Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CKCA Student Chefs Serve 100 Meals At Masbia Flatbush

Flatbush -- In time for Thanksgiving, a kosher soup kitchen in the Midwood/Flatbush section of Brooklyn, operated by Masbia (, opened on Tuesday, November 24th with inaugural meals prepared by the students chefs at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA), under the supervision of CKCA Head Chef Instructor Avram Wiseman.

Approximately half a dozen culinary students from professional courses at CKCA ( donated their time following their classes. Masbia Community Kitchen lies directly across from the school, on Coney Island Avenue between Avenues J and K. The soup kitchen is located at the former Rimonim Restaurant, and is managed by Masbia's Aaron Sender.

Masbia and CKCA are working towards developing a strategy to cook fresh, hot meals for the Flatbush branch and possibly others on an ongoing basis.

At 4pm, when the community kitchen officially opened, CKCA students began serving meals they prepared at Masbia. Menu items included mushroom barley soup, roast chicken, rice with tomatoes, carrots with a pineapple glaze, and fresh fruit salad. The students and other volunteers served approximately 100 full meals to Masbia clients.

The Flatbush Masbia Community Kitchen is one of several Masbia soup kitchens to be opened in the New York area. The first Masbia soup kitchen opened in Boro Park last year, and recently another opened in Williamsburg. The next one will be located in Queens' Rego Park neighborhood. The project is under the management of Alexander Rapaport, executive director of Masbia.

The soup kitchen is now open to the public on Sunday through Thursday, from 4pm until 9pm. The address is 1372 Coney Island Avenue. For more information, please visit

Visitors and prospective students and volunteers are also welcome at CKCA, which is located at 1407 Coney Island Avenue. The next semester of professional training programs begins January 4th. For more information, please visit

Perfect Piecrust, Perfect Pie!

Originally published on

At the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, considerable attention has been paid this November to the desserts of Thanksgiving, and most notably, to the quest for the perfect pie. We all have strong opinions on the best kinds of pie fillings, but today we want to talk about the often forgotten ‘underlying’ concern, which is, of course, the piecrust. Everyone should know that perfect pie begins with perfect piecrust.

Piecrusts for Thanksgiving are often made with flaky dough, but custard piecrusts, or pies which will release a lot of liquid during baking, can be made with mealy dough. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on flaky dough. A flaky piecrust can be perfected if one follows three basic rules: The use of a cold element, minimal handling and weighted baking.

A Cold Element

If you ever come upon a piecrust recipe that does not recommend the use of cold element, then you know immediately that your piecrust will not be flaky. The cold element can be presented in several ways, and are all equally effective: A cold fat such as refrigerated margarine can be cut into the flour, cold water can be added to a shortening mixture, or piecrust dough can be refrigerated or even frozen and thawed only enough to shape prior to baking. A combination of the above approaches is also common.

The cold element is important because when a piecrust is placed in the oven, the aim is to have that cold fat melt at the same quick rate throughout, leaving small pockets in the dough that bursts in our mouths at the slightest provocation. We recognize this texture as flakiness.

Minimal Handling

As you incorporate your piecrust mixture, it is important to rub the fat into the flour by hand or by using a food processor’s pulse button. In addition to the cold element, the flakiness of the crust is also affected by the size of the pieces of fat in the dough. The larger the pieces of fat, the flakier your dough will be. The aim is to have the largest pieces of fat possible while still achieving a dough-like result. The size of the fat particles for the flakiest dough will be the size of peas or hazelnuts, and the smoother your dough is, the more mealy it will become. It is very easy to miss this and to keep incorporating your ingredients like one does with bread or cookie dough, but if you are going for flaky pie crust, you should try to be as “hands-off” as possible. The bottom line is that the less you handle the dough, the flakier it will be.

Weighted Baking

There are some kinds of pie recipes that indicate you should pre-bake the pie crust, meaning that the crust should be baked first, without the filling added. These are the recipes to make, because the recipes are likely written by people who have done this a thousand times before and are experts. Don’t be afraid to take an extra half hour for this step; it’s well worth it because the crust becomes a delicious pastry all by itself, and does not get soggy later when the filling is baked in it.

The method that we recommend at CKCA for pie baking is what is known as “baking blind,” which means that the pie crusts are rolled out, placed and shaped in the pie pan, covered with a layer of parchment paper or foil, and then weighed down with dry rice or beans. As the pie dough bakes, the weight of the rice or beans prevents the crusts from rising too much during its initial baking. Weighted baking is recommended only for the first 15 minutes of baking, and then the crust should be taken out, and the weighted element removed. Then, the crust should be brushed with an egg wash, and returned to the oven for an additional 10 to fifteen minutes until golden, light and flaky.

Here's a great recipe to put this piecrust to use!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

CKCA Student Chefs to Volunteer at Masbia Community Kitchen

A kosher soup kitchen in the Midwood/Flatbush section of Brooklyn, operated by Masbia (, will be opening on Tuesday, November 24th with inaugural meals donated by the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA).

A number of culinary students spanning all three current professional courses at CKCA ( will be donating their time following their classes in the soup kitchen, which lies directly across from the school, on Coney Island Avenue between Avenues J and K. The soup kitchen, to be known as Masbia Community Kitchen, is located at the former Rimonim Restaurant.

For the opening day, all the food, as well as menu development expertise, kitchen management and other organizational details are being donated to the community kitchen by CKCA.

At 4pm, when the community kitchen officially opens, CKCA students will begin serving meals they will have prepared at Masbia. Planned menu items include chicken, several nourishing hot side dishes, and dessert.

After Tuesday’s opening day, the soup kitchen will be open to the public on Sunday through Thursday, from 4pm until 9pm. The address is 1372 Coney Island Avenue.

Visitors, prospective students and potential volunteers are also welcome at CKCA, which is located at 1407 Coney Island Avenue. The next semester of professional training programs begins January 4th. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The CKCA Professional Baking&Pastry Team

Chef Mark Hellermann poses with students and their artisan breads, during the 2009 Pro Course in Kosher Baking and Pastry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why do Jews Love Sushi?

And furthermore, what's Jewish about Sushi? I don't know, but I'm going to find out at the class Naomi Ross, founder of Jewish Cooking Concepts, is teaching on Motzei Shabbos, November 21st, from 8pm-10pm. A perfect activity for a date night!

Everybody is crazy for Sushi! Naomi will take us step-by-step to learn how to prepare this ancient edible art form in our own homes.

Highlights include:

* A guide to selecting the best quality ingredients for sushi making
* Instruction for making sushi rice
* Maki rolls (Inside and Outside)
* Nigiri Sushi
* Insights into the significance and symbolism of fish in Judaism.

The cost for this event is $70. You must call Jesse to pre-register and pre-pay. 718.758.1339

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cooking Kosher: Thai Delights

CKCA's own Chef Avram Wiseman, an enthusiast of all Asian cuisines, will demonstrate such techniques and skills as proper wok frying, knife cuts specific to the Asian repertoire, how to crisp rice noodles, the balancing of flavors, and a number of different classic Thai sauces. Menu to include mee krob crispy noodles, lettuce wrapped chicken with water chestnuts and sprouts, and duck fried rice.

Come join us at CKCA on Saturday Evening, Motzei Shabbos, December 19, 2009, for this amazingly instructive recreational class in Thai Cooking. It's from 8 to 10pm.

This popular class always fills up quickly, so sign up now! You must pre-register and pre-pay by calling Jesse at 718-758-1339. The cost is $50 per person. More info is available at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Professional Certificate in Culinary Arts Night Program

Check out this link on Facebook to learn more about the Winter semester of CKCA's night program!

CKCA’s professional night program is perfect for students, home cooks, and working professionals in non-culinary fields, who are interested in kosher culinary careers, or in gaining kitchen confidence. The evening class can be worked into any after work or after school schedule.

Flatbush’s own Center for Kosher Culinary Arts’ winter semester begins on January 4th! The only program of its kind in the United States, CKCA offers professional training certification programs, focusing on culinary arts for the kosher chef.

Upon successful completion of our program, graduates are awarded a Certificate in Culinary Arts from the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts.

Career changers, this is for you! Graduates can elect to move on to six to eight weeks of on-the-job training in a work environment that matches their interest and skill level.

The curriculum focuses on five areas: 1) the professional kitchen, 2) the kosher kitchen, 3) culinary fundamentals/technical skills, 4) bread, baking & pastry and 4) service and presentation.

Please contact CKCA at 718- 758-1339 to request an application and schedule an interview. More information is available online at

For those free during the day, CKCA is also offering the same course Monday through Thursday, from 9 am - 1 pm.

Kosher Aspic for Culinary Salons

CKCA Pastry Chef Mark Hellermann gave a short presentation as Kosherfest about the use of Kolatin gelatin for aspic preparations. Aspic these days is used mostly to preserve foods during culinary competitions. But it used to be a very Jewish food, served as an appetizer, often with fish.

Here is Chef Hellermann's presentation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beef Fabrication Day

Check out Chef Ritter, and two able assistants, as he works a saw into whole rib section of beef.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Salads Days at CKCA

This is a Nicoise Salad, with grilled ahi tuna, green beans with vinagrette, hard cooked eggs... all the traditional and not-so-traditional accoutrements. Yum!