Cooking Classes with Heidi Billotto

img_7806Several New At Home with Heidi and On the Farm Cooking Classes on the Calendar and I wanted you to be the first to know…

Get ready to slice, dice, simmer and saute as you make plans to join in on the fun at any one of my exciting hands-on classes cooking classes taught as the name suggests, “At Home with Heidi ”  in my home kitchen; or  come and experience one of my unique On the Farm Classes are held at various farms in and around Charlotte. Each On The Farm class includes a walking Farm Tour and then we settle into the farm kitchen to cook with whatever is in season. You really just have to experience these classes for yourself, there is indeed something quite special about being on all these local farms…

Classes are a perfect  for a fun date night, night out with the girls and a great way to meet new people or host a team building event.  Don’t see a date that fits – email me and lets plan your own private class with work associates or with friends or family.

simply-email-heidi-to-make-your-reservations

Registration links are at the end of each class descriptive.  Make your reservations by simply sending me an email. Payment confirms your reservation and you may pay by cash, check or credit card. As soon as I gets your email, I’ll be right back in touch to confirm your payment and to give you the  address and details for each class.

Looking forward to seeing you at one (or more) of these “At Home with Heidi”  or “On The Farm” Cooking Classes soon…

EiffelTowerThursday. Evening Mar 16 – 6:30-9 pm –Food and Wine of France – An evening of fun and fabulous French cuisine. From an amuse and aperitif upon your arrival to all the classics you’ve always wanted to know how to make. This class includes French Onion Soup, Cheese Souffle, Real Ratatouille with Classic Baked Chicken and Chocolate Souffle for dessert – Mais Oui!    Cost is $75 per person.    For reservations email Heidi here.

db_logo116sThursday Evening March 23 – 6:30-9pm – Honey Honey – Springtime Appetizers and Craft CocktailsWhile we are waiting for the weather to warm up a bit so we can go and visit the bees at Dancing Bees Honey in Monroe, NC up close and personal, Beekeeper Jeff Knight  and maker of all the great beeswax products, Robin Knight and I decided a Honey-centric craft cocktail and appetizer class might bee fun (couldn’t resist!). Join us this night for the lowdown on raising bees and how honey is made. Jeff and Robin will bring an array of honey and honey products for sale as well. The menu includes 4 great springtime appetizers each paired with its own craft cocktail – can’t wait! Cost is $85 per person. For reservations email Heidi Here

on-the-farmSunday April 9, 2-6 pm – On the Farm Cooking Class at Windcrest Farm in Monroe, NC Lots of local in the guise of great greens, herbs. lettuces, radishes, garlic, microgreens and more planted and  growing in the certified organic greenhouses and grounds at Windcrest Farm in Monroe, NC  and we’re planning an “On The Farm” class to celebrate the first of Spring harvest.  This fun and informative class will kick off with a 45 minute or so farm tour  as we explore the  lay of the land with farmer Mary Roberts and her hubby Ray; then we’ll head into one of the greenhouses or, if weather allows, under a tent at the garden shed to set up a makeshift kitchen to cook with all of Windcrest’s fine local certified organic produce. We’ll have an appetizer and aperitif to start as we head out on our tour and then come back to create 4 fabulous courses of all local fare… But Wait, there’s more….Joining us at class is Ann Jacks from Grassfed Productions, Rootdown Foods, Charlotte’s source for local, grass-fed, cultured butter and ghee; grass-fed beef jerky; gluten-free crackers; grass-fed bone broth; and other grass-fed treats. AND, our favorite Wine guru, Josh Villapando from Assorted Table Wine Shoppe will be on hand to provide a Springtime Wine Pairing with each course.  Its going to be fabulous!  Cost is $85 per person.  For reservations, Email Heidi here 

on-the-farmOn The Farm Cooking Class at New Town Farm – Saturday April 22, 1-5pm – I taught my very first “On the Farm” class at New Town Farms years ago and love going back each year to enjoy a class at this  family farm in Waxhaw, North Carolina each year. New Town Farms was established in 1990 by Sammy and Melinda Koenigsberg.  These unique On the Farm classes kick off with a walking farm tour led Sammy who will talk about his farming philosophy and share what goes into growing the produce and raising the proteins sustainably produced at New Town Farms. We’ll meet the chickens and the laying hens, visit with the pigs and then all wind up in the kitchen making a four course meal from all that New Town has in season. Wine parings with each course compliments of Josh Villapando at the Assorted Table Wine Shoppe at 7th Street market in Uptown Charlotte.  These classes are truly an incredible experience – don’t miss it. Cost $85 per person. For Reservations Email Heidi Here

on-the-farmOn The Farm Cooking Class at Tega Hill Farms -Saturday June 3, 6-9 pm Another wonderful On the Farm Class, this time in the hydroponic greenhouses at Tega Hill Farm in Ft. Mill. Our guides and hosts for the evening are Mindy and Mark Robinson. They’ll teach us all about growing greens, lettuces. microgreens and more in water. By the beginning of June peas and tomatoes may be getting their start as well.  As in all of my On the Farm classes, The Robinson’s will share their views on sustainable farmer and the pluses of greenhouse growing. We’ll set up a kitchen area among the veggies and cook with everything they have in season to create a 4 course dinner for the evening. Wine pairings from Assorted Table Wine Shop of course. Come and join in on the fun! Cost $85 per person. For Reservations Email Heidi Here

And. last but not least, here are All the Details and the Fine Print on my regular series of cooking classes, both At Home with Heidi and On the Farm….

Living the Loving Local Mantra: In my classes and catering I cook for clients as if I were cooking for my family. It is important to me to use the healthiest, freshest product so I shop Local and cook with produce, proteins and products sourced primarily from local farms and vendors, using certified organic or product that is grown by organic standards when I can’t find what is needed from a local source.

Wine Not?  I partner with my friend Josh Villapando of the Assorted Table Wine Shop at 7th Street Station to provide wine ( and sometimes beer) pairings at each class (with the exception of the cocktail and appetizer class), so you’ll not only leave with some great recipes, but you’ll know what beverages to pair with them as well.

The Take Away: Everyone participates in the preparation of each dish and each class participant leaves with a packet of recipes, wine notes and coupons and other fun party favors.

Class size is limited: Your advance reservations via email gets you on the class list and advance payment confirms your space in class. Once I hear from you with a reservation I will contact you with specifics on how to pay. I will send out directions and any other details you might need, several days prior to  the class date.

Cancellation Policy: I try hard not to cancel events; but reality is. There is a three person minimum for my At Home With Heidi Classes and if weather is a problem we try hard to reschedule. If you need to cancel  more than 7 days prior to class I am happy to provide a full refund of your advance payment. If you cancel 6 days or less before the class date I know you will understand that I will have already started making plans and purchases and am glad to offer you a refund of half of your original payment.

I Heart You! Happy Valentine’s Day!

blog headerIts a little heart-shaped kiss of everyone’s favorite seasonal sweet… and its on my  list of “Things That Make You Go Mmmmmm…

Whether you are planning on saying “Be Mine” or “See Ya” to your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, there’s no easier way to put your thoughts together than through a few Conversation Hearts.

These heart-felt talkative treats are enjoyed by millions of Americans each year. In fact, Americans have been enjoying the candy we now call Conversation Hearts since the 1800s.

wafers-boxMade by several companies, the leading manufacturer of Conversation Hearts is the NECCO/Sweethearts brand. Its  my favorite brand of any heart shaped candy and  shares a history with another longtime favorite of mine,  the much loved NECCO Wafers. Daniel Chase created the idea for the first conversation hearts in 1866 by devising a machine that would press food dye letters onto the candy lozenges made famous by his brother and NECCO founder Oliver Chase. The Conversation Hearts we know and love today came to be in the early 1900s. hearts 2Today NECCO manufactures 8 billion Sweethearts year ’round to meet consumer demand.

From mid-February to January NECCO produces about 100,000 pounds of the iconic candy hearts each day, which adds up to billions of candy hearts—more than enough for everyone in the world to have one, so buy several packs and be sure to share the love .

Through the years, the sayings on Conversation Hearts have been an edible reflection on how our culture has changed, but it is good to know that some of the original sayings are still in rotation, including “Be Mine,” “Be Good,” “Be True,” “Kiss Me.”

In honor of NECCO’s 150th anniversary in 1997, the original phrase “The One I Love” also reappeared in the mix. In the early 1990’s, NECCO’s then Vice President Walter Marshall began an initiative to update the sayings each year, retiring some while adding others. The first new phrase, in years was “Fax Me” which met with a bit of controversy from diehard Conversation Heart fans; but now you can find hearts that suggest a would be lover “email me”, “text me” and “tweet me”, too!ChocolateSweethearts

And they come in Chocolate and  are Gluten Free…Gotta Heart That!

While all Conversation Hearts have been certified Kosher and  gluten free from the beginning, the flavors have made changes with the times.  It all started with the original eight familiar flavors customers found in the company’s Necco wafers: orange, lemon, lime, clove, chocolate, cinnamon, licorice and wintergreen. Now there are just six different flavors of hearts in box.

dazzledsweetheartsWhile the classic flavors are mixed and boxed together, the Necco company also produces  separate boxes of chocolate Conversation Hearts,  and they are, like the rolls of chocolate NECCO wafers, this food writer’s personal favorite…just sayin’

But if you’d like something different, instead of enjoying the classics, you can also now buy sugar-free Sweethearts and for those of you who really like to pucker up, enjoy the Dazzled Tart Sweethearts this season in Pink Lemonade, Wild Berry Grape, Sour Apple, Watermelon, Extreme Tangerine and Blue Raspberry

Here’s how it rolls…

To make this sweet candy confection,  six simple ingredients -sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, gum, colorings and flavoring –  are blended together into a mixing machine, one color and flavor at a time, until they turn into a soft dough.  The dough is fed into a machine that presses the dough until it is flat, a process called sheeting. The sheeted dough moves on to the cut and stamp station where  the sayings are applied on the dough and  a large machine cuts the dough into 100s of little  hearts. Next, the sheets of cut hearts go into a drying tunnel for about 30 – 45 minutes. The finished hearts are lightly dusted with cornstarch and moved to a drying area where they cool and harden during a twelve hour resting period. Once the hearts have cooled and dried, the starch is dusted off and flavors are mixed together to provide the assortment we find in each box or bag. Each year NECCO reports that they receive hundreds of saying suggestions from romantics, candy lovers and school kids, alike. 

Think you have a good conversation heart phrase to add to the collection?  Sweethearts NECCO is happy to accept suggestions for sayings from their consumers. Each saying can be no longer than two lines of four letters on the small hearts and two lines of six letters on the large motto hearts. You can either e-mail your suggestion to the company via their website at Necco.com,  or mail it to Sweethearts, NECCO, 135 American Legion Highway, Revere, MA 02151.

#TellThemHeidiSentYouWhy not surprise your sweetheart  or your best friend this Valentine’s Day with a box of conversation hearts and reservations at any one of my upcoming At Home with Heidi  cooking classes. The list is on the home page of my blog at HeidiBillottoFood.com – just shoot me an email  to make your reservation and I’ll be back in touch to confirm the delicious details.