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  • The Chopping Blog

This is Why I Love What We Do

Posted by Clair on Mar 25, 2011

Last week, I had the pleasure of working part of a three day "class" for teenagers from the Latin School in Chicago. The students ranged in ages from 13 to 16.

Their first day was all about Knife Skills - and if you've read any of my past blogs you know how important I think knife skills are. Even though I wasn't there for that lesson, I could tell they really paid attention based on how well they did the following days.

Day Two was a Mexican-themed menu. They were charged with making guacamole, black bean and cheddar empanadas, achiote grilled fish tacos, refried beans, Mexican rice and for dessert: Churros y Chocolate.

Day Three was dough day. They rolled out their own pasta dough and made a ricotta filled ravioli with a homemade marinara sauce, individual four cheese pizzas and apple crostatas for dessert. A crostata is basically an apple pie made without the use of a pie tin.

These kids were like little sponges who soaked up all the culinary information we could dish out. They came to The Chopping Block to learn skills and techniques that they would need to make a meal for 150 people at a homeless shelter on their last day.

It made me so happy to watch as they discussed what dishes they wanted to make. Their eyes lit up as they talked about braising ox tails. They listed the ingredients needed to make the menu they created and talked about how to stretch their budget. Then after class on the third day, they hopped on a bus to Restaurant Depot to shop for the big day.

I wasn't able to be at the shelter to see how they did, but I know those kids made a difference to those 150 people that day. They sure made a huge impact on me for the 2 days that I was with them. I'm sure the experience will stay with them for a lifetime.

Apple Crostata


Yield: One 10-inch crostata; 8 servings

Active time: 30 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 recipe Pie or Tart Dough

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg, beaten to blend

Vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Toss the apples, 4 tablespoons sugar, cardamom and cinnamon in bowl.

3. Roll out one disc of Tart Dough on a floured surface to a 12 inch round. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

4. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl and sprinkle over dough, leaving 2-inch plain border.

5. Arrange apples in concentric circles on dough, leaving 2-inch plain border and drizzle with melted butter.

6. Fold dough border in toward center. Brush border with egg glaze and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

7. Bake crostata until apples are tender and crust is golden, about 45 minutes.

8. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, cut into slices and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



Topics: dough, Knife Skills, Mexican, pasta, budget, pizza

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