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Herbs or Erbs?

How is it pronounced?

In the USA we skip the “H” and say Erbs.  In the UK it is pronounced herbs with the h-sound.  How is it pronounced where you are?

Herbs are Vital for Cooking

What would dining be like if we didn’t have herbs? Before the first humans decided to throw some rosemary or sage on their venison, I am sure it was mighty bland. The addition of herbs can be a powerful tool in cooking that can really make or break a dish. So, how to use them?

Cooking with Herbs can make all the Difference in a Dish

Some truly delicious meals are made when a combination of herbs are added at different times in the same dish. For instance,

New Mexican Posole

a truly divine posole (a New Mexican stew – Recipe at bottom of the post) may have dried coriander added to the pot at the beginning of it’s simmering time, then finished off with some glorious fresh cilantro after you’ve added a good-sized ladle to your bowl.  (Did you know that cilantro and coriander are the same plant?  In the US we refer to the plant as cilantro and its seeds as coriander.  In Europe it is all called coriander.)  Another option is to let someone else (like Art of Cookery) do all the hard work, then add your own pizzazz at home. Give us a call and we will reserve our yummy meals for you (see this week’s menu below), then you can pick it up and discover that we use a 

lot of herbs to brighten it up a bit. Could there be anything better?

Here’s a great herb guide

Rules of Thumb

A general rule of thumb is that dried herbs are added at the beginning of cooking to help them soften and release their flavors, and fresh herbs should be added at or near the end to bring out their fresh and delicate flavor in the finished dish.

Another thing to keep in mind is that dried herbs typically have a more intense flavor than fresh herbs. So keep this in mind when making substitutions, or when you feel like winging it and not following a recipe.  A good ratio to use is 3:1 fresh to dried (1 TBSP fresh is 1 tsp dried). Say you’re using a recipe for a marinara that calls for a teaspoon dried basil, but you happen to have found a gorgeous bunch of fresh basil on your trip to the store. No problem! Just omit the basil when the directions say to add it at the beginning, then stir in 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil into the pasta right before serving. 

Save a little of it to sprinkle over your plated pasta for a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Here at Art of Cookery we love to create artful and delicious food, and to show you how to do so as well, so be sure to scroll through more of our blog for lots of ideas and recipes that you can make your own. Also check out our classes and register for some to really up your food game.  See you soon!

Menu for this Week

Please order ahead if you can, it helps so much with planning.  I do try to make more than what is ordered and keep it in ‘fridge at the front of Art of Cookery for quick grabs (pay via Venmo or Cash).  My venmo address is on the front of the refrigerator.

Upcoming Classes

Old Fashioned Donuts – 3/22 @5:15 pm, $24

Sourdough Bread – 3/29 @12 noon, $40

New Mexican Posole

This is a perfect taste of New Mexico
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 10 mins
Using Pressure cooker30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mex-Tex
Keyword: Posole, Soup, Stew
Servings: 4 quarts
Cost: $20

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven Or, an electric pressure cooker
  • 1 wooden spoon to stir
  • 1 mesh strainer
  • 1 blender
  • 1 rubber spatula to press the chilies through the strainer

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil divided
  • 5 guajillo chilis stems removed and cut into three large pieces
  • 2 roma tomatoes quartered
  • 2.5 c boiling water
  • 2 lb boneless pork roast cut into 1" chunks
  • 3 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 1/2 lg onion chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tbsp corn starch optional, only if you want it thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 4 15 oz cans white hominy or garbanzo beans drained and rinsed, a blend of half and half is nice.
  • 5 c chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt Or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar optional
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish
  • Garnish Suggestions: radish, avocado, red onion, lime wedges, tortilla chips, cherry tomatoes, basil

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven, sauté chilies in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until heated through, don't brown. Transfer chilies to a bowl; add boiling water. Soak them while you do the next step.
  • In the Dutch oven, brown pork in remaining oil in batches, sauteing coriander seed, onion, and garlic with the last batch of pork. Return all pork to pan and add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is tender, 30 minutes.
  • Transfer chilies and their liquid and Roma tomatoes to a blender; cover and process until smooth. Press through a mesh strainer, reserving pulp and discarding skins/seeds. Add pulp to pork mixture. Stir in the hominy (or garbanzo), bay leaves, oregano and salt. Cover and simmer, 30 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
  • To serve, ladle into bowls. Optional: to garnish, spread a row of radishes around the curve of the bowl. Sprinkle red onions and cilantro on top. Place lime or lemon wedges and tortilla on plate next to the bowl.

Using an Electric Pressure Cooker

  • Place oil in cooker and press saute. Add the peppers and sauté 2 minutes.
  • Pour 2.5 c hot water over peppers and bring to a simmer. Press Cancel. Put on cover.
  • Pressure cook at high for 2 minutes. Quick Release. (At this point you can skip the release and turn it off and just let it sit overnight and you can proceed the next day.) Pour contents into a blender, add tomatoes and puree. Pour into a mesh strainer set over a container. Push with rubber spatula until only skin/seeds remain in strainer.
  • Meanwhile, in cooker, add more oil and cook pork in batches over a high temp sauté. When the last batch is no longer pink, add the coriander, onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes.
  • Add cornstarch and stir to coat everything. Add all other ingredients, EXCEPT the lime juice and cilantro. Stir, cover, and pressure cook at high for 5 minutes. Natural release for 15 minutes.
  • Open and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Garnish and serve.

Notes

NOTE: If the stew is too thick, add additional broth or water. If too thin, break out an additional can of hominy or white beans, puree in blender and add to the posole. Bring back to a simmer.
A good alternative to hominy are garbanzo beans.

Recharge, Seasonings, and Ratatouille Recipe

Taking a Break

Recharge, Seasonings, and Ratatouille.  Here is the recharge part:  Art of Cookery is taking a break.  John and I are going to close our respective businesses (his is Gotta Go Tours) for a few weeks to recharge, deep clean, and organize.

We will be closed from February 12 to March 8.

You can expect a fresh menu the following week.  I will list below the classes in March.

At the bottom, you’ll discover a recipe that is great year round for different reasons, Ratatouille.

Next up, Seasonings.  Here is a little tutorial for you regarding spices and herbs:

Spice Up Your Cooking

Proper seasoning is the difference between an average meal and a restaurant-quality feast. As a home chef, learning what spices to add will elevate your cooking and impress family and friends alike! 

The Fundamentals

If you want to up your culinary game, start with the basics. Some good go-to spices include:

  • black pepper
  • cumin
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • turmeric
  • bay leaves
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • cinnamon
  • smoked paprika
  • oregano
  • ground mustard

With these basics, you can make thousands of combinations, adding the finishing touch to your delicious meal. If your food starts tasting flat, take a look at your herbs! Ground spices, such as paprika, lose their freshness after about 6 months. Take a quick whiff; if they’ve lost their scent, it’s time to go. Whole spices, like cloves, last up to 5 years. 

Tips and Tricks

  • When sauteing vegetables, add a bit of salt. Adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process allows time for it to penetrate the veggies, seasoning them throughout. 
  • Spice up your dishes with white pepper! Black pepper is made from dried, unripened berries, and white pepper is made from ripe fruit. This means black pepper has a hotter, more pungent taste, while white pepper is earthy and complex.
  • For a kick of spice and pine, pick up some juniper berries. They can be crushed and added to marinades and sauces, or in a rub for meat. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Seasonings are the spice of life. To get to the top of your cooking game, sign up for a cooking class with Art of Cookery! There, you learn how to use spices to amp up your meals. If you’re looking to cook at home, pick up one of our meal kits. With detailed instructions and fully prepped ingredients, our kits will give you the home-cooked meal in just minutes feel without the hassle.  

No time to cook at all?  Order from our menu of prepared retail meals. 

Just remember, there will be no classes, meal kits, or menu items until mid-March as per the first statement in this blog.  We are recharging and coming back to the Art of Cookery kitchen renewed and excited!

Classes

Sweet Pickled Beets (how to make them and how to safely can them) 3/10/22 @ 12 noon $38

Traditional Bread Baking 3/12/22 @1:00 PM $29

The Art of Pasta 3/20/22 @1:00 PM $19

Old Fashioned Doughnuts 3/22/22 @5:15 PM

Ratatouille

There's a lot of different ways to make and serve this quintessential dish. Here's my take on it.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: eggplant, pasta, zucchini
Servings: 4
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • 1 Skillet large
  • 1 Turner or wooden spoon to stir the sauté
  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 1 Saucepan to cook pasta
  • 1 Colander to drain pasta

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 1 cup Dry Pasta of choice (macaroni, noodles, medium penne)
  • 6 cup Hot water to cook pasta
  • 1/2 tbsp Salt to cook pasta

Ratatouille

  • 3 tbsp Fat (olive oil, butter, bacon drippings)
  • 1 small Eggplant small diced
  • 2 pinches Salt divided
  • 1 small Zucchini small diced
  • 1 Onion halved and sliced
  • 1 Bell pepper large dice
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup Dry white wine (using a sweet wine will work, but will result in a slightly sweeter dish, use what you drink) or, substitute broth and add 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup Chopped tomato
  • 1/4 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Ground fennel seed (You can grind it in a coffee mill, mortar and pestle, or just use 1/3 tsp fennel seed)
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Mustard powder
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Fresh oregano (or 1/3 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp Fresh thyme (or 1/3 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 c Fresh basil chiffonade
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 sprig thyme you want the leaves for garnish

Instructions

  • In saucepan place water and salt to cook pasta according to package directions.
  • In skillet, heat fat over medium-high heat. Sauté eggplant and 1 pinch of salt for 1 minute.
  • Add Zucchini and another pinch of salt. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring often.
  • Add onion and bell pepper. Sauté 2 minutes more.
  • Stir in garlic. Wait 30 seconds and add wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add tomato, coriander, and fennel. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  • Once simmering, stir in salt, pepper, mustard, sugar, oregano, and thyme. Simmer 1 minute.
  • Stir in fresh basil.
  • The pasta should be done now, or soon. When it is cooked to your liking, reserve 1/2 c pasta water and drain the rest in the colander.
  • If the ratatouille is quite thick, thin with some or all of the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  • SERVE! Place pasta on plates (or one serving bowl) top with ratatouille. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and fresh thyme leaves. Add halved cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges.

Notes

This is a great summer garden dish. Use what you have. No zucchini (is that even possible?), substitute yellow squash. No bell peppers? Substitute any kind you have, like poblano, mild Hungarian, banana pepper. The eggplant kind of makes the dish but if you don't have any use a couple portabella mushrooms or okra (yes okra).
It also makes a great cold weather comfort food. You just have to go to the store for your produce and not the garden.

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.


Good News, Finished Kitchen Make-over and a Chicken Stroganoff Recipe!

Exciting News!!

This morning, the Retail Food License inspector arrived for the final inspection of our kitchen remodel project.

He issued a license for the new and improved space to do retail food sales!

This will now become a larger part of our business plan than before.  Our cooking classes will be held 2-3 times per week and we will be selling more meal kits and packaged foods. 

We are also looking into the future at pop-up hot comfort food sales both at our location and at other locations, such as breweries.  Stay tuned for more information on that part of our plan.

Fall into Wanderland

John and I (Valerie) are two of the founding members of White Lake Wanderland.  Together with other board members, (Casandra Atchison of Jimmy’s Pub, Kara and Mike Smith, and Elly Kennedy) we created and ran the 2020 Winter Wanderland in February 2020.  That inaugural event was wonderfully successful and brought a lot of people to the area to wander the two cities of Montague and Whitehall.

Well….then there came a pandemic.  Sigh.  So the Fall 2020 event and Winter 2021 events couldn’t be held. 

We were so excited to bring you the 2021 Fall into Wanderland last weekend.

The weekend of October 15, 16, & 17 was so FUN!  From kids costume parade to adult costume events to a thrift date and budget buffet, there was something for everyone.  Art of Cookery even hosted the Thrift Date and Budget Buffet.

Put February 4, 5, & 6 2022 on your calendars for the next event, Winter Wanderland.

One more thing, we are looking for about 3 more board members.  Let us know if you are interested.  You can comment on this blog, email ICan@artcookery.com, or message the FB page. Don’t want to be a board member but willing to help as a volunteer?  Let us know that also.

There are classes on our fall calendar.

We’ve loaded our calendar with classes.  Check out what is coming up.

This Friday, 10/22/21, is the next class. It is one of our How to Series and is both informative and affordable. The topic is The Art of Pasta and participants will be making pasta (Fettuccini in this case) by hand and by machine.  There are two tickets still available. Click here for more information.

To check out all upcoming classes, check out Art of Cookery’s website and calendar.

To request a specific class you do not see listed, email us at ICan@artcookery.com.  We can usually accommodate such requests.

Chicken Mushroom Stroganoff

A creamy, delicious, and hearty comfort food
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, mushrooms, noodles
Servings: 8
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • Large Skillet
  • Turner
  • Saucepan
  • Colander

Ingredients

  • 4 qt hot water
  • 2 tbsp coarse kosher salt or 4 t table salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 oz dry egg noodles or other preferred noodle
  • 1 tbsp oil or fat
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz white mushrooms Rinsed and sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, partially frozen Sliced into 1/4" thin by 1" pieces. This is easier if partially frozen.
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp flour if you want a thinner sauce, use 2.
  • 1 1/4 c chicken broth or bouillon, or stock, or water, or milk
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t paprika
  • 1/2 t black pepper or to taste
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream
  • 3 tbsp butter to add to hot noodles, can be omitted if stirring the stroganoff and noodles together immediately.

Instructions

  • Place hot water, 2 T salt, and bay leaves in saucepan and place on burn to come to a boil.
  • Place skillet over high heat, add oil or fat, and when hot, add red pepper flakes and mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms for 5-8 minutes.
  • Once a lot of moisture has been released and steamed away, add onion, 1/4 t salt, and chicken. Sauté for 2 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
  • Add rosemary and wine. Stir and cook to reduce moisture by half.
  • Add garlic and flour. Sauté 1 minute more.
  • Meanwhile, drain the noodles when they are at a desired doneness and place back in pan or in serving dish. Stir 3 tbsp butter in to keep them from clumping.
  • To the sauce, add broth, salt, pepper, and paprika. Bring to a boil.
  • Add sour cream and stir and simmer for about 2 minutes until thickened.
  • Stir in the noodles and heat back up, or serve over hot noodles. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika.

Notes

You can substitute mashed or fried potatoes or rice for the noodles.
A green herb, like chives or rosemary is a nice garnish.
Use two cans/jars of mushrooms instead of fresh for a short cut.  This will shave 5-8 minutes off your time.
Another time saver is using the breasts of a cooked rotisserie chicken.  Chop into bite size pieces and add with the broth.  If doing this, add the onions with the mushrooms.

Understand the Art of Pasta

How To Series – Show Me How To….

Understand the Art of Pasta

Want to learn how to make pasta from scratch?  Learn the fundamentals of making pasta from scratch from Chef Valerie Hanson.  It is truly quite easy with some tips and tricks.  

Considering buying a pasta roller/cutter and want to be sure you are getting the right tool for you?  Learn to make pasta both by hand & by machine roller.  

Make a foundation pasta dough and understand how some variances will produce different qualities of pasta. See how to store it and cook it.  Bring an adult beverage if desired.  In this workshop, participants will be making fettuccini.

This is a foundation class and is good for someone just barely delving into homemade pasta.  For more in-depth pasta courses, check out all of our pasta classes.

Onsite:  $20

Online:  $18


Create a Charcuterie Board

How To Series – Show Me How To….

Create a Beautiful Charcuterie Board

Have you ever been impressed by a beautifully presented charcuterie board? 

Learn some tips and tricks to making one for your next gathering.  The term charcuterie typically indicates using cooked/smoked meats and pate along with cheeses and other options but learn how you can make vegetarian and other types of boards that are spectacular.  

Participants in this session will create a small board to take home and and then dine on its deliciousness.  Learn variations to make it in their own style.

Onsite:  $24

Online:  $19 (Available upon request)


Knife Skills

How To Series – Show Me How To….

Gain Knife Skills

Proper Knife skills are the single most important skill in the kitchen.  They prevent accidents, make kitchen time more efficient, and produce consistent quality. 

This session if a great way to hone your knife skills.  Learn technique and to care for your knife.  Learn how to use the right knife for a task.  Discover which knives you need and when to use them for different tasks.  You will be slicing and dicing veggies while learning.  See how to efficiently dice an onion, julienne carrots, etc. 

The class will also make a dip and nibble on their work!

Onsite:  $24


Create Pie Pastry

How To Series – Show Me How To….

Create Pie Pastry

Join this pastry session that’ll make you famous. Truly learn that it is easy to get rid of store crusts and be your own pie maker.  There are some great tips in this session.  Learn how to make ahead and store the pastries for quick creation of a beautiful pie.

This class focuses on the pastry only, not making a pie.  If you want to learn how to make a full pie, check out all of our pie classes.

Onsite:  $20

Online:  $18


Pate a Choux Cream Puffs

How To Series – Show Me How To….

Make Pate a Choux

Pate a Choux is a unique dough that is the base for cream puffs, eclairs, beignets, churros, and many other pastries. 

Once the technique for making the dough is mastered, the pastries are a breeze and impressive to serve. 

In this session, learn to make this unique cooked dough; and, finish by experiencing how easy cream puffs are to make with it!

Adult:  $20


Make Gravy

How To Series – Show Me How To….Make Gravy

Do you skip making the gravy from scratch for that holiday meal because it is lumpy, too salty, runny, too thick, etc?  You are not alone.  Millions of jars/cans/envelopes of gravy are sold in the US each year.  Yet, it is truly easy to make flawless gravy at home, in minutes.  It is one of the best ways to remove extra additives you can’t even pronounce and salt from your food.  Learn to make two popular styles of gravy.  White Gravy (think sausage gravy and biscuits) and classic Brown Gravy.  We will be mastering how to make a roux as the base, and then the gravy in this session.

Adult:  $25


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