Hamilton Herald Masthead Hamilton Herald


Front Page - Friday, April 29, 2016

The month I was a Foodie …

Kay's Cooking Corner

Kay Bona

The first part of this month was a busy food month. There were two receptions at my church that I helped plan and prepare the food for; there was a baby shower, a trip to the Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute on I-30 in south Little Rock, and the Taste of Little Rock at UALR honoring Bob and Peggy Denman. It seems like all I did was cook or eat. But don’t misunderstand – I am not complaining!

For me, the tour of the culinary school was one of the most outstanding events. I have passed that school many times and wondered what it was like and now I know - it’s amazing to me!

We had a tour guide, Somerly Crawford, to show us around every department and answer every question our group asked. She did an outstanding job. After the tour was completed, she led us down to the restaurant where we had a wonderful lunch prepared by the graduating chefs, waiting on us. I can’t remember the name of the appetizer, but the rest of our menu was Lobster and Fish Risotto, Duck Breast on Crushed Potatoes with Passion Sauce, and Rosemary Ice Cream with Macaroons.

The Food Production IV is the last food production class the culinary arts students take before graduation. Students simulate the restaurant environment with lunch and dinner services they prepare, which are available to the public each semester by reservation only. You can call ahead and ask about the foods being served (Somerly Crawford at 501.812.2860), or you can check the menu online at http://www.pulaskitech.edu/culinary/food4/. Reservations are for parties of four or less with exception. While not required, a minimum donation of $15 per person is appreciated. It is well worth the donation!

Touring the Institute was so much fun for me. While we could not wander into the cooking areas, they are surrounded with windows that allow you to watch what is going on in the kitchens. The day we attended there was not a lot of activity due to a cooking contest being held in Hot Springs; where most of the students were competing.

The kitchens are state-of-the-art. Every kind of oven, cooktop, microwave, and refrigerator are in the cooking areas. Mrs. Crawford told us everything the students use to cook with is prepared there at the school by one of the other classes.

One thing I wanted to share is about the wine studies. They have one of the best Wines and Spirits Programs in the United States. They offer a wine studies curriculum, certified by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust or WSET. 

WSET is the largest global provider of education in wines and spirits and is approved in the United Kingdom by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Students completing this program will be able to sit for national and international certification exams from the National Restaurant Association (Chicago, IL) and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (London, England). This is a big deal and attracts students from around the world.

But the school is about more than cooking, wines and spirits. It also offers courses on hospitality management. There is a study course dedicated to those wishing to go into hotel services and or management.

I also found out that the Culinary Institute offers community courses that anyone can take, just to learn different cooking skills. They have one on pasta, one on pastry – several different classes available at different times. Check out the website for more information on those.

As I mentioned before, hubby and I also attended The Taste of Little Rock at UALR. That was also amazing! There was so much food it was impossible to get around of all of the vendors, but one vendor I did manage to seek out was the Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts table. And guess what? There was Somerly again, handing out a delicious little cake dessert.

I also visited Del Frisco’s Grille, which presented a wonderful Coconut dessert, Jerky’s, Zoe’s Kitchen, Chuy’s and So Restaurant, which served a tasty pork tenderloin medallion. All of the food was exceptional, and it was so much fun to wander from place to place, picking and choosing.

French Vanilla and Strawberry Trifle

1 pound strawberries, sliced

3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup International Delight French Vanilla Creamer

1/2 Angel Food Cake, torn into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup of toasted almond slices

Whipped cream and fresh strawberries

    Add sliced strawberries to a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and stir until all lumps are dissolved. Set aside.

     Using an electric mixer beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, a little at a time, until completely blended. With mixer on low, add creamer a little at a time, until combined. Continue beating until cheesecake filling is light and fluffy. Set aside.

     In each of four pint-size mason jars, alternately layer the cake, strawberry glaze, and cream cheese filling, sprinkling a few toasted almonds between each layer. Repeat layers.

     Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top each trifle with whipped cream and a strawberries, if desired.

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.