Chef’s Tip: Darrell Belcher of Roasted Peppers in Mamaroneck Purees Jalapenos for an Even Heat in Guacamole


Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, co-coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College. The classes are held in restaurants all over Westchester, and local chefs share their secrets and recipes with the class in their own dining rooms. Over the years, I have attended hundreds of classes, and I always learn something new, and I am here to share with you what I learned in our last class.

Chef: Darrell Belcher
Roasted Peppers, Mamaroneck
Tip: Puree jalapenos for a more even distribution of “heat” making guacamole more uniform and without HOT spots.

CIA grad and chef Darrell Belcher is a fabulous presenter. Our class started off with a lesson on cleaning pork shoulder to make a delicious pulled pork quesadilla. The chef used his pureed jalapenos in the table side demonstration of making guacamole. It created an even warmth throughout, making it some of the best tasting guacamole around and a great accompaniment to the delicious pork (above).

We learned the art of breaking down short ribs by removing the sinew (connective tissues) and leaving most of the fat for flavor, before pan searing and then braising the ribs for many hours. The chef disclosed his family recipe for cinnamon rice pudding, which included soaking the raisins in rum.

The 411 on Roasted Peppers.

Care to get tips first hand? Check out the current offerings at Continuing Ed, Taste of Westchester. Classes are only $15+sampling fee.          Sign up with a friend for one demonstration or a few by contacting WCC via online or by phone 606-6830 x1.

I look forward to meeting you there!

 There is still time to sign up for next week’s classes:

La Catena Italian Restaurant, Ardsley
With its warm Tuscan décor and welcoming chef, Northern and Southern Italian cuisines collide as Chef Emilio shows us how to create some of his special dishes. He will feed us generously while we learn his cooking techniques, beginning with two of his favored appetizers, a fresh buffalo mozzarella with roasted peppers and tomatoes, and his delicious mussels bianco. Get ready for their now famous tableside show of pappardelle alla Emilio made with three types of mushrooms and cognac set on fire in a giant hollowed wheel of imported parmigiano-reggiano for a melted cheesy scrumptious sauce. Learn the skills necessary to make two special entrees, vitello alla sorrentino (scaloppini sautéed with layers of eggplant and cheese in a white wine sauce), and the house specialty, tilapia livornese (capers and a light tomato sauce). A dark chocolate raspberry cake will be the sweet ending to a beautiful meal! Oct. 22, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #83095

Q Restaurant & Bar, Port Chester

Smoker Tour: This local family favorite is known for its terrific smokin’ mid-western BBQ fare cooked “slow and low.” The pit master smokes meat daily, all served in a bright and cheery atmosphere. Voted best in Westchester, along with its well-known sister company, The Kneaded Bread, this family run business aims to please. Kids even eat free on Wednesdays. An authentic BBQ demonstration will have us cookin’ along with a sneak peek into the smoker. Owner Jeffrey Kohn will teach us how to make his famous giant wings and the authentic BBQ “Q sampler” consisting of pulled pork, ribs, brisket, and chicken. We will learn how to make their delicious sides, hickory pit baked beans, slaw, and potato salad, along with a few surprises. Their old fashioned banana pudding will end the demonstration on a bit of a sweet note. At Q Restaurant they strive to serve food fast, not fast food! Oct. 23, 3:00-5:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee). #83096

Le Fontane, Somers
Kitchen Tour: Welcome Fall Italiano style! Specializing in authentic Southern Italian cuisine and hospitality are owners Antonio and Alfredo Abbate, two brothers raised by their family of restaurateurs and wine makers on Capri. Le Fontane specializes in authentic Southern Italian cuisine, prepared by a mature and experienced kitchen staff headed by talented Neapolitan Chef Antonio Perillo. Enter their kitchen to see the makings of a great meal starting with pumpkin soup. We will then join the chef in the pasta making room where he will teach us the art of making fresh pasta, including spinach fettuccine with pumpkin and walnuts in an olive oil and garlic sauce. Next the instructions for pork chop valdostana, stuffed with prosciutto and fontina cheese, sautéed with mushrooms. The restaurant prides itself on its homemade desserts and they will demonstrate how to make poached pears in white wine. Oct. 24, 6:00-8:00 pm, $15 (+ $25 sampling fee). #83097

The Cupcake Kitchen
and Luncheonette, Irvington
  Visit them on Facebook.
Hands-on: Let them eat cupcakes! This adorable breakfast and lunch spot is also known for the prettiest and most delicious cupcakes in town along with custom fondant cakes for every occasion. Owner Jennifer O’Connell will give a hands-on instructional demonstration on decorating cupcakes in time for Halloween. This will be an interactive class using decorating tips from a pro and the outcome will be “spooktacular.” You will use pastry bags outfitted with all the tools needed to create six fabulously decorated cupcakes to bring home. The luncheonette only uses fresh ingredients and will show you how to make their fabulous butter cream icing. You will get to sample a cupcake along with the shop’s specialty coffee or tea. Come out and play with us! Oct. 25, 4:30-6:30 pm, $15 (+ $21 sampling fee). #83098

Elia Taverna, Bronxville
Weekend Lunch: Come sail away to the Greek Isles with Proprietors Rui Cunha and authentic Greek Chef Michalakis Sarris from Astoria. Delicious homemade Greek cuisine is presented in this casual restaurant. We will start off the demonstration with a “how to” on kolokithokeftedes, fried zucchini cakes with fresh herbs; followed by a paphos island salad, onion, cucumbers, tomato, and cilantro mixed with feta cheese, topped with grilled halloumi cheese; and their keftedakia, seasoned meatballs. An exciting special not found on the regular menu, exohiko, Greek style shepherd’s pie made with shredded lamb in a tomato sauce under a phyllo dough blanket, will complete our lesson. For dessert a “how to” on kataifi, shredded phyllo dough rolled with walnuts and cinnamon and soaked in light honey syrup, along with a cool frappe, iced frothy coffee blended to perfection. Hold onto your dishes as these gentlemen know the art of great food and service! Oct. 27, 1:00-3:00 pm, $15 (+ $20 sampling fee). #83099

If you are a chef or proprietor of a restaurant, and are interested in participating in this program please contact the college and leave your contact information.


About Author

As a contributing blogger and the author of "Chef’s Tip", Donna Monaco Olsen recaps great cooking demonstrations from local restaurants. As the the coordinator for Westchester Community College’s Continuing Education program, named “A Taste of Westchester,” she writes the program, which offers more than 35 cooking classes each semester, and recruits chefs to do cooking demonstrations in their restaurants. She holds a full time position in the education field, and in her off time develops and contributes recipes for cookbooks. She is an avid baker and a former cake decorator who created many custom designed specialty cakes. Along with her husband, she reviews restaurants on Small Bites during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

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