By Julianna Wilmoth, Director of The Cucina
Chef Vicki Todd Smith has been a culinary educator, caterer, mentor, and chef for more than 35 years. During that time, Chef Vicki spent over a decade in Europe and Asia before returning to the United States in 2000. She has had the honor of cooking for such luminaries as the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns, and the former Foreign Minister of Japan. Additionally, during her years in Asia she was the caterer of choice for many ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps. Upon her return to the United States, she was the seminal chef to develop the food and beverage program at Kent State University’s Stark Conference Center. Subsequently, she became Market Kitchen and Catering Director for Mustard Seed Market in Solon and went on to run corporate dining for Jones Day law firm in Cleveland. At present Vicki works for a privately held conglomerate as the Executive Chef of their corporate lodging and catering operations.
Chef Vicki is a wealth of personal experiences and professional knowledge, which she happily shares during her classes. One class, Oodles of Asian Noodles, is the follow-up to her spring class, Polenta, Pasta and Potatoes. Chef Vicki’s class will introduce authentic ingredients while making the recipes home kitchen friendly. Try one of her recipes, Crispy Noodle Cake with Tomato Beurre Blanc, from the previous class, and then sign up for her upcoming class on November 10. Chef Vicki’s classes will transform your taste buds and kitchen skills!
1 pound dried thin spaghetti
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
¼ pound provolone cheese, chopped
¼ pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated
¼ pound deli ham, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large kettle of boiling, salted water cook the spaghetti until al dente and drain well. In a heavy skillet sauté the onion in the butter over moderately high heat, stirring until golden.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and cream. Add the provolone, mozzarella, ham, parsley, salt, pepper, sauteed onion and spaghetti, and toss the mixture until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a well greased 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet, and bake the noodle cake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is just firm to the touch at the center. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then chill in freezer to cool quickly.
In a skillet heat the butter over moderately high heat until melted, and add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer on low until thickened. Add four tablespoons of butter, one at a time, waiting until each one melts before adding the next. Set aside.
Run a thin sharp knife around the side of the noodle cake, remove the side of the pan, and run the knife along the bottom of the cake. Cut the cake into 6 wedges. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately high heat, and sauté 3 wedges of the cake, turning them until they are golden brown and crisp. Cook the remaining wedges in the remaining butter in the same manner. Gently re-warm the tomato beurre blanc and serve with the noodle cake.
By Julianna Wilmoth, Director of The Cucina
The instructor-chefs who lead classes in The Cucina are some of the region’s most sought after culinary experts. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing our highly talented instructors who teach, guide and mentor here in The Cucina. Without further ado, meet nationally recognized chef-entrepreneur, Carla Snyder.
After a spending a college semester studying in Spain, Carla discovered just how delicious life could be. She has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, culinary team building company owner, freelance food writer and co-author of numerous cookbooks. Her work has appeared in Bon Appètit, Chili Pepper, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Fun and numerous local and regional magazines and newspapers.
Carla is co-author with Meredith Deeds of The Mixer Bible, The Mixer Bible 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition, and newly released 4th Edition (Robert Rose 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2018), the 2007 James Beard nominated The Big Book of Appetizers (Chronicle Books 2006), The Take-Out Menu Cookbook: How to Cook IN The Food That You Love to Order Out (Running Press, 2007), Good Morning America’s Top Ten Pick of 2008, 300 Sensational Soups (Robert Rose, 2008), Fish for Dinner (contributor, Williams Sonoma, 2009), the digital e-cook book with apps Serves Two (2010, available on iTunes) and Everyday to Entertaining (Robert Rose 2011). Carla’s series, One Pan Two Plates/Whole Family/Vegetarian books began in 2013 and she continues to use the recipes as inspiration for the classes she teaches at Gervasi. In Fall 2015, she released Sweet Tart: 70 Irresistible Recipes for Desserts and Savories Made with Citrus. She has appeared on Fox Morning News Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Lake Effect Radio’s Dinner Plans, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Good Morning Cleveland and Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family.
With her vast spectrum of knowledge and experiences, it is an exciting personal culinary moment to attend her classes. This fall, Chef Carla will be leading classes ranging from Chop (and Cook) Like a Chef: Knife Skills to One Pan-Whole Family to Homemade Artisan Pasta. View our Cucina class schedule for more information on Carla’s classes and the rest of our fall lineup.
Look for Carla on Facebook (Carla Snyder), Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest (Carla Snyder) Instagram (carlacooks) and at ravenouskitchen.com where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.
The recipe below is from her Chop (and Cook) Like a Chef: Knife Skills class, just one of the many recipes she will be teaching this fall. Knife skills are immensely important to cooking times and even presentation, and Carla will guide you through correct ways of bruniose, chiffonade, and more!
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 15 minutes
Minestrone is the epitome of an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. Even though we’re giving you a recipe, and it’s a good one, remember that at its essence, it’s a vegetable soup that needs to take advantage of what is in season and at its peak to be great. If zucchini doesn’t look good at the market, don’t use it, use yellow squash instead. If green beans don’t look good, leave them out. The bones of this soup are good canned tomatoes, good extra virgin olive oil, and real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and the rest is up to you.
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
2 zucchini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 new potatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage (preferably Savoy)
One 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped coarse, with juices
1/2 cup canned white beans
2 cups chicken broth
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
In a heavy kettle cook the bacon in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and pale golden. Add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and zucchini along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook the mixture, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cabbage and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white beans and the broth and simmer the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into a serving bowl. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil.
We’ve all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s often the one we grab on our way out the door or skip altogether. What if we slowed down and really savored a morning meal? Gervasi Vineyard now has several enticing reasons to do just that, with delectable breakfast/brunch options offered every Sunday.
The Bistro – Gervasi’s rustic, upscale restaurant – opens at 11 am with a family style breakfast for two or more guests. Choose a frittata (rosemary ham or vegetarian), served with parmesan fingerling potatoes, house-made sausage and rosemary ham. Satisfy your sweet tooth with decadent cinnamon roll bread pudding smothered in warm maple icing.
At The Still House – Gervasi’s coffeehouse and cocktail lounge – you’ll find the same delicious bread pudding served a la carte, as well as cheddar biscuits and gravy and other special features available Sunday only. Enjoy the Bloody Mary and mimosa bar from 10 am to 2 pm, and customize your drink with a variety of juices, spices/sauces, fruits and garnishes.
Hungry yet? We’ll see you here next Sunday!
With the right wedding venue and weather, getting married outside adds an element of natural beauty to the ceremony that wouldn’t be possible indoors. Nature can be unpredictable, however, so there’s a little extra planning to be done before the big day. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning an outdoor wedding.
One of the best ways to ensure a comfortable, pleasant wedding day for everyone attending is to plan ahead for the time of year. Is the wedding taking place in a hot, sunny month? Be sure to have lots of available shade and cold drinks, and maybe set the time for a cooler part of the day. If the wedding is to take place in a colder month, consider adding wind protection and even outdoor heaters. The wedding venue staff will be able to help ensure that everyone is comfortable, no matter the time of year.
The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a backup plan in case things take a turn for the worse. Find out if the wedding venue has an indoor alternative ready to go in the event of rain. It’s also wise to make sure that the catering staff, decorators, sound personnel, and photographers are all prepared to change locations at the last minute if necessary.
If the wedding day is expected to be hot, windy, or humid, the bridal party and guests should have a look that can stand up to the elements. Discuss the weather forecast with hair and makeup professionals before it’s time to get ready so that they can give the bride, groom, and wedding party looks that will keep looking great for the entire ceremony and reception. This also applies to dresses and tuxedos that may be affected by humidity and wind.
Consider celebrating your wedding at Gervasi Vineyard. Our award-winning winery resort is home to some of Ohio’s best dining, shopping, and entertainment for wine lovers and families. Explore our signature outdoor wedding venue, The Pavilion, with seating for up to 300 guests and stunning views of our vineyard. Call us today at 330-497-1000 to learn more about our wedding venues and packages.
Maybe you’re watching a cooking show or halfway through a mouthwatering meal at a dinner party when it hits you: “One day, I am going to learn how to cook up a meal that will simply amaze my family and friends.”
Well, there’s no need to wait another minute because professional culinary help is as close as Canton’s Tuscan-inspired Gervasi Vineyard.
Housed in the elegant Villa Grande, The Cucina Culinary Education Center offers a wide range of culinary classes for individuals and groups where you’ll learn from top-notch professional chefs in a postcard-perfect setting. Soak up the passion and enjoy the pleasures of sharing great food with friends and family during hands-on, personalized instruction.
Reserve your space in one of a dozen themed classes where you can learn to serve sumptuous sushi, create Korean cuisine, master Mexican meals and even learn to make the finest flatbread. If you’re a fan of the food served at The Crush House at Gervasi Vineyard, sign up and learn how to prepare some of the favorites from this popular contemporary eatery. There’s even a class for gluten-free dishes.
The Gervasi Cucina (Italian for “kitchen”) is a fully stocked, spacious working kitchen surrounded by the vineyard’s luxurious villas. Whether you are a novice or a life-long gourmet, if you enjoy good food, good wine and good times, The Cucina is the perfect place to up your kitchen game.
For a unique and memorable outing, Gervasi Vineyard will work closely with families, friends or businesses to help plan a custom culinary offering including both private culinary classes and cooking demonstrations.
Imagine yourself in a kitchen full of loved ones or colleagues all working together to create a delicious meal in a fun and relaxing setting. Are you planning a friend’s wedding shower? Celebrating a special anniversary? Gervasi Vineyard can also help plan a cooking demonstration tailored to your event and needs.
And finally, for the ultimate in luxury getaways, consider booking a class or two while staying at The Villas boutique inn, just across the courtyard from the Cucina.