Archive for March, 2015

by Abby Slutsky

The Montgazette Staff Writer

The new Retail Operations II class, taught by Chef Stephen Latona, offers students the opportunity to experience all phases of preparing, presenting and serving food in a restaurant setting. Students gain front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house experience by rotating positions, so they can cover different jobs during the course of the class.  Additionally, students are given the opportunity to collaborate on menu planning.

Steven Mitchell, a student with experience working in a restaurant, said, “In a regular restaurant, the chef usually chooses the menu without input from the kitchen staff.” He also stated, “Students must balance concerns, such as choosing meals that appeal to the customer while considering the culinary students’ ability to prepare and present the dishes in a timely manner.”

Chef Latona mentioned that menu planning also presents a challenge because students must keep the menu in line with the level of formality that the school wants the bistro to project.

The current menu, which is a casual restaurant featuring upscale menu items, includes a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts that change weekly.  Among many offerings, Steamed Clams with White Wine, Roasted Garlic, Herbs and Tomatoes, Sautéed Chicken Piccata with Lemon, Capers, Herbs, Broccoli Rabe and Potato Puree, and Vanilla and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Winter Fruit Compote are periodically offered at the bistro. The menu offers a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert for $12.95.  All items, including pasta and bread, are made from scratch.

The Retail Operations II class had its first soft opening on Friday, February 13, 2015. A limited number of faculty and culinary students were served as customers.  The restaurant will officially open on Friday, March 27, 2015 and the public will be able to purchase lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Fridays. The culinary school hopes to expand the hours in the future.
Montgomery County Community College students, teachers and community members are encouraged to visit. Reservations are not necessary and the food is delicious. Student tips will be given to the Directors Fund so that they can be used to offset the cost of uniforms, field trips and other activities pertaining to the culinary school.

For those who do not have time to indulge in a relaxing lunch, this quick and easy chicken recipe is the perfect complement to a luncheon salad or paired with vegetables and rice for a filling dinner.

Chicken Souvlaki Style

1/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon peel
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Skinless chicken breasts
Finely chopped, fresh parsley


Combine the oil, lemon peel, garlic and lemon in a large self-sealing bag. Let the chicken marinate in the bag for two or three hours in the refrigerator. Preheat a grill to a medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill for about eight minutes on each side. Sprinkle some parsley on the finished chicken to add color and enhance the presentation.

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by Angela Lutz

The Montgazette Staff Writer

On a Saturday in November, I excitedly walk into Montgomery County Community College’s new Culinary Art Institute’s 15,000 square foot facility in Lansdale.  After having pre-registered online for the open house, I am quickly greeted with a warm smile, checked in and given a schedule.  As I enter, I’m handed a very nice insulated coffee mug.  How thoughtful!
In 1984, right out of high school, I began attending Montco.  and I was taking business courses at the Blue Bell Campus.  Now, coming back years later, my first impression is, if this is school, I like it! I expected that there would be tastings and demonstrations, but what’s done here is beyond sampling!

At one point, I have a great conversation with a student who’s about my age on how to fit school in with work and raising a family.  I move on to an informative presentation in one of the three SMART classrooms.  Chef Cheryl Niedzwiecki, one of the many amazing instructors, shares detailed information about the school, credits and financial aid, happily answering the group’s questions.

I am surprised to find out all the food at the CAI is made by chefs and the students.  I feel like I have died and went to heaven because everything is so delicious!

The open house and I kind of bounced out of there because I was so excited. I enrolled for classes for the following semester and  on January 26, my first college courses in many years began.  It’s great walking in the front door of the Culinary Arts Institute because it’s warm, inviting and a pleasure to be here. I’m definitely in the right place!

I love this recipe because it’s versatile, cooked in one pan and makes a nice breakfast for the following day.  Try it the way I’ve made it here or experiment to make your own signature dish.

Breakfast Strata

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees

Loaf of homemade-style bread w/ crusts cut off
10 eggs
2 ½ cups milk
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage removed from the casing
2 Tbsp. water
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
5 cups spinach, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
6 oz. grated cheese
¼ cup fresh basil or 1 Tbsp. dried
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

To make:
Butter 9”x12” casserole dish with 2 Tbsp. butter.
Brown sausage (out of casing) in olive oil in a large skillet.  When cooked through, remove to a bowl.
In the same pan, cook onion on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, adding 2 Tbsp. of water to pan to scrape up the brown bits from the pan.  Add mushrooms & garlic. Cook until tender.  Add chopped spinach, roasted peppers, fresh/dried herbs.  When all vegetables are tender, approximately  5 minutes, add the sausage back to the pan and combine well.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Keep on low heat.
Place enough bread in the buttered casserole dish to cover the bottom of the dish.  Spoon half of the meat and vegetable mixture over the bread.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the grated cheese over the meat mixture.  Cover with another layer of bread, then layer the remaining meat mixture and another 1/3 of cheese. Top with one last layer of bread.  Press the layers down in the pan lightly with your palms to make room for the egg mixture.
Mix eggs with milk in a med. bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Pour egg mixture over casserole.  Cover as evenly as possible.
Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and additional herbs, if desired.
For best results, let final breakfast strata dish sit for up to 24 hours before baking
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour with a baking sheet underneath to catch drips

(photo) breakfast strata:angela lutz

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by Jill Sonlin

The Montgazette Staff Writer

Impress your friends with a different mac and cheese.  Meximac and Cheese has the charm of macaroni and cheese with flavors from some favorite Mexican dishes.   Let’s take grandma’s old dusty recipe and adapt the captivatingly sumptuous ingredient of Cheddar cheese into it.  Cheddar originated in Cheddar England in the late sixteenth century and comes in many varieties.  Cheddar Cheese is made from pasteurized milk and is often bright orange.  The orange color comes from a natural food annatto coloring dye produced from the seeds of achiote tree fruit that grow in South America and the Caribbean. Cheddar cheese is extremely popular and is added to so many recipes.  For this simple recipe, we’ll take Cheddar then transform it into a brand new, delicious Mexican-styled meal.


1½ lbs. ground beef
¼ cup onion, small diced
28 oz. San Marzano tomato puree
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
10 oz. can mild diced tomatoes and chilies
1½ tbsp. chili powder
¾ cup vegetable juice
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tsp. ground cumin
1½ oz. tomato paste
4½ oz. chopped green chilies

Macaroni and Cheese:
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 stick butter
½ cup flour
5 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 qt. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ tsp. white pepper
¼ freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
Kosher salt to taste

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
Fresh salsa
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Sliced black olives
Sliced fresh jalapeno peppers
Crushed nacho chips
(Lime wedges, sour cream, Guacamole optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sauté beef and diced onions in a deep sauté pan, until lightly browned.
Add tomato puree, sugar, salt, tomatoes/chilies can, chili powder, vegetable juice, garlic powder, cayenne powder, pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, tomato paste, and green chilies.
Stir while simmering on stove top with low heat for 1-2 hours.
Add additional vegetable juice as desired, until it takes on a creamy soup consistency.

Macaroni and Cheese:

Boil pasta in salted water until still partially hard.  Do not overcook.
Drain pasta, then drizzle with vegetable oil to keep from sticking.
Stir and set aside until cheese sauce is ready.

Melt butter in pot slowly on low heat.
Add flour.
Mix well with a wire whisk.
Continue cooking on low heat for 1-2 minutes or until pale ivory color is achieved.
In a separate pan, heat milk but do not boil.
Slowly whisk heated milk into butter/flour mixture.
Keep whisking mixture until it thickens, approximately 2-4 minutes.
Remove pot from the heat, then stir in shredded cheddar cheese, white pepper and nutmeg.  Mix well.
Add the cooked pasta mix well until combined.
Place mixture into buttered 9×13 pan.
Sprinkle surface with breadcrumbs and dried parsley.
Bake at 375 degrees F for approx. 30-40 mins. or until cooked thoroughly and lightly brown on top.
Once baked, top entire surface with hot chili mixture.
Layer on lettuce, salsa, shredded cheddar cheese, black olives, sliced jalapenos and nacho chips.
Add optional black beans, sour cream, guacamole and fresh lime wedges as desired.

(photo) meximac & cheese:jill sonlin 1

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