Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cooking Class Food Chatter

I just have to start of saying how really wonderful all of the participants of the dinner party cooking class are! Great bunch of people. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to all of you. As I went around the room it was interesting to hear what people enjoyed the most.

The overwhelming response was that the appetizer course, Red Inca Crusted Sweet Potato Cakes with Tomatillo Avocado Sauce, was the favorite. I have to say, I am in total agreement. The cooked quinoa gets a fabulous kind of crispy when it is fried. It's a wonderful contrast to the soft creamy sweet potato center. The cakes were complemented with a slightly tart and creamy Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce.

The second course boasted locally grown Arizona oranges...local like in my back yard local! We don't use any chemicals or pesticides in our yard, so they are fresh and natural. Horny Toad Farms grew the fresh cilantro, fennel and red cabbage for the Fennel and Savoy Salad with Arizona Orange Cilantro Dressing garnished with Cocoa-Chili Toasted Pepitas. The fresh light salad was a nice palate cleanser for the entree.

Here is a shot of the salad demonstration.

The entree for the evening was Chorizo and Cornbread Stuffed Chiles served with a Guajillo Chile Sauce over Horny Toad Farm Butternut Squash Kale Bake. Anaheim chiles were selected for their hint of heat and they allowed for the perfect ratio of chile to stuffing. The vegan chorizo has only about 2 grams of fat per serving compared to its meaty counterpart at a whopping 23 grams of fat per serving. All of the flavor, none of the nastiness. The smoky guajillo sauce added a lovely dimension of flavor and balance to the dish. This photo doesn't show it, but there was just a drizzle of vegan sour cream over the top to really make the colors pop. The butternut squash kale bake boasted a good hit of antioxidants and yumminess.

As promised, I am posting the recipe for the corn bread. I chose Robin Robertson's recipe from her 2009 book 1000 Vegan Recipes (Published by John Wiley & Sons). It is a very simple recipe and lends itself perfectly for making cornbread crumbs as it doesn't have a really high moisture content or sweetness factor. 


Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups warm plain soy milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan and place it in the oven while you prepare the batter.

In a small bowl, combing the soy mil and vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the soy milk mixture and and the oil and mix well with a few quick strokes.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and scrape the batter into the hot pan.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

I am hoping someone from the class has a picture of the dessert plate. If you have one, I'd love to use it for my next post about the dessert.

There is a saying that says "It takes a village." In this case, it took a fantastic line up of volunteers and hard workers. I have to give a special thanks to my friend and business partner, Beth, for being there through recipe testing, development and many hours of preparation. Her dedication makes this whole process a lot more fun!

Another special thanks to my sister, who is always there for me. She also spent hours in the kitchen and serving the night of the class. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible sister. Not only is she my sis, she is my best friend.

Kudos also go out to the very handsome and patient men in our lives. My honey Fred, who kept the wine flowing all night and Beth's awesome hubby Jerry who was my on stage assistant (thanks for running back and forth all night!). 

Thanks also to my very talented and wonderful niece, Riley. She had no time to prepare for her impromptu appearance to assist with demonstrating dessert. She did an outstanding job and I look forward to featuring her talents in future classes. Thanks Ry!

My niece Jenna also got in on the action. She is a hard worker and very dedicated to the Hackett House and philanthropic persuits. Thanks for taking time out of study time to come down and bust out some clean up! She's the cutie on the far left.

Many, many thanks to all of the ladies of the Hackett House and all of the volunteers who came out for all of their hard work, encouragement and creativity. 

I look forward to participating in the fall cooking class series!!


  1. It all looks so wonderful! And how nice that you have so many great people in your life too! Wish I coulda be there!

  2. You are so right Kelly! It is wonderful to have such incredible people in my life. I wish you could have been there too!

  3. What an amazing experience that must have been. Your dishes sound and look delicious.

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