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Six Travel Destinations Perfect For Foodies

February 10, 2016

As part of ourSandy’s Sixblog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares some of her favorite food destinations she’s found while traveling…

Before I even start, let me say that KANSAS CITY should definitely be on here, but it’s not travel for me since I live here, so it didn’t make this particular list.  People are friendly, prices are good, there’s a diverse mixture of things to do and the food is FANTASTIC. It goes without saying that Kansas City is known for great BBQ, but it doesn’t stop there. From upscale dining to little cafes and food trucks, this city is a hidden gem.  But, of the places I’ve traveled outside of KC, these are some of my favorites for their food…

  • Paris - French Food#1 = PARIS.  You thought I’d say Italy, didn’t you?  Keep reading; it’s definitely on the list, but I have to rate Paris at the top.  There’s just so much thought put into their food. The rich flavors! Escargot with garlic butter and a fresh baguette! Croissants like nowhere else in the world!  Mmmm, I’m salivating just remembering.
  • Italy.  My favorite restaurant is in Florence. It’s called Trattoria ZàZà, and it’s in the San Lorenzo Central Market Area of the City. Visit it if you get the chance.  Florence is more ‘meat-centric’ than Rome and the coastal parts of Italy.  The seafood you’ll find on the coast is delicious. Bring your fat pants, because you’re going to want to eat and eat and eat in Italy…
  • Austin & Portland.  I’m calling this one a tie. These are two of the most fun foodie cities. Plan a trip to these ‘weird’ destinations just to work your way through their food truck offerings!
  • Chicago.  This Midwest city boasts some of the best restaurants from some of the country’s best chefs. I love Frontera Fresco (Rick Bayliss). Another great one is RPM Italian Restaurant (part of a group of restaurants by Bill and Giuliana Rancic, Chef Doug Psaltis and Lettuce Entertain You). Oh so many…  too many to name. Just eat your way through the city and enjoy.
  • New York City.  Babbo (Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich) is worth the price and the wait to get in. Bobby Flay’s Gato serves up Mediterranean cuisine.  Like Chicago, too many great restaurants to put in a list. Start with one and just work your way through them all, if you can!
  • Las Vegas.  Vegas has become a mecca for great chefs to open restaurants. Among them, you’ll find restaurants by Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio, Gordon Ramsay, Joël Robuchon, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, and so many more. You may find yourself spending more time eating than gambling.

I love to travel. I love to eat. What can I say?
What are your favorite food destinations



Enjoy Your Crab Rangoon ‘Inside Out’

February 9, 2016

You love Crab Rangoon right?  Try this dip that is based on that creamy crab filling that’s on the inside of those tasty Asian treats.    A real crowd pleaser at our Chinese New Year Celebration at Tuesday Lunch. Enjoy!

‘Inside Out’ Crab Rangoon Dip with Wonton Chips


  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 4 ounces crab meat, fresh, shredded (or imitation crab meat)
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ bunch green onions, washed, peeled, thinly sliced, for garnish 


  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 package wonton skins, thawed

Inside Out Rangoon DipFor the dip, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an electric mixer bowl add cream cheese whip on high for 3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add crab and both spices.  Mix on medium until well combined. Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake a bit longer until top is browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven. Set aside to cool slightly.  Top with green onions, for garnish.  

For the chips, preheat a deep fryer (or large pot of oil) until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees.   Place wonton skins on a clean cutting board.  Using a sharp knife, cut from corner to corner to form triangle shapes.  Carefully drop the wonton skins in hot oil, in small batches.  Fry for 10 to 15 seconds.  With a large slotted spoon, skim chips out of oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Repeat process until all chips are cooked.  Serve warm with warm crab dip.  

Makes 6 to 8 servings

ETC: Wonton wrappers are usually found in square packages in the product section of the grocery store.  They also make quick work of homemade ravioli.  Just dollop your favorite filling, brush the edges with egg white to seal, then boil as you would pasta.  Tip: When they float, they are done.  

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 and in our retail store – “The Kitchen Shop.”™



Music in The Kitchen Is A Good Thing!

February 8, 2016

FiddleWe have a theory that the most important things in life happen in the kitchen.  It is the heart of our home where families gather around food, conversation … and music!  So check out our  new partnership with the Kansas City Folk School

On Saturday, April 2, 2016, you will pull up a chair around our kitchen table for a unique approach to a music lesson from a master fiddler, followed by a BBQ Lunch & participation in an “open to the public” Jam Session.  yep, we have come up with a whole new way to celebrate in the kitchen!

Just like a recipe where ingredients combine to form something more tasty than the sum of their parts, kitchen alchemy can also be experienced with the resonating sound of fine musicians performing their craft.   

Betse EllisLet’s get educated in the kitchen with renowned fiddler Betse Ellis (of “Betse & Clarke” fame; formerly with The Wilders), who will teach an intermediate skills fiddle workshop and show how to combine the perfect mix of musical ingredients to “ferment a tune.”   She will teach what makes a fiddle tune sound “finished” and what elements combine to impart that magical flavor. 

Join us for an exploration of the ingredients of fiddle authenticity. You’ll learn when to play double stops vs. single melody notes, the bowing patterns making up melodic rhythm, and how to infuse your fiddling with great emotion. This class will be geared towards adults who have played music for some time, but skilled young people of at least 12 years of age are very welcome. Interested students should be at least intermediate level, able to learn a straightforward fiddle tune by ear, and ready to explore the next level of expression. Please bring a portable recording device of your choice. 

This workshop is presented by the Kansas City Folk School in collaboration with The Culinary Center of Kansas City™. For a bio on Betse Ellis go to and

KITCHEN SESSIONS: Making Music & Memories Around The Table
A Master Fiddle Workshop with Betse Ellis
(plus Lunch and  participation in an ‘Open To The Public’ Jam Session)

Sat. April 2, 2016
$65/person (limited enrollment)
Registration includes:

  • fiddle workshop from 9:30-12:30
  • KC-Style BBQ lunch from 12:30-1:00
  • participation in an ‘open to the public” Jam Session from 1:00-3:00

Invite your friends & family to the Jam Session and tell them that we will still have BBQ lunch available for sale, won’t you?
Note: Cash bar beginning at 12:30.

Click here to register today!


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 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?



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