The staff at the KitchenAid Experience gives down-to-earth, entertaining cooking advice.
The KitchenAid Experience resides in a charming storefront along Greenville’s Main Street. Inside is a cook’s dream: Row upon row of food processors, blenders and choppers line the shelves, while attachments and gadgets fill the remaining spaces. The famed stand mixer takes front and center, lined up in colors that sound good enough to eat — candy apple red or raspberry ice, anyone?
Downstairs, there’s a small kids’ play kitchen and a museum with early KitchenAid stand mixers, which were introduced in 1919. Back upstairs, vintage stand mixers in food-inspired colors such as avocado and pistachio line cherrywood cabinets above the store’s working kitchen. Here, experienced and novice cooks alike get culinary tips from KitchenAid staffers. Modern stainless-steel appliances gleam on granite countertops, waiting to be used during the store’s free cooking demonstrations offered three times a week.
Although they’re purely decorative, many of the old appliances in the museum and demonstration areas still work. “People have donated them because they mean something to their family and they just don’t want them to be in the trash,” says Gloria Keller-Brinley, store manager.
“Oh, if they could talk,” she continues. “If I could get a story out of every one of them ... and I do have some stories — I had an elderly couple — they had been married for 65 years when they came in — [who] had received [their mixer] as a wedding gift.”
New-model mixers and other equipment get a workout by KitchenAid staff. Some, like Linda Cummins, a sales associate and one of the cooking class instructors, swears by her chopper, which she uses daily. While making blueberry bran muffins for March’s “rise and shine” themed classes, she used it to quickly chop walnuts, a last-minute addition to the muffins.
“I’ll tell you what, it changed the flavor a lot and it made [the recipe] better, because before it was just a plain old, heal-thy, bland bran muffin,” Cummins says.
Cummins’ willingness to improvise comes from years of experience in the kitchen. As the oldest of eight kids, she’s been cooking since she was 9. Her repertoire includes everything from cream pie, coffee cake and beef stew to the eggs, biscuits and gravy requested by her grandkids.
Her advice to new cooks who want to experiment? “Don’t add too much of a new ingredient at a time,” she says. “If you bake often enough, you can kind of figure it out.”
During the KitchenAid classes, which are held Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. from March through December (with appliance demonstrations and tips in January and February), visitors can watch and learn as experienced cooks make some of their favorite recipes. Each month has a different theme and, through 2013, the weekday recipes will come from The Complete KitchenAid Stand Mixer Cookbook (Publications International, Ltd., 2012). At the end of the class, visitors can sample the food, grab a copy of the recipe and browse the store for products to help reproduce the results at home.
For Beverly Baker, a sales associate who has taught classes at KitchenAid for about eight years, that’s the best part.
“It’s about coming in here and seeing people actually use the equipment … and having people realize that they can replicate [recipes].”
The cooking instructors make sure to keep it simple during the week, but on Saturdays, regional chefs demonstrate more elaborate recipes. A staff favorite is Ghyslain Maurais, who owns Ghyslain Chocolatier in Union City, Indiana, and three restaurants in Indiana and Kentucky. The KitchenAid associates rave about his recent demonstration of a decadent strawberry mousse puff pastry.
The cooking instructors’ camaraderie helps classes run smoothly. Although each has specialties, the women work together to keep the classes informative and approachable.
Sandy Buschur, who admits she isn’t fond of public speaking, still enjoys teaching the classes and the “Lucy and Ethel” shtick she engages in with Baker, who says Buschur is an excellent sous chef.
“I get the privilege of doing her dishes,” Buschur cracks. “That’s what sous chef-ing is here.”
For more information about the KitchenAid Experience’s cooking demonstrations, visit kitchenaid.com and click on “Where to Buy” or call 937/316-4777. Copies of The Complete KitchenAid Stand Mixer Cookbook are available at the store for $12.95 or $9 if you buy one during a demonstration.
Blueberry Bran Muffins
Recipe courtesy of The Complete KitchenAid Stand Mixer Cookbook, with modifications made by Linda Cummins
Makes 12 standard-size or 24 mini muffins
2 cups dry bran cereal
(Cummins recommends Kellogg’s All-Bran)
1-1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 12 standard or 24 mini muffin pans or line with paper baking cups. Mix cereal and milk in bowl of stand mixer. Let the mixture soften for 5 minutes. Attach flat beater and add brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Gradually add to mixer bowl, stir until just moistened. Gently fold in berries and nuts. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
For standard baking cups, bake 20–25 minutes (25–30 if using frozen berries) or 10–15 minutes for mini baking cups (15–20 if using frozen berries), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in a pan or on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Craving something savory for breakfast? Click here for a recipe for Green Onion Cream Cheese Biscuits, also from the The Complete KitchenAid Stand Mixer Cookbook.