I celebrated my 18th anniversary at The Chopping Block this past Monday. 18 years! That means that:
- I am old.
- I have been involved in 18 different Customer Appreciation Days over my time at this recreational cooking school. This year marks our 23rd annual event, but it's certainly not like one you or I have ever seen before.
On a typical Customer Appreciation Day at The Chopping Block, our stores are beautifully decorated for the holiday season and filled with customers taking advantage of great discounts for all of the foodies on their holiday shopping lists. Our chefs are demonstrating how to make their favorite dishes all day, and people come from all over to learn how to cook them and get a taste of the goodies! Christmas music is playing, sometimes snow is falling outside, some of our staff wears Santa hats or holiday aprons, wine is flowing, and there's a sense of true merriment in the air. It's a super fun day, and one our employees actually like to work!
Well, like everything else in 2020, this year is different. Our retail stores remain closed due to the pandemic, most of our staff remains on furlough, and we are unable to safely gather together to celebrate you, our loyal customers and friends, with a holiday party. But also like everything this year, we're trying to make the best of the situation. So we've moved the party to a virtual atmosphere, like much of our business.
Join us this Saturday, November 7 for three 1.5 hour virtual cooking demos with Executive Chef Lisa Counts and myself as your moderator. We thought long and hard about what dishes should be featured this day, and the ones listed below came out the winners! By signing up for these demos at just $5 each, you are showing support for our small business to continue to bring the joy of cooking to home cooks, both virtually all over the world and in Chicago through our small, safe in-person classes at Lincoln Square. The more the merrier for this party, so please share with your friends and family who enjoy cooking. We’ll provide the recipes upon signup so you can follow along with your chef.
Here's the schedule so you can plan your Saturday:
It's always 'bring on the baking' during the holidays, and this year is no different! Master cookies, scones and quick breads with our tips and techniques for flawless baked goods this holiday season.
Session #1: Cookies, Scones and Quick Bread 10am-11:30am CST
- Chocolate-Toffee Cookies
- Apple, Oat and Nut Bread
- Almond-Cherry Scones
We've all been baking bread like crazy during the pandemic, so it's time to finally understand why sourdough is so popular and so dang good. Plus, you'll never get pizza delivered again once you taste the deliciousness of the homemade variety.
Session #2: Sourdough Bread, Yeast Dough and Pizza 12pm-1:30pm CST
- No-Knead Sourdough Bread
- Homemade Pizzas
Put a new twist on the traditional turkey by learning how to make a roulade. This technique will elevate your big feast and impress those lucky guests around your table!
Session #3: Turkey Roulade and Sides 2pm-3:30pm CST
- Turkey Breast Roulade Stuffed with Prosciutto, Sage and Dried Cranberries
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples
Those of you in Chicagoland can still take advantage of our retail discounts. Save 20% on retail items and10% on wine with orders placed on Saturday, November 7, 2020 only. Email your order (see all of the options we have under the SHOP tab in the top navigation of our website), including your phone number, and mention “Customer Appreciation Day” to email@example.com to place your order for curbside pickup and receive your discount. Once you email your order, a member of our team will be in touch with you to handle payment over the phone. Once paid, you’ll be able to pick up your order. Swing by that day between 12-5pm to pick up your order, and to grab to-go samples of baked goods from our demos, while supplies last. If you can’t make it on Customer Appreciation Day, we regularly offer curbside pickup on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 3pm-5pm so you can pick up your order whenever it's convenient for you.
One of TCB's classic dishes that we won't be teaching you on Saturday, but that is absolutely perfect for the holiday season is our Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's a pudding in the British sense, meaning an ooey-gooey moist cake. Add to that the earthy sweetness of dates and a rich, velvety butterscotch sauce, and you’ll see why this
toothsome treat has become a favorite with both our staff and students.
TCB's Sticky Toffee Pudding
Yield: 15-20 servings
For the cake:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups pitted dates
2 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the butterscotch sauce:
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon brandy
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
- Set the butter out and allow it to soften at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and line the bottom with
parchment. Grease the parchment and set aside.
- Coarsely chop the dates, and combine them with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn off
the heat and gradually stir in the baking soda. (The mixture will become foamy.) Set aside.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer until light. Add the sugar
to the butter and cream until fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, and mix until well combined. Mix in the vanilla.
- Add about a third of the flour mixture and a third of the dates and water; mix until combined.
Repeat until all the ingredients are incorporated into the batter.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pudding is firm and set in
the center. Allow to cool in the pan.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the butterscotch sauce, combine the brown sugar, butter, half
and half, brandy and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil
for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Once the pudding is cool, invert it onto a sheet pan, and peel off the parchment. Set the oven to
- Pour the sauce evenly over the inverted cake. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cake is
heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Whip the heavy cream until it holds medium peaks. Cut the warm pudding into squares, and top
each serving with a dollop of the whipped cream.
Want a printable version of this recipe and many more TCB classics? Download our recipe collection from our 20th anniversary celebration. That was just three years ago, but already seems like a lifetime since then!
I'll be working this Customer Appreciation Day, just like I have for so many years, so I hope to "see" you on Saturday.