Holiday Hors D'oeuvres with Chef Richard Ruben

As I planned my Thanksgiving travels to the distant lands of Long Island, food was on the mind.

Being with my extended family meant the classics of a 60s Thanksgiving table - canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and marshmallowed sweet potatoes. But this year things were going to be a little different. Armed with the recipes and experience of ICE Culinary's Quick Holiday Hors D’oeuvres and Sidesrecreational cooking class with Chef Richard Ruben, I was prepared to rock the boat (the Mayflower in this case.) 

Locals and city visitors alike were entertained and educated by Chef Richard Ruben, who started the class with invaluable kitchen tips, including how to store spices - keep the spice rack away from your stove as heat and light dim the flavor. He also gave insight as to how to predict what vegetation is good this season, and how that should determine your menu.

We made Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms, a dish specifically selected by Chef Richard for us to prepare because the Brussels sprouts from the local Union Square farmer's market provided a particularly good selection last week. Our class also got a taste of Chef Richard’s ability to adapt his recipes when the Persimmons for our Sweet Potato Soufflé were deemed un-ripe, so we substituted in mangos for a different kind of sweetness; a far cry from marshmallows and brown sugar and a crisis averted! 

 From there the class collaborated on making dough for Turnovers with Spinach and Bacon and got a mini knife skills lesson as we worked our way through thinly slicing potatoes for Crisped Potatoes with Arugula, and a class favorite (and thanks to leftovers, a co-worker’s favorite as well) Spiced Candied Nuts and Popcorn. The dark horse that was my personal favorite was the Celery Roots and Green Apple Slaw with Blue Cheese Dressing. In the end, my petitions to add a little spice to the holiday spread at my family Thanksgiving was denied, but rest assured that next time that I host Thanksgiving, Chef Richard’s Curry-Cheese Puffs will be on the menu!

Chef Richard Ruben is the author of The Farmer’s Market Cookbook (Lyons Press, 2000) and writes about his local and international experiences with food on his blog, United Taste with Richard Ruben.

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