Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Savory Spoon Cooking School and Marketplace

Morning sun illuminated whitewashed cabinets and gleaming stainless steel appliances as our press group of 15 people donned aprons and washed our hands. Dressed in chef whites and standing behind a butcher-block countertop owner, Janice Thomas, a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, gave us prep instructions for the morning. We divided into five small groups that each prepared a dish together, from
Swiss Chard and Black Olive Tart to Roasted Apple, Pecan, Cherry and Black River Blue Salad, Green Beans with Orange and Toasted Maple Pecans,
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Cherry Sauce and
Fresh Blueberry Tart. An hour later, we savored our feast.

The Savory Spoon Cooking School and Marketplace, in Ellison Bay, Door County, Wisconsin, has offered cooking classes since 2003, often with a focus on locally produced foods such as cherries, cheese, and whitefish. Housed in a circa 1879 schoolhouse renovated by Thomas' husband, The Savory Spoon offers cooking classes from June through October. State-of-the-art kitchens feature SubZero/Wolf cooking and refrigeration appliances, plus the finest culinary tools and small appliances. 

“We’re a hands-on cooking school,” Thomas said during my August 2008 visit. “And August is a big month for local foods.” Other classes range from India’s Melting Pot to Truffles Galore and Timpano Delight. The school also hosts private events. The Marketplace offers kitchenwares, cookbooks, artisanal cheeses and cured meats, fresh baguettes/pastries, treats from in-house chocolatier, The Sweet Spot, and specialty foods, from quiche to sticky buns.

When The Savory Spoon is closed, Thomas leads annual culinary trips to France, Italy, and China, with a new Mexican destination added for 2010.
Whether you want to hone your own cooking skills or explore the cuisine of other cultures, check out Door County's The Savory Spoon Cooking School and Marketplace.

Citrus Curd Tart

Two ancient limes and an equally old lemon stared at me accusingly every time I opened the refrigerator fruit drawer. After I learned that I could still safely use them, from a local cooking expert, I began to consider possible flavor combinations.

As those of us living throughout the Kansas City area endure one of the coldest, most snow-filled winters in recent memory, a tropical-tasting dessert sounded like the perfect solution. So I tracked down a lemon curd recipe (unfortunately, I have no idea where it came from, for attribution) - and decided that I could use a combination of lemon and lime instead. I then located a simple recipe for no-bake graham cracker crust, in my Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. Here's the result:

Citrus Curd Tart
Makes 8 servings


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon & lime juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon grated lemon and/or lime peel

In the top of a double boiler, beat eggs and sugar together. Stir in citrus juices, butter and lemon peel. Bring water to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook/stir continuously for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Pour warm curd into another bowl and set aside.
Graham crust:

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 18)

Melt butter and stir in sugar. Add crushed crackers, toss to mix well. Spread evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Press onto bottom and sides to form a firm even crust. Chill about 1 hour or until firm (or, bake in a 375 degree oven for 4-5 minutes or till edge is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before filling.)
Pour curd into chilled (or baked/cooled) crust. Chill overnight. When ready to serve, top with lightly sweetened whipped cream,* and lemon or lime zest. 

*VOE - Although I have a big sweet tooth, the curd + crust seemed too sweet even for my tastes. The whipped cream helps tone down the sweetness a bit. Add only 3 (or 4) tablespoons of confectioners (or granulated) sugar to one cup of whipped cream. Then spoon a big dollop onto your slice and ENJOY!