Showing posts from May, 2023

Reminder: Urbana Park District summer cooking classes start next week

The first session of my summer cooking class series called " Flavor Principles of Ethnic Cooking " starts on June 8, 2023. The "Moroccan Classics" class is sold out, but there is still one seat left for the June 29 "Taste of Hawaii" class. Unfortunately, the July 20 "Vietnamese Cooking" class is also sold out, but if you wish to be added to the wait list, please call 217-367-1544. This Urbana Park District cooking class series will meet at Phillips Recreation Center on Thursdays from 6–8pm. The tuition is $40–$75 per person and includes a full two-course dinner along with wine and beer tastings. Because we'll be visiting Hawaii this summer, you can also expect some experimental retro tiki cocktails on June 29, 2023.  The sixth season of these long-running "dinner party-style" cooking classes will continue in the fall when we visit Palestine, the Czech republic, and Indonesia. A preview of the fall season is already online and

What is Sakana?

In Japan, sakana are traditionally small snacks served in drinking establishments known as izakaya. Sakana dishes were originally designed to be paired with shochu or sake, but these days modern sakana can also be considered beer snacks. Often quite salty, sakana is similar to Spanish tapas and can be anything from fish to seafood to fried foods to pizza. At our upcoming "Bullet Train to Oasaka" pop-up dinner event on July 16, we'll be serving a selection of sakana as a first course paired carefully with specific sake tastings. Pan seared scallops (shown above) will be one of the featured small plates we'll be serving. Our version is derived from a classic French recipe, but translated to Japanese with the addition of spicy mayo, rice wine, and a touch of soy ( see recipe ). Our two-hour six-course tasting itinerary will also include a wide range of other Japanese delights all served with sake, highball, beer, and sochu pairings ( see the entire menu ). Seating is ext

New Recipe: Crème Brûlée (baked custard)

French deserts are world-renown for their decadence, elegance, and creativity. Therefore, it goes without saying that a dessert course is required for each of the three classes. If you attend all three sessions, you'll learn how make a lemon tart, a flambéed Crêpe Suzette, and a baked custard called Crème Brûlée (shown above). Yes, making Crème Brûlée involves using a blow torch, but kitchen-size butane torches are only about $10 these days on Amazon and the investment is well worth it. My recipe is the easiest, most efficient, and fastest way to make this dish.  Learn how to make this dessert at the "A Taste of Basque Country" class on June 27 at the Common Ground Food Co-op. This class is the first of a series of three classes called "A Taste of France" which is part of my ongoing "deep dive" cooking series. Later this summer, we'll be tasting the Mediterranean flavors of Provençal cooking (July 25) and cooking up classic dishes from the Burg