Today’s Table Culinary Class to Highlight African-American Cooking

EDISON — The new year is filled with milestone events and birthdays of key people involved in the Civil Rights Movement. To commemorate their accomplishments and legacy, Middlesex County College invites you to celebrate generations of African-Americans and how they transformed history.

The spring 2013 semester of Today’s Table will feature four programs about African-American food; three will include commentary by Fannie Gordon, director of the College’s Educational Opportunity Fund. She will talk about the origin of African-American cooking as it relates to the evening’s menu. A local chef will demonstrate how to prepare the meal and everyone will get a chance to taste it.

Lynn Lederer, director of Professional and Community Programs at the College, said “African-American food was born out of necessity and continues today as a symbol of love and as a cultural reminder of the past. During the slave era, survival depended on the creativity of cooks who prepared food with the meager ingredients available to them. That legacy of making something from nothing continues today as contemporary African-American cooks take inspiration from those early recipes. The same ingredients – spices from Africa, okra, corn, sweet potatoes, grains, pork, chicken and lots of greens – are part of today’s African-American cuisine.”

The program will be held in the Crabiel Hall culinary lab and include tastings of food prepared by the chef and a copy of the recipes.

You may register a la carte at $30 for each class or choose any three for $75. The savings are available to anyone who registers with payment for the three classes at the same time; this offer is not valid on the full-day Saturday classes or the wine appreciation program. Except for the full-day Saturday classes or where otherwise noted, classes meet from 6:30-9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. For more information visit; to register call 1-732-906-2556. Menus are subject to change.

Classes include:

Emancipation Proclamation Breakfast Cake In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this class will show you how to prepare traditional African American food such as chicken and dumplings, yam chips, okra, crackling cornbread and for dessert, pecan pralines and the mouthwatering Emancipation Proclamation Breakfast Cake. Learn to prepare these foods and hear about how African-American cooking developed from Dr. Gordon. Wednesday, February 6.

African-American Cooking: A Bit of Food and a Bit of History The African-American style of cooking merges the improvisational techniques that gave the nation jazz with the cooking methods and flavors of Africa. From okra and collard greens to southern fried chicken, black-eyed peas and sweet potato pie, African-American cooking is informed by its history and illustrates the richness and complexity of black cultural traditions. Dr. Gordon will talk about the history as a chef prepares the meal. Wednesday, February 13.

Desserts: African-American Style From sweet potato and pecan pies to pound cake and fruit cobblers, cakes and pies are trademarks of the African-American table, church supper and holiday gift. Come hungry for food, come hungry for knowledge and come hungry for a good time. Dr. Gordon and a guest chef. Wednesday, February 20.

Soul Kitchen’s Terrence Stewart “All are welcome at our table.” The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen is a nonprofit community restaurant run by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. Come meet Soul Kitchen’s Chef Terrence Stewart and enjoy a sampling of soul cooking featuring Hoppin’ John Soup, salmon cakes with red beans and rice, and bread pudding. Tuesday, February 26.

Other classes include:
Chicken 101 Tired of your plain old chicken recipes? Then learn new ideas for cooking this versatile, economical and healthy bird. Tuesday, January 15.

Cupcake Boot Camp Cute little cupcakes have become a popular dessert option. Learn to make a variety of cupcakes perfect for parties and everyday enjoyment, as well as fun and easy ways to decorate them. Tuesday, January 22.

Stop in the Name of Spud Switch up your style and try potatoes and potato inspired dishes such as potato gnocchi, potatoes roesti, and duchess potatoes. Thursday, January 24.

Weight Conscious Cooking Start the New Year off right following these fabulous and healthy recipes! Learn a variety of dishes and cooking tips that are good for you and your waistline. Tuesday, January 29.

Valentine’s Day Desserts Indulge in delicious desserts for Valentine’s Day or anytime. In this class you will learn about the different types of chocolate, the best way to store your chocolate, proper melting techniques and how to prepare delicious desserts. Thursday, January 31.

Dim Sum Favorites Celebrate the Year of the Snake by preparing and enjoying some traditional favorites such as: five spice ribs with hoisin sauce, pot stickers with soy dipping sauce, Szechuan chicken bites and Chinese almond cookies. Tuesday, February 5.

Springy Super Foods Super foods are whole, natural foods that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can benefit your health. Thursday, February 7.

Desserts from the White House In celebration of Presidents’ Day, this class pays tribute to five presidents by featuring their favorite White House desserts: Rosalynn Carter’s sour cream pound cake, Barbara Bush’s lemon bars, Bill Clinton’s peach and blackberry cobbler, George W. Bush’s apple cider crème brûlée, and Barack Obama’s crustless coconut pie. Tuesday, February 12.

Foods of Spain Enjoy a night of Spanish cuisine featuring classic recipes including paella, orange flan, and a glass of sangria to enjoy the fiesta. Thursday, February 21.

Fabulous Fish Come on a culinary adventure where the chef will teach you how to select, season and cook three types of fish to perfection. Thursday, February 28.

Very Veggie Learn to make vegetables your star ingredient from start to finish. Tuesday, March 5.

A Night of Tapas The small plates trend is currently popular, so why not bring this fun and delicious style of eating to your own table. Thursday, March 7.

The Breakfast Club Indulge yourself and your guests with these perfect breakfast recipes and freshly baked goodies. Tuesday, March 12.

Baking 101 Gain a basic understanding of baking techniques with easy-to-follow recipes. Indulge that sweet tooth with tempting treats you can easily make at home. Thursday, March 14.

Pork – the Other White Meat Learn to successfully cook different cuts of pork to juicy perfection as well as prepare pork-friendly sauces. Tuesday, March 19.

Celebration Dinner Party Get ready to master the perfect celebration meal. The recipes look impressive and are deliciously easy to prepare. Thursday, March 21.

Paris in the Spring – a night dedicated to Julia Child A tribute to this master chef. Prepare dishes inspired by her most famous book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” This class is truly a celebration of food. Tuesday, March 26.

Make Ahead Meals Made Easy Unexpected company? No problem. With this all-new course you will learn to be prepared with a few quick dishes. Do the work ahead of time and then sit back and enjoy your company. Tuesday, April 2.

Italian Adventure – the Basics This class will help you lay a foundation of cooking techniques. You will learn about Italian ingredients, how to time a full meal correctly and which tools and equipment are right for the job. Thursday, April 4.

The Bonefish Grill Comes to Middlesex County College Chef-owner E. Jay Myers of the acclaimed Bonefish Grill in Iselin will discuss the philosophy of the Bonefish Grill while preparing several menu items. Tuesday, April 9.

Champagne Brunch The champagne brunch is perfect for holiday entertaining, parties and special occasions. Thursday, April 11.

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies Who can resist these bite-sized treats, both soft and chewy and thin and crispy? Cookies are perfect for gift giving or sharing over a cup of coffee. Tuesday, April 16.

Moroccan Menu Magic Let the guests at your next dinner party try a taste of the Mediterranean with a trip to Morocco. Thursday, April 18.

Sushi for Beginners With a little practice and the chef’s helpful hints, you will learn how easy it is to make sushi in your own kitchen. Tuesday, April 23.

Mexican Fiesta Celebrate Cinco de Mayo as the class travels south of the border with these traditional Mexican recipes. Thursday, April 25.

Behind the Bonefish Grill Chef-owner E. Jay Myers of the popular Bonefish Grill in Iselin will be preparing menu items such as wild drunken fish, shrimp and scallops saucy shrimp, Kate’s fish with feta and artichoke hearts. Thursday, May 2.

Spring Dessert Specialties Embrace the change of seasons with all new spring dessert recipes featured in this class. Tuesday, May 7.

When in Rome Come learn how to create the zesty soul-satisfying cuisine of Italy. Thursday, May 9.

Sensational Salads Make the most of the season’s produce and learn a variety of savory and sweet salad recipes for spring. Saturday, May 11, 9 a.m.-Noon.

From Beer to Eternity Beer tastes pretty great straight from the glass, but it also adds a subtly sweet flavor to your recipes and enhances stews, sautés and fry ups. Experience the layers of flavor beer can add to your cooking. Tuesday, May 14.

Time for a Tea Party Enjoy an evening of relaxation over freshly brewed teas, elegant desserts and scones. Learning how to choose the tea that suits your tastes, as well as enjoying the simple pleasure of pairing delicious foods will be part of your night out. Thursday, May 16.

Say Cheesecake Learn to make many variations of cheesecakes, starting with just a single recipe. Don’t miss learning the dos and don’ts of making these mouthwatering desserts. Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m.-Noon.

Seafood Specialties Learn the tricks when purchasing seafood and how to handle it once you get it home for perfectly prepared dishes every time. Tuesday, May 21.

Four Course Dinners for Six This class will teach you how to whip up a four-course meal, preparing dinner for six from appetizer to salad and entrée through dessert. Wednesday, May 22.

In addition, Today’s Table will feature three all-day Saturday programs, each running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These classes do not qualify for the discount.

One Pot Meals For a hearty meal with minimal clean up, one pot meals are perfect for any night of the week. Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., January 19, $75.

More Bread Baking Learn more basics in the art of working with yeast dough, the different types of flour and the techniques of kneading, shaping, and proofing your dough, and how to know when your bread is done. Saturday, April 20, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., $75.

Saucier Workshop Join us for this essential class about the fundamentals of sauce making. Learning to make key sauces will improve your cooking and instantly expand your repertoire. Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., $75.

Today’s Table also offers two courses on wine.

Wine Tasting and Appreciation: Three Evenings Join internationally recognized sommelier Shawn O’Hara for three evenings of wine tasting. You will taste three-to-six wines per evening, including red, white, rose and champagne. Each class will demystify the world of wine and give you more confidence in selecting, buying and talking about it. Proof of age is required at the time of registration and again at the door prior to class. Wednesdays, April 10, 17, 24, 6:30-9:30 p.m., $150.

Wine on a Dime: Two Evenings Here is your chance to taste and enjoy high quality wines from around the world that don’t “break the bank!” Learn how and where to find delicious wines to serve with meals as well as to give as the perfect gift. You will taste three-to-six wines side-by-side per evening and learn what makes their characteristics special. We will discuss where the wines are from, what to serve with them, or how to plan a gift for that special occasion. Proof of age is required at the time of registration and again at the door prior to class. Does not qualify for discount. Wednesdays, May 1 and 8, 6:30-9:30 p.m., $99.

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