Zazios Cooking Class

Zazios logoLast month I took a cooking class at Zazios, one of the local restaurants in Kalamazoo. Having never taken this type of class, I crossed my fingers and hoped for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon.

The small class of nine participants included two couples, a man with his teenage son, a group of three women, and myself. The executive chef and owner, John Korycki, was the instructor. The class ran from noon to 4:30 p.m.

The experience was enjoyable and Chef Korycki was an engaging instructor.

Things I learned:

  • the correct way to hold a knife
  • how to properly chop peppers
  • how to cook peppers

Of course there’s always that one person who is an irritant.  Since this was a cooking class, I assumed good manners would ensure everyone show portion control when eating, allowing everyone to get a taste of the different dishes.  But from the beginning one guy parked himself next to the food, sampling away.

With the antipasto course, he was on his third or fourth serving before the last person (me!) got her first serving.  (I was working on the soup when the antipasto was served.) Fortunately, I did get a sample before it was gone.  That being said, gluttony is not an attractive quality.

We created a great five-course meal, which besides antipasto and soup included pasta, an entrée, and dessert. If I had planned ahead, I would have brought a camera and taken pictures of the courses.  My favorites were antipasto and dessert, but all the food was good. A terrific way to spend a Saturday.

A bonus was when Chef Korycki shared the recipes.  I’m happy to share them with you.

Course 1: Antipasto

FETT’ UNTA -  olive oil bruschetta

1        loaf  ciabatta, or hearty country bread
1/4-1/2  c     extra virgin olive oil
         tt    salt
1        head  fresh garlic, peeled (optional)

Serves 4
  1. Heat grill or broiler. Slice ciabatta into 3/8 inch slices. Very lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Char the slices of ciabatta, until lightly browned and crisp. Set onto serving platter.
  2. To serve, drizzle bruschetta with additional olive oil as desired.
  3. OPTIONAL: Pass fresh cloves of garlic, to be rubbed against toasted bruschetta, to create a rustic “garlic bread”.

PEPERONE ARROSTITI – roasted red peppers

3     red peppers
1 T   extra virgin olive oil
  tt  kosher salt
  1. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove core and seeds. Lightly brush or rub with olive oil and place on lightly oiled tray. Roast peppers in a 450 degree oven until skin chars and blackens. Alternatively, broil peppers on low setting until skin chars, keeping oven door ajar to keep broiler element hot.
  2. After roasting, place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for 15 minutes, loosening the charred skin. Carefully remove all the skin. Cut the peppers into 1 inch wide strips. Store peppers, lightly coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt, until ready to serve.

Course 2: Soup

ZUPPA VALPELLINENSE – savoy cabbage & fontina soup

1/4    lb  unsalted butter
1      ea  savoy cabbage, trimmed & chopped
4      oz  fontina Valle d'Aosta cheese
1/2    lb  dry bread
2      c   cooked cannellini beans (see recipe)
1 1/2  qt  broth or water
       tt  rosemary seasoning salt (see recipe)
       tt  black pepper, freshly cracked
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a large pan. Add the savoy cabbage and sauté, seasoning with rosemary salt. Cook the cabbage until tender.
  3. In a baking dish or pan, arrange layers of bread, cabbage, cannellini beans and fontina.
  4. Add the broth over the bread and wait until it all begins to soften. Top with final layer of fontina.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until fontina is golden starting to form a crust. Serve hot in soup bowls.

FAGIOLI TOSCANI – Tuscan-style cannellini beans

1  lb      dried cannellini or borlotti beans
           water, to cover by double
1  head    peeled garlic cloves
3  sprigs  fresh sage
2  T       kosher salt
  1. Soak dried cannellini beans overnight in (double the volume) cold water to rehydrate them.
  2. Drain beans off of soaking water.
  3. In a small stock pot add soaked cannellini, garlic cloves and fresh sage. Add twice as much cold water. Bring pot to a simmer, lower heat, and gently simmer the beans.
  4. Serve the cannellini/borlotti beans (hot, warm or cold) liberally dressing with an excellent quality extra virgin olive oil, such as a Tuscan Tenuta di Capezzana. Reserve the bean cooking liquid for soups or sauces.

Cooking Note: a hard simmer or boil make break apart the beans during the cooking process. After 45 minutes of gentle simmering, season the beans with kosher salt. Continue cooking the cannellini until the beans become tender, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Culinary Trivia: The Tuscans enjoy their beans a little “al dente”, just like pasta, with a little bite left in texture. Once cooked to your desired texture, chill the beans in their liquid.
Cooling Tip: if very little liquid is left in the beans, just add ice into the pot for a quick chill.

SALE PROFUMATO AL ROSMARINO – rosemary seasoning salt

1/2  oz  fresh rosemary
1    ea  lemons, zested
1/2  c   course kosher salt
1    t   black pepper, freshly cracked
  1. Remove leaves of fresh rosemary from their stems. Roughly chop the rosemary. Add finely grated zest of 1 lemon, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. Finely chop all ingredients together, infusing the flavors of the fresh rosemary and the aromatic oils from the lemon into the salt.
  3. Use salt as a seasoning on grilled vegetables, grilled or roasted meats or poultry.
  4. Store the salt in a sealed container; will last in a cool, dark cupboard for quite sometime.

Course 3: Pasta

GARGANELLI ALLA PANNA TARTUFATA – egg pasta quills in a white truffled cream sauce

1/2  lb  garganelli pasta
3/4  c   heavy cream
1    T   butter
1/4  c   Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
     tt  salt
1    T   white truffle oil

Serves 4-6 as first course
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Boil garganelli until cooked to proper doneness, about 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, bring cream to a simmer. Reduce until slightly thickened, approximately 3 to 4 minutes over medium-high heat.
  4. Melt butter into cream sauce.
  5. Drain cooked pasta, reserving a bit of the cooking water, and toss into cream sauce.
  6. Toss in grated Parmigiano, season with salt and white truffle oil to taste. If sauce becomes too thick, add a few drops of the reserved pasta water to thin to desired consistency.
  7. Serve immediately in warm bowls, offering additional Parmigiano as desired.

Course 4: Entrée

POLLETTO AL MATTONE – chicken roasted “under a brick”

2 cornish hens, approx. l 1/2 lbs each, OR l whole chicken (we used Otto's chicken, my favorite)
1/4  c   extra virgin olive oil
     tt  rosemary seasoning salt
2        fresh rosemary sprigs
2        garlic cloves, slivered

Serves 4
  1. Cornish hens can be cooked boneless or with bones. Optionally, ask your butcher to remove the bones.
  2. Split the Cornish hens along both sides of the back bone, removing it and “butterflying” the hen. Carefully remove breast bones and thigh leg bones.
  3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over hens and season with rosemary seasoning salt.
  4. Heat large (ovenproof) saute pan over medium heat. Once pan is hot, drizzle olive oil, swirling to coat bottom of pan. Carefully add hens to pan, skin side down, giving a quick shake to the pan to check for sticking. Add garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs to the meat side of the hens. Using a large brick, carefully press down on the hens, forcefully flattening them. This technique promotes quicker, even cooking, and creates a crisper skin as the chicken roasts.
  5. Transfer chickens to roasting pan or sheet if your pan is not ovenproof, keeping the weight of the brick on throughout the cooking process.
  6. Roast in 375 degree oven, approximately 10-15 minutes. Check doneness in the thickest part of the leg and thigh.
  7. When cooked through, arrange onto warm platter.
  8. Drizzle liberally with a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  9. Serve immediately, offering lemon wedges to squeeze over chickens.

PATATE ARROSTITI – roasted smashed potatoes

1   lb butterball potatoes
1/2 c  extra virgin olive oil
    tt rosemary seasoning salt
1   T  fresh rosemary, chopped
1   T  fresh sage, chopped

Serves 4
  1. Starting in cold water, simmer butterball potatoes until cooked through and tender. Drain & cool.
  2. Once cooled, smash the potatoes with the side of a chef’s knife, flattening the potatoes slightly.
  3. Gently warm, over low heat, 4 Tablespoons olive oil in saute pan with rosemary and sage. Add potatoes and toss to coat evenly, seasoning with rosemary seasoning salt.
  4. Transfer potatoes to roasting pan or sheet.
  5. Roast potatoes in 375 degree oven, rotating and turning them to cook through evenly, approximately 30 minutes. When cooked through, arrange onto warm platter.
  6. Drizzle liberally with a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Season with additional rosemary seasoning salt as desired. Serve immediately.

Course 5: Dessert

MORBIDEZZE – warm soft-centered chocolate cake

8      oz   chocolate - 58.5% to 62% bittersweet
8      oz   butter, unsalted
8      each eggs (4 whole eggs & 4 eggs yolks)
3 1/2  oz   sugar
1      oz   flour, unbleached
1      oz   chocolate (same as above)
1/2    oz   heavy whipping cream

Makes 8 cakes
  1. Brush 8 aluminum cups or molds with melted butter
  2. Make ganache: melt 1 oz chocolate with 1/2 oz cream. Stir until smooth and chill.
  3. Melt 8 oz chocolate with 8 oz butter in large bowl. Stir until smooth.
  4. In large mixing bowl, crack 4 egg yolks and 4 whole eggs; whip with 3 1/2 oz sugar until light and fluffy, about double in volume. Fold warm chocolate into egg mixture. Fold in 3/4 oz flour.
  5. Spoon batter into buttered cups 1/2 way full. Place 1/2 teaspoon of ganache in center. Top and fill cups to rim with batter. Cook on sheet tray in 350 degree oven for 11 minutes and serve warm.
  6. Serve immediately with hazelnut gelato. Enjoy! (We had Palazzolo’s vanilla gelato, one of my local favorites.)

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