Best Chefs kicks off winter classes Feb. 7

ROSELLE—Just in time for the winter weather, Cooking with the Best Chefs, a culinary organization open to the public, offers cooking classes with professional Rockford-area chefs at The Huddle Restaurant’s Banquet Room in Belvidere.

Every three months, the group sponsors a new season of classes and events, which are open to the public.

Each demonstration class is two hours, and is taught by a different professional chef. Recipes and hearty samples of each dish are provided.

All classes are open to the public with advanced registration, noted below.

2007 winter class schedule

The following classes will be at The Huddle Restaurant & Banquets, 1100 N. State St., Belvidere. Each demonstration will be paired with a selection of wine from The Liquor & Wine Cellar in Belvidere.

7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, Fresh Crab Appetizers and Entreés with Tom James, chef-owner, The Huddle, Belvidere: Learn how to become an expert at making various crab cakes and sauces, including: Maryland Style Crab Cakes and remoulade sauce; Crab Stuffed Mushrooms; Crab Imperial, crab meat, peppers and fresh dill baked in a rich Chablis cream sauce; and Crab Louis, crab salad with brandy-tomato-mayonnaise sauce and peppers. This class is presented by Cooking with the Best Chefs and requires a seven-day advance registration at or (630) 980-6800. Cost is $35 per person for the public and $25 for members, unless noted otherwise. Annual membership is $25 per household.

7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 21, Poultry 101 and Side Dishes with Tom James, chef-owner, The Huddle, Belvidere: Learn how to cut and de-bone your own poultry and save money. Also, Herb Infused Oven Roasted Chicken; Stuffed Boneless Breast of Chicken with smoked sausage and cream cheese; Couscous and Peanut Salad; and Green Beans sauteéd with pancetta bacon and tomato concassé.

8:30 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Feb. 24, Hands-On Lamb Cookery Class with Tom James, chef-owner, The Huddle, Belvidere: Belvidere’s answer to Moons over My “Lamby,” featuring three lamb dishes and a side dish, from scratch: Learn cutting and boning techniques, and how to prepare Rack of Lamb “Henry IV” style; Marinated Lamb Chops; Leg of Lamb “Boulangere” style; and Steamed Broccoli “la Polonaise” style. This class is limited to 12 people. Bring a sharp boning knife, sharp French knife, (or a sharp chefs knife) medium stainless steel mixing bowl and cutting board. Also, four large plastic containers to take cooked dishes home. Cost is $80 per non-member; $65 per member.

7-9 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, Cooking with Cheese with Jason Kovanda, executive chef, University Club, Rockford: Pear and Blue Cheese Turnover with mixed greens and cider vinaigrette; Three Cheese Cannelloni with Veal and Wild Mushrooms; and Chicken Saltimbocca, with prosciutto, garlic and fontinella cheese over penne pasta, with blue cheese and roasted garlic cheese sauce.

7-9 p.m., Wednesday, March 21, Three Sicilian Entreés with Bernie Harding, Chef-Owner, Café Greco, Rockford: Steak Sicilian, 14-ounce New York Strip Steak partially broiled, sliced and baked with Dijon butter, garlic, wine and crumbled Ritz crackers; Peperonata, Italian sausage with red, yellow and green peppers, garlic and onions, served over angel hair with marinara gravy; and Traditional Carbonara, spaghetti with sauce made of pancetta bacon, eggs, cream and Pecorino Romano cheese.

8-10 p.m., Friday, March 23, Late Nite Thai Cooking Class for Singles with Willow Junya, chef and owner, Thai Cuisine, Rockford: Thai Spring Rolls with lettuce, carrot, cucumber, noodles, shredded chicken and basil leaves wrapped in a rice wrapper, served with a sweet-sour dipping sauce; Som Tum Papaya Salad, with an interesting harmony of sour, hot, salt and sweet flavors; Pad Thai, thin rice noodles stir-fried with a mixture of sweet, sour and salty sauce; and Gang Kari Chicken, a brightly colored curry with dried chilies, herbs and spices, cooked in coconut sauce and vegetables, with steamed rice. Singles will receive name tags and are invited to stay after class for a 10 p.m.-midnight party with cash bar.

From the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2007, issue

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