Serving Up Pumpkins

The theme for our 3rd Fridays Local Life celebration in Downtown Overland Park in October on Friday was OPtoberfest: Pumpkins Everywhere!

In the spirit of the theme, and because we do so LOVE a good pumpkin recipe at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, we offered up pumpkin-themed samples and small plates in our kitchens tonight.  We’ll start with a Savory Pumpkin Dip, followed by a Harvest Pumpkin Pizza, and enjoy it with our Après-Raking Pumpkin Whiskey Cocktail

Then try them at home… and enjoy!

Savory Pumpkin DipSavory Pumpkin Dip


  • 1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 4-6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, still the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pumpkin puree, pecans, bacon, onions, salt and cinnamon together until combined.  Serve garnished with extra bacon and green onions if desired, or cover and refrigerate until use.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Harvest Pumpkin PizzaHarvest Pumpkin Pizza


  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme, fresh and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 homemade pizza dough (recipe follows or prepared ready-to-bake)
  • 1 cup arugula or other bitter green
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 cups Havarti cheese, freshly grated (or similar substitute)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For those that have a pizza stone, put the stone in the oven to warm.

While the oven is heating, heat the stove on medium low heat and cook half of the onions with olive oil. You’ll want to cook them on low heat for…a while to caramelize the onions. When they are about halfway caramelized, sprinkle sugar on them. As they cook, continue to stir and move them around with a spatula.

Next, add the pumpkin puree, garlic, shallot, thyme, and the other half of the onion to a mixing bowl. Mix in the parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

On a lightly floured flat surface, roll the pizza dough into a circle, transfer it to your pizza stone and top it with the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle the arugula and caramelized onions on top of the pumpkin mixture, and then add the grated cheeses. You can add a dash of salt and pepper here, too, if you would like.  Cook the pizza till brown and bubbly.

Pizza Dough

(Prepare the day before)


  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Start with a large bowl and add water, bread flour, and yeast on one side of the bowl and 1 ½ tsp of salt on the other side of the bowl.

Stir the mixture until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Then stir in extra virgin olive oil. Remove the dough from bowl and knead dough until smooth.

Oil the bottom of the sheet pan, divide the dough into four similar skins (or balls), continue to knead and then place them on the sheet pan.

Lay one side down, press gently then flip over and press down again, gently. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes enough dough for 4 (12-inch) pizzas

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Pumpkin Whiskey CocktailAprès-Raking Pumpkin Whiskey Cocktail


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 (1-inch) chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Small pinch of ground cloves
  • Small pinch of ground allspice


  • Sugar & cinnamon, for the glass rims
  • Whisky, as needed
  • Soda water, as needed
  • Ice cubes, as needed


In a saucepan over medium-high heat add the water, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Discard the ginger root.

Mix sugar and cinnamon on a plate.

Wet the rim of each cocktail glass.  Dip each glass into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

For each cocktail, combine 1-2 tablespoons of the simple syrup with 1 1/2 ounces of whisky and top with soda water. Stir vigorously (a little separation may happen) until well combined. Add a few ice cubes and enjoy!

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If you love pumpkin as much as we love pumpkin, register today for our ‘Pumpkin Love: Clean, Simple and Delicious Recipes’ class at The Culinary Center on Oct. 30, 2017. Click here for more information!


Holiday Parties, Big or Small

Let us help you plan a unique holiday event for your group!

Whether large or small, your group is a BIG deal to us at The Culinary Center of Kansas City. We have shared on this blog lots of ideas cooked up to make your holiday party the event of the season. (Click here for an idea of the fun we have in mind for you…)

Think your group is too small to hold your party here? Think again! Check out these ideas for small holiday parties for which you can register online.  Contact Mimsy at 913.341.4455 or to discuss some options.

More InfoHoliday ‘All Hands for Hunger’ Lunch
A Cooking Party With A Purpose
Wed, Dec 6,  11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hands-On | Lunch
Start a great holiday tradition that keeps on giving when the holidays are over. This cooking event/community service project is perfect for co-workers, family and friends who want to celebrate the season AND do something that really matters – like feed the needs of our local community!

More InfoReindeer Games
An Interactive Holiday Cooking Party
Tue, Dec 12,  11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hands-On | Lunch
This fun holiday food competition will place your group into small teams where you’ll be pitted against other chef wannabes, all with mystery boxes of ingredients and a cruel clock. In the end, we’ll all sit down around the table and dine on our culinary creations. Put together your team – it’s a good, clean and tasty way to celebrate the holidays!

More InfoFa-La-La-La-Lunch
An Interactive Holiday Cooking Party
Wed, Dec 20,  11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Limited Hands-On | Lunch
Grab your colleagues or besties, and step into our kitchens. A CCKC Chef will teach you how to create one of the tasty dishes from our 3-course holiday-inspired lunch menu, then it’s your turn to make that dish. Afterwards, we will celebrate around the table and toast the holiday season… and our newfound culinary skills!

It's time to book your holiday event @ The Culinary Center of Kansas City

October’s Local Maker of the Month

Vain Vanilla's Kate & CharlieDid you know we feature a Local Maker of the Month in our Kitchen Shop at The Culinary Center of Kansas City?  Better yet, you get 10% off your purchase of items by that Local Maker all month long! 

This month, our Local Maker of the Month is VAIN Foods, Inc., creators of unique vanilla extracts like Indonesian vanilla in cane rum, Mexican vanilla in bourbon and Tongan vanilla in orange vodka, as well as flavorful coffee drops.

Kate Banks and Charlie Hammond, founders of VAIN Foods, are two friends who share a love of cooking and great ingredients. Kate loves to bake, teach cooking classes, and has an obsession with vanilla. Charlie, who occasionally teaches cooking classes at The Culinary Center, is a trained chef with Southern roots and a passion for distilled spirits. A few years ago, they combined their interests and began making their own vanilla extracts.

These flavors were so enjoyable that their friends would beg them for bottles of their delectable concoctions. It soon became clear that they should share their vanillas with others, so in 2015 they began sharing their extracts with bakers, mixologists and foodies everywhere.

By combining high-quality spirits and the best vanilla beans available, VAIN vanillas have incredibly distinctive flavor combinations, making VAIN’s impact on everything from cookies to your coffee truly remarkable.

We’ll have the folks from VAIN in our Kitchen Shop this Friday at Local Life, and they’re bringing samples of a Cranberry Orange bread made with their Tahitian Vanilla extracted in Cane Rum. Stop by The Culinary Center to meet them and talk about vanilla.  Take advantage of the 10% off to get a start on your holiday shopping!

Vain Vanilla

Well, Butter My Biscuits!

Flash Demo: BiscuitsLearn how to make perfect homemade biscuits from an expert baker! 

Culinary Center of Kansas City instructor Mari Ruck will lead our Flash Demo™ this Saturday, Oct. 22, from 2 – 3 p.m.  A complimentary glass of wine or beer comes with this awesome class…  can’t beat that with a biscuit!

In this one-hour demonstration class, Mari will show you how to make light, fluffy, golden biscuits that will melt in your mouth. Once she goes over the recipe, tips and tricks, you’ll get to taste some of these beauties. Yum!

Click the button below to register for this DELICIOUS way to spend your Saturday afternoon.Register Now

Freshness in a Bowl

Our friend Farmer Steven shared some farm-fresh produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and jalapeños, from the CSA box last week with The Culinary Center of Kansas City’s Elle T. (also known around these parts as the ‘Goddess of Good Eats’).  Elle T immediately knew how she was going to put it to good use – Gazpacho! 

Gazpacho, a cold soup of Spanish origin, offers a simple, flavorful way to make the most of the season’s produce.  Armed with a cookbook called ‘Californian Markets’ that she found in the stacks of vintage and treasured cookbooks on sale in our Kitchen Shop, she made several of her own tweaks to the recipe and came up with a delicious, tasty soup.

Try her version of Gazpacho at home:


  • 2 lbs large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds removed
  • splash of hot sauce
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Put tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After 2-3 minutes, slip off the skins and cut tomatoes in half. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, garlic, jalapeños and hot sauce into a blender or food processor on high speed until the mixture is smooth, adding the olive oil and red wine vinegar while blending. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill the soup in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before serving. Garnish with croutons and/or additional chopped cucumber and pepper.  Serves 4-6.


New Cooking Classes Added To The Schedule

CCKC Cooking ClassesWe’re adding cooking classes to our schedule just as quickly as we can! Take a look at these latest additions…

Midwest BBQ Institute:
The Secrets to a Perfect Steak,
Including the Sous Vide Technique

, Oct 22  |  10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Instructor: Bruce Campbell
Preparing a great steak isn’t just about following a recipe, it’s about techniques. Today, Award-Winning BBQ Guru, Bruce Campbell, will bust many of the myths as he shares his tips and secrets to achieving the perfect steak… every time.  He’ll cover basic skills that are needed when choosing your steak like grades, aging, when (and when not) to splurge on Prime, cattle breeds, hormones and antibiotics, fresh vs. frozen, plus a discussion on grass vs. corn-fed beef. Bruce will also teach a lesson on preparing steaks using the trendy Sous Vide technique!
Demonstration | Tastings

Lessons in Pan Sauces & Searing
, Nov 1  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Instructor: Richard McPeake
An important class that ups the ante on your mad cooking skills. Learn a “pooling” sauce, a nappe Sauce and a Balsamic Butter Glaze as we test our skills and make Pork Marsala, Turkey Smitane, and more!  And then there are quick sauces you can make from that pan, as well!
Hands-On | Tastings

Flavorful Weekend Nights:
Contemporary Southern Cuisine

Fri, Nov 10  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Instructor: Shanita Bryant
Let Chef Shanita introduce you to a variety of essential cooking techniques as she walks you through mouthwatering recipes, starting with Red Velvet Waffles, Shrimp & Grits, Scallops & creamy Sweet Potato Risotto. We’ll end on a sweet note as she shows you how to prepare one of her famous southern dessert specialties!
Limited Hands-On | Dinner

Sweet Southern Lovin’ from the Oven
Sat, Dec 2  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Instructor: Shanita Bryant
After learning a few universal baking techniques like measuring (yes, there is a correct way to do it), mixing, whisking, rolling and tips for making the perfect pie crust, you’ll  learn to make some of Chef Shanita’s favorite Southern treats, including Bread Pudding, Buttermilk Pie, Sweet Potato Pie and more!
Limited Hands-On | Tastings

How To Survive The Holidays
, Dec 3  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Instructor: Savannah Mallory
Learn to make comforting, low-stress dishes and menus that will leave you plenty of time to enjoy the holidays. We’ll start off by making a special lightened-up holiday cocktail that you’ll enjoy while Chef Savannah teaches easy cooking techniques like basic knife skills, sautéing, the proper way to whisk (yep, there is a right way to do this!), tips to making a homemade broth, Caramelized Onion Beef, Stew , Roasted Winter Squash Soup and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. Then you’ll grab an apron and practice some of those culinary skills you’ve learned. Finally, we’ll cap off the evening with a fancy-schmancy New Orleans dessert – Bananas Foster.
Limited Hands-On | Tastings



A Pop-Up Lunch Just Like Dinner at Grandma’s House

Join us for our next Pop-Up Lunch on Thursday, October 19, 2017.  Drop by anytime  between the hours of 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.  for our open-to-the-public Pop-Up Lunch, where our chefs flex their culinary muscles in the form of an incredible lunch … at a great price.  Can’t beat it, folks!

Pop-Up Lunch at The Culinary Center of Kansas City

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Seasoned Green Beans
Dinner Roll & Butter
Blueberry Crisp with Ice Cream

$12.95 + tax