Food and Fitness: A Favorite and Recipe

+In+Food+and+Fitness%2C+teachers+Rosemary+Molle+and+Zahra+Castellano+teach+students+the+fundamental+skills+they+need+to+work+and+be+healthy+in+the+kitchen.

Bergen Romness

In Food and Fitness, teachers Rosemary Molle and Zahra Castellano teach students the fundamental skills they need to work and be healthy in the kitchen.

Fiona Flaherty, Sentry Staff Reporter

On any given day in the halls, you might catch a delicious aroma wafting through the corridors. One day might bring the tantalizing scent of chewy chocolate chip cookies, while the next might bring the tangy, spicy smell of chicken paella. Yet these mouthwatering scents do not come from the cafeteria; rather, they come from Yorktown’s Food and Fitness kitchen. In this class, Food and Fitness teachers Rosemary Molle and Zahra Castellano teach students the fundamental skills they need to work and be healthy in the kitchen.

“We start the beginning of the year with culinary basics, cooking terms, equipment, safety and sanitation, which are really important for building skills in order to do more complicated recipes. The majority of the class is on food, but the purpose is to practice skills. Fitness is incorporated with activities about portions, such as if you eat so much more, how much more exercise you would have to do to work it off, so the fitness part is pretty much on nutrition,” Molle said.

Food and Fitness is structured in two main parts, lecture and lab. During the lecture or class work, the students of Food and Fitness read articles, watch demonstrations and take notes. Although this is important, and similar to a traditional class structure, the majority of the class is labs, where students are actively working in the kitchens. The day before they go into the kitchens, Molle or Castellano will give a demonstration of a particular skill or trick needed for a recipe. The students are then judged based on their ability to complete the recipes without error, all while focusing on using the skills that they learned for a particular unit. The students get to eat the food they created when they are finished.

Getting to eat the food they cook is a major motivation for many of the students that take Food and Fitness. Studying requires hard work, so receiving a reward for effort that is not a grade is a welcome change. Many of the students also enrolled in the class because of their deep interest in food and cooking.

“I love cooking. It’s a lot of fun. I really liked when we did sushi with imitation crab,” Freshman Anna Hoisington said.  

Not only do the students love the class, but the teachers do as well.

“I love teaching this, and one of my favorite dishes that we make is Paella, when we do Spain. It’s really popular, and it also involves a lot of skill. I really enjoy a soul food unit, we do a Kahoot game about soul food, and we make barbecued ribs and mac and cheese and sweet potato pie,” Molle said.

Food and Fitness is currently in their international foods unit, which comes at the end of the year and often includes some of the most challenging recipes. So far they have covered Mexican, Asian, Spanish and Italian cuisines.

“We do the international food unit every year. When I was putting together the plan for the curriculum, it was a good way to look at diversity and cultural differences. Students learn a little bit about the cultures as we do each country. I was able to complete the standards for the curriculum and cook some delicious ethnic dishes,” Molle said.

This week, Food and Fitness is focusing on French cuisine. Here is their éclair recipe:

Choux Pastry

Ingredients-mise en Place

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1 cup All-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Method of preparation

  1. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil, stirring constantly until butter melts.
  2. Reduce heat to low; add the flour and the salt. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a smooth ball.
  3. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until batter becomes smooth.
  5. Using a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, form dough into 4-inch x 1 1/2-inch stripes on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  7. Immediately cut a slit in each to allow steam to escape. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling

I package (5.1 oz) instant vanilla pudding

2 1/2 cups milk

8 oz cool whip

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat pudding mix and milk with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.
  2. Refrigerate for five minutes.
  3. Fold in cool whip and vanilla.
  4. Insert the end of a wooden spoon to the end of each éclair to hollow out the insides.
  5. Fill pastry bag 1/2 full and insert the tip into éclairs to fill with custard.

Chocolate topping

1 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons Crisco

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl and microwave until chocolate melts (at 15 second intervals, stir and add more time as needed- do not overcook). Keep warm. If chocolate becomes grainy, add 1 teaspoon warmed milk at a time and stir until chocolate becomes smooth and shiny.
  2. Dip top side of éclairs in topping, or use a spoon to put chocolate on top.

Enjoy!!