Get LIT!

Get Lit UP with Grilling

Spring is here (well on the calendar anyways)!  That means warmer weather and the beginning of grilling season.  Quite honestly most Michigan grillers are die-hard and will shovel snow out to the grill for a winter meal of ribs.  One of the joys of life is enjoying a late spring afternoon hanging out in the yard, grilling up delicious food for your family and friends. 

But wait, you don’t know how to grill, you don’t even have a grill, or have you tried before but failed?  Well, keep on reading for some basic tips and advice that will give you the basic knowledge and confidence to get out grilling this spring.

First Thing First, the Grill.

So, what is the perfect grill to start off with?  The answer depends on your needs and your level of comfort.  The first question is gas or charcoal?  While charcoal gives extra flavor and makes all the neighbors mouths start to water, they do need more time and attention.  You need to fire up the coals, get the grill to the right height for what you are cooking, and even adjust this as you cook.  Flare-ups are also more of a problem with charcoal. You’ll need a water bottle close by to keep those flames down while cooking fatty meats.  A much better option for a beginner is gas.  You still get great flavor and setting, adjusting, and maintaining the temperature is a breeze.  If you clean the grill properly, flare-ups are rare on a gas grill.  Over the years, we have bounced between gas (for it’s ease) and charcoal (flavor!)

The next question is how many people do you plan on grilling for?  Yes, the big fancy bar-b-que island looks awesome, but it is just overkill if you are only grilling occasionally on weekends for one or two people.  Start by figuring out how many square inches you will need.  This is how they measure the cooking surface.  You want about 70-80 inches per person that you are grilling for.  Most small gas grills start out at 430 square inches.  That is perfect for a family of four or even newlyweds that are just getting started grilling.  If you have a bigger family or plan on hosting big get-togethers often, you’ll want something bigger.  Just keep in mind that the correct size grill will be for the majority of your use.  You can cook for as many people as you want on any size grill, it will just take more time to get everyone fed, which means you get to chill outside by your grill longer. 

We have settled on a Weber Performer and adore it.  (That wasn’t a paid ad.  Just letting you know what we’ve come to love.)

Got the Grill. Now, What to Cook?

Let’s start with the meat.  Hamburgers and hotdogs are a great and affordable way to learn to grill.  You’ll find your hot and cool spots and how to move your meat around to get consistent doneness.  Don’t forget to toast the buns on that top rack if you have one!  Once you practice a few times, step it up to steaks that have good marbling.  Just ask the butcher what he has that is good to grill if you’re not sure.  Turn up the heat or use the searing station on the grill for a quick sear, about two minutes per side.  Then turn it down and grill each side for another five minutes per side, or until the desired doneness is reached.  One great tip for steak is to set it out before grilling and let it come to room temperature.  

A great alternative protein to beef that works well for beginners is salmon.  Buying a fish grilling basket makes life much easier.  However, you can grill right on the bars, or even use a cast iron pan set on the grill.  Salmon goes with all types of seasonings, so choose your favorite or just add salt and pepper.  Put it on the grill (or CI skillet) skin side down over medium-high heat until you see the white fat start to bubble up on top and the color of the meat turns light pink and flip it over for a couple of minutes to char the top a little.  The skin will pull away from the meat easily so you can plate it up with or without skin.  

Now for sides.  A great side dish for salmon is grilled asparagus.  Put one bunch in a plastic bag with oil, soy sauce, and garlic powder.  Let it marinate for an hour or just shake it up for a few minutes.  Grill on low until tender.  Another great side dish for the grill is sweet peppers.  Once again, a veggie grill basket makes cooking these much easier.  Potatoes and corn on the cob reach an entirely new level when you finish them on the grill.  Cook them in the kitchen like you normally do but put them on the grill with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Turn them often until they crisp up evenly.  They are always a hit.  Once you get comfortable cooking on your grill, experiment.  There is no limit to flavor when you start using different herbs, spices, and marinades. 

One more thing….think outside of normal.  Make a pizza on that grill!

Need More Help?

The best way to learn tips and tricks to grilling is to ask friends and family.  If you know someone who loves to grill, it’s a safe bet that they also love to talk about grilling.  The internet is full of information on everything grilling. 

Just remember to keep it simple in the beginning, online grilling sites can be a little overwhelming. 

Upcoming Classes

We are pretty booked for a little bit.  But here are the next classes that have availability:

HOW TO SERIES:  Mother Sauces – Tomato Sauce 4/14 @1 pm, $24

HOW TO SERIES:  Mother Sauces – Espagnole 4/19 @5:15 pm, $24

Lasagna (complete with making your own noodles) 4/21 @11/15 am, $38

Pickle Party (learning to can pickles) 4/28 @5:30 pm, $29

You can book online using the clickable titles above, or send me an email ICan@artcookery.com

Food Menu

Order ahead, please.  If I have extra, I will post on facebook.


Goulash. Comfort Food at its Best.

I Loves Me Some Goulash

It’s still the depths of winter here in Michigan.  This is my least favorite time of the year.  Winter has drug on and on and we just want a bit of spring.  March is depressing as it is a bleak,

Traditional Hungarian Style Goulash

muddy, dirty snow, cold month, prolonging winter (at least that is my opinion).  My recipe is below.

Comfort food is my response to my serious case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Goulash is a favorite remedy.  In wintry weather, a hearty meal always hits the spot.   I was wondering about goulash recently. 

I know the version I make is different from a traditional Hungarian dish.  So here is a little in-depth look at one of my favorite foods. 

Goulash, a traditional Hungarian stew, has risen in popularity in the United States in recent years. Originally made with beef, tomatoes, onion, green peppers, and paprika, it was a filling meal for farmers to make quickly on the go. 

In America

Goulash Served with Rice

Goulash in America is quite different from the traditional Hungarian stew. The original is quite basic, and sometimes served with a starch such as carrots or potatoes. American goulash is essentially a meat sauce, almost always served over elbow macaroni. Other variations include using ground beef, or serving it over rice or egg noodles.

Twists on a Classic

If you’re interested in goulash and want to make it your own, try one of these substitutions!

  • try pork or veal instead of beef
  • add root vegetables like sweet potato and parsnips for more flavor
  • go veggie by swapping cannellini or kidney beans for beef
  • save time and effort by making a baked goulash

As such a malleable dish, goulash can be adapted to a variety of diets. It can easily be made gluten-free, vegetarian (even vegan!), dairy-free, and more. 

Still Not Sure?

If cooking seems too intimidating or complex, not to worry. Art of Cookery has plenty of cooking classes to cover the basics and the complexities of the art of cooking!  Not local to Whitehall and surrounding areas?  You can also book a private online lesson anywhere in the U.S.A. I (Chef Valerie)  will help you grow and develop a deep sense of connection, both with cooking and the very food you make. 

My Goulash!

Life is hectic. If preparing a home-cooked meal is enticing, but you don’t have the time in your busy schedule, and you are local to Whitehall, check out our selection of retail food. Art of Cookery has a rotating weekly menu of both prepared foods and meal kits. We even have goulash! Whether you have a few minutes to cook a meal kit or just need to grab a quick bite, we’ve got you covered.  Watch for a weekly new menu on our website, (click here) and also pinned to the top Facebook post for each weekly menu and order right away.  The food is made per order and not in advance ideally.  Although when we do make a batch to fill an order, we make extra and place it in fridge at the front entry for last minute grab and go pick ups.

Upcoming Classes

We are closed for a bit of a break until March 10.  But, so you can plan, here are the next upcoming classes:

Click here to access our website and click the red Calendar Button to see all classes on the calendar.

Magical Goulash

My version of this versatile comfort food. ONE PAN WONDER! Be sure to check out the notes at the bottom for ways to adapt it to your preferences. It is almost magical in how it always turns out. It can be as listed, vegan, vegetarian, keto....nearly anything.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Comfort Food, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Hungarian
Keyword: Goulash, Macaroni
Servings: 4 people
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven w/lid
  • 1 Stirrer Spatula, Wooden spoon, Pancake turner
  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Knife

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp oil EVOO is nice but any fat will do.
  • 1/2 cup diced Onion
  • 1/2 cup diced Bell pepper Using green pepper adds visual color but any works.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced Add a 3rd if you love garlic!
  • 1/2 lb ground beef See notes for alternatives.
  • 1 14-15 oz can diced Tomatoes
  • 8 oz water rinse can with it before adding. Can also use white wine or broth or a blend.
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika Smoked, sweet, or regular.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste Start with 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and adjust at the end.
  • 3 oz Macaroni, dry or other small pasta (3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh Basil Cilantro or Parsley work well too.
  • 1/2 c shredded Cheddar Or other favorite cheese. Skip if making Vegan.

Instructions

  • In Dutch oven over medium high heat, add oil. Once heated, add onion, bell pepper, and pinch of salt. Sauté for 1 minute to flavor the oil.
  • Add ground beef and garlic. Cook until meat is browned.
  • Stir in tomatoes, rinse can with water and add water.
  • Add chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a low boil.
  • Add macaroni. Stir and bring back to low boil. Cover but stir frequently.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes. Add additional water if the pasta needs more to cook through (different sized pasta require varying amounts of liquid.)
  • Add basil and cook one minute more. Check for salt and pepper to your liking. Top with cheese.

Notes

How to adjust.  (This is really a great tutorial on pantry cooking and substitutions)
Starch (Pasta) substitutions:
  • ¾ c. (3 oz) any small pasta like macaroni, uncooked
  • 3 oz dry spaghetti, broken into small lengths
  • ½ cup dry rice, cook an extra 5 minutes for white and 10 for brown
  • 1 large or 2 smaller potatoes, washed and small diced
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen gnocchi, or small pierogi
  • Small batch of spaetzle
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (or 1 14oz can)
Protein substitutions:
  • ½ lb any ground or diced meat. 
  • 4 to 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 oz firm tofu (just add the salt, pepper, and half the chili powder with the tofu)
  • 1/3 cup dry quinoa (can be used as a starch also)
  • ½ cup bulgur
  • 1 14oz can of beans
  • ½ lb. any type of sausage (reduce the salt & pepper) (a strong chorizo would need you to reduce the chili powder also…taste and season at the end)
  • ¾ to 1 cup cooked lentil (or at least soaked in salt water for an hour)
Aromatics substitution examples (The onion, green pepper, and garlic in the above recipe are aromatics):
  • 1/2 c. of one, or a blend of, shallot, green onion, leek, red onion; OR use ½ TBSP onion powder; OR 2 oz pickled pearl onion
  • ½ c. of one, or a blend of, any color bell, poblano, jalapeno (will be hot), fine diced carrot, celery, fennel bulb; OR ¼ oz dried mild chilies; OR up to ½ tsp dry chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced: use of one, or a blend of, 1 ½ tsp pickled minced garlic, 1 ½ tsp garlic powder,1 ½ tsp minced dried garlic, 1 ½ tsp favorite seasoning
Tomato substitutions:
  • Use: 1 14 or15 oz. can of whole, diced or stewed tomatoes and increase water to achieve 23 oz, food process fresh tomatoes to achieve 2 cups
  • 8 oz tomato sauce and increase water/wine/broth to 15 oz
  • 4 oz tomato paste and increase water so the total of water and paste equal 22 oz
  • 15 oz (or close to that) jarred pasta sauce plus water to equal 23 oz
  • 23 oz tomato juice
  • 1 can tomato soup plus water/broth to total 23 oz
  • If no tomato options available use 23 oz of a blend of wine, stock/broth, canned soup of choice, and/or bouillon and water (you may wish to include some cumin and/or paprika to kick in some flavor)
Seasoning substitutions:
  • Instead of 1 tsp chili powder & 1/2 tsp paprika, consider one or a blend of up to 2 tsp: cumin, paprika, chipotle powder, chili powder, or steak seasoning/rub blend
  • ½ TBSP Italian seasoning, or skip all seasonings (including salt & pepper) and stir in half an envelope onion soup mix, or something similar, then taste at the end and adjust s & p.
 Herb substitutions:
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, cilantro, parsley; chopped
  • 1tsp of dried herb or herb combination like Italian seasoning
 Cheese substitutions:
  • Cheddar is very nice in this.
  • Switch the cheddar out for any cheese you have/enjoy.
  • In addition to the cheese, consider toping with other garnishes, like green onion tops, snipped fresh herbs, sesame seeds, everything seasoning, even bacon bits.

Tips for Plating Food Like a Pro

Tips for Plating Food Like a Pro

Here at the Art of Cookery, we know that first, we eat with our eyes. We all want to prepare delicious food, but beautiful plating enhances the experience of a meal. For home chefs who might be cooking regularly for themselves as well as for family and friends, it can feel like a task to just have dinner on the table after a busy day. With a few easy steps, it is possible to create a simple meal that is elevated to the next level with plating. Keep some of the following tips in mind as you plate your next dish.  Soon, you’ll be plating food like a pro!

Use The Right Tools

Making sure you’re using the right tools is key for plating food. Most tools are items that you likely already have stashed in a kitchen drawer or ones that you can purchase easily. Start with some of the following to achieve the aesthetic you’re hoping for. 

  • Tongs are a must-have for plating foods like pasta into the perfect “nest” shape.
  • See the source image They’re also great for placing food with precision.
  • Squeeze bottles are helpful for adding drizzles or sauces with a professional flair.
  • Molds will allow you to plate foods into a desired shape on the plate and are helpful for adding height to your presentation.

Contrast Colors

To create a visually pleasing dish, it’s important to pay attention to the colors of the food and 

the plate it’s presented on.  In most cases, a solid white plate offers a great palette for any meal displayed on its 

surface.  When creating a dish that is white or pale in color, opt for a brightly colored or contrasting plate to highlight the dish. 

Look for ways to contrast colors in the foods that you serve. This goal can also be achieved with sauces and fresh garnishes. 

Add Finishing Touches 

Before presenting a plate, be sure to take one last look before serving. La Tourangelle suggests adding a drizzle of sauce elegantly over the top. Top the plate with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro. Dust a dessert plate with powdered sugar or cocoa. Adding fresh ingredients or an extra touch of attention is sure to make the dining experience special. 

If you’re looking for more ways to advance your culinary skills, be sure to book a class with us at the Art of Cookery. We even offer private online classes available anywhere in the United States! Participate in your own kitchen and interact live with a teaching chef!

On the days you’re not up for cooking or plating, we’ve got you covered. The Art of Cookery can prepare meals for you. Reach out to us for meals that suit your specific dietary needs.  Check out our current menu below.

Learning to cook at home can be a daunting task, but we can help make it fun and simple. On the days when there’s just not enough time, we’ll cook for you. Contact us! We look forward to meeting you and taking the stress out of your next meal!  

Menu

This menu is through 2/11.  Look below the menu for pics of the top three dishes.


Soft Cheeses

Cheesemaking is an age-old artisan skill.

 

Learn how to use cultures to make your own sour cream or yogurt and Mozzarella cheese.

At the same time understand some cheese making fundamentals. 

Discover how to flavor your cheese, as well as how easy and quick it can be made.  Enjoy meeting new friends. Bring cheese home.

Adult On-Site $35

Adult Online $25

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Scones

Scones!

Love to nibble on a nice scone with coffee?

Have guests coming for the weekend? Here is a recipe that is sure to please! Enjoy some “down-time” and relax with friends or come meet new ones while spending time in the Art of Cookery kitchen. You will learn to make Country Scones.

Included are great tips and tricks for baking pastries…and scones in particular. Students will make and bake scones and take theirs home. 

This recipe is great for adapting to any seasonal fruit, dried fruit, chocolate chips.

Adult On-Site $24

Adult Online $19

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Pressure Canning

Pressure Canning…Like a BOSS

Yes you CAN!
Rock your pressure canner!  Learn how to pressure can so you can capture the gourmet delight of every season.   

Chef Valerie has been trained and certified by the Department of Agriculture through its Better Process Control School to teach home canning and has been canning for over 35 years.

It is important to know safe pressure canning and if your canner itself is safe. The product to be canned will be announced as we get closer and will usually reflect what is in season.  Chef Valerie does take specific requests for what will be canned in class.

Learn the differences between pressure canning and water bath canning and when to use which method. Discover many tips and tricks. Product canned will be dependent on available produce, but results guaranteed wonderful.

Make, bring, or meet friends! Students divide the results to take home. Feel free to bring your canner for a brief overview of its safety by Chef Valerie.

Adult On-Site $35

Adult Online $25

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Pierogi

Pierogi Paradise

Pierogi are essentially filled dumplings that are boiled and often, then fried.  They hail from central and eastern Europe.  Homemade pierogi are a traditional Christmas Eve food in many homes.  But these delicious little gems shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year and can be adjusted in both fillings and sauces to every season.  They freeze well and make great last minute meals. 

Come and learn this wonderful food that can be both savory and sweet.  While potatoes are often the main filling they can be switched up to suit your fancy.  Discover how to adjust their flavors. 

Make pierogi as part of this class and take home some for dinner.

Adult On-Site $30

Adult Online $25

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Polish Cooking

Savory

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Sweet

Select by Category
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Pumpkin Pie Perfection

 

There truly is a difference in flavor when making a pumpkin pie from natural ingredients…and we mean the pumpkin too.  Learn how to easily make a pumpkin pie by opening ZERO cans of anything.

Upon arrival, participants will be putting a pie in the oven to bake while they learn all of the steps to getting to that point. 

Start by making the pastry and learn tips for keeping it from getting soggy under the wet custard.  Next, see how easy (and hands-off) it is to roast your own pumpkin, then.  Finally, make the pie filling using items normally on hand, as well as learn a few ways to adapt it to your tastes and bring it to another level.  At the end, get the pie from the oven while learning what it should look like when it is finished baking.   Bring a pie home with you. 

Onsite:  $35 per person or $60 for a team  of 2 making one pie.

Online:  $30


Pie Perfection

Want to learn how to make a great pie from scratch?

Does pie making challenge you?  Chef Valerie says it shouldn’t, and she should know, she was named one of the top 6 Pie Makers in Michigan!

Join us for a pastry session that will make you famous. Learn to make pie crusts and follow it up with baking a tasty pie using in-season fruit. You’ll take your pie home to enjoy (and brag about)!

Truly with a few good tips it is easy to get rid of store-bought and be the pie maker that is famous in your family. Bring your beverage of choice if you wish.

You will start by assembling a pie and getting it in the oven.  Then, while it is baking, learn all of the steps by making the pie pastry.  Examples would be tips on adapting the recipe to any fruit pie, how to finish a great pie with various top pastry adaptions (lattice crust, cut-outs, rustic), and finishing options (egg wash, cream wash, etc.)  Even learn about some tools that would be helpful.

Onsite:  $35 per person making 1 pie

Onsite: $60 for 2 people making 1 pie