As a Jersey Bites editor, I spend a great deal of time reading, talking, writing, and thinking about (and of course sampling) food. What I spend very little time doing is cooking it. Full confession: I find cooking about as much fun as weeding a garden. In the middle of July. Without sunscreen.
So, when my son recently asked if we could find something special to do together (since his mainstay activity is playing baseball and I, as he so kindly explains, “throw like a girl”), we decided to try taking a cooking class. After some online scouting, I came across Kings Food Markets’ site and discovered their Cooking Studio. It’s located in Short Hills, offers a pretty impressive slate of class options (for adults, teens, and Young Chefs ages 3-12 to take with an adult), and is surprisingly affordable.
We scoured the class schedule and were tempted by many options, including sushi making, handmade dumplings, and a chocolate-themed class that was hard to bypass. When we landed on “Two Cooks are Better than One: Father’s Day Dinner,” we knew we’d hit the jackpot. My husband does virtually all the cooking at our house and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn how to treat him to a meal on his special day.
The class was run by a teacher named Marla who was great with the kids. She gave clear instructions, let them handle big chef knives, and mercifully assigned the helpless moms to hull strawberries and then work together to prepare a simple chimichurri sauce in a Cuisinart that did most of the work. Ah, time for a coffee break!
The kids (and the one dad in attendance with his daughter), meanwhile, chopped, grated, measured, stirred, peeled, and sizzled up a storm to create most of the items on our menu, which included:
Disappearing Bacon Bites
Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Fresh Corn Fritters with Red Pepper Dip
Along the way, Marla taught us a few tricks about knife technique, expertly dicing an onion, how to cleanly slice fresh corn off the cub (it involves a tube pan!), and how to separate an egg using only your bare hands.
Everything turned out beautifully and the group has a wonderful time sampling our finished creations. It’s a nice bonus to walk out of the studio, inspired by your newfound talent, directly into the market and be able to shop for fresh ingredients for your next masterpiece. In my case, I was inspired to make tacos from scratch a few days later and employed the nifty onion-chopping technique. Afterward, I turned the kitchen back over to its rightful king, but when Father’s Day arrives this weekend, we’ll be ready to whip up a meal worthy of the man who keeps us so well-fed the rest of the year.
To learn more about Kings Cooking Studio, visit kingsfoodmarket.com. Their summer classes and summer camp schedule is posted now.
Kings Cooking Studio
Short Hills Kings
778 Morris Turnpike
Short Hills, NJ 07078
Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak
by Marla Mendelsohn, chef of Cook Ease Catering
2 medium shallots
1 tbs dried thyme
2 tbs brown sugar
¼ c. soy sauce
2 tbs ketchup
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1-1/2 lb skirt steak
¼ c. water
2 tbs butter
- Mix shallots, thyme, brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and oil together in a Ziploc bag. Add steak and seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Marinate 2 hours or overnight in refrigerator.
- Heat grill (we used a stovetop grill pan). Drain steaks, reserving leftover marinade. Add water to bag then pour water into reserved marinade. Bring marinade and water to a boil and simmer 5 mins. Add butter.
- Grill steak about 2 mins each side. Let meat stand for 5 mins before slicing on an angle across the grain. Pour reserved marinade over steak and serve.
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs. chopped fresh basil
2 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. red wine vinegar
½ clove garlic, peeled (we threw in the whole thing … don’t tell Marla!)
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
- Puree all ingredients until smooth.
- Season with salt & pepper.
- Serve with steak.
Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)