The ice has disappeared and the snow has thawed. The temperatures seem to indicate one thing. Spring is coming. Do you remember last spring, when you scarcely knew if you would be able to cook at home?
We’re still cooking from home—one year later. While you may have started uncertain if you could boil an egg, the sourdough revolution and DIY dalgona coffee phases have intervened, and you’re now ready to make kombucha and butcher a hog.
Indian food classes, whole-chicken breakdown sessions, pickling workshops, and others are adding to a rapidly expanding universe that will up your game. Because while YouTube and social media may have scores of places to lose yourself in the slow spiraling of an ornate cake frosting reverie, these have the advantage of being local and tapping into the specific passions of local chefs, creators, and connectors. (And keep in mind, the fall-out from the snow storms outlasts last week. The food community is still badly hit and reeling. These are more small ways to help a community.)
Here are four plucked from the bunch. We predict these primers might be just what you need.
Profound Foods: Hogs and Hens and Pasta—Oh, My!
In a brightly lit chef’s kitchen in Fairview, Profound Foods, the farmers-and-ranchers hub, has begun filming workshops that tie in chefs and producers. Think of it as our own local all-star MasterClass lineup.
In December, they held a hog butchering class with local Chubby Dog Farm owners patched in virtually and a splayed pig waiting patiently on the table. I attended a socially distant chicken breakdown class in January, hosted by Profound’s resident chef Nick Walker, with comments by Nelson Cartermere of Cartermere Farms on the beauty of pastured chicken farming.
Workshops are streamed live and recorded for Profound’s Facebook and YouTube pages, but those in attendance in the socially distant space can enjoy home-brewed beer and bites by farm manager chef Joel Orsini—which in this case featured all parts of the chicken and most notably a stunning drumstick fried in fermented rice batter garnished with basil blossoms and honey from the farm.
All this before we dove into the multipart lesson on how to butcher a bird into primal cuts, truss for roasting, break down a roasted chicken, spatchcock, bone out, and skin perfectly to make a roulade. The teaching and education wing of Profound’s work is blossoming. A class is peppered by comments about cost-saving and tips to use different cuts. We could end by breaking down a chicken ourselves.
The spring line-up, which will go live later this week on their social media channels and be sent out via their mailing list, showcases Josh Harmon on pickling (March), Joe Baker making chocolate truffles (April), Peja Krstic demonstrating fish mongering (May), Jessica Alonzo on fermentation (June), and Misti Norris making pasta and sausage (July).
Price for online class is free; attendance in person from $79.
Kuluntu Bakery: The Sourdough Maven
Kuluntu Bakery’s Stephanie Leichtle-Chalklen moved all her sourdough baking classes online last spring. But she’s still adamant about building community. Join a class, and you can soak up enviable bakery skills, from sourdough bagels to a lemon and lavender tart (adding candied lemons and lavender-infused pastry cream to your repertoire). Pies, cookies, and the secrets to her fabulous levain have all been the subjects of study. Everyone has a place in the warmth of her kitchen.
Classes tend to be held twice a month. Look, for example, to her upcoming springtime tart class on March 20. Group or private classes available, too. From $35 per class.
BeSpiced: The Modern Indian Kitchen
Sapna Punjabi-Gupta’s Ayurvedic-inspired Indian food workshops are an offshoot of her BeSpiced spice business and brand. A dietician and home cook, she has spoken at the Crow Museum of Asian Art and adds an Ayurvedic and dietician’s spin to all-vegetarian cooking classes.
Some attendees have met her at the Coppell Farmers Market, where she sells her spices. Others hail from farther away. All adore Indian food.
Recently, I joined a two-part virtual master class on dosa that held 16 other devotees of the tangy, finicky-to-make South Indian pancake. She’ll go with you on a FaceTime call in an aisle of the supermarket as you’re shopping for idli rice or chana or urud dals or hunting down fresh fenugreek or esoterically shelved spices. For those not interested in amassing a fully stocked pantry or a year’s supply of, say, dried mango powder, she’ll also provide kits of “essentials” for every class, available for purchase. She makes it easy. In the dosa class, she showed her dosa batter grinder, the stone massive like a conch for chocolate.
From the art and traditional culture of ghee making to “desi” taco night where Tex-Mex flavors meld with Indian or an evening of comforting samosa pie and masala chai-making, her classes entice with cook-along camaraderie.
Grocery list, recipe packet, and option to purchase a class “essentials” kit. Private and group classes available. From $30 per class.
Native Ferments: The Art of Fermentation
Bring out umami flavors and every fiber of your pickling-nerd passion with Jessica Alonzo’s new venture. Alonzo’s Native Ferments is part pantry shop, but it’s the pickling-school part that funk aficionados will like.
The sous chef at Petra and the Beast, Alonzo is the fermentation and no-waste queen, and Native Ferments allows you to tap into her mind and expertise. Alonzo, who has risen to the level of presenter in national festivals, workshops, and colloquia (including a Women and Koji Making conference last summer), makes it interestingly accessible to the average person.
From quick pickling to fermented beverages (fruit sodas, ginger bugs, and tonics), vinegar-making to miso-making, and canning of jams and veggies, she can hold court.
Hour-long workshops will be held live over Zoom. Alonzo plans to offer two workshops per month (Monday nights at 7 p.m.). Q&A sessions will follow each workshop. Expect farmer bios and links on the website.