Thirty years ago, when Lauren Kohr set up shop in her first Fisher Price kitchen, little did she know her playtime would burgeon into a lifelong passion. Now, at the helm of her own Westport/Weston-based company, LDK Kitchen, Lauren prides herself on creating fresh, healthful meals for her clients. Not only does she offer chef services for celebrations and on a weekly basis for families on-the-go, but she also hosts innovative cooking classes for adults and kids. Fun idea for a party, right? I thought so! That’s precisely why I hired her for my six-year-old’s birthday party, but not before sitting down to ask her a few questions…
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST POPULAR COOKING CLASS THEMES?
It’s so important for kids and adults alike to learn how to cook and eat real, wholesome and unprocessed food—and to have a blast doing it! Some of my favorite themes are: handmade pasta with a variety of sauces, including filled pastas such as ravioli, dumpling-style pasta such as gnocchi, and traditional spaghetti. Sushi is also a winner. I do hand rolls, maki and even a few Japanese-inspired side dishes.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE WINTER INGREDIENTS?
Squash, squash and more squash! While many cooks rely on butternut, I seek out green and red kabocha, buttercup and acorn squashes. They’re delicious and add fabulous color and texture to a meal.
Next is cinnamon sticks, which I love to use in unexpected places, perhaps as a stirrer to enhance the aroma and flavor of coffee or hot cocoa.
I also delight in fresh whole nutmeg. It may typically be used in desserts, but a pinch will go a long way when sprinkled into sauces or over roast vegetables, even in marinades for chicken or lamb.
Apples are great as well. They store very well and make a natural sweet addition to a meal. My favorites are Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Granny Smith.
Last, but not least, blood oranges. The vibrant red color is phenomenal. I love to use them with multi-colored beets and winter greens such as frisée, escarole and watercress.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY SIDE DISHES?
Roasted winter squash with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, a pinch of brown sugar and plump, tart dried cherries.
Tart and sweet roasted chunky applesauce with orange and lemon. I like it on the tart side with just a hint of brown sugar. It’s a great complement to any crispy, roasted poultry entrée.
Winter kale and Brussels sprout slaw—shaved kale and Brussels sprouts with whole almonds and a sweet champagne mustard vinaigrette.