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March 19, 2017

Anderson County Cookie Class

A fun idea for testing your skills is to put your cookie up as the best. The students in first level culinary class did just that. I will have to say that they can meet any challenge. Not only were their cookies delicious but they were well presented. The judge was Anderson County High's very own Officer Bannach and naturally I had to be a judge since I watched them make the cookies. It began like a scene in "Chopped" the popular cooking show on the Food Network but as they settled in they began whipping, mixing, rolling and baking their way into fabulous results.

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March 13, 2017

Anderson County Career and Technical Center

When I began teaching cooking classes I never dreamed I would find it so rewarding. But I did and it is because of the all the people I've met along the way. One program that stands out is the culinary school at the Anderson County Career and Technical Center. . The students are the cream of the crop. They have entertained me, surprised me with their skills and wormed their way into my heart.

I've been substituting for two months now while their teacher recuperates from surgery. She will be returning soon and my time will be coming to an end. I will miss each one of them but I hope to see them again, maybe as a famous chef or a food science professional. Who knows where they might land but I am sure they will be successful wherever they go.

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Cooking at Patterson's

Pattersons is an appliance store located in Harriman, Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Rockwood offering Home Appliances, Kitchen Appliance, Laundry and Outdoor Products. But after hours watch out for their amazing cooking classes. These hands on classes offer you the opportunity to use many of their fabulous appliances. Located on Kingston Pike, Patterson's has served the Knoxville community for many years.

Take a look at what we're making. And to top it all, you get to take home yummy treats that you prepare.

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October 27, 2016

Cooking Class for Teens

Yesterday I spent the day with the most fabulous group of young people. They were great to work with and we had a good time saucing our way through the kitchen.

They made three mother sauces including Béchamel, Voloute, and Espagnole.

And you never know what might happen when you get a group of young people in the kitchen. Watch out for your fingers.....

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July 25, 2016

UT Culinary Institute Cooking Class

My last non credit class at the UT culinary Institute was a great time down memory lane.

I shared some of my favorite family heirloom recipes but we also talked about ways to make them your own.
Recipes included....

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April 26, 2016

Spice it Up

We got spicy in our UT cooking class and created 3 great recipes. Class participants learned how to roast and grind spices to increase flavors and how to make pesto with fresh herbs. They sampled different vinegars and learned how to infuse them with herbs and spices to create tasty vinaigrettes.

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March 28, 2016

Wine Dinner

Our March Wine Dinner theme was Dishes and Wines for Spring. The menu included Lemon Ricotta Herbed Flatbread from Cooking Light, Strawberry Soup, Strawberry Salad, Stuffed Lamb and

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March 07, 2016

Kids in the Kitchen II

Several years ago I taught a cooking class for a little girl's birthday party. She was turning 7 and most of the kids at the party were between 5-9. Her mother is a friend of mine from a previous job. She selected the menu and I brought the food and equipment. It was a blast. I loved watching the excitement on their faces as they made their food and enjoyed every bite.
Kids in the Kitchen I

Shortly after that, I left my 20 year public health career to teach more cooking classes. I recently got connected with a home school program after one of the moms contacted me to teach classes for her kids.

This was our first menu.

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March 01, 2016

Create Your Own Quesadillas

Take this basic recipe and make it with your favorite ingredients. I love chicken but you could use shrimp, beef, or any combination of ingredients that you like. There is even a vegetarian version.

See how to modify this recipe

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February 01, 2016

Fun in the kitchen with the UT non credit cooking class

Class participants get a hands on experience at the University of Tennessee through the culinary non credit program.
We had a great time and the sauces were fantastic.
One group made a fantastic best cheese sauce from the Béchamel sauce.

Now what exactly does that recipe say?

Team work resulted in a delicious brown sauce

They did a great job and made me proud.

December 29, 2015


Bobotie is a type of minced beef pie cooked with spices, herbs and dried fruit all topped with a mixture of egg and milk then baked until set. While we were in South Africa we tried many different foods and this was one of our favorites.

I was recently reading that this dish was most likely brought to South Africa by Asian settlers and it is now the national dish of the country.

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November 24, 2015

Carne Asada

Carne Asada is traditionally made from skirt steak, a thin, long cut of beef from the diaphragm muscles of the cow. It is prized for flavor but it is not a tender cut of meat. So to compensate, the meat is marinated to tenderize it and sliced into very small pieces.

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November 23, 2015

2016 November Wine Dinner

How do you know if a wine is worth the money? Do you trust the tasting notes or someone else's opinion? Or do you just buy a wine and hope for the best?

This month we decided to put 6 wines to the test. We selected three varietals, one under $15.00 and one that was considerably more.

What we found out surprised us.


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November 11, 2015

Latin American Cooking Class

This class featured three recipes, one from Brazil, one from Cuba and one from Grenada (the spice Islands).

The students were focused and on task. They delivered amazing dishes that we all enjoyed.

Recipes were selected that could be completed during a two hour class. Each one represented a dish that would be popular in just about any Latin American country.

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Grenadian Spice Cake

This cake is not a sweet cake. It features the spices and uses sautéed sweetened fruit as a topping to add the sweetness most people expect when they are eating a dessert.

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September 02, 2015

August Wine Dinner 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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July 20, 2015

July 2015 Wine Dinner

All about Pizza and Wine
But not your average pizza, these were gourmet and delicious!

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July 10, 2015

Chicken Piccata and White Wine

I made a few changes to my favorite Chicken Piccata recipe for today's wine pairing. The wine is a 2014 Domaine Lafage Centenaire from Cotes Du Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France.

This region is actually separated by geography with Languedoc's vineyards mostly located on coastal plains and those of Roussillon are either perched on cliff tops or nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, one of the reasons why the area produces such a variety of wines.

The Lafage Centenaire is a 80% Grenache Blanc,20% Roussanne blend with citrus fruit and melon flavors. The acidity and slight sweetness compliment the lemon flavors in the chicken.

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May 25, 2015

15 Tips for Pairing Food and Wine

This is a list of tips that will help you with your wine and food pairing for some of the more challenging types of foods. Pairing food to the right wine can be an exciting adventure especially when you like food infused with many flavors such as hot, sweet or spicy. Ingredients such as herb and cheese or sauces and vinaigrettes will also change the options.

Use these tips and enjoy your next food and wine pairing.

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May 23, 2015

May 2015 Wine Dinner

Another great line-up of food and wine for our Tennessee wine club. Every dinner is set with a theme. This time we were asked to bring an appetizer and a wine to go with it. The twist was a test of our skills and knowledge. We put our wine in a paper bag and everyone had to guess the varietal- no blends tonight. The dish was supposed to provide a clue but I can tell you, it was very challenging.

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May 06, 2015

Wine Gift Baskets

Just in time for Mother's Day. Favorites include an Italian Feast, A day in the Park, Garden of Plenty, or order a beer basket with 4-6 bottles of beer and all the trimmings.

Basket include one bottle of wine, gourmet jam, sauces, cheese and crackers, wine glasses and theme napkins and plates.

Base price $45.00. Add $10.00 for each additional wine.
Place your order today while they last.

April 20, 2015

April Food and Rosé Wine Dinner

What a beautiful picture Rosé Wines make. True to their name, Rosé wines vary from light pink to rich ruby colors. And the flavors vary too depending on the varietal from which they were made.

Our Rosé garden for tonight's dinner included:

1. 2013 La Grenouille Rougante Pink from Napa Valley bottled by Frog's Leap winery. It is made with 59% Valdigue and 41% Zinfandel grapes.

2. 2014 Villa Des Anges from Southern France is made with 100% Cinsault grapes.

3. 2013 Sancerre La Metairie Rouge is from the Loire Valley of France. Sancerre rosé are made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes.

4. Back to the 2014 Villa Des Anges

5. 2014 Penya Cotes Catalanes is from Southern France. This rose was a blend of Grenache noir (96%) and Syrah grapes offering red cherries, raspberries and melon flavors.

6. 2013 Chateau De Segries Tavel is also from France. The wine is made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette, and a bit of Syrah creating a deep raspberry color, with ripe black cherries, lavender and melon like aromas and flavors.

7. Next was a beautiful wine from Monterey County CA, Sofia Rosé. It is a blend of Syrah and Pinot Noir varietals. The flavors begin with red fruit and finish with a little spice.

8. The last wine for the evening was a 2014 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé, a very well balanced, soft and fruity wine. Sancerre is in the Loire Valley wine region situated along the Loire River in north central France.

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March 26, 2015

March Wine Dinner

With spring in the air our hosts felt it was a perfect time to celebrate Hawaiian style. We were expecting a lot of pineapple and we got it and so much more; great food, great wine and great pairings.

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February 23, 2015

Feb 2015 Wine Dinner

The theme was "Family Traditions" and the food and wines were memory makers. We learned a little more about each other while talking about the favorite dishes we enjoyed growing up. Our host served the appetizer and it was very impressive, presented on her grandmother's serving dishes. There was even a little mystery around how Pam's grandmother actually acquired those attractive hotel dishes :o)

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January 26, 2015

Recipes Perfected

When looking for a particular best recipe no one does it better than Cook Illustrated magazine. Anytime I need a recipe for cooking class that is the first place I go. They provide solutions for common problems and tips for improving, plus great explanations why some things work and some don't. Here are some of my favorites:

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November 17, 2014

November food and wine dinner

Our last dinner party featured Argentinian wines. There are many varietals but one of the more popular wines is Malbec. Even though Malbec is a difficult grape to grow, it does very well in the Mendoza area. This wine was served with a Pumpkin Stew.

The stew had so much going on that it was like a flavor party. The pumpkin was roasted with beef broth, herbs and spices that was used as the base for the stew.

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October Wine Dinner

Do you select a wine first then a food that pairs with the wine or do you select your food first. Either way it seems our wine dinners are always have excellent pairings. I don't know how much homework everyone does, but the results are amazing. I believe as a group we love to eat and drink fabulous food and wines and our October dinner was proof of that.

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November 04, 2014

Super Soups Class

They are enjoying the food they prepared in cooking class. Looks like fun doesn't it. The University of Tennessee offers non credit classes every semester. It is a hands on class and after the food has been prepared they sit down together to eat. As I've often remarked, it is amazing that they all have the same recipes but each one turns out a little different. I always point out that recipes are simply guides and can be changed to suit your own taste.

The fun comes when you make it your own by adding a different spice or vegetable or by browning the food a little longer during the sautéing process. We had a great example of this with the Butternut Squash and Bourbon Bisque.

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November 03, 2014

Eating Roman Style

Ah Rome, so much to see, so much to do and so much to eat. Where do we begin? We knew we couldn't see everything but with 3 days we certainly could hit the highlights, the Vatican, Forum, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountains.

Rome is the capital of Italy and is in the Lazio region, making this the 6th region we visited. The first thing we had to work through were the crowds, with both residents and tourists there were millions. Then there is the history, which spans over 2500 years. But this is about the food which is simple and good.
If you ask about food that you should try in Rome you will most likely be advised to try the pizza, fiori di zucca ( fried zucchini flowers), carbonara and offel (meat stewed in tomatoes). We tried it all and it was all good.

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October 28, 2014

Eating Italian Style in Tuscany

Tuscany is a beautiful region in central Italy, with rolling hills, vineyards covering every valley and slopes and olive groves rising up throughout the countryside.

The wine and extra virgin olive oils produced here are essential ingredients in many of the typical dishes of the Tuscan cuisine. While we were in Tuscany I wanted to experience as much of the food and culture as possible. According to the Tuscans, Tuscany has the best food in the world and they are very proud about being the best. Some of their specialties include home made pasta dishes, Florentine steak is at the top of the list, and soups and stews are very popular especially seafood and hearty bean and tomato. Here are a few of our favorite meals.

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October 20, 2014

The Food in Parma and Bologna

Since I am a foodie, I knew I had to go to Parma and Bologna. Actually I would loved to have spent more time In Bologna. It was one of my highlights. My only regret was that we didn't spend the night in Bologna, allowing more time to see the city, shop and eat more of their delicious food.

But first we went to Parma where we ate pizza at Orfeo Ristorante and Pizzeria. It was the best pizza I had during our trip to Italy. I mean how could it not be, with Parma hams and sausage, the porcino wild mushrooms and the cheeses.

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October 15, 2014

San Mattia Food and Wine

San Mattia, the agriturismo where we stayed is situated at the top of the ridge overlooking Verona, Italy taking about 20 hairpin turns to reach the top. It is a lovely place, surrounded by beautiful flowers, trees, and farmland. We were given a tour of the vineyards where Silvia, the winemaker explained the process for making Amerone wine.

She explained how they grow the grapes, cutting the center growth and letting the sides shoots grow. They prune and allow only one bunch of grapes to grow per shoot, concentrating the grapes for more flavor.

The grapes are hand picked for the best grapes. These grapes are then placed in shallow boxes and stacked in a shed for drying. There must be continuous air flow for the next 3 months. The result is a very flavorful wine, high in alcohol. We enjoyed learning about this wine and most importantly we enjoyed drinking it. After the tour we had a wine tasting. We tasted three wines, each with a great story about how they were named or how they decided on the art for the labels.

We had a delicious dinner our first night complete with very typical Italian dishes. Verona is also in the Veneto region that I spoke about in the last blog. The food was amazing as you will see.

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May 05, 2014

Sicilian Tomato Soup with Garlic and Fresh Shaved Parmesan

A richly flavored dish that is simple to make puts this recipe at the top of my list of favorites.
Use fresh tomatoes when in season, otherwise use canned tomato puree. If you like more texture use canned diced tomatoes, they will hold their shape even after several hours of cooking.

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February 13, 2014

Mac and Cheese

Not only is Mac and Cheese a great "Comfort Food", it is a Southern Comfort Food" and it doesn't get any more comforting than that. This dish uses the traditional recipe with bacon and herbs added for additional flavor.

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Mom’s Best Meatloaf

Mom made several favorite dinners that we had on a regular basis. Meatloaf night was always one of our favorites. She usually served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green peas. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are on my top 10 list for best "Comfort Foods".

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February 12, 2014

Meatloaf with Fresh Scallions and Herbs

Meatloaf, definitely an all time favorite "Comfort Food" can be just about anything you want it to be. I have several recipes and all of them are good in their own way. My mom's is most likely still my favorite but I will have to admit that this recipe is pretty darn good. It is made very flavorful with several wonderful herbs.

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November 25, 2013

Pasta and Bolognese Casserole with Spicy Meatballs

There's nothing like a good Bolognese sauce, rich and flavorful it is usually served over pasta. This recipe takes it one more step, adding cheese and baking until the cheese melts.

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November 06, 2013

Stir Fried Shrimp in a Tangy Thai Garlic Sauce

The marinade for the shrimp is a combination of oyster, fish and soy sauce with a hint of sweet and sour. Oyster sauce is cooked down oyster juice that is caramelized for added flavor; the flavors work very well with the shrimp.

The shrimp can be served with noodles or rice.

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August 30, 2013

Salmon and Seasonal Veggie Quesadilla

Quesadillas, made with tortillas can be filled with just about any ingredients. I wanted to try something different for my cooking class and this turned out to be very flavorful. The salmon is prepared in advance with a spice rub making it a simple, time saving appetizer or meal.

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July 11, 2013

Stir Fried Noodles with Shrimp, Chiles and Lime

This is one of the most popular dishes from Thailand. Thai food doesn't have to be hot so you can control how much heat you want by adding more spice.

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April 12, 2013

Chorizo Enchiladas with Cheese Sauce

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April 08, 2013

Mexican Hands on Cooking Class

I love sharing cooking tips and new recipes with cooking enthusiasts and the best place to do that is in one of my cooking classes. This past year I taught my first hands on class. If you have a passion for cooking and you’re interested in a fast paced environment you would totally love this class. I had a great time watching the class participants create their own version of my recipes. Amazingly each of the 4 teams came up with something a little different even though they all had the same recipe. Wow factor. How could that happen and what did that tell me about how people interpret directions.

It says that slice, dice and chop are pretty vague terms and sauté, simmer and steam could mean stir fry and boil to a novice chef. So I quickly realized I needed to sharpen my own skills and so I did. The results were rewarding. Each person brought their own level of skills and each team turned out delicious dishes and that equals success for any cooking instructor.

See my recipes and their happy faces and yummy results.

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March 27, 2013

Orange Marmalade Glazed Cornish Hens

Also known as a Rock Cornish hen, this small, usually 2 pound chicken is perfect for an elegant dinner. The meat is tender and juicy. There are many ways to prepare a Cornish hen but this is one of my favorites.

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January 24, 2013

Pork and Vegetable Tamales

The traditional tamale usually is filled with ground beef. This recipe uses shredded pork and corn for a great flavor combination. Serve with Tomatillo avocado salsa for a delicious party food.

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January 05, 2013

Beef Chipotle Tamales

Hot tamales are a popular Mexican dish that uses masa dough that surrounds different fillings. The masa (corn flour)dough package is steamed until the dough is cooked through. If you like tamales try my recipe for pork and vegetables too.

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September 17, 2012

Pizza Bar

Setting up a pizza bar for a party or other special event is a great way to get guests involved in preparing the food. Plus it a ton of fun and everyone gets to create their favorite pizza.

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