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Today's Table: Learn to be a Great Cook

This fall, you can learn how to be a great chef. “Today’s Table: Classes for Contemporary Cooks” will be held in the Crabiel Hall culinary lab and include tastings of food prepared by the chef and a copy of the recipes.

“This program is for cooks and non-cooks, and it is both instructive and entertaining,” said Lynn Lederer, director of Professional and Community Programs at the College. “You will develop techniques to optimize your recipes. For example, you’ll learn how to slice a tomato for maximum flavor, and why one omelet tastes better than another even though they have the exact same ingredients. This is a comprehensive cooking program that is both fun and educational.”

You may register a la carte at $30 for each class or choose any three classes for $75. The savings are available to anyone who registers with payment for the three classes at the same time; this offer is not valid on the full-day Saturday classes or the wine appreciation program. Except for the full-day Saturday classes, all meet from 6:30-9:30 p.m. For more information visit www.middlesexcc.edu/profcom; to register please call 732-906-2556. Menus are subject to change.

Classes include:

Tasty Treats for Your Four Legged Friends All recipes are made with items that are in your home and include nuts, grains and proteins. Recipes are all-natural and are edible for people too. Wednesday, September 12.

Great Grilling Learn the techniques of professional grilling to prepare quickly cooked, juicy and flavorful seafood, chicken and more. Thursday, September 13.

Tea Time at Middlesex Kathy Hippeli, the owner of the newly opened One Steep at a Thyme Tea Room in Jamesburg, will host an evening of tea tasting and history. Tuesday, September 18.

Let’s Go Fishing! Join us and discover many of the tasty cooking methods for fish. Included are steaming, poaching, sautéing, grilling and baking. Healthy accompaniments including salsas, remoulade and red pepper sauces will be prepared. Wednesday, September 19.

Latin Sizzle Latin American cuisine is one of the hottest trends in cooking today, so come and discover exciting new flavor combinations. Tortilla soup, skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and flan will be featured. Thursday, September 20.

French Quarter Food “Eat, drink and be merry” and enjoy the fabulous and unique cuisine of the deep bayou country. Seafood gumbo, crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice are included along with a bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Wednesday, September 26.

The Bonefish Grill Comes to Middlesex County College New chef-owner E. Jay Myers of Bonefish Grill in Iselin will discuss the philosophy of the Bonefish Grill while preparing menu items such as sea bass with a warm mango salsa, cedar planked salmon and a fresh fish selection with a chimichurri sauce. Thursday, September 27.

Simply Italian Learn about and enjoy some of the best classic Italian dishes, including bruschetta with an olive tapenade and fresh mozzarella, Caesar salad, chicken parmesan and a refreshing homemade gelato. Tuesday, October 2.

A Taste of Morocco Experience new taste sensations and learn to prepare sweet potato and chickpeas, cinnamon oranges, Moroccan mint tea, Moroccan eggplant, Moroccan carrot salad, lamb tagine and chicken with tomatoes and potatoes. Thursday, October 4.

Spanish Tapas Popular throughout Spain in bars, restaurants and tapas bars, Tapas are small plates of flavorful foods that usually accompany cocktails. They can also form an entire meal. Tuesday, October 9.

Hors d’oeuvre Party Ideas Included are Asian grilled tuna sliders with wasabi mayo and crunchy slaw, mini vegetarian muffulettas, mushroom and polenta diamonds, mini crab cakes with wasabi and pickled ginger, cheddar and cilantro gougères. Tuesday, October 16.

Behind the Bonefish Grill Chef-owner E. Jay Myers of Bonefish Grill in Iselin will be preparing menu items such as wild drunken fish, shrimp & scallops saucy shrimp, Kate’s fish with feta and artichoke hearts. He will finish the evening with a chocolate crème brûlée with grand marnier. Thursday, October 18.

Fall Soups Learn the techniques of making your own chicken stock and how to prepare the following soups: chicken barley, escarole and sausage, corn and clam chowder and more! Tuesday, October 23.

Tea for YOU! Join Kathy Hippeli from the newly opened One Steep at a Thyme Tea Room in Jamesburg for an evening filled with tea tasting, tea history, tea sandwiches and dessert bars. You will learn the art of pairing and balancing specific teas and tea flavors with foods that complement rather than detract from full tea enjoyment. Thursday, October 25.

Slushies, Smoothies and Mocktails Make refreshing drinks using fresh fruits, coffee, ice cream and yogurt to compliment any party or special occasion. Tuesday, October 30.

Parisian Dinner Party Experience the unbridled celebration of Parisian food right here in New Jersey. Enjoy boeuf bourguignon, dauphinois potatoes, and an olive tapenade that is sometimes called “the butter of Provence.” Finish the evening off with a fresh fruit soufflé! Thursday, November 1.

Asian Dinner Party Learn the simple and healthy techniques of a traditional Asian dinner party, including edamame, sushi, and chicken and shiitake dumplings with ginger dipping sauce and green tea ice cream for dessert! Wednesday, November 7.

Italian Seafood This program will feature an Italian inspired ceviche, linguine with white and red clam sauce, cioppino and homemade cannolis! Tuesday, November 13.

All Things Gingerbread Learn how to make gingerbread houses, ornaments, baskets, bowls, wreaths, sleighs and castles. Thursday, November 15.

Titanic...First Class Menu Sampling On the evening of April 14, 1912, the sinking of the Titanic shocked the world. Join us as we salute those who sailed on that voyage with samples of foods enjoyed by the first class passengers, including consommé Olga, sauté of chicken, Lyonnais chateau potatoes and French ice cream. Tuesday, November 20.

Mediterranean Grilling In the Mediterranean, grilling is the cooking method of choice. This class will include Mediterranean grilled shrimp with white bean hummus, Turkish chicken kabobs over freshly prepared tabouli and chocolate gelato. Tuesday,  November 27.

Al Fresco Italian Starting with a pear & pine nut salad with honey vinaigrette, this class includes grilled salmon salad with olive oil and fresh lemon, plus a desert of grilled balsamic glazed peaches with mascarpone. Thursday, November 29.

Pasta Making After learning how to make basic pasta dough and mastering several ravioli techniques, you will never buy dried pasta again. Menu includes: lemon pepper linguine, shrimp and crab ravioli, tomato and pesto linguini and several others. Tuesday, December 4.

Vegetarian Dinner Party Deliciously seasoned vegetarian cuisine will be featured in this class, including eggplant roulades with oven-dried tomatoes and chèvre cream sauce; roasted cauliflower with lemon, capers and olives; broccoli rabe with caramelized onion and roasted garlic; butternut squash risotto and stuffed mushrooms; plus baked Alaska. Tuesday, December 11.

In addition, Today’s Table will feature three all-day Saturday programs, each running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first course, Italian Culinary Basics, is divided into two sessions. On September 15, the class will work on Caesar salad, marinated grilled vegetables with roasted peppers, risotto Milanese, rice balls, tomato sauce, braciola and fried calamari. The September 22 class will look at homemade pasta with a variety of sauces, plus homemade manicotti, veal plicate, shrimp parmesan and chicken marcela. The day will end with making cannolis from scratch.

The second program, Wonderful Winter Soups and Broths, will be on October 20. The class will show how to make a vegetable, beef and chicken stock from scratch, then prepare several soups using the stocks. Be sure to bring some containers to take home samples of the creations.

The third class is Bread Baking, in which you will learn how to make classic French, ciabatta and braided honey and whole wheat breads. It’ll be on November 3.

A new addition to Today’s Table is a Wine Appreciation program. Wine Tasting and Appreciation: Three Evenings will be Wednesdays, October 3, 10, and 17 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Along with Chef Richard Bottega and internationally recognized sommelier Shawn O’Hara, you’ll taste three to six wines per evening, including, red, white, rose and champagne. Each class will de-mystify the world of wine and give you more confidence in selecting, buying and talking about it. You will learn how to really taste what is in your glass, wine terms and vocabulary, how to serve and store wine and the basic principles of wine and food pairing.

And the final program is Wine on a Dime: Two Evenings, which features high quality wines from around the world that don’t break the bank. Learn how and where to find delicious wines to serve with meals as well as to give as the perfect gift. You will taste three to six wines side-by-side per evening and learn what makes their characteristics special. The class will discuss where the wines are from, what to serve with them, or how to plan a gift for that special occasion.

For the Wine Appreciation program, proof of age is required at the time of registration and again at the door before class.