Cooking lessons in Carlisle

A frittata, this one with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and pesto, is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a cocktail party hors d'oeuvre. Pretty handy to know.

A frittata, this one with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and pesto, is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a cocktail party hors d’oeuvre. And aren’t those tomatoes pretty? They are sweet pea tomatoes from the instructor’s garden.

I never leave a cooking class without a few new ideas, a better way to use some tool and, well, a feeling of satisfaction. That was certain true after a recent class at the Kitchen Shoppe and Cooking School in Carlisle, Pa.

Janice explains the techniques for an easy meal that tasted complicated.

Janice Groff explains the techniques for an easy meal that tasted complicated.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with knives: using them without scarring, keeping them sharp, using the right knife. So I paid attention, scribbled a few notes and watched carefully as Janice Groff, a cook and food blogger, demonstrated a goat cheese frittata and ginger-spiced napoleon.

I enjoyed her comments about roasting those sickly-pink winter tomatoes to get some flavor out of them — I went home and roasted a few for the next night’s dinner.

As I said, I'm obsessed with knives. In a culinary way, of course.

As I said, I’m obsessed with knives. In a culinary way, of course.

But what I was paying attention to was the strange (to me, at least) serrated and downright hole-y cheese knife she used to cut up tomatoes with no trouble whatsoever. And I valued her comments about not abusing her knives — scrape those diced onions into the pan with the unsharp side of the knife, for instance. I took note of the wide flat plastic scraper she used but didn’t catch the name of it. No matter, I’ll find one.

Roasted tomatoes were layered into the pan before the frittata egg mixture was poured on top.

Roasted tomatoes were layered into the pan before the frittata egg mixture was poured on top.

It was a delicious meal: bittersweet chocolate cinnamon rolls I can’t wait to make myself, roasted tomato, pesto and goat cheese frittata and roasted pear napoleon with ginger pastry cream. Best of all, Janice made it seem simple. She recommended a few tools — not gadgets, she said; they are what remain lost in a kitchen drawer. She explained a few techniques.

And then we got to eat all three delicious courses before they let us loose in the wonderful kitchen supply store.

I’d like to come back with some of my favorite foodies. The course catalog outlines lots of hands-on and demonstration classes (like this one), some for couples and some focusing on wine.

A quick napoleon with ginger pastry cream and sauteed pears tasted just a bit of the exotic.

A quick napoleon with ginger pastry cream and sauteed pears tasted just a bit exotic.

This was only part of my day away in Carlisle. My next stop on this crisp October day was a wine pairing of Pennsylvania wines.

Wine pairings will be posted on Thursday.

The kitchen shop was "like crack for foodies" a fellow shopper quipped. She had been here before. She was right.

The kitchen shop was “like crack for foodies” a fellow shopper quipped. She had been here before. She was right.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

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