• December 2010

Try These Delicious Holiday Appetizers From Culinaria Cooking School

By Pete Snaith and Stephen Sands, Chefs and Owners
Culinaria Cooking School

When you have a house filled with guests at holiday time, the last thing you want to do is spend the whole party in the kitchen.

Below you’ll find three of Culinaria Cooking School’s favorite appetizers. Each is packed with veggies and easy to prepare: Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles, Eggplant and Tomato Stacks, and Vegetable Napoleon With Pesto.

Don’t forget to sign up for one of Culinaria Cooking School’s December classes. Most of our classes are three-hour sessions that run about $65 each. From learning to make edible holiday gifts to knife skills, each unique lesson will give you insight into a specialized topic that is sure it improve your cooking. Bring your spouse, your friends, and your kids. We promise, you’ll have a ball.

And remember, we are happy to host and cater your office party at Culinaria, and are also available to cater parties at your home or office. Send us an email to discuss details, info@culinariacookingschool.com.

From all of us at Culinaria Cooking School — Happy Holidays!

Mark your calendar for these great December cooking and wine classes:
• Dec. 1: Legends of the Fall, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., $65
• Dec. 2, The Wines of Bordeaux, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $95
• Dec. 4: Knife Skills, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., $65
• Dec. 4: Holiday Chocolate Truffles, 1:30-4:30 p.m., $70
• Dec. 6: Holiday Gifts From the Kitchen, 7:00-10:00 p.m., $65
• Dec. 7, 14, 21: Chinese Cooking at Home, (3-part series), 7:00-10:00 p.m., $185
• Dec. 7, Syrah, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $75
• Dec. 9: Cabernet Sauvignon, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $75
• Dec. 10: Couples Cooking: Mexican, 7:00-10:00 p.m., $125 (per couple)
• Dec. 11, Knife Skills, 1:30-4:30 p.m., $65
• Dec. 11, Child & Parent Gingerbread House Workshop, 9:30-11:30 a.m., $85 (per pair)
• Dec. 11, Soups & Salads for Families on the Go, 7:00-10:00 p.m., $65
• Dec. 14: Port Wine Tasting, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $80
• Dec. 16: Champagne and Sparkling Wines, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $65
• Dec. 17, Southern New Years Celebration, 7:00-10:00 p.m., $65
• Dec. 18, Christmas Dinner, 6:30-10:00 p.m., $90 (view the menu)
• Dec. 20, Christmas Party Appetizers, 7:00-10:00 p.m., $65
• Dec. 21: Zinfandel, 7:30-9:30 p.m., $70


Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles
Makes 24

What you’ll need:
48 thin, fresh asparagus spears
2½ oz. soft goat cheese, at room temperature
2 T. chopped fresh basil
1 T. toasted pine nuts, chopped
1 T. water
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 24, 4×1-inch strips

Here’s how:

1. Cut the stalks from the asparagus, leaving tips that are 3-4 inches long (reserve the stalks for soup or some other use). Cook the asparagus tips in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just crisp-tender, about 1 minute.

2. Drain the asparagus and plunge into ice water to set the color and halt the cooking process. Transfer to paper towels and dry well.

3. Mix the goat cheese, basil, pine nuts, water, and orange zest in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Spread a teaspoon of the filling over the prosciutto strip. Arrange 2 asparagus tips atop the filling at 1 short end of the prosciutto. Roll up the prosciutto, enclosing the base of the asparagus. Press to seal and serve with some mixed greens. You can make this dish 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.


Eggplant and Tomato Stacks Serves 8

What you’ll need:
½ cup + 2 tsp., olive oil, plus more as needed
4 small yellow onions, diced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
10-12 large basil leaves, cut chiffonade
1 T. chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 medium eggplant (2½”-3” in diameter), sliced ⅛” thick
5 ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼” thick
4 medium zucchini, halved crosswise, sliced lengthwise ⅛” thick
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
salt & pepper, to taste

Here’s how:

1. Preheat oven to 425 °F. In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion, salt, and pepper, and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, oregano and parsley; cook for an additional 2 minutes.

2. Rub the bottom and sides of a 12” cast-iron fry pan with olive oil. Place 8 eggplant slices in a single layer in the pan; season with salt and pepper. Top each with 1 tsp. of the onion mixture, 1 tomato slice, another 1 tsp. onions, and 2 zucchini slices; season with salt and pepper. Top the zucchini with another 1 tsp. onions and repeat the layering 2 more times, ending with the zucchini. Drizzle each stack with 1 tsp. olive oil.

3. Bake vegetables 40 minutes. Sprinkle each stack with 1 T. of the Parmigiano and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.



Vegetable Napoleon: Portobello, Tomato, Eggplant, Asparagus, and Zucchini, With Fresh Basil and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Serves 6

What you’ll need:
6 medium portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
2-3 T. extra-virgin olive oil (EVO)
3 large tomatoes
2 medium eggplants
3 medium zucchinis
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch fresh basil
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
Pesto (see recipe below)

Here’s how:

1. Cut the asparagus into pieces just larger than the diameter of the mushrooms. Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until tender. Remove and plunge into ice water to halt the cooking. Once cooled, remove from the ice bath and set aside.

2. Brush a sheet pan with some olive oil. Clean and stem the mushrooms. Place the tops, gill side up on the prepared sheet pan and place in a 350 °F oven until they begin to reduce and give up liquid. Remove from the oven, cool and save the juices.

3. Place the balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and add the mushroom juices. Over low heat, reduce the mixture to about ½ cup.

4. Slice the eggplant in ¼” rounds and brush both side with some EVO. Place the eggplant on a heated grill or grill pan and cook until tender. Remove and set aside to cool.

5. Next, slice the zucchini lengthwise in ¼”-thick slices, brush with EVO, and grill the same as the eggplant. Once the zucchini are tender, remove and set aside.

6. To assemble, place a portobello on a plate, gill side up. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the mushroom. Then place a tomato slice on top and a leaf of basil over the tomato. Next, place a few asparagus spears on top of the tomato followed by a slice of eggplant, then a leaf of basil. Next add a couple of slices of zucchini and top with another slice of tomato.

7. Pour a small amount of the balsamic reduction over the napoleon and serve.

How to make Hazelnut Pesto

What you’ll need:
1½ cups fresh basil leaves, packed
¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted
¼ cup plain, dry bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (Parmigano Reggiano), freshly grated
¼ cup water
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled (garlic can be added to taste)
½ cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

Here’s how:

1. Combine the basil, hazelnuts, bread crumbs, cheese, ¼ cup water, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the processor until the mixture is finely chopped.

2. Add the butter and process until a smooth paste forms. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

The pesto can be made two days ahead of the event. Simply cover and refrigerate, then bring it to room temperature before using.


About Culinaria Cooking School

Founded in 2008, Culinaria Cooking School brings together professional chefs and wine experts who want to share their passion for the culinary arts with the community. Conveniently located in the heart of Vienna, VA, the state-of-the art facility features modern equipment for use by our instructors and students.

The team includes (above, from left to right): Chef and CEO Stephen Sands, Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante, Chef and VP Pete Snaith, Chef Brian Batsel, Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef Bonita Woods, and Wine Director John Peters.

To sign up for a class, visit www.culinariacookingschool.com.

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