WARSAW, Ill. - Annetta Ziegler believes practice makes perfect in the kitchen.
So the Warsaw High School teacher makes sure students in her foods classes get plenty of practice in all the basic skills -- and take home some recipes to use now and into the future.
"I want them to try something for the first time in a supported experience," Ziegler said. "I want them to learn how to tell when something is done and to practice good sanitation."
Foods 2 students got to practice all of that one day last week while making Herb Crusted Pork Roast, a new recipe prepared with help from the Illinois Pork Producers Association.
Fourteen high schools statewide, including Warsaw, won the association's inaugural food service grants, created to educate students about pork production in addition to cooking and eating tasty pork products. Schools used the grant funds to buy pork products to cook with in the classroom, and Ziegler bought a roast for students to cook instead of a typical smaller cut of meat.
Ziegler covered the basics, highlighting the cut of meat, serving size and the type of packaging before putting the students to work chopping fresh herbs. A combination of fresh parsley, tarragon, rosemary, thyme and oregano was rubbed on the roast before baking, then basted on top of the roast when it came out of the oven.
"They probably would never on their own try a recipe like this with all the fresh herbs," Ziegler said.
Sophomore Marissa Rampley likes to cook, but she'd never tried cooking a pork loin before.
Junior Tori Taylor already had made recipes at home using fresh herbs, and junior Corrine Crow made sure to check the recipe. "You have to be careful with ingredients," she said. "If you use too much or too little, it can change everything."
With the roast in the oven, the students looked at the herb packages, learning that tarragon often is used in French cooking, oregano is used in Italian cooking and parsley and rosemary can be used as garnishes. Then they got a lesson in using the meat thermometer to check the roast's doneness. "It needs to cook longer," Ziegler said.
The students already had tried baking pies and making salsa – something they also tried again at home – and Ziegler said students often ask for the Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry recipe used in the classroom.
Another favorite is her own recipe for Corn Casserole, a tasty side dish. Four apple trees at her home provide the key ingredient for family favorite Dutch Apple Pie and Crockpot Apple Butter.
Colder temperatures have Ziegler thinking about soup like her Minestrone, and Broccoli Ham Cheese Strata is a favorite any time of year.
Ziegler's own love of cooking helps inspire the same in her students.
"It's just something fun to do to pass the time," junior Dyllan Grow said.
Broccoli Ham Cheese Strata
12 slices bread (slightly stale is better)
¾ cup cheddar cheese
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked and drained
1 small onion, diced
1 ½ cups finely diced ham
3 ½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
Cut circles out of the center of each slice of bread with a glass or biscuit cutter. Pinch a hole in the center of each circle to make a doughnut shape. Use scraps and crusts of bread to cover the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle ham, broccoli and onion evenly over bread. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with bread doughnuts.
Whisk eggs and milk together until fluffy. Whisk in dry mustard. Pour liquid evenly over casserole. Flip doughnuts to make sure they are coated with egg mixture on both sides. Bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes until top is golden and casserole is set. If you test with a fork, it should come out clean. Serve hot.
4 cups beef stock or broth
2 cups water
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 can chili beans (or 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, and 1 teaspoon chili powder)
2 cups rotini pasta (uncooked)
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon parsley
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a large pot, heat beef broth and water to boiling. Add carrots, tomatoes, onion and beans. Cook until carrots are tender. Add seasoning. Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of cold water; shaking it in a sealed container works well. Add a small amount of the hot liquid from the soup to cornstarch mixture, and shake or stir to combine. While stirring constantly, pour cornstarch mixture into the soup. Add zucchini and pasta. Cook about 15 minutes until pasta is done. Add spinach for the last five minutes.
Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
1 (eight-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into one-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ medium onion, cut into thin wedges
½ cup baby carrots, cut lengthwise into quarters
¾ cup water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups hot cooked rice
Heat one tablespoon oil in a large skillet, or use cooking spray. Add chicken, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for two to three minutes until chicken is browned. Add onion, carrots, ½ cup water, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat five minutes, stirring twice. Add broccoli, mushrooms and bell pepper. Cover and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally until chicken is no longer pink in the center and vegetables are crisp-tender. Mix cornstarch with ¼ cup water; stir into chicken mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened.
To cook rice, put 2/3 cup rice and 1 1/3 cups water in a saucepan. Cover and heat to boiling. Turn down heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let sit for five minutes.
Makes two servings.
Herb Crusted Pork Roast
1 (three-pound) boneless pork loin roast
1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 ½ tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the chopped herbs together, and divide in half. Cover half the herbs and refrigerate until later. Season the pork roast with salt and pepper. Rub remaining herbs all over the pork, including both ends. Place the pork roast on a roasting rack in a baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until roast reaches an internal temperature between 145 degrees for medium-rare to 160 degrees for medium.
Remove roast from the oven, and carefully remove the rack from the pan. Pour out juice into a bowl with the reserved chopped herbs. Baste the top of the roast with herb mixture. Tent lightly with foil, and let rest 20 minutes before slicing.
1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn
½ cup butter, melted
1 box corn muffin mix
½ cup sour cream
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a greased two-quart casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
Crockpot Apple Butter
12 cups homemade applesauce
2 ½ cups sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Pour 12 cups applesauce into a large crock pot. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook on low uncovered for 12 hours. Stir occasionally, about four to five times during the cooking process.
Transfer to jars or containers. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered overnight. Cover with lids, and freeze or pass out to friends and neighbors to enjoy.
Dutch Apple Pie
Single pie crust (purchased or homemade)
3-4 large baking apples
1 cup sugar, divided
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
¼ cup butter
Peel and core apples. Cut into bite-size chunks; you should have about five cups. Stir in ½ cup sugar, spices, 2 tablespoons flour and lemon juice until apples are coated.
In a separate bowl, cut butter into remaining ½ cup sugar and ½ cup flour with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Place crust in a nine-inch pie pan. Pour apple filling into the center. Sprinkle topping over the apples, and press lightly to cover the apples. Fold edge of crust over, and pinch to form fluted edge. Cover pie with an aluminum pie pan (upside down), and bake at 425 degrees for one hour. Uncover for the last five minutes.
NOTE: Pie also may be baked inside a brown paper grocery bag, but the bag could catch fire if it comes into contact with the sides of the oven or the heating element.