CCKC Kitchen Talk blog.  Make sure you’re a Subscriber – just enter your email at the top of the right column over there. >>>


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