Amaretto pumpkin cheesecake is a twist on tradition. Recipe
By Jan Norris
Your repertoire might be tired, or you may just want a few tips for cooking for a crowd during the holidays. Or maybe you want some Florida-themed dishes to round out your turkey dinner.
At a local cooking class, students can hone skills or learn new recipes. Cooking schools, cookware shops, grocery stores and even hotels offer classes and demos that can help cooks out.
Already established as one of the larger cooking schools, Publix’s Aprons has several hands-on classes available. Not all are holiday themed, but many have pieces of technique instruction that could be applied to a holiday meal.
Chef Rey De La Osa heads up the classes, and at the annual Food Symposium hosted by the Delray Beach Public Library in October, he demonstrated knife techniques, fruit carving and plate presentation, as well as making cured salmon at home.
“Anyone can do this,” he said. “The classes are fun, and you learn something. We take groups as well as individuals.”
Classes at Aprons and at other schools often are casual, with students working alongside the chef and having time to ask questions and get individual attention.
“The best part is you get to eat your work,” De La Osa said. Wines are served with the meals.
The classes are so popular with some, the students sign up for repeat classes.
“We have a group of women who became friends over the course of their classes, and now come back to sign up for more classes as a sort of cooking club,” he said.
Private lessons are available for groups or individuals. Parties for showers or bachelorettes are popular — and students can request the lesson topic.
The chef recommends the Culinary Basics class series for new cooks or others who want to learn proper techniques and essential recipes that help with all meals. The six-week class begins Nov. 7 and teaches knife skills, essential sauces, sautéing, roasting, grilling and braising. The series of classes is $300 for the hands-on instruction — and students eat or take home what they cook.
Other hands-on classes at Aprons in November include the Thanksgiving is Over — Now What? class (Nov. 10) with turkey turnovers, Thanksgiving quiche, pulled turkey cranberry BBQ sliders and leftover sweet potato cake; New Holiday Desserts (Nov. 16), with a creamsicle pie, apple crisp, espresso hazelnut caramel trifle, white chocolate raspberry bread pudding, and chocolate truffles; Where I Come From: the South at its Finest (Nov. 19), featuring cornbread-crusted mac and cheese casserole, grilled peach and pecan cobbler, buttermilk honey biscuits with chicken gravy, and braised oxtails with collard greens.
A special class featuring Schnebly (Florida) wines from Homestead will be held Nov. 10, and the chef will be preparing a Florida-themed menu to match the fruit wines.
While most classes are geared toward adults, some classes are designed for kids. The Gingerbread House class, Nov. 23-24 is a class designed for kids, at a special price — $50 for four family members.
Other classes range from $40 to $300 for a series; the website has the calendar and details of each class posted. Note that class size is limited, and subject to change if not filled.
Sur la Table is a new cookware shop from Seattle coming into Boca’s Mizner Park. A branch in Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens doesn’t offer classes, but the new one, not open at press-time, will have a classroom where hands-on lessons and demonstrations will be offered.
The November schedule posted online for all the stores includes classes on hors d’oeuvres party foods, and Ina Garten’s “Foolproof Thanksgiving” dinner with tips, prep-ahead foods and recipes. That class includes Garten’s new book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof Recipes You Can Trust.
A Holiday Knife Skills class where you can learn to carve the bird properly is set for Nov. 19, and includes a 6-inch Wustof chef’s knife for students.
Hearty Winter Soups and Stews are on the class menu Nov. 19 as a hands-on class, and Take and Bake Pies is scheduled for Nov. 21.
On Nov. 25, a class on Holiday Brunches with a focus on pairing gourmet brunch foods and wines with Jay Minzer is listed.
Several demos will be given at Whole Foods Market in Boca Raton during the holidays, according to the team member at the store, Abigail Nagorski. The demos focus on holiday foods and wines and will be held in the store, but the calendar of those was not available at press time. Classes there can be scheduled for groups or individuals, however, in their private classroom, Nagorski said.
Williams-Sonoma in the Town Center mall also will offer demos on turkey-day-related food and entertaining Sundays and Mondays before Thanksgiving; and holiday entertaining after that.
The Ritz-Carlton is scheduled to have classes on leftovers after Thanksgiving, open to hotel guests for free, and to the public for a small charge; reservations are required.
If you go
For more information on the classes:
Publix Aprons Cooking School
5050 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton (at Polo Club Shoppes)
*Sur La Table
438 Plaza Real, Boca Raton (in Mizner Park)
Phone not listed as of press time; www.surlatable.com
*Scheduled opening is early to mid-November.
6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton (Town Center)
Whole Foods Market
1400 Glades Road, Boca Raton
447-2615 - Abigail Nagorski; www.wholefoods.com
100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan
Visit thecoastalstar.ning.com for additional recipes
Butternut Squash Bisque
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled, cut in large dice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground clove
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
2 tablespoons molasses
salt and pepper to taste
chives and sour cream for garnish (optional)
Heat large pot on medium heat.
Add butter and allow to brown slightly. Chop squash roughly. Add vegetables, spices and thyme; cook until the vegetables start to caramelize slightly, stirring occasionally. Add stock and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and take the thyme sprigs out of the soup.
Using a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. Add heavy cream and molasses; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with sour cream and chive cut into 1-inch pieces.
Makes about 2 quarts, or eight 1-cup servings.
1 box puff pastry, thawed
1½ cup leftover (cooked) turkey meat, shredded
½ cup brie, cut into thin slices
¼ cup leftover cranberry sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut two thawed puff pastry sheets into fourths (making 8 squares).
Place squares on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place several pieces of turkey on one side of the pastry, Top with a piece of brie, 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce and salt and pepper.
To assemble, fold one edge of the square over the other making a triangle. Crimp the bottom edge of the dough over the top edge- sealing the triangle. When all turnovers are folded, brush them with butter and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper.
Use a knife to make a small score on the top of each turnover, allowing air to escape while cooking.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are browned.
Makes 8 turnovers.
Chef notes: Stuff these with a variety of items; leftover sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and different cheeses, or turkey and stuffing. The possibilities are endless.
Amaretto Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cinnamon flavored graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1½ cups pumpkin puree (chef recommends freshly baked pumpkin)
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
½ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/8 cup sour cream
Note: Use how-to at http://pegasuslegend-whatscookin.blogspot.com/2010/10/fresh-pumpkin-puree-how-to-make-it.html for oven-roasted, fresh pumpkin, or good-quality canned pumpkin, not presweetened pumpkin pie filling.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make crust: Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Combine the pecans, flour, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, butter, and egg yolk together in a large bowl. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the springform pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes; set aside and cool.
Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.
For the filling: Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, maple syrup, and Amaretto until smooth. Combine with the sour cream and pumpkin mixture. Pour over the prebaked crust.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake.
Note: This freezes well.
Above recipes are from Publix Aprons Cooking School.