Flying First Class

Ok, admit it, the title got your attention, right?  I have a confession to make….I’ve not flown first class…but I do want to tell you about my upcoming classes at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School and needed a clever way to catch your attention!

So, now that I’ve admitted to scamming you [please forgive me], I’ll get to it!

If you want to see a list of all the Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 cooking classes at KS, this will help!  If you want a brief idea of what I’m teaching, read on.  For a list of my current and past classes, this link will take you there.

My first class of the semester on September 12th is BRING A FRIEND TO ITALY and is a great value because it’s two for the price of one.  The description and menu are as follows:

Hate to fly but want to experience great Italian food? This class is your answer – and you get to bring a friend along too!Join me as I prepares a wonderful menu of quintessentially Italian foods.
  • Formaggio in Crosta (Gorgonzola Cheese in Puff Pastry)
  • Scrippelle in Brodo (Crepes in Broth)
  • Insalata di Funghi Tiepida (Warm Mushroom Salad)
  • Pollo Arrosto al Rosmarino e Arancia (Roast Chicken w/Rosemary & Orange)
  • Rigatoni con Cavolfiori e Uvetta (Rigatoni w Cauliflower& Golden Raisins)
  • Torta di Noci al Caffè (Walnut & Coffee Cake)

For more information and/or to register for Bring a Friend to Italy.

Next up are two classes on the same day – October 14th –  and these are great for anyone wanting to learn more about the Big Green Egg!  I’m teaching these with my boss, Dan.

First, BIG GREEN EGG 101:

Join us for the first class in our newoutdoor kitchen & showroomand we’ll
teach you the basics of the Big GreenEgg. Known as the “Ultimate Cooking
Experience” the Big Green Egg (BGE) is THE choice for a single appliance that
grills, smokes and bakes. In the 101class we will answer your questions and
guide you through everything you need to know to get started using your BGE.
Come hungry – there is plenty to sample for even the heartiest of appetites. Class
fee credited toward the purchase of specially priced, seasoned Big Green Eggs
and 10% off all accessories the day of the event only. Hurry, class size is limited.
Rain or shine!
  • Red Chile Scallops
  • Grown Up PB&J Chicken Satay
  • Pulled Pork 3 Ways
  • Wood-Fired Pizza
  • The Fabulous Four Seared New York Strip Steak
  • Grilled Pineapple w/ Gooey Nutella & Vanilla Ice Cream

For more information and/or to register for Big Green Egg 101.

Then, BIG GREEN EGG 201:

Join us for this class in our new outdoor kitchen & showroom and we’ll teach you some more in-depth techniques for using the Big Green Egg. Known as the “Ultimate Cooking Experience” the Big Green Egg (BGE) is THE choice for a single appliance that grills, smokes and bakes. In the 201 class we will share advanced cooking techniques and tips for taking maximum advantage of the BGE – for example: how to reverse sear and how to get your BGE from 0° to 600°F in 5 minutes. Come hungry – there is plenty to sample for even the heartiest of appetites. Class fee credited toward the purchase of specially priced, seasoned Big Green Eggs and 10% off all accessories the day of the event only. Hurry, class size is limited. Rain or shine!

  • Wood-Fired Pizza from Start to Finish w/ Dough Demonstration
  • Cedar-Wrapped Scallops w/ Orange Beurre Blanc
  • Dizzy Dry-Brined Chicken Breast
  • Thai Fresh Tuna Burger w/ Wasabi Mayo
  • Reverse Seared New York Strip Steak
  • Kahlua Chocolate Brownies a la Mode

For more information and/or to register for Big Green Egg 201.

Also in October – on the 18th – is an apple-inspired lunch and learn entitled DON’T SIT UNDER THE APPLE TREE LUNCH & LEARN.

Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me. I’ll share with you the perfect fall menu that celebrates the season’s most distinguished fruit.

  • Tangy Apple Cranberry Salad w/ Citrus Dressing and Chia Seeds
  • Creamy Maple Apple Soup
  • Honeycrisp Apple & Smoked Chicken Quesadilla w/ Bacon
  • Caramel Apple Tart w/ Cinnamon Whipped Cream

For more information and/or to register for Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.

I don’t have any classes on the schedule for November and December because I’ll be working a lot in the retail section; however never fear.  If you need a Groff fix, Jeff (my handsome hubby) will help you out.  He and Dan will be leading a CRAFT BEER TOUR on November 4th. It should be a great day of travel, tasting and talk!

If you think only of Tony Soprano, going ‘down the shore,’ and Bruce Springsteen when someone mentions New Jersey, you’re missing out on another great thing from Jersey….craft beers! Join Jeff Groff, craft beer aficionado and your emcee for the day, and explore some of the breweries that put NJ on the map as a craft beer player. Leave your cares behind and bring a cooler and a friend for a fun day of beer talk and, more importantly, beer tasting.

Breweries:

  • Flying Fish Brewing Company
  • Eight & Sand Beer Co.
  • 2SP Brewing Company

Included:

  • Full hot breakfast
  • Transportation
  • Guided Tour(s)
  • Packed Lunch
  • Bus Driver Gratuity

Considerations:
This is an all-day event where tastings are not included. In consideration of the time restrictions and expediency, the $20 tasting fee must be paid before departure. We reserve the right to change the itinerary for reasons outside of our control; see website for changes.

For more information and/or to register for the Craft Beer Tour.

I pick back up with Jeff in January 2018  when we will be co-teaching a couples class.  COOKING BAREFOOT WITH JEFFERY is our spin on recipes from Ina Garten’s latest cookbook ‘Cooking for Jeffrey.’  Not only are the recipes delish, but the class includes a wine tasting as well.

Jeff and I are back in the kitchen and this time we’re sharing our twist on recipes from Ina Garten’s latest book Cooking for Jeffrey. Additionally we’re pairing some of our favorite wines with each course. This class will celebrate food, wine and teamwork!

  • Creamy Asparagus & Fennel Soup
  • Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad
  • Seared NY Strip Steak w/ Mustard & Maitakes
  • Roasted Vine Tomatoes
  • Root Vegetable Gratin
  • Vanilla Cream Cheese Pound Cake w/ Red Wine Macerated Berries

For more information and/or to register for Cooking Barefoot with JeffERy w/ 4-Wine Flight.

Finally, I finish the semester with another fun lunch and learn on February 20th.  This class – TACO TUESDAY LUNCH & LEARN – was inspired by my recent (or maybe long-time) obsession with Mexican food in general and tacos specifically.

It doesn’t have to be Tuesday to make tacos; but since it is, why not?!? This class will show you that tacos can be much more interesting than you ever imagined…and they can even be for dessert!

  • Carrot & Goat Cheese Taco w/ Red Beet Tortilla
  • Pork Carnitas Tacos w/ Salsa Verde Marmalade
  • “Quickle” – Quick Pickled Veggies
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Dessert Taco

For more information and/or to register for Taco Tuesday Lunch & Learn.

Come on out to the Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School for one of my classes – while we may not be flying, we’ll definitely go first class!!!!

What I’ve Been Doing Lately…

Oh my goodness…..the last several weeks have been a whirlwind!  I’ve wanted to post so many times; however each time I wanted to write, it was about the surprise party I was planning for Jeff. And, of course, writing about it on the blog sort of ruins the element of surprise!

This year was a big birthday for Jeff – in fact, it was the Big Five-Oh! As in OhmygoodnesshowcanIbeturning50!?!  Although this birthday didn’t seem to hit him as hard as his 30th, he was still a bit mopey…throwing out phrases like, “this is my last shower (cup of coffee, work day, etc.) in my 40’s.”

As hard as this birthday was for him, it was hard on me too!  Just about every single sentence I spoke to him from January 15th through March 4th was a lie!  While that may sound easy [and to some it IS easy], it was pretty difficult for me.  I don’t know which was harder – thinking of the lies or remembering the lies!

And in the midst of the planning were Valentine’s Day (which isn’t that big a deal to us, but has to be acknowledged nonetheless), his actual birthday, class prep, a party for a friend, cooking for a bridal shower my niece Ashley was throwing for a friend [which happened to be the same day of the party], my regular schedule, and – oh yeah, just for fun – another kidney stone!!!  Additionally, I was trying to throw this party with 40 guests without raising suspicion that I was spending money – not easy to pull off when Jeff enters all the financial transactions into the computer!  If nothing else, I thrive on stress….

I’d like to say I took tons of pictures of the food; but that would be a lie.  I took pics of the party set up but by the time the party got underway, I was too involved in trying to surprise Jeff and hostessing.  Incidentally, the surprise part was a bit of a flop; but the party itself was a lot of fun!

Jeff’s good friend, Craig (you might remember him from my Something’s Brewing post) brewed two commemorative beers for the occasion and put together a killer playlist (which he and Jeff refer to as a mix-tape – those of you in my age bracket will giggle at this terminology)!  Having Craig take charge of beer and music was a huge help. That allowed me to focus on food and decorations.  So, I thought about what kind of food (1) goes well with beer; (2) can be prepared ahead and secretly transported to another location; (3) feeds a crowd and (4) is on Jeff’s list of favorite foods (or at least near the favorites list).

Chili bar was the obvious choice.  I decided to make my Chilly Weather Sirloin Chili (with ground beef instead of sirloin cubes as a time saver). After choosing the main food, the rest pretty much fell into place.  Rice, Fritos, Ranch Oyster Crackers (thanks, Ron), toppings (such as cheddar, pepper-jack, scallions, sour cream, and cilantro), a big salad [and not just any salad – MIMI’s SALAD], buttermilk cornbread with Honey-Cinnamon-Cayenne Butter, and for dessert – Jeff’s favorite – his mom’s chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and some s’mores bark for good measure.  Obviously, I needed to add some other beverages – wine for the non-beer drinkers, “middle of the road” beer for the less adventurous beer drinkers, bottled water and soda rounded out the beverage options.

Then came the theme – since it was a chili bar, I found some great printables on Pinterest and took it from there.  I designed the invitation and then created a burlap table banner to “match” the invite.  I also borrowed a previously used table banner reading ‘Aged to Perfection,’ which loosely related to the beer theme.  I wrapped “silverware” in brown bags and tied it with bakery twine, made some 50-related signs that I displayed in beer bottles and copied old photos of Jeff onto velum and wrapped clear candle holders with the velum for fun table decorations.  I used six-pack carriers as Frito “bowls” around the room, I put chalkboard stickers on wine and beer cups so people could personalize them and got paper plates and napkins to match the theme.  Throw in some bandanas and a Chili Bar sign and voila – a party.

Deciding where to have it was another challenge – it’s quite a complex undertaking to throw a surprise party for 40 people where the guest of honor lives!!!  I didn’t even try that.  A few places came to mind, but the clubhouse in my parent’s neighborhood was a great landing-place from a surprise perspective.  The challenge; however, was getting everything there without Jeff knowing.  For several weeks before the party I carted things from our house to my parent’s house – and I mean lots of things.  My parent’s living room was gradually getting smaller due to the pile of ‘party stuff’ I was making.

The day before the party, I prepped the food for the surprise and most of the food for the bridal shower (see above) – with help from a friend, thanks Tammy!  The day of, I had to get up early and head to my mom’s house to finalize the shower food and meet my niece for the food hand-off.  After that, Mimi and I set up the room and prepped the remaining food for Jeff’s party.  In the afternoon I raced home to get ready (there was barely time for a shower and some primping) and then met my sister to start carrying the pile from my parent’s living room to the party venue – thanks Laura!

We met up with Craig (my beer & music hero) and Chris (his lovely wife who was such a big help throughout the party). Then Laura and I raced back to my parent’s house to change our clothes in the living room – laughing and somewhat out of breath.  Then Laura went back to the party venue to greet guests while I waited for Jeff to arrive for our “night out to celebrate his birthday.”  On the way out the door, my mom asked if we could help her by delivering her food to a block party (yes, this was part of the lie to get Jeff to the party).  Jeff [carrying some the of food for his own party] and I walked through the door of the clubhouse and were about 5 feet from the door to the room in which the party was being held when he looked over at me and asked, “do you want me to ACT surprised?”

In that split second I thought about the ramifications of murdering him, but decided that 40 witnesses were too many so I did my best not to strangle him and proceeded to enjoy time with our friends and family.  Although the surprise was not a success, the party was.

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And, as it turns out, so was the bridal shower Ashley hosted.  For that I made Cornmeal Cheddar Scones (my friend Tammy’s recipe), Caramel Macchiato Scones, individual omelets in ham cups and fruit skewers with orange vinaigrette.

As I mentioned, in the midst of all this craziness I was also preparing for some classes. The first class – Perfectly Provencal.  The foods and wines were a yummy tribute to the Provencal region of France.  The menu:

  • Double-Baked Cheese Soufflé w/ Parmesan Cream
  • Grated Baby Beet Salad
  • Seared Halibut w/ Spicy Mussel Aioli
  • Luxe French Potatoes w/ Lavender
  • Tian Provencal
  • Blood Orange Sponge Cake

The second class – Bring a Friend to Spain.  The foods for this were from all different regions of Spain. The menu:

  • Coca (Pizza) w/ Candied Red Peppers
  • Festive Frisee w/ Pears & Honeyed Lardon
  • Comforting Chicken in Almond & Saffron Sauce
  • Smokey Spiced Spanish Potatoes
  • Asparagus w/ Tangerine Vinaigrette & Pistachio Dust
  • Quesada Pasiega (Spanish Catabrian Cheesecake)

Perhaps my favorite event of recent weeks was the Doljanchi for our twin great-niece and great-nephew.  The doljanchi is the elaborate Korean first birthday celebration with a very interesting ritual – the doljabi.  In addition to the doljabi were tables and tables of delicious Korean foods and unmatched hospitality from Justin’s family.  We had a wonderful time and best of all I didn’t have to make anything, carry anything or keep anything a secret!!!!  I was able to be a guest and enjoy a beautiful celebration of two very cool little people who have stolen my heart!

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I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t somewhat tired from the flurry of activity over the last several weeks.  However, reviewing it all has reminded me how truly lucky I am.  I have a great husband (who is older than me), family and friends who are quick to ask “what can I do” when I say I’m throwing a party (AND THEY MEAN IT), three beautiful littles who bring joy and hope for the future to our family, and so many people with whom Jeff and I can enjoy life…one bite at a time!

A Little Tease

It’s that time of year – class planning time.  We’re getting the Fall 2015/Winter 2016 Course Catalog together at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School and I thought I’d give you a little peek at the classes I’ll be teaching from September 2015 through February 2016.

To prolong the excitement and leave you wanting more, I’m only sharing the class titles.  You’ll have to stay tuned for the descriptions, menus, dates and times!

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Where in the World is Janice Groff?  Spain w/3-Wine Flight
  • Pizzelle Hands-On
  • Ladies Who Lunch
  • 50 Shades of Chocolate
  • Sicilian Pizza Hands-On
  • Coffee: It’s Not Just for Breakfast
  • French Macarons Hands-On (back by popular demand)
  • Weeknight Dinners with Jeff & Jan
  • Salt Tasting
  • Polenta Morning, Noon & Night

Check back for more details.  I hope to see you at The Kitchen Shoppe!!!!

Spring / Summer 2014 Classes

Take a look at the classes I have coming up in spring / summer of 2014 at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School in Carlisle.  As soon as they are open for registration, I will include the appropriate links.

Thanks to those of you who have come out and joined me in my past classes.  I always have a great time and am honored that you spend your time with me!  If you have any suggestions for future classes, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.