• October 2010

Is Cooking Your Passion?

By Chefs Pete Snaith and Stephen Sands
Co-owners
Culinaria Cooking School

We look forward to welcoming you into our kitchen at our grand opening this month.

In celebration, here is a delicious fall recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. “Pair it with Alsace Pinot Blanc,” says Culinaria’s wine director John Peters. (Learn why, below.)

And click on our WINE column this month where you’ll find the recipes for a three- course meal by Chef Stephen Sands, which Peters has paired with the perfect wines.

Below, you’ll find information about our fall classes, and we’ll introduce you to our team of chefs. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information: info@culinariacookingschool.com. Salud!


Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Pair with: Alsace Pinot Blanc

1 cup washed, sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only
3 T. unsalted butter
1 T. minced garlic
1 to 2 cups diced yellow onion
6-7 cups roasted butternut squash
3 cups granny smith apples, peeled and roughly diced
2 T. toasted spice rub (recipe is below)
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
3 tsp. olive oil
1 large peeled apple, sliced thinly for garnish
Serves 8

Here’s how:

  • Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Cut the butternut squash into strips and scrape out the seeds. Arrange the wedges on a sheet tray, brush with olive oil, and apply the toasted spice rub (see attached). Place the squash in the oven and roast at least 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Scrape the pulp from the shell and reserve.
  • Melt butter in a large pot over moderate heat and sweat the onions and leeks. When they turn translucent and are soft, add the minced garlic. Add the roasted squash and apples and continue cooking over moderate heat to combine the flavors.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the squash and apples are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Run the blended liquid through a sieve to remove any stringy parts from the leeks. Return the pot to a gentle heat. Add the cream, adjust the seasoning, and simmer for an additional 6-8 minutes.
  • Ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls and garnish with very thin slices of apple.

Toasted Spice Rub

What you’ll need:

3 T. fennel seeds
1 T. coriander
1 T. black peppercorns
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Here’s how:

  • Place the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a small skillet over moderate heat. Toss the seeds frequently to toast evenly. When the fennel seeds begin to turn light brown, add the red pepper flakes and toss. Immediately turn the spice mixture out on to a sheet-pan and let cool.
  • Pour the cooled spice mixture into a blender and add the salt and cinnamon. Blend until the spices are finely and evenly ground. If you have a small spice mill or coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices, grind only the fennel, coriander, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.
  • Keep the spice mix in and airtight container away from light and heat for up to four months, or freeze for up to a year.

Pair with: Alsace Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc, also known as Klevner, speaks to the earthy tones of the squash and the fruity notes of the apple in the dish. This dry white wine is less aromatic than other white wines in Alsace, however the balances between softness and freshness make it light and perfect for this lovely soup.

Pinot Blanc has a pale color, delicately fruity with peach and pear aromas. The Pinot Blanc grape covers roughly 20 percent of the vineyards in Alsace, and is often combined with Auxerrois grape to give more flavor to the wine. This wine should be drunk young, and in addition to this soup, it would pair nicely with fish, white meat, or an onion tart.

Another option: Pair the soup with sparkling wine or champagne


Fall 2010 classes

Cooking 101: Back to Basics, Basic Stocks, Pasta Workshop

Soups, Stocks, and Sauces: Hearty Soups and Salads, Quick Pan Sauces, Soups of the Fall, Italian Sauces, Winter Soups.

Baking and Pastry: Cupcake Cafe, Bread Making, Biscotti, The Art of the Tart, Secrets from Italian Bakers, Pastry Dough, Quick Breads, Holiday Gifts.

Basic and Advanced Knife Skills

Wine Class with John Peters: Introduction to Wine, Merlot, Wines of South Africa, Styles of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Wines of California, Back to Basics with White Wines of the World, Wines of the Loire Valley, Napa Valley vs. Sonoma Valley, Pairing Wine with Food 101, Wines of France, Wines of Australia, Blind Tasting Red Wines, Wines of Burgundy, and more.

Wine Dinners: Roasted Dinner, Fall Wine Dinner, Christmas Dinner, Seasonal and Holiday Cooking, Christmas Party Appetizers.

Regional, Ethnic Cuisine: Friday Night Food, Wine and Fun, The Perfect Steak, Chilies, Breakfast Is the Best Meal of the Day, Southern Sunday Dinner, Stuffed Pasta Class, Desert Crepes, True Italian Pizza, Spice Rubs & BBQ Sauces, Savory Crepes, Cooking with Winter Fruit.

American: California Cuisine, New Orleans

International: Flavors of Tuscany, Flavors of Thailand, A Simple French Dinner, Tapas, Regional Italian Series, Flavors of Florence, Flavors of Sicily, Mexican Dinner, Chinese Cooking at Home.

Child and Parent Classes: Family Dinner, Finger Foods, Gingerbread House.

Teen Cuisine: Cookies and Quick Breads, Chinese Food.

Summer Camp: Our half-day camp for kids and teens goes beyond typical summer-camp fare. Campers explore international and American cuisines in programs that also teach them essential cooking skills.

Couples Cooking: Wine and Appetizers, Bistro Night, French Night, Mexican Night.

Specialty Classes: Ladies Lunch Bunch.

Series Classes: Dinner Party, Entertaining with Style, Weekend Entertaining, Home for the Holidays.

Healthful Fine Dining: Sunday Brunch, Easy Elegant Dinner, the Diabetic on the Go, and more.

Private Events: Try a group cooking class for your next corporate or private event. We also will host birthday parties and bridal showers.

We hope that several of these classes will tickle your taste buds. To sign up for a class, register today at www.culinariacookingschool.com.


Meet our team

Chef Stephen Sands is co-founder and CEO of Culinaria Cooking School. A nuclear engineer who for decades worked for Westinghouse, Exxon, and the NRC, his dream was to open a cooking school. He began his culinary career in 1989 as the lead assistant for Francois Dionot, the director and founder of L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. There, he developed curricula and original recipes for classes he eventually taught. In 2004, with his business partner Pete Snaith, Sands formed Capital Food Partners, LLC. He left L’Academie de Cuisine as a chef/instructor in spring 2009.

Chef Pete Snaith is co-founder and executive VP at Culinaria Cooking School. An engineer by training, Snaith began his cooking career in 1999 when he started taking classes and eventually worked as an assistant for three years at L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. In 2007, he trained at the Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy, where he learned from some of Europe’s top chefs. He taught at the Institute, The Culinary School of the Philippines, Sur la Table in Arlington, and La Cuisine in Alexandria. Snaith is also author of the cookbook, “The Street Chef,” which has sold around the world and will be available for sale at Culinaria Cooking School.

Chef Robyn Alexander is Culinaria’s director of programs for youth and families.
A lifelong food enthusiast, Alexander began her career as a human resource management consultant. Once she started her family, she found herself wanting to create elaborate meals, and cooking became a serious pursuit. In 2000, she enrolled in L’Academie de Cuisine’s part-time professional program, then started her own business as a private chef. In 2001, she merged her teaching abilities and love of cooking and became an instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine. At Culinaria, she uses her quick wit and refined palate to broaden children’s ideas about food.

Chef Brian Batsel graduated with honors from L’Academie de Cuisine in 1991 and went on to work with renowned Southwestern chef Mark Miller and Michelin chef Gerard Panguad. He has also worked at the Ritz-Carlton and Red Sage in Washington, DC. Batsel opened his own fine dining restaurant in Amelia Island, FL. He recently moved back to DC to teach at Culinaria Cooking School.

Chef Bonita Woods spent much of her childhood working and playing on a farm where she developed a passion for cooking with only the freshest ingredients. After earning degrees in the sciences, culinary arts, and nutrition, for the last 20 years she has combined her skills and passion for freshness at some of the top restaurants in New York and Washington, DC. Knowing that healthy eating is the key to good health, she founded Diet by Design, a culinary education and consulting business that specializes in preparing delicious, nutritious, fine cuisine. She also spearheads a national program to battle childhood obesity and works as the food service director for Sidwell Friends School.

Wine Director John Peters has worked in the wine business for nearly three decades. He is regularly invited to speak about wine at the National Press Club, the Decanter Club, The Greenbrier, The Homestead, and the French and Australian embassies. With his father and brother, Peters founded Wide World of Wines in 1982, and ran the retail business through 1989, where he hand-selected wines from vineyards from all over the world. After the sale of the company, Peters worked for Continental Liquors until 1994. From 1997 to 2003, Peters was the Mid-Atlantic marketing manager for DeLoach Vineyards. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the marriage of food and wine to Culinaria Cooking School.

Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante brings years of banquet and hotel management experience to Culinaria, including a stint at New York’s legendary Le Cirque. A student of James Peterson, a James Beard Award-winning author, she holds a Career Cooking Diploma from the Institute for Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School.) Sacripante is an avid home cook who is knowledgeable about world cuisines and has a collection of more than 200 cookbooks. She also worked at one of New York’s top post-production film studios and at National Geographic in its television post-production department.

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