Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, co-coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College. All classes are held within Westchester restaurants, where local chefs share their talents and recipes with us in their own dining rooms. Over the years, I have attended hundreds of classes, and I always learn a new trick, and I am here to share with you from our last class.
Chef: Navjot Arora
Restaurant: Chutney Masala Indian Bistro, Irvington
Tip: Always incorporate three components in each recipe: seasoning, fat, and “sourness” (acid) to balance flavor in every dish.
Our kitchen visit led us to experience the inner makings of Nan bread. The chef shared with us the secret to crispy veggie fritters (Bhajjia), by dusting them in chickpea flour before frying. He mentioned that in Indian culture, it is considered disrespectful to not serve something prepared to guests (even if they are unexpected). These fritters are what is commonly served upon their arrival because they are quick and easy to prepare.
The chef holds a giant skewer of seasoned chicken tikka at the ready for the Masala sauce incorporating the three components for a balanced flavor.
Watch for Chef Navjot on November 3rd, as he will be featured on FOX Good Day NY in the morning cooking segment, to promote the fund raiser for pediatric cancer research being held at his restaurant.
Care to get tips first hand? Check out the current offerings at www.sunywcc.edu 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 606-6830×1. I look forward to meeting you there!
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.
There is still time to sign up for next week’s classes:
La Catena Italian Restaurant, Ardsley www.LaCatenaArdsley.com
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 www.qrestaurantbar.com
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 www.lefontane.net
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 www.eliataverna.com
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