Food lovers flock to cooking school

ELKINS – The sweet smell of plum-glazed roast chicken, maple nut coffee cake, almond torte and chocolate cannoli delighted the hundreds of food lovers gathered at the Taste of Home Cooking School Thursday night at the Randolph County Armed Forces Reserve Center near Elkins.

Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Cheryl Cohen shared her expertise and love of cooking, adding a dash of her own flare to the recipes. Cohen demonstrated 10 recipes during the culinary extravaganza, including bacon potato waffles, Italian brunch torte, baked cannelloni, mushroom meatball parmigiana sandwiches, chickaritos, and southwestern steak and bread salad.

The Inter-Mountain has sponsored the popular Taste of Home Cooking School in the Elkins area since 2011. Other sponsors of the Taste of Home Cooking School include the 1863 Grill, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, Valentine Personal Care Home, Clayton Homes of Elkins and Elkins Shop n Save.

While cooking the bacon potato waffles, Cohen changed up the recipe, adding a cheese sauce.

“This recipe is good for any time of the day,” Cohen said. “Make this recipe like muffins – the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients are mixed in different bowls and added together to prevent the batter from becoming tough.”

As Cohen added the batter to the waffle iron, she encouraged cooks to find other uses for the iron.

“I use my waffle iron to make crispy hash browns and also to make brownies,” she said.

Elkins resident Kim Urban, who attended the show with her daughter, said this is her second time attending a Taste of Home Cooking School.

“I like to come because it is cool to learn new tips and tricks when cooking,” Urban said. “I enjoy being able to see Cheryl make the new recipes each year. It was a lot of fun.”

While preparing the Italian brunch torte, Cohen scrambled and cooked the eggs, rather than adding them to the recipe raw.

“This reduces the time the torte has to cook,” Cohen said. “All casseroles should cook until they have an internal temperature of 160 degrees.”

Many prizes were awarded during the evening, including Dorot frozen herbs won by Neavoda Judy, an Eggland’s Best prize captured by Sarah Johnson, a Pyrex portable dish donated by Johnsonville won by Barbara Lawrence, a Calphalon skillet donated by Physician’s Mutual won by Michael Judy and a Ninja Chopper donated by the Mushroom Council won by Rita Cotton.

Nearly 20 ladies brought their oldest cookbook to the Taste of Home Cooking Show hoping to win. Tammy Leggett, of Buckhannon, took home the prize for the oldest cookbook with her “Del Monte Fruit Book,” dating from 1924.

Thursday’s gathering was the first Taste of Home Cooking School for Melissa Pharis. She won the chocolate cannoli prepared by Cohen on stage.

“I came to the event with my cousin,” Pharis said. “I am taking away many new ideas and recipes from this Taste of Home Cooking School. I hoped I would win one of the food prizes. It looks yummy!”

Not everyone won a prize, but no one left the Taste of Home Cooking School empty handed. Everyone attending received a reusable tote stuffed with items such as a Taste of Home Simple and Delicious magazine, a Taste of Home Grill It magazine, a Taste of Home Cooking School magazine, coupons, a sandwich spreader and a sample of chicken noodle soup.

Beverly resident and Taste of Home Volunteer Field Editor Lori Daniels took the stage prior to the main cooking show to demonstrate her culinary skills. Daniels prepared a scrumptious -looking blackberry cobbler.

“I am just an everyday, ordinary cook that lives on a farm,” Daniels told the audience. “I started as a volunteer field editor with Taste of Home in 1999 when I won a contest.”

Daniels said she liked to change out the fruit in the cobbler with any available berry.

“I used blackberries that grow wild on my farm,” Daniels said. “I picked them and froze them to use all winter long.”

Daniel’s cobbler was won by Darris Louk.

Prior to the culinary demonstrations, folks with VIP tickets were treated to a food tasting of items prepared by the 1863 Grill. Barbara Pennington of Dry Fork and Miranda Smith of Elkins said the tasting session was delicious.

“We had pulled pork, beef brisket, coleslaw, rolls and Joe’s famous cinnamon rolls,” Pennington said. “It is very good.”

1863 Grill Executive Chef Jason Fleck said he was pleased to be able to provide food for the tasting.

“It will give folks a preview of what we will offer once the restaurant reopens,” Fleck said. “We have shipped in a smoker from Missouri and will be adding Kansas City BBQ to our favorites. We will offer brisket, ribs and pulled pork.”

Fleck said those not attending the VIP tasting could purchase a BBQ plate from the vendor fair.

Cohen said she really enjoyed traveling to Elkins and sharing her expertise with those gathering for the Taste of Home Cooking School.

“It was nice to be back in Elkins,” Cohen said. “This is a nice venue with a nice crowd. I enjoy working with the people at this show.”

Cohen said she has been a culinary specialist with Taste of Home for seven years. She conducts 30 to 40 cooking schools on the East Coast in the spring and fall.

“I like the audience and I like being on stage, interacting and teaching with those who want to learn,” Cohen said. “Tonight hundreds of folks who are just like me – housewives, mothers, grandmothers – gathered to learn and to take something home with them. I enjoy this so much because the audience is just like me.”

Lesha Edinger was extremely happy to attend this year’s Taste of Home Cooking School. She won her VIP tickets through Clayton Homes of Elkins.

“Today is my birthday and I so excited to attend the Taste of Home Cooking School,” Edinger said. “I have many Taste of Home Cookbooks at home and use them when I cook. I have always wanted to attend one of the cooking demonstrations and now I am here. This was a perfect way to spend my birthday.”