From the Kitchens at Kendall College: Baked Onions with Chipotle Butter

From the Kitchens at Kendall College: Baked Onions with Chipotle Butter

Baked Onions with Chipotle Butter Baked Onions with Chipotle Butter Kendall College Culinary

Yield: 6 servings

Rarely starring as the main ingredient in a side dish, onions in this recipe are stuffed with breadcrumbs and baked with a flavorful chipotle butter.... read more

Why focus on flatbreads?

Kendall College, May 21st, 2014 | Category: Faculty, Inside Kendall | Permalink | Email this
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flatbreadsThough not new to the market by any stretch, flatbreads, particularly those that say “global,” are enjoying a revolution. A pastry chef-instructor at Kendall College in Chicago reports on the trend, making the case for need-to-know among culinary-arts and pastry/baking students as they embark on their careers.

By Heidi Hedeker, CMB, MA/MSW

In the realm of baked goods, flatbreads don’t have a standard definition. Wheat flour is often the main ingredient, and just as often not. Flatbreads are leavened or unleavened. No nation on earth can claim to be the origin of flatbread (although the region that includes modern-day Iraq can take some credit), and no single flavor, color or texture is shared by all flatbreads. Some breads considered flatbreads aren’t even particularly flat. Or thin.

When you think of the lifestyle trends of the last several years, today we are basically nomads. More of the foods we eat are to go, and what is more nomadic than a flatbread? The origins of most of today’s flatbreads are in early agrarian society. Foods had to be simple enough for travel. That fits with our lifestyle today, because everything we do is portable.

Another aspect that characterizes all flatbreads is the convenience they offer the user as an easy-to-eat carrier of, or base for, other ingredients. In that respect, flatbreads, though rooted in antiquity, are hotter than ever with consumers right now.

Indeed, retail-store dollar sales of flatbreads increased 6% in 2012, driven primarily by a 17% increase in sales of naan and a 15% increase in sales of tortillas and other wrap breads, according to West Dundee, Ill.-based Nielsen Perishables Group. Flatbreads’ growth was also fueled by greater distribution; the number of U.S. stores selling flatbreads increased 3% in 2012 alone.

Flatbreads tend to also be easy to make. The simplest formula embraces only flour, water and salt and, in varieties like pita, yeast. The only special equipment required to form the dough for many types of flatbread are the hands. And, some of the oldest-known flatbreads don’t require baking in an oven, and instead rely on other dry heat or cooking fat.

An Artisan at Work
In foodservice operations, housemade flatbreads answer the call for artisanship, allowing operators to charge for that craftsmanship. Flatbreads also offer a cost-effective use of leftover and scrap ingredients. They fit perfectly on shareable menus, bar-food menus and snacking menus. The addition of fresh herbs, premium oils, local vegetables, cured meats, farmstead cheeses and other unique ingredients to the dough of any common flatbread transforms it into a signature offering. What’s more, flatbreads popular elsewhere in the world, but less known in this country, offer U.S. consumers a familiar food that is exotic enough to be interesting without overwhelming.

One such artisan is Leslie Mackie, chef and owner of Macrina Bakery & Café in Seattle, who bakes for her own customers at her three units and distributes wholesale breads and other baked goods to grocery and gourmet shops throughout the region and more than 100 restaurants in the Puget Sound area. Flatbreads are so hot right now that last year Mackie conducted a flatbreads class at South Seattle Community College for local members of the Sonoma, Calif.-based Bread Bakers Guild of America, during which she shared flatbread formulas and techniques from her latest book, More from Macrina: New Favorites from Seattle’s Popular Neighborhood Bakery (Sasquatch Books, 2012).

Named one of the best bread bakeries in America by Bon Appétit magazine, Macrina’s breads menu sports popular varieties like ciabatta, a rye loaf with onion, pane Francese, buttermilk dinner rolls and a vegan whole-grain loaf. But Mackie is particularly excited about her housemade flatbreads, which she says are wowing more and more of her patrons.

Besides focaccia and a focaccia-like olivetta boasting green olives, Mackie bakes cracker-like crostini that she brushes with olive oil and toasts for sale by the bag, in a variety of flavors.

“Crisper and thinner flatbread profiles are the trend,” Mackie says. “If you look at the cracker market, it’s gone out of this world in the last two years. Customers want crisp, savory experiences.”

As proof, Mackie’s carta musica, a crispy Sardinian parchment bread (also known as carte di musica), has hit her market strong, she says. “People are loving it because it’s an instant appetizer with a little cheese or a spread. It has all the essences of deliciousness.” Mackie mixes the dough made with wheat flour and semolina by hand, rolls it through a pasta machine and flavors with olive oil, salt and rosemary. “We opened with Sardinian flatbread in 1993 and have always had it on the menu because we loved it. It sold well, but not phenomenally. We recently put a little truffle salt on it, and now it’s developed a market all its own.”

But the flatbread Mackie believes is the hottest new variety and about to take off like wildfire? Classic Tuscan schiacciata, hallmarked by its artisan-like thumbprint cavities peppered all over the top of the slightly puffy bread, in which olive oil and salt pool. “You can eat it just plain, which is delicious, but we also put a variety of different spreads on it,” Mackie says. She servesschiacciata whole from her bakery and as 2.5-inch rectangles as a side to soups and salads served in the café.

Sandwich Adventures
Restaurant operators are capitalizing on sandwiches that feature interesting flatbreads to increase traffic and sales. And to attract customers, more of whom seek dining adventure through a dish that borders on the unknown and unexpected, but is based on the familiarity of something as common and ubiquitous as a sandwich, the word on the sandwich board these days is often “global” or a newer term growing in use: “world casual.”

One global flatbread becoming more mainstream in U.S. markets every day is naan. St. Louis, Mo.-based Panera Bread, leading the still-growing bakery/café segment, in late-2012 introduced four grilled flatbread sandwiches featuring the chain’s own version of traditional Indian naan folded in half. The breakfast sandwich boasted egg, bacon and Gouda. The three chicken-breast wraps all included a napa-cabbage blend and consist of a Southwestern variety topped with barbecue-ranch dressing; a Mediterranean version with crumbled feta, curried-lentil hummus and tzatziki; and a Thai-inspired wrap with cilantro-jalapeño hummus and peanut sauce, all drizzled with Thai chili vinaigrette.

Besides naan, flatbreads from cultures abroad that are breaking ground as innovative sandwich breads in U.S. operations include shao bing, an unleavened bread from China’s Shandong region, best described as a cross between focaccia and pita; Mexican huaracheand South American arepa andpupusa, which can serve as the base for open-face sandwiches; Ethiopianinjera, a yeast-risen, spongy teff-flour flatbread that has served historically as an edible utensil for picking up foods with the fingers; and even the pita in its several authentic regional Middle-Eastern variations like the lafa, which serves as a wrap for sandwiches such as the shawarma, falafel and kofta.

A flatbread with origins closer to home, but still virtually unknown by the vast majority of U.S. diners, is Native American frybread. Portland Penny Diner opened at the Hotel Lucia in downtown Portland, Ore., with chef/owner Vitaly Paley’s vision for sandwiches made with frybread to reflect the region’s heritage cookery. His Bun Me—Paley’s spin on the popular Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches sweeping the nation—features beef belly, chicken-liver mousse, cucumber, pickled slaw, basil, cilantro and fresno peppers within frybread made from leavened dough that Paley stretches before deep-frying.

Pizza: Thin Is “in”
Pizza—arguably Americans’ favorite flatbread—is a highly craveable and shareable food that is typically served in large portions, so it’s no surprise that consumers want a variety of options that are appropriate for individual meals and snacks.

Indeed, according to Chicago-based Technomic, Inc., more than two out of five consumers (46%) would like more pizza establishments to offer pizza by the slice. Further, more than a quarter of consumers (28%) would like to see more portable handheld pizza snacks that they can eat solo or on the go. Because these options are portable, they can help pizza expand further into the lunch and snacking dayparts.

Consumers indicate high interest in artisanal pizza options. Two out of four consumers (40%) would like more pizza establishments to offer hearth-baked pizzas, likely because they enjoy the flavor and texture that result from this preparation method. A third of consumers (32%) would like to see more flatbread pizzas and a quarter (26%) show interest in Neapolitan (traditional Naples-style) pizzas. These preparations help convey a premium, fresh, authentic and sometimes better-for-you positioning, all of which can also position pizza as an artisanal offering.

Although Technomic found in 2011 that hand-tossed and deep-dish crusts are the top two most-appealing types of pizza crust, about a quarter of consumers (23%) said they would order a flatbread pizza, up from 16% of consumers who said the same in 2010. Flatbread is the only pizza-crust variety for which interest increased.

 

Please visit Cafe Meeting Place: http://www.cafemeetingplace.com/gmc/features/why-focus-on-flatbreads


Heidi Hedeker, CMB, MA/MSW, is an assistant professor and pastry-chef instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago. For more info, visit www.kendall.edu.

Photo:This grilled-pear and prosciutto flatbread with crumbled Gorgonzola, shaved Parmesan and arugula from Chef Scott Miller, general manager of Eurest Services, makes use of canned pears as well as the syrup it’s packed in. Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Service

Explore your culinary creativity with Home Chef cooking classes

Kendall College, May 14th, 2014 | Category: Featured, Inside Kendall | Permalink | Email this
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Home Chef cooking classes at Kendall College are open to the public and offered at three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each class features recipes that are sure to impress friends and family, but are simple to recreate at home. For example, check out the Oysters Mignonette recipe below from the Date Night class.

Oysters Mignonette
Serves 2 or more

Ingredients

1 ¼ oz. shallots, minced
1 oz. red vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. white peppercorns, crushed finely
2 dozen oysters

Directions

  • Combine the shallots, vinegars, salt and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine and dissolve the salt and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, 12-24 is best to let the shallots mellow in flavor.
  • Clean and shuck oysters and loosen the meat from the shell. Arrange on platter to serve and either spoon mignonette on oysters to taste or serve in a small bowl on the side with spoon for guests. Mignonette sauce will keep for up to a month.

 

Get to know the faculty: School of Culinary Arts

Kendall College, April 24th, 2014 | Category: Faculty | Permalink | Email this
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Chef Thomas Meyer
is a culinary instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. Many days he can be found in the café greeting students and talking about the latest global culinary treat being served for dinner. He says one of his favorite subjects to teach is Quantity Cooking/Café because of the “real world” environment of the café.  He says that “sometimes when the students come in [to the café class] they can get overwhelmed, but over time they grow and develop.”

Recently the café, under Chef Meyer’s direction, has featured cuisine from Mexico, China and several other countries and regions.

In addition to being surprised and delighted by the cultural diversity of the student body in the School of Culinary Arts, he says “One of my favorite things about Kendall College is the diversity of expertise. For example, if I had a question about bread, Kendall has experts on bread. If I have a question about a sauce, Kendall has experts on sauces.”

When it comes to his own favorite things to eat and drink, Chef Meyer reveals “I am open to almost anything if it has been done well!”

Chef Meyer likes being creative with hobbies like photography and thinks he would be doing “something creative” if he wasn’t teaching. Like many people, his favorite season in Chicago is Summer and he loves the many unique neighborhoods in the city.

Learn more about Chef Meyer and other chef instructors at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts by visiting http://culinary.kendall.edu/about/faculty.

Meyer_Thomas_headshot

English Language Institute at Kendall College

Kendall College, April 8th, 2014 | Category: Faculty, Featured, Inside Kendall, International, Student | Permalink | Email this
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Internationality certainly is springing forward at Kendall College. We have a newly redesigned lobby that welcomes our international students and raises our awareness of all things global. We have also launched the English Language Institute, also known as the ELI. This new academic opportunity allows international students to come to Kendall College to improve their English language skills while enjoying the enriching environment Chicago provides. Students come to us from different points on the globe to participate in a number of academic venues where they are immersed in the target language, English.

As the chief architect of the academic programs, I can share that the two prevalent models, one for four weeks, and the other for eight weeks of English instruction, are designed place the participants in the appropriate level for instruction. When students arrive for the shorter Discover America program, they are ushered to a Monday to Thursday three-hour morning session followed by lunch prepared by our talented culinary students in the Cafe or the QSR. The afternoon is spent getting to know our beautiful city. We visit such fascinating spots as the Willis Tower, The Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, and Millennium Park. The longer program allows students to develop their skills in the intensive Reading and Writing class offered in the mornings and the Listening and Speaking classes offered in the afternoons Mondays to Thursdays. In addition, students who place at a pre-determined level upon entering may enter Kendall College as provisional students to pursue their studies with us in their chosen career paths.

At this point, we have received eleven students from Brazil in the summer of 2013. Lorena Freitas, one of the participants from the short program, returned as a regular, full-time as is currently following her academic career in the School of Hospitality. Winter 2014 welcomed 28 students from Chile, Peru and Brazil. The imminent spring quarter we will host 25 students from Turkey, China, Vietnam, Korea, and Guatemala; seven of whom will be joining us as provisional students.

The courses are delivered by highly qualified and experienced instructors: Erin Shelly, M. S., is the Director of our Academic Success Center (ASC).  She brings years of ESL teaching experience to the ELI teaching team and will be co-teaching with Kathy Schodrof Luebke, M.Ed.,  from our Academic Advising team. Kathy will be joining our teaching team this spring. Glenn Danielson is new to Kendall and most recently has been teaching English in Korea at the Duksung Women’s University International Learning Language Center in Seoul. As the veteran instructor, I will guide my fellow teachers in preparing and delivering the coursework to the international students.

As you meet our new, global on campus, I encourage you to reach out to our international visitors. Please extend a warm welcome and allow them the opportunity to practice their English with you. Ask them about their country and background. Who knows, you may have the opportunity to visit their home country as you prepare for your internships and launch your own careers.

Maria A. Montalvo, Ph.D. (middle, below) is the author of this blog. She is the recipient of the Laureate 2014 GPS award for Collaboration. Dr. Montalvo is a leader in second language education and has been recognized as such by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Maria Montalvo award

Where are they now? Catching up with Culinary Alum Paige Meagher

Kendall College, March 31st, 2014 | Category: Alumni | Permalink | Email this

Today we spotlight a very talented alum, Paige Meagher, who attended Kendall from 2010-2012. Paige is currently the chef and owner of Brix Catering & Consulting, leading a team of chefs who provide home catering services and lessons. We are thrilled to stay in touch with Paige. Please enjoy our recent Q&A with her!

Paige

KC – What made you choose to attend Kendall College?

PM - I was working as an assistant at a reputable hedge fund in Chicago when I realized I wasn’t doing with my life what I really wanted to do in my heart. I toyed around with culinary school for about a year. When I finally came to the college and did my tour, I ran into Chef Dina Altieri, whose energy and professionalism really turned me on to Kendall. Seeing the facility and hearing Chef Altieri’s enthusiasm cemented the decision for me right then and there. It was a very scary (quitting a great job during a crash in the economy) and a very exciting time because I was finally following my heart.

KC – What was your favorite class/classes at Kendall?

PM – I really loved Chef Elaine’s Advanced Fish class. It was one of the hardest classes I took, but I also learned the most. We weren’t just challenged by the daily cooking practicals (which were challenging!), but we were also taught about biodiversity of oceans and waterways and how we can be conscientious consumers every day. I also really enjoyed Fine Dining and Sustainability. Sustainability class opened my eyes to socio and ecology problems that are global. You have to learn about these problems in order to make changes and want to help the earth.

KC – What do you miss most about being at Kendall?

PM – Knowledge Bowl! During my two years at Kendall I participated on the Kendall College Knowledge Bowl Team. It was so much fun learning all the facts and trivia in the Culinary Apps book, Baking book, ServSafe and others. Mostly, it was a great experience with the other teammates. We won the national title in 2011 and took second place in 2012. I’m very proud of that. Chef Altieri was an amazing coach! Her dedication and innate interest in knowledge is always inspiring.

KC – How did your experience at Kendall prepare you for your current position?

PM – Well, without it there would be no Brix Catering & Consulting. That’s for sure. Kendall prepared me with everything I needed to start my business: cooking skills, cost control skills, professionalism. Without Jody Birnbaum’s class on starting your own business, I would not be as organized or successful as I am today. The college is also a supportive resource as we start to build our business. I email Jody about once a month for advice…

KC – What is your favorite thing about working in your industry?

PM – I love that every day is a different day. I love working with people. I love creating something from nothing. I love entertaining. It’s a perfect industry for me. I finally found a place where I thrive and my heart is happy because I am using my hands to create. It’s awesome.

KC – Where do you hope to be in your career in 10-15 years?

PM – I’d love to have our catering & private chef business in full swing with 25-50 employees, a store front with a deli, and an in-house event space where people can come have private dinner parties and take cooking lessons or host wine tastings at our kitchen and dining room, that is set up to look like an at home kitchen & dining room. We are looking for spaces now. I think if you think big the rest will follow. My partner and I work hard and spend all our “free time” on this business, so I think we can make it anything we want.

KC – What’s your advice for current students hoping to enter your industry?

PM – Keep your head down. Learn. Work hard. Ask questions. Pay attention. Enjoy the work! And this one: You aren’t too good for any task. If you want to lead one day, you have to lead by example. Always.

KC – What’s your advice for students trying to decide on whether or not to attend Kendall College?

PM – Kendall is a top of the line school with amazing facilities and dedicated staff. As we learned on our first day,  no one can take your education from you. It is absolutely invaluable. Even if you think you “know how to cook,” you will learn so much more at Kendall.

 

For more info on Paige and Brix Catering & Consulting, please visit www.brixcatering.com or email paige@brixcatering.com.