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Culinary Arts Instructor Shares His Favorite Dishes

July 27, 2022

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National Culinary Arts Month is celebrated every July to pay tribute to professional cooks and chefs across the U.S. In recognition of that, we asked Culinary Arts instructor Hakim Salaam to share his favorite dishes.

Hakim shared dishes that he feels allow you to revisit some of the basic fundamentals in cooking and are simple to execute.

Appetizer: Roasted Beet & Chevre Spread on Crostini (recipe below)

Soup: Baked French Onion

Entrée: Herb Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Dessert: Lemon Bars

The appetizer dish is one that Hakim said came together by accident but ended up being the most popular dish of the night.

“What I love about cooking is that you can have/serve what would be perceived as ‘simple’ items/recipes, but if they are executed correctly, they will leave a lasting impression,” he said.

Some recipes, like the French Onion Soup, are examples of dishes you may have had many versions of in restaurants, but you want to develop your own ‘perfected version’ to enjoy.

Hakim is entering his second year as a Culinary Arts Instructor at Blackhawk. As an instructor with numerous degrees and a wealth of experience, he feels that he can share with his students a more complete picture of what to expect in the food industry.

Beyond the preparation, cooking and plating, Hakim believes you must be prepared to handle all sorts of issues, including conflict resolution, progressive discipline, team building and proper training and orientation, among other things.

“This is a tough industry with people that have a variety of behaviors and tendencies,” he said. “It is also a very fun and rewarding industry as it has provided me with partnerships and skills that I use all the time.”

Outside of the kitchen, Hakim and his wife live in Janesville and have two teenage daughters, two dogs and a cat. He enjoys spending time with his family, going on trips, sports, fantasy football and dining out (at places with great food).


Roasted Beet and Chevre Spread on Crostini

Makes: 3 cups 

Ingredients: 

  • (3) each beets, washed, dried and trimmed 
  • (2) tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt and Pepper (TT) 
  • (8 oz.) Goat Cheese 
  • (1) French loaf 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil-as needed 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice French loaf into ½-inch slices.  Place on parchment lined sheet pan and drizzle slices with olive oil.  Bake until golden brown (approx. 10-12 minutes).  Place washed and dried beets in a stainless-steel bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place tossed beets on another sheet pan lined with foil. 
  2. Cover the pan with foil and roast the beets until they are fork tender…approximately 45-55 minutes depending on size.  Remove beets from the oven and take foil covering off the pan.  When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into ½-inch pieces. 
  3. Puree beets in a food processor until partially smooth, about 1-1 ½ minutes.  Blend in cheese, while scraping sides of the bowl in intervals.  Blend mixture until well combined and smooth.  If needed, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to mixture while blending.  Blend until it is of “spreadable” consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Let spread cool to room temperature, then spread “1” teaspoon of mixture onto each crostini.  Top each with freshly chopped thyme and lemon zest.  May also top with pickled onions and watercress. 
 Note: Prepared spread can last for 3 days if kept in an airtight container.
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