Katie Coleman whet her culinary interest cooking for her parents during a period when she was living at home looking for new direction. She found her place in the kitchen and hasn’t looked back, honing her skills at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Now in Durham, she is helping others try on the chef hat through a variety of classes offered through her business, The Durham Spirits Company. Several courses stood out to us, but we thought “All About Tomatoes” was fitting for the summer and perfectly scheduled in the peak of tomato season.
Katie keeps her classes intimate—no more than ten students—and ours ended up being a group of three allowing us to be very hands on with each recipe. She welcomed us right in as if we were old friends offering refreshing, homemade (basil?) lemonade—the only recipe she would not share! Even after the class ended she continued the personal touch, emailing a recipe for her homemade pie crust that was used in one of our dishes.
We got right into cooking with Katie getting each recipe started, but quickly turning it over to the students to finish the chopping, dipping, frying, pouring, stirring, etc…Her instruction included a lot of insider tips about shopping, ingredients, substitutions, technique and beyond—and her ease in the kitchen created a great environment to observe, participate and ask questions without disruption.
The menu for the class included chilled heirloom tomato soup with crab and goat cheese, fried green tomatoes, tomato pie, shrimp and BLT salad, and tomato sorbet for dessert. Our favorites were the fried green tomatoes and tomato pie—not that the other things weren’t great, these were just outstanding and hit the southern spot.
We were both surprised by the subtly sweet and refreshing flavor of the tomato sorbet. Mixed with a simple syrup and spices, the pureed tomatoes are then strained and placed in an ice cream maker. Simple, different and delightful; who knew tomato could make a dessert?