Hands-on Cooking Class Parties
Hands-on Cooking Class Parties
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and the weather is wintry – rainy, snowy or windy! What better way to spend an indoor afternoon or morning making Valentine Lollipops with your Children. Children very often make paper Valentine’s to give to their friends, but Chocolate ones are even better. They taste good and Chocolate is good for you!
What you will need to make these treats is:
Candy (Heart-shaped Lollipop Molds) – available at your local Cake Decorating Store or Craft Shop such as Michael’s or JoAnn’s.
Pre-tempered Chocolates (Wilton’s)
A sheet of waxed paper or a flat pan to put the molds on.
A melting pot or double boiler If you don’t have either you can make a double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.
To make the Pops first set up your molds. Make sure they are clean and dry. Water and chocolate do not mix and your pops will not set up properly. The best thing to do is to wash and dry them 24 hours before you are going to use them. When you are finished with them, wash (DO NOT USE SOAP) just hot tap water and dry and then after 24 hours place them in a sealed plastic bag so that the next you need them they will be ready to go.
Place the molds on the waxed paper or sheet pan. Place the sticks in the molds (make sure that at least one inch of the stick is in the candy portion ) If you are using a Melting Pot place the Candy (the melting pots will hold a 12 oz. bag of candy) in the Melting Pot and set it to MELT. Once the Candy has thoroughly melted turn the setting down to WARM.
Once the Candy has melted you can then spoon it into the molds. Be sure and completely cover the Lollipop Sticks. DO NOT fill the mold to the top. Once they are about 3/4 full, stop and tap the molds to get rid of the Air Bubbles. If there is still space left in the mold slowly add additional candy until the mold is full.
Allow at least an hour for the candy to set at room temperature or about 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator or 15-20 in the freezer.
Once the Candy has set up turn the molds over onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and gently press on the backs to un-mold. If they are not going to be eaten right away place into bags (lollipop bags can be purchased at Cake Decorating Stores, Party Stores or Craft Stores). Tie with red curling ribbon. These lollipops are a great replacement for Valentines.
For heat loving Valentine recipients you can add a little bit of Chili Flakes (Old Boney Mountain Grotto Dust) available at http://www.oldboneymountainhotsaucecorp.com/
February 1st is ‘National Baked Alaska Day’. There is nothing as beautiful as a flaming Baked Alaska as it is served at table. My Sons Father and I were fortunate to have had that experience aboard the Cunard Princess as it made its way up the Coast of California to Vancouver Canada. The night we had it, the lights in the Dining Salon were dimmed and all the waiters marched out, each carrying a Flaming Baked Alaska, one of each which was served at each table.
You could make your own baked Alaska, but unless you have a Culinary Torch and are familiar with the liquer that you would need to flame it with, you are better off having it as dessert at a Fine Restaurant. However, if you really want to make your own, I have a recipe of a ‘Mock Baked Alaska’ which although it is not going to be flaming, it is still quite good and simple to make. Children love as well as adults. The only problem with it is that although it looks beautiful when it comes out of the oven, it loses its beauty when it is cut. However, it does not lose its taste appeal. That is yummy!!!
Traditionally a ‘Baked Alaska’ is a cake that has already been baked and then filled with Ice Cream. A Meringue is put over the Cake and this insulates the Ice Cream and keeps from melting when it is baked in the oven a second time. In Restaurants, the oven step is eliminated and the Meringue is just flamed, thereby ‘cooking’ it.
My version of ‘Baked Alaska‘ is a sponge or Angel Food Cake. I cut a trough out of the Cake thereby creating a space for the Ice Cream. Once the ‘trough’ is filled with Ice Cream, the Cake pieces are put back. You can do this quite easily because a Sponge Cake is quite literally like a sponge and it can be easily compressed, thereby allowing you to replace the Cake pieces after the Ice Cream is inserted.
I usually put the cake back in the freezer at this point and just before serving, preheat your oven to 475 or even 500 degrees. Make your Meringue and cover the cake with it and place it in the hot oven for about 5 minutes or until the Meringue is a golden brown color. Remove it and serve immediately, once the guests have a look at your Masterpiece.
To cut the Cake, use a Bread Knife (serrated) so that you will not compress the cake as it is cut.
You can make your own Angel Food Cake or Sponge Cake cakes-frostings/angel-food-cake/ , /cakes-frostings/sponge-cake/or you can purchase a ready-made Angel Food or Sponge Cake that has been baked in a tube pan. Of course, if you make it yourself it will taste better!
You can find the complete recipe for the finishing touches on the ‘Baked Alaska’ at /cakes-frostings/5562-2/
ENTERTAINING FOR CINCO DE MAYO
Cinco de Mayo is the Fifth of May and is a Mexican national Holiday which celebrates the Mexican Victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a time for celebration and fiestas throughout Mexico and throughout much of the United States. Cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Colorado have Cinco de Mayo Festivals. For those of us who do not live near where these festivities are planned or who like to celebrate at home, Cinco de Mayo is a great time to have your own party, whether it be for family, friends or your children. Your party can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like to make it. Sometimes though, simple can be best. When one tries to be elaborate, many complications can get in the way, so the following paragraphs will be a guide to a simple Cinco de Mayo Celebration at home either in your house or backyard.
Let’sstart with the decorations. The first thing you would want to buy would be the center piece of your party and that is a Pinanta. A pinata is made from paper maiche and comes in many different shapes and is usually filled with candy and other treats. The Mexican Flag is Red, White and Green and much of the Paper Goods that are made for Cinco de Mayo will be made in those colors but there will also be additional varieties that are very colorful. You can keep it simple and purchase solid shades so that leftovers can be used for other parties or you can go all out and buy paper goods that are made specifically for this event. Following is a list of paper goods and other items that you may wish to purchase for a Cinco de Mayo party:
The next item to think about would be the food you serve. A great way to serve food for a large crowd is to have a ‘build your own taco bar’ Purchase or prepare the meat fillings and set them out in warmers or chafing dishes for guests to help themselves. You would also need a variety of condiments. Listed below are suggested fillings for Tacos and Condiments to go along with them.
Crema (Mexican version of Creme Fraiche)
Grilled Scallions (Green Onions)
Of course you are going to need tortillas for your tacos. Authentic tacos are made with soft shells which you can just steam, microwave or heat up on a hot grill or over a gas flame. If you like crispy shells (best made with corn tortillas) you can do them ahead of time or purchase them already made.
Most of the meat items and condiments can be made or prepared ahead of time. If making the meat items ahead of time, undercook them slightly so that when you reheat them they won’t get overcooked. Shredded Cabbage keeps better than shredded lettuce and is actually more authentic than lettuce. Salsa keeps well for many days, but guacamole is best made right before serving as the avocado has a tendency to darken. Non Alcoholic Beverages such as Virgin Strawberry Margaritas or horchata can be served.
Other Menu Items which you may wish to have are:
Watch our website (Recipe Section) for Mexican Recipes you may wish to try.
Chinese New Year’s is on February 3rd this year, which is the year of the hare or the rabbit. What better time to have a ‘do it yourself’ party where everyone can help to make Dim Sum. Dim Sum are small dishes or appetizers that are of course, Chinese in nature. This would be a great idea for a February Birthday Party or for just a small group of friends who like to get together and cook.
Today there are many different types of waffle irons available that make it easy to be creative with your meals. There is the plain old fashioned type of waffle iron, the Belgian Waffle Iron which makes waffles that were originally called Brussels Waffles. When the Brussels Waffle Maker was showcased at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows New York, the name was changed to Belgian Waffle Iron because it was thought that many people in the United States did not know where Brussels was.
This year for my Birthday, my mother, Sylvia of Sylveeeskitchen.com, for whom I help operate this web blog to share her years of talent with others, asked me what kind of cake I wanted for my Birthday on November 26th.
My first thought was that I didn’t want a cake since we usually celebrate my birthday on Thanksgiving and there is always too much food and far too much that she always does to make it a great day for our entire family.
But then a little devil inside me said, Hey, I will tell her to make Andriano Zumbo’s famed eight layered V8 cake as featured on Masterchef Australia this season. One contestant described this cake as eight layers of hell.
I figured it was so complicated and difficult to even attempt that she might opt out and then I would get my wish that she not make me a cake and give herself a break this year. But to my surprise, she took on the challenge of making this monster of a cake.
While not technically perfect cosmetically as this would take any master pastry chef many attempts to even come close, she made what was one of the best cakes I have ever had. It was truly amazing in flavor, texture and was everything I thought it should taste like. I have posted some of the pictures on the cake on Sylveees Kitchen Flickr Album. Please take a look. Thanks Mom, for the best cake ever.