Cheryl Burke is not ashamed to admit it – she doesn’t know how to cook.
The Dancing with the Stars pro – who’s preparing to star in a new show for NBC in 2015 – would rather eat at her boyfriend’s restaurant or pick up an egg sandwich at Starbuck’s than whip up something in her bare kitchen.
So Burke, 30, together with her sister Nicole, 21, attended a special class at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Hollywood this month to learn how to prepare three tasty holiday dishes.
Though she wasn’t exactly dressed for the kitchen – Burke showed up with her freshly manicured acrylic nails and a 5-inch pair of heels – she was, nevertheless, eager to learn from chef instructors Chanel Martinez and Carlos Mulia.
“I can see why this would be therapeutic,” said Burke, as she prepared a small feast of gourmet macaroni and cheese, lemon parmesan smashed potatoes and holiday brussels sprouts, while her boyfriend JT Torregiani stood by and watched with a smile. “Though I would end up eating less because I would taste everything!”
Granted, she was taken aback by some of the ingredients. “One stick of butter, whoa! Cellulite!” But, still, she was giddy with the results.
“This is my favorite food,” Burke said of the three-cheese macaroni concoction. “If I was in jail and they asked me what my final meal was, it would be mac and cheese.”
Fortunately, for her and us, we don’t have to wait until she’s thrown in the pokey to enjoy it and two other recipes from Le Cordon Bleu:
Macaroni and Cheese
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
3 ounces Muenster cheese (shredded)
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 16-ounce package of elbow macaroni
1 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces Muenster cheese (shredded)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
8 ounces Velveeta cheese (cut into cubes)
2 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Boil macaroni in a medium pot of water that is slightly salted. Cook until it’s al dente. Drain and put macaroni back in the pot and add butter until melted. Add three cheeses and stir until melted. Add half and half and season as needed.
Poor mixture into a baking pan or cast iron skillet and sprinkle topping evenly on top. Bake until crust browns. Panko bread crumbs can be added to topping. Serves 6-8
Holiday Brussels Sprouts
2½ lbs. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons slice or slivered almonds, toasted
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
In a hot sauté pan, add olive oil and garlic. Sweat for a few minutes and add sliced brussels sprouts cut side down. Caramelize well. Whisk vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauces together. Add to caramelized brussels sprouts and reduce until it coats each sprout. Add toasted almonds, chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6-8
Lemon-Parmesan Smashed Potatoes
3 lbs baby potatoes
½ cup olive oil
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 ounces finely grated parmesan
¾ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Generously cover potatoes with cold water in a 3- to 4-quart pot and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes. Transfer to a baking sheet and lightly crush to about ¾ of an inch thick with a potato masher, keeping potates intact as much as possible.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Transfer potatoes with a spatula to skillet, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, turning once, until golden brown – about 20 minutes.
Toss potatoes in pan with parmesan, parsley, lemon juice and red pepper salt and black pepper. Top with lemon zest before serving.