While you’re reading the paper, savoring the sweet smell of baking ham and impatiently waiting for your Easter feast, let’s talk about food.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes. French Onion Pizza au Gratin. Creamy Jalapeno Soup. Mango Lime Pie.
Nothing like a little appetite enhancement.
Those are four of the 10 dishes to be featured at this year’s Taste of Home Cooking School, sponsored by The World-Herald on April 9 at the Ralston Arena. And, says culinary specialist Guy Klinzing, they’re all about spring and summer.
Think cookouts and picnics. Graduation parties and wedding showers. Fourth of July bashes.
And ideas for next Easter.
Staffers at Taste of Home magazine, including nine culinary specialists who travel the country presenting the cooking schools, first consider how appropriate recipes are seasonally when they’re choosing the dishes they feature at each show. The cooking schools run from March to June and from September to the first week in December. Omaha’s show will be Klinzing’s fourth this year.
The recipe team also looks at whether preparation will adapt to the stage and whether a recipe offers an opportunity to talk about kitchen tips and techniques that work on other dishes, Klinzing said. The recipes come from the specialists, Taste of Home readers across the country and companies that sponsor the cooking shows.
“We have some debates. We all have our favorites. But it works really well because it’s very inclusive,” he said of the decision-making process.
Once the recipes are in place, the specialists attend a seven-day boot camp at Taste of Home headquarters in Greendale, Wis., where they practice demonstrating the dishes, go over grocery lists and work with sponsors who come to visit.
Then Klinzing loads pots, pans and audio-visual equipment into his van and hits the road. He said he conducts shows across the Midwest, driving everywhere: “I tool all over tornado alley.”
He’s looking forward to the Omaha school, the largest in the nation.
“With the Omaha show, you feel like you’re part of a significant experience,” said Klinzing, who’s a professional actor and singer in addition to being a traveling cook. “The energy there is amazing. When you have 2,000 people singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ at the end of a show, it’s the highlight of my season.”
That sing-along, a hallmark of Klinzing’s schtick, gave him a story to tell about last year’s Omaha show.
A grandma sent a note to his blog about what a great time she’d had, belting out the song as loudly as she could. She reported that when she first looked at her granddaughter, the girl was rolling her eyes. But when she looked back, the teen was singing, too.
A little later, he got a blog comment from the granddaughter: “I had a great time, even though I don’t know who Neil Diamond is.”
He is, of course, the “Sweet Caroline” singer.
Klinzing said that story not only is worth a smile but also illustrates the multigenerational appeal of the cooking school — and the camaraderie that happens there. Women attend with kids, husbands, as part of a girls’ night out.
“It’s a social event.”
This year, that event will feature lots of food samples, said organizer Tam Webb — many varieties of cheese, cakes and cookies, pork sliders, mustards and dipping oils, chips and salsa, salad dressings, fondue, fruit smoothies and wine.
Tickets for general admission seating still are available for $12 each at HyVee supermarkets in the metropolitan area and at Omaha.com/tasteofhome. Shows have sold out in past years, so if you want to attend, you’ll want to buy tickets early. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the demonstration starts at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast on big screens in the arena so everyone can see.
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