Mapping out ways to spice up your cooking? Classes that tap into the cuisines of various cultures on Long Island will boost your kitchen skills and culinary know-how. Dishes will tickle your taste buds as they celebrate flavors and go-to favorites of Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, the Mediterranean and the United Kingdom.
"My passion has always been understanding the culture around food," says Donna Sesto, owner of Babylon Mercantile, which features a retail market and culinary classes for adults and kids. "Our philosophy is that we’re not just teaching a recipe. Our instructors help you to understand where that recipe comes from."
And to have fun: One lesson in the upcoming Sicilian class series for pasta and seafood in December could be called "Squid Games." In January, there’s a charred octopus class.
You don’t need a passport for this sort of delicious globe-trotting, but an apron will come in handy at these multiculti in-person classes offered in the coming weeks. All follow CDC safety guidelines for class capacity and social distancing.
Where will your meal GPS take you?
The Mediterranean via Babylon Mercantile
What’s cooking: Spicy stuffed calamari, or, as they might say in Italy, calamari ripieni. After simmering in a spicy tomato sauce, tender squid is stuffed with diced tentacles, peppery crumbs and herbs.
Culinary curriculum: "It’s a fun class, really different," says Sesto, whose parents are from Italy. "My mother’s side are fishermen. My father’s side has olive groves in Sicily. Squid captures the flavors of everything else you’re putting into it."
Secret to success: It’s all about the timing, temperature and acidity of the braise.
Class details: Dec. 21, 6 to 9 p.m., Babylon Mercantile, 45 E. Main St., Babylon; babylonmercantile.com, 631-818-1100, $115 per person.
Latin America via the Cooking Lab
What’s cooking: Empanadas
Culinary curriculum: How to make a flaky dough and tasty fillings — one meat, one vegetarian — from scratch, as well as how to fill, shape and bake. Also prepare a chimichurri dipping sauce.
Secret to success: "Do not overwork the dough," says co-owner Michelle Capobianco, adding that cumin and cinnamon are key spices.
Class details: Dec. 4; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; 160 Main St., Port Washington, thecookinglabpw.com, 516-570-0050; $85 per person.
Middle East via Apron Masters Kitchen
What’s cooking: Shakshuka
Culinary curriculum: How to make sunny side-up eggs in a spicy tomato-based red sauce and a spinach-based green sauce, plus pita dough for bread from scratch.
Secret to success: Do not overcook the eggs, according to co-owners Roee Mordechai and Sharona Furman. "Traditionally, eggs are cooked hard, but we prefer our version with the yolks soft," he says.
Class details: Two-and-a-half hour classes for 12 (minimum) by arrangement; 956 Broadway, Woodmere; apronmasters.com, 516-569-2665, $110 per person.
Asia via Cook’s Studio
What’s cooking: Chinese dumplings
Culinary curriculum: How to make the dough for wrappers and two fillings — one pork and one vegetable — as well as how to fill, seal and cook by steaming and frying. You’ll also make a delicious dipping sauce.
Secret to success: Practice, practice, practice. "Everybody’s first one or two dumplings are a little ugly," owner Victor McNulty says. After a few tries, you’ll be turning them out." And if not, he says not to worry: "The ugly dumplings taste exactly the same as the beauties," he assures.
Class details: Dec. 26, noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., Cook’s Studio, 156a Engineers Dr., Hicksville; thecooksstudio.com, 516-439-1355, $85 per person.
UK via the Baking Coach
What’s cooking: Scones, traditionally connected to Scotland, Ireland and England.
Culinary curriculum: How to make apple cranberry scones and lemon blueberry scones, plus other breakfast treats, from scratch.
Secret to success: "Treat the dough gently," says owner Lisa Basini. "The ideal scone is crisp outside and flaky inside. They’re perfect at teatime."
Class details: Dec. 22, 7 to 8:30 p.m.; 320 Broadway-Greenlawn Rd., Huntington; bakingcoach.com, 631-543-8608, $85 per person.