By Laura Wilson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Whitney Hacker and Conner Burnett weren’t sure what to expect at the Taste of Home Cooking School, but figured a love of cooking meant they’d have a good time.
Burnett’s mother had tickets but couldn’t go, Hacker said, so she gave them their tickets.
“We’re excited about the free goodies. We both like to cook so we thought it was something we’d enjoy,” Hacker said, adding, “Conner’s a better cook.”
They were just two of the more than 700 people who attended the show Thursday evening. Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Jamie Dunn prepared 10 dishes on stage: peanut butter cheesecake; asparagus strudel; grilled chicken with mango chipotle mojo; mushroom tacos with salsa verde; Italian meatballs; taco casserole; New Orleans garlic chicken; Mexican shrimp bisque; grilled chicken, pesto and two cheese naan pizza; and chocolate strawberry shortcake.
Dunn interspersed cooking tips throughout the recipes.
For instance, while preparing the first dish, peanut butter cheesecake, Dunn advised the audience never to open the oven during the first 30 minutes while baking a cheesecake and told them a small pan of water on the oven’s bottom shelf will keep the cheesecake from cracking.
An audience member asked if soy butter could be substituted for the peanut butter for people with allergies.
Dunn considered the question and admitted she didn’t know.
“Give it a shot,” she said, “and let me know.”
While making the grilled chicken with mango chipotle mojo, Dunn reminded the audience to use only one chipotle pepper, but added that leftover peppers taste good in a pot of chili.
Wilma Roark said she has attended a number of Taste of Home cooking schools, but she learns something every time.
“They always have lots of good recipes. I usually pick up new ideas,” she said.
She attended with Carole Bays, who attended her first cooking school last year in Stillwater. Bays said she returned because she “picked up new ideas, new techniques.”
Before the show started, those attending browsed vendor booths in the lobby of Wes Watkins Center at Oklahoma State University, where the event was held. Stillwater businesses offered various free items and coupons and several also held drawings for prizes. A number of prizes were also given away during the show.
Other tips Dunn shared during the cooking school were:
— If you’re buying whole mushrooms, look for closed mushrooms without gills showing; they are the freshest.
— Ripen avocados in a brown paper bag.
— Mushrooms are the only thing on the produce aisle with vitamin D.
— Make sure you have a wet rag or paper towel when working with phyllo dough, but don’t put it directly on the dough; that tends to make it gummy.
— Coating chicken in flour first creates a rough texture that helps the coating adhere better.
— Buy shrimp with the peel still on it; the peel preserves the shrimp.
The Stillwater NewsPress donated a portion of the ticket sales to the Mission of Hope homeless shelter. Publisher Rex Maynor estimated the donation would be about $600.
The Stillwater NewsPress also awarded a KitchenAid mixer as the grand prize to Lauren Egleston.