Want to sharpen your knife skills, learn how to make delicious appetizers or roll your own sushi? You can as the number of cooking classes in the Fresno and Clovis area grows.
Private chefs and food experts say the popularity of food shows, the local food movement and the desire to eat healthier foods, have all contributed to the demand for instruction and the options available.
“One of the common themes I hear is that people want to start eating good food that they make themselves,” says Brigitte Theriault, owner of White Apron, personal chef and meal planner. “They are tired of eating out and eating crappy food.”
Theriault says she has seen a rise in the number of people wanting one-on-one cooking classes. Her classes are based on what her students want to learn. Often, people are looking for tips on becoming more creative and efficient in the kitchen.
One of her clients, Andrea Garza of Fresno, wanted to take her cooking skills up a notch, so she’s learned the finer points of crafting hollandaise sauce, braising meat and sauteing greens. Garza takes the classes along with her 11-year-old daughter Piper, who shares a strong interest in cooking.
Piper received her first chef’s knife this Christmas and Theriault recently taught her how to make risotto with kale, bacon, basil and tomatoes.
“Brigitte has taught us some new approaches in the kitchen that make cooking easier, and we are making fewer mistakes,” Garza says.
Personal chef Wendy Carroll is also getting more requests for cooking classes. Carroll recently did a class for a male client and his family on how to properly cook a rib-eye steak.
“Whether its for fun or to learn some serious skills, people are wanting to learn more about cooking food,” says Carroll, owner of Seasoned to Taste, personal chef services in Fresno.
Personal chef classes can range from $200 to $300 and consist of either a series of classes or a several hour course. You can contact Theriault at email@example.com and Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If that isn’t what you are looking for, the Fresno and Clovis adult schools offer cooking classes for a fee. In Fresno, you can learn how to make Chinese chicken salad, can fruits and vegetables, or make jams and jellies. Clovis offers several courses, including making one-pot dinners, bread making and Indian cuisine.
Williams-Sonoma in Fresno provides a free cooking techniques class every Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. on various cooking topics. The Fig Garden Village store recently hosted a class on how to use a Vitamix blender and how to make the best use of ceramic cookware.
The store also has a Cookbook Club that includes cooking tips and techniques and a three-course tasting menu from a popular cookbook. This year’s cookbook lineup is expected to be posted soon on the store’s Web page, www.williams-sonoma.com.
For a fun approach, the Young Chef’s Academy in Fresno has expanded its lineup of classes for adults. Along with its popular “Busy Ladies Freezer Meals Workshop,” that will be held on Jan. 23 from 4-6 p.m. and again on Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the academy will be hosting a “Macarons & Martinis” class on Jan. 30 from 6-8 p.m. at the academy’s office, 1134 E Champlain Dr, Suite 101, Fresno. Details, http://fresnoca.youngchefsacademy.com.
Feb. 12, Young Chef’s Academy owner Shayna Telesmanic will teach a “Valentines Day Couples Cooking Class,” that will include making an Italian dinner.
“We will do a pasta dish, different sides, and a chocolate dessert,” Telesmanic says. “The class will be small, very hands on and the best part is that the couples can enjoy what they cook.”
Chef Hillori Hansen says that six years ago when she joined Whole Foods Fresno she held classes sporadically. But as interest in food has grown, so have the number of classes. Hansen now has a 1,000-person email list and interest continues to grow.
Hansen and her guest chefs hold classes on a variety of topics. Later this month, on Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. there will be a sushi rolling class. And on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. a guest chef will teach a class on southern Indian vegetarian cuisine. Details on the classes can be found on the store’s website, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/fresno.
Hansen also plans classes on cooking with citrus, making soup, and fermenting foods.
“We have a whole generation of people in the Valley who are connecting more with their food and who want to create it at home,” Hansen says. “And we can teach them.”
Kale, bacon and tomato risotto with basil
By Brigitte Theriault
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 cups of chicken stock, possibly more
2 cups kale, chopped fine (chiffonnade)
1/2 pound of bacon, diced and cooked
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup parmesan
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 leaves basil, chopped fine (chiffonade)
Cook the bacon until crisp, set aside. Cook the kale. In the same pan, cook the kale in some of the bacon 3-4 minutes over medium high heat. Set aside with the bacon.
Sweat the onions. In a large saute pan, add the olive oil and onions. Season with salt and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes. You want to create a flavor base and not have crunchy onions in your risotto, so don't skip this step.
Sweat the garlic. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
Toast the rice. Stir in the rice and toast 3-4 minutes. Season with a good pinch of salt.
Deglaze. Pour in the 1/2 cup wine and simmer until the liquid is evaporated.
Pour in the stock, 1 cup at a time. You want the liquid to be fully evaporated before adding the next cup. You'll need a minimum of 4 cups - but maybe need up to 6 or 8. If you run out of stock, use water. The goal is to get a creamy finished rice.
When the rice is almost cooked (taste as go) add the bacon, kale and tomatoes with a last 1/2 to 1 cup of broth.
When the rice is the desired texture (soft but has a bite) add the parmesan , basil and butter. Remove from the heat and serve.
By Hillori Hansen
2 tablespoons grated fresh tangerine zest
3 ½ cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup orange blossom honey or unrefined sugar
Squeeze juice and pour through a fine sieve to remove pulp and seeds. Stir honey or sugar and pinch salt into juice mixture until dissolved.
Pour mixture into ice cream machine and run for 20 minutes.
You can store in an airtight container and freeze, or serve immediately.
Chocolate almond tuile cookies
¾ cup unrefined sugar
½ cup egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Gluten Free or All Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup blanched toasted almonds, roughly ground
Combine sugar, egg whites and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Combine flour, salt and cocoa powder and add to the egg white mixture.
Add the melted butter and cooled almonds. Set aside.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, spray cooking oil over the top.
Drop teaspoon amounts on the greased paper and flatten into a disk using a fork. The batter will spread out, so just do six cookies per tray.
Bake at 400 degrees until edges start to turn golden brown, about 6 – 8 minutes. (do not under bake).
Upon remove from oven, use a metal spatula to lift the cookies off the tray, and place on a rolling pin to obtain the tuile shape or place upside down on small bowl or ramekin for a bowl shape.