A Gingerbread House to Call Your Own

Are you ever inspired during the holiday season and decide to try your hand at making a gingerbread house from scratch? Annnnnd then your dreams of edible decorative glory come crashing down when your gingerbread house looks more like a shanty shack than a storybook chalet? I’ve been there, and maybe you have too. Have no fear! Expert baker and cake decorator, Jodi Rhoden will be here to save the (holi)day with her upcoming weekend class: Handmade Gingerbread Houses.

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Jodi and her son Jasper show off their gingerbread house creations.

GumDropCP: What do you like about gingerbread houses?

JR: The first time I ever made a gingerbread house, I was enchanted. I really felt like I wanted to become miniature and live inside the house! It feels completely magical and fantastical to create a little home out of candy and sweet gingerbread, and the smells, and textures (and of course, tastes, because there’s always scrap pieces of gingerbread that need to be eaten!) are uniquely pleasurable to the senses.

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Photo by Nicole McConville

CP: Do you have to be architecturally skilled to make a good gingerbread house? Who is the ideal student for your class?

JR: You do not have to be architecturally skilled to build a gingerbread house! The icing and the candy make it very forgiving. Like most things worth doing, though, it does take time. We will spend a good amount of time in the planning phase, cutting and measuring templates to create the right sizes for the pieces. I also always like to bake extra pieces, in case something breaks or bakes wonky.

CP: Have you ever participated in the National Gingerbread house Competition is at the Grove Park Inn? Did the proximity of this annual event in Asheville influence your interest in gingerbread house making?

JR: It has always been my dream to enter a house into the competition at the Grove Park Inn, though up until now I have been too busy with my business, Short Street Cakes, to seriously consider it. But now that I have sold my business to my employee, this just might be the right time! Continue reading A Gingerbread House to Call Your Own

We Welcome Maggie Davidson, Our New Chef

There's a new Folk School chef in town, and she's shaking up our menu in a delightful and delicious way.
There’s a new Folk School chef in town, and she’s enhancing our menu in a delightful and delicious way.

We are excited to have world-class chef Maggie Davidson join our team. Maggie studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, specializing in pastry and baking (lucky us!). Before arriving at the Folk School, Maggie worked at prestigious restaurants and hotels throughout the country. She is also an avid fiber artist. We are happy to welcome Maggie to the Folk School Community, and look forward to savoring her culinary creations.

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Maggie Davidson in the Folk School Herb Garden

CP: Where are you from? Tell me a little about yourself.

MD: I’m from Tucson, Arizona. I’ve lived lots of places, but kept coming back to Tucson, until 1998, when I started to move around the country to build my resume as a chef.

CP: Did you always want to be a chef? What made you want to pursue a career in cuisine?

MD: My heroine has always been Julia Child, from her old shows on PBS when I was growing up. I began baking when I was 9 in 4-H, but my parents were too intellectual to encourage that as a career. I majored in English, but worked in kitchens to pay for school. After school, I became a manager at an outdoor store, did that for 13 years, and realized I wanted a different career. I sold my house, cashed in my savings, and moved to Paris to go to Le Cordon Bleu. I studied pastry, not cuisine, and worked as a pastry chef for most of my career so far.

CP: What drew you to the Folk School? Had you been here previously?

MD: I have wanted to take a class here for a long time. Two years ago, a friend and I came to the Fall Festival, and we loved it. The school, the setting, the people here, I loved it all.

CP: Do have any specialties? Describe your cooking style.

MD: Pastry is my specialty, all baking and pastry, really. My cooking style is to make the food as appealing to the eye as the palate, and to use as much fresh, local ingredients as possible. I hope to become more involved in the Folk School Garden, to work with Joe Baumgartner (the Folk School Head Gardener) to use as much of what we grow all year. Continue reading We Welcome Maggie Davidson, Our New Chef

Emily’s Mom’s Sticky Buns

IMG_9177_650pxEvery year, we have a sweet tooth soothing tradition in Emily Buehler’s bread baking class. On Thursday, students team up to make a special recipe: Emily’s Mom’s Sticky Buns. The beginning of the week is spent learning the basics of  breads like baguettes, sourdough loaves and whole wheat sandwich bread. By Thursday, students are happy to shift gears from savory to sweet for this divine gooey treat.  Continue reading Emily’s Mom’s Sticky Buns

Whole Bird Weekend with Mark Rosenstein

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Juicy, tender duck breast in the cast iron pot

Halloween weekend brought delicious dismemberment to the Folk School. Don’t panic! All the butchery occurred under the expert tutelage of Mark Rosenstein in the Cooking Studio for the class “Whole Bird Weekend,” where students learned advanced techniques for preparing duck, chicken, and turkey for maximum flavor and juiciness.

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Mark demonstrates how to debone a turkey leg
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Jerry adds flavor with thyme and marjoram / Students work on deboning a chicken / Sheila blanches spinach for the stuffing.

Mark Rosenstein is a critically acclaimed veteran restaurateur who has been running restaurants in the WNC for over 40 years. Mark’s cooking is based on local, seasonal ingredients and his current passion is cooking with fire. His newest project, the Smoky Park Supper Club in the River Arts District in Asheville, features wood-fired, seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine. If you are interested in wood-fired cooking, check out Mark’s upcoming January Folk School class: Wood-fired Cookery – Breads, Meats, and Vegetables. Continue reading Whole Bird Weekend with Mark Rosenstein

Set Your Table for a Fall Feast

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Lovely hand-carved spoons made by students
Luke and Julie in front of the Cooking Studio hearth
Luke and Julie in front of the Cooking Studio hearth

Fall is a time of harvest, feast, and home. We invite our friends and family over to share food, stories, and laughter. Festive meals center around the table, so check out these upcoming Folk School classes to set your table right.

Prepare for decadent holiday meals by taking a week-long class in our top-notch Cooking Studio. Learn techniques for preparing a perfect chicken, duck, and turkey in Whole Bird Weekend with Mark Rosenstein (Oct. 30-Nov.1). Join Brian Knickrehm for a hands-on exploration of the ancient art of Charcuterie (Nov. 15-20) and produce delicious foods like tasso ham, duck confit, fresh and smoked sausages, pâtés. Be equipped with an assortment of recipes of the sweet and savory for this year’s holiday gatherings in Holiday Entertaining and Gift Giving with Kim Hendrickson (Nov. 20-22).

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Woodturned platters and vessel
A student at the loom
A student at the loom

Food is not the only thing you need on your table! Be inspired by Shaker recipes and create hand-built baking and serving dishes in Shaker-inspired Pottery with Mary Dashiell (Nov. 8-14). Create wooden salad-type bowls, platters, and more in Functional and Decorative Woodturning with Charles Watson (Nov. 1-7). Learn about linen finishing in 18th-century Linens with Melissa Weaver Dunning (Nov. 8-14). Try spoon carving in Beginning Woodcarving and Beyond with Howard Moore (Oct. 18-24).

Merry feasting and crafting to all, this fall!