Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An end of summer salad sampler

With Labor Day and the start of a new school year just around the corner, perhaps you are planning one last summer picnic or family reunion. Why not try a new salad recipe for the occasion? I’ve got three of them to share with you over the next three days — two out-of-the-ordinary potato salad recipes and one for an exceptional black bean and corn salad. CJK

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bishop’s chef creates ‘over the top’ finale for summer party

What would you serve for dessert on a sultry summer day when fifty or so guests have gathered for an outdoor celebration to honor someone special? Could you “wow” them with a scrumptious gourmet dessert that is light and cold and beautifully presented with ribbons of color?

John Wocken did. He’s Bishop John Kinney’s personal chef. For the last 15 years Wocken has planned, prepared and served the meals when the bishop entertains at his home. He has tried never to repeat a menu — which is quite a feat, considering that he’s created almost 500 brunches, lunches and dinners for the bishop and his guests since 1995.

As a surprise ending to a delicious luncheon, June 28, celebrating Bishop Kinney’s 15 years as bishop of the St. Cloud Diocese, Wocken offered a refreshing slice of Striped Ice Cream Cake.

Wocken, who will be ordained a deacon in the diocese next spring, began cooking while in junior high school. Over the years he’s worked in restaurants and hospitality in the St. Cloud area. Modest when it comes to discussing his culinary talents, he said,
“All I do is follow the recipe. I’m intuitive and look for a balance in the meal. The hardest part is timing.”

He’s also been in education for 19 years — teaching children in grades one through three. He’ll be teaching second grade again this year at St. Katharine Drexel School in St. Cloud — created through the merger of Sacred Heart School in Sauk Rapids and St. Augustine/St. Mary Elementary School in St. Cloud.

He and his wife, Laura, an executive secretary at Catholic Charities, have been married for 27 years and enjoy cooking together. They are parishioners at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud and are the parents of four children, ages 25 to 15 — Philip, Stephen, Hannah and Dominic.
After living in Minnesota for more than 30 years I predict that there are still a number of steamy, hot days ahead. Consider impressing your friends or family with this easy, prepare-the-day-before Striped Ice Cream Cake, adapted by John from Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine, July 2010. After the bishop’s party in late June, John took the recipe to another level when he created a version with chocolate cake and decadent fillings.

He shares both recipes with our readers today in the premiere of  “Food, Faith and Fellowship.” CJK

Striped Ice Cream Cake
(John R. Wocken)
Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe

Before layering the ice cream and sorbets, beat them (separately) with a mixer until softened. They’ll be easier to spread.

1 box angel food cake mix, prepared
1 cup blueberry jam
2 pints vanilla ice cream, softened
2 pints raspberry sorbet, softened
1 pint lemon sorbet, softened

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Coat an 11 x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper and spray parchment with cooking spray. Pour prepared cake mix onto sheet and bake until golden and set — about 20 minutes. Let cake cool completely on the sheet on a wire rack. (Cake should pull away from the sides easily).

Slide the cake out from the sheet, right side up and cut in half crosswise to form two 8 1/2 x 11-inch pieces. Carefully remove the parchment from the cake.

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with plastic wrap. Place lower half of the baked cake in the bottom of the dish. Spread jam over the top. Spread ice cream over the jam. Freeze until firm — about 1 hour.

When firm, spread raspberry sorbet over the ice cream. Freeze until sorbet is firm — about two hours. Then, spread lemon sorbet over the raspberry layer and top with remaining angel food cake. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap from the top of the cake and turn it onto a cutting board; unwrap, and trim edges. Cut cake in two lengthwise with a serrated or electric knife. Slice each half into thin pieces and serve immediately.

Yield: 24 to 36 servings

A note from John: I always enjoy chocolate so I decided to make another recipe of this Striped Ice Cream Cake with chocolate modifications. 

In place of the angel food cake, I prepared a boxed devil’s food cake following the same baking instructions and using the toothpick test to determine the cake’s doneness. In place of the blueberry jam, I used hot fudge. (It spreads easier if it is warmed.) In place of the sorbets, I used Snicker’s brand ice cream and peppermint ice cream. In place of the vanilla ice cream use chocolate or coffee-flavored ice cream.