TERRE HAUTE —
There are a few taste-bud-tantalizing-perks for having America’s leading baking powder producer in your backyard. For nearly 120 years, Clabber Girl has been a staple in Terre Haute. In 1899, Hulman and Company began offering up what was to become one of the oldest brands in the country, Clabber baking powder. In 1923, the company changed the baking powder brand name to Clabber Girl.
You may already be familiar with the company. You might recognize the old-fashioned girl carrying a tray of biscuits with a red background. You probably even have some Clabber Girl baking powder or corn starch in your kitchen cabinet, or you might know about the Clabber Girl Museum, where you can experience the history of the company in Terre Haute dating back to the late 1800s. Or, you could be familiar with the Clabber Girl Bake Shop at 900 Wabash Ave., having savored succulent breakfast and lunch items or scrumptious homemade bakery goods available there.
But you might not know this well-known company is now offering yet another perk for the community — an opportunity to experience a very unique dining experience in the city. The Clabber Girl Classroom Kitchen is offering a variety of cooking courses for experienced chefs, the novice cook, or for people who just love food and have a desire to learn more about cooking.
The staff at Clabber Girl, according to their website, consists of certified chefs, home economists and culinary professionals from which to receive training and information on classic cooking techniques as well as current culinary trends. You can check the website for focuses on upcoming classes.
On the Thursday night class in mid April that I attended, Chef Amanda “Mandy” Shook was behind the stove teaching techniques of Tuscany cooking. Although the wooded hills, olive groves, vineyards and hill towns that the Tuscany, Italy region is known for were not the backdrop, mostly all the healthy Mediterranean ingredients that cooking in that region is known for were brought into the Clabber Girl kitchen in sodden Midwest Indiana for our night of Italian culinary delights.
Tuscan-style cooking stems from the necessary peasant cooking that originated in that area and relies on the key element of bread and home-grown ingredients and is known for letting nothing go to waste, Chef Mandy said. The menu for the night, therefore, consisted of Panzanella — a sturdy but tasty staple bread salad designed to use up stale bread. It is a cheap but filling offering that has been elevated to fine dining today, she said. There was also Tuscan white Bean Salad and Pork Raguwith Pappardelle. To be truly authentic, wild boar would be used vs. the pork that was used that night in the Clabber Girl kitchen, but since wild boar is just a little difficult to purchase in the markets in this area, a pork butt with its rich juices and fat was substituted to go with the long wide pasta noodle, pappardelle. The pappardelle noodle is probably the most commonly used pasta in the Tuscany region, according to Chef Mandy who recently vacationed in that area and savored many of the regions flavors and foods.
For dessert we were treated to creating Torta della Nonna, which translated is “Grandmother’s Cake”, and is a traditional Tuscan dessert that uses rich pastry, a very delicate custard and toasted nuts easily found in that region.
Even though class attendance was not to the maximum that evening due to inclement weather, the class was alive with activity and students peppered the Chef with questions during her demonstrations.
“Is that 2% or whole milk?” “Is that salted or unsalted butter?” “Where did you purchase the anchovies?” “How expensive were the pine nuts?” Many more questions prevailed as the students stepped down to the kitchen area and with apron tied on and hands gloved, we chopped, sliced, diced, simmered, beat, whisked, separated eggs, drizzled, creamed and poured ingredients into a true Tuscany style culinary delight. All of which we received generous portions to enjoy at the end of the session.
Class participants were there for a variety of reasons. Kala Morgan of Terre Haute said she wanted “to learn how to cook something new.” She said she has other friends who attended the cooking classes and recommended them to her. Lana Fish of Sullivan said her husband wants her to learn how to cook, “So, he’s glad I’m here tonight!,” she added. Kelly Coy of Terre Haute said she was just interested in cooking classes. “I’m really glad I’m doing this. I don’t cook much but I want to.” She discovered the cooking classes through a Clabber Girl e-newsletter she receives online. And Chip Kofler of Terre Haute said he was there “to broaden his horizons and possibly learn to cook.” After a little trouble separating eggs, Kofler learned not only that but said he discovered that to achieve the most flavor, basil leaves should be torn and not cut.
Whatever the reasons the class was attended and for whatever was learned, all agreed that Clabber Girl maintained its mission “to provide customers with a great food experience.”
Classes range from $25 per person to $90 per pair depending on the class content and length. For more information on cooking classes and upcoming menus at Clabber Girl, check it out at: www.clabbergirlkitchen.eventbrite.com.
Check it out
• Classes range from $25 per person to $90 per pair depending on the class content and length.
• For more information on cooking classes and upcoming menus at Clabber Girl, check it out at: www.clabbergirlkitchen.eventbrite.com.