Healthy Summer Sides & Snacks with Leah Dickerson

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Thu, Aug 07, 2014

This week, I had the pleasure of taking my first class with resident BCAE chef, Leah Dickerson. This time it was Mom's pick, and she chose Healthy Summer Sides & Snacks to be her first BCAE class, and our first class together.

Right from the start Leah had all of the students, myself included, busy at work preparing the meal (and drinks!) we would be enjoying.

We started off with a tart and refreshing frozen ginger lemonade, and we had the option to add a little vodka. Watch the freezing process in action here.

While the drink was freezing, we started on the food. A corn pancake, filled with fresh corn kernels and topped with a little fresh cucumber, sour cream, and some more corn.

Fresh corn cakes

Next up: Avocado Toast with Bacon and Tomato

We grilled some fresh Iggy's bread, rubbed the slices with a bit of garlic and olive oil, then loaded them up with fresh tomato, avocado, and a little bacon.

Avocado tomato bacon toast

Then, for even more freshness, we finished the toasts off with a little arugula.

Avocado bacon tomato arugula toast

As Leah said, you really could put anything on it! So while I was dreaming of all of the delicious potential combinations, I took her advice literally and topped my tomato, avocado, bacon, arugula toast with a corn cake and cucumber. While not the prettiest thing I've created, it was pretty delicious.

Corn cake and bruschetta

Before we arrived, Leah had put two whole eggplants in the oven, and we joined her to take them out when they were perfectly cooked.

Roasted eggplant

We turned the freshly roasted eggplants into a light and delicious babaghanoush that we put on pita chips we made on the grill!

Oh, but there was more. Mini turkey sliders, seasoned with a little garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cooked on the grill. I had personally always been wary of turkey burgers for their bad reputation of being dry and flavorless--FAR FROM IT, these burgers wer juicy and packed with flavor.

Turkey burgers on the grill

We grilled up some whole wheat pita with some Jarlsberg cheese, and stuffed our burgers in. Again, I reached for some of our other previously used ingredients to complete my mini sandwich: avocado, tomato, and a little babaghanoush.

Turkey burger in a pita

And nothing completes a meal like a sweet finish. Prosecco and berries and whipped cream with honey, lemon, mint and more berries!

Dessert and a drink

Needless to say, my mom and I had a blast! With tons of fresh-as-can-be ingredients (and a few less healthy accents thrown in), we left happy, healthy, and satisfied.



Light, Fresh, and Healthy: Summertime Dinner Party
- 8/13  

Early Bird: take 30% off when you register by this Saturday, 8/9!

Naturally Nutritious - 9/10

Good & Good for You
- 9/25

Breakfast of Champions: Build a Better Breakfast - 9/28

Basic Vegetarian Cooking: Meatless Meals for Everyone - 10/8

A Clean Eating Paleo Dinner Party: Appetizer, Main Dish and Dessert - 10/16

Topics: Boston cooking class, Leah Dickerson, healthy cooking class, BCAE class, cooking class

African Cooking: Ethiopia & Beyond - A Night with Chef Diane Manteca

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

Last week, I got the chance to attend one of longtime BCAE Chef Diane's classes. Of the 20 years of BCAE classes she has taught, this was her first focused on Ethopian cooking! The idea came about when a student requested the class about a year ago, and Diane has since set about the task of learning as much as possible about the cuisine and how to prepare it.

Diane prepping

All I can say is that I was impressed by how much we were able to cook (and eat!) within a quick 3 hour class. We made three main dishes, the Ethipoian flat bread, Injera, as well as Nit'r Qibe, the traditional spiced butter. We even got to dip into the plethora of spices Diane had brought with her to create our own "berbere" spice pack to take home!


We started with the teff stew, chopping onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, sauteeing them all in a large wok with a variety of spices.

Sweet potatoes in pan

We then added vegetable stock, lentils, and teff (Fun fact from Diane: teff is the smallest grain in the world!), covered the pan and let it all simmer. We finished it off with lemon juice, garnished with cilantro, and we had a thick and hearty vegetarian stew packed with flavor!

Teff Stew

Next up: Doro Wat, spicy chicken stew. Here we got to cook chicken thighs with the iconic berbere spice mix (check out that red color below), ginger, and garlic to infuse the chicken with all of that spicy goodness.

Doro Wat

Traditionally, hard boiled eggs are added into the pot with the chicken, but this time we left them as garnish.

Doro Wat plated

Our next task was the African curry. While this can be done with a variety of proteins, we used shrimp. Curry powder, tumeric, and coconut cream gave this dish that gorgeous yellow color and creamy consistency.

Chef Diane finishes shrimp

Finished with fresh bananas and shredded coconut, this dish was my personal favorite!

Shrimp Curry

We each got to fry up our own individual injera (like pancakes!) And my plate full of injera, chicken, and curry (I ate the teff stew earlier) was perfection.

Plate of African food

Diane is an absolute delight to take a class with, and there are many more opportunities to join her in the kitchen through the end of summer and into fall!


Cooking for One or Two: Greek Edition 
Sensational Summer Sides: Cooking outSIDE the box!    
Dreamy Dolce: Italian Desserts  
Lunch Break: Pestos, Vinaigrettes & Salads     
Sauces of the World     
Down & Dirty Food and Booze

September & October
Cooking with Wines
Pizza and Calzones    
Fresh Fish Made Fabulous 
The Art of Pasta Making    
How to Navigate & Cook the Farmers Market
Mediterranean Mezze: Food & Wine Pairing
It's Raining Meatballs: Beef, Turkey, and Tofu  
Eat Your Way Through Tuscany   
Autumn Soups    
A Moroccan Dinner

Topics: BCAE, BCAE classes, BCAE cooking classes, Boston cooking class, Diane Manteca, Ethiopian food

It's Farmer's Market Season Again!

Posted by Kim Wieczner on Tue, May 13, 2014

It is our favorite time of the year: Farmer's Market Season!

Copley Square Farmer's Market


The Copley Square Farmer's Market, just a short walk away from the Center (and a great place to grab lunch!), opened today, so Becky and I took a walk to see what the first crop would bring.

Copley Square Farmer's Market
While not the sunniest of days, the market was bustling with vendors selling veggies, plants, meats and cheeses, and some mouthwateringly beautiful pastas and pastries.



We picked up a couple gigantic (we're talking size-of-your-head) cookies from Cook's to bring back to the office...

Chocolate Chip Cookie

We were excited to see some of our favorite vendors back in action, and to welcome some new ones, like White Lion Baking Company, selling paleo and gluten free baked goods, including some homemade granola that we got to sample.

We'll definitely be going back to the market soon, and in the meantime, we have two classes coming up that will show you how to make the most of your farmer's market shopping (and cooking) experience.

Ripe Now! Cooking from the Farmers Market -- Thursday, June 5th 6:00PM - 9:00PM

Resident instructor Chef Diane Manteca shows you how to shop local, and goes through some fresh and simple summer recipes to turn your Boston farmer's market purchases into dinner perfect for the patio.

Homecooking Basics: Farmers Market Basket-- Tuesday, June 24th 6:00PM - 9:00PM

b.good chef/co-founder Tony Rosenfeld goes through the basics of shopping for the season, then lets the fresh fruits and veggies speak for themselves with recipes for salads hearty enough to be entrees.


Get shopping...and maybe we'll see you on our next trip to the Farmer's Market!

Topics: BCAE cooking classes, Boston cooking class, Boston Farmer's Market, BCAE class, BCAE Summer class, Copley Square Farmer's Market, MA Farmer's Market

Cheese Making at the BCAE

Posted by Becky Brackett on Mon, Nov 12, 2012
Katie's Got Class

It’s been a few weeks since my last visit to the BCAE but on Tuesday night I was there to make cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?! Cheddar, goat, Gouda, burrata, Brie, mozzarella! Oh my, oh my, I love me some cheese. But I never knew how all these delicious cheeses come to be, so I landed in a cheese making class with Luca Mignogna, a cheesemaker from Italy. He currently works at a café, bakery, and wine bar on the North Shore.

Luca in action 

Luca had us signed up to make two cheeses on Tuesday night: primo sale, which is a farmer’s cheese native to Italy, and a basic ricotta. He started the class with a general description of what goes into making cheese, but I quickly learned nothing is too general when it comes to cheese. A few people in class said they were interested in making cheese because they’re chemists. There truly is a science behind making cheese, and no question or discussion has a simple answer.

The first step in making the primo sale was the coagulation of the milk, which Luca had already started for us given the time limit of the class. This is done by adding rennet – an enzyme that causes the milk to separate into solid and liquid – to a few gallons of milk. Within a few minutes you can see the coagulation occur, but typically you wait 20 minutes or up to an hour for the full coagulation to complete. As Luca says, “it takes its own time,” and you never know quite how long it will take. 

Once that is done, you have the fun task of ‘cutting the curds’ where you take a whisk and cut through the new mixture, breaking up the solid into tiny curds. From there, you wait some more, then drain extra liquid – which we saved to use for the ricotta – and eventually got all the liquid out, and left only curds. During all these steps, Luca encouraged us to smell and taste the curds to see how it evolves as time goes by. Once it was curds, it mostly tasted like a very milky cheese.

cheese curds 

To the curds, we added salted water that had been boiled and slightly cooled. The heated water allowed the curds to adhere to each other and made our primo sale, which we squeezed the air out of completely and placed into molds to cool.

For the ricotta, we heated up the liquid from the primo sale to 175 degrees and then added cream. This mixture needed to get to 195 degrees. Once it’s there, you stir the mixture quickly and add vinegar, which acts as the coagulant here. As soon as it was added, the liquids and solids separated. We scooped the solids out of the huge pot, and it looked just like the ricotta from the store!

At first, this process overwhelmed me. It seemed very delicate, and it is, but Luca made a good point: write everything down – the time, the temperature, each step you take. That way, if something goes wrong, you can see easily where that happened.


So now I have a pound of primo sale and a pound of ricotta in my fridge… who wants to make some stuffed manicotti?

The BCAE's next Cheese Making Workshop with Luca is running on December 4. 

Topics: Katie Petrillo, Boston cooking class, cheese making, BCAE class