Summertime, and the Baking is Easy

Fashionista Joe Zee Teaches Easy Bake Classes

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Summertime, and the Baking is Easy

The hottest accessory next season: An Easy Bake oven.

Yahoo Style Editor and all around fabulous fashionista Joe Zee taught a special cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen centered all around his favorite (childhood) kitchen appliance, now redesigned in a gender-neutral blue and grey color scheme. And of course, in high style, Zee tweeted a cute photo about it.

Growing up, Zee’s parents wouldn’t buy him an Easy Bake Oven. “They wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer,” he joked.

To cope with not having a hot pink Easy Bake Oven of his very own, Zee would go to his friend Maria’s house (she was blessed with the light-bulb cooking machine) and cook every single day.

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“I thought I was so good at the time,” Zee said. Upon entering high school, Zee made Home Ec the first class he signed up for, learning to make pigs in a blanket from canned cocktail franks and Pillsbury pastry touch. “I want home and said, ‘I’m a chef!’” he laughed.

Zee is a “fashion person who likes to cook” and he recognizes the irony in the dual passions. “I’m the exception to the fashion person who doesn’t like food.” If he didn’t work in fashion, he said he’d probably work as a caterer: even when hosting a dinner party for three or four, he cooks enough for eighteen guests. He didn’t drop any hints on how to score an invitation.

In the coziness of the Willamsburg teaching kitchen, Zee, who was nostalgic for an early date with his fiance (then boyfriend) at The Brooklyn Kitchen, taught a crowd how to entertain like he does, using Easy Bake Oven-inspired recipes like the ones he grew up loving.

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Though the Easy Bake Oven has changed aesthetically, it has also changed functionally: The light bulb, which anyone who was ever used the appliance knows is a terrible way to bake a mini cake, has been replaced for a more advanced internal heating system.

“It’s more like a George Foreman grill,” Zee joked. “It’s so much more sophisticated [than it used to be]. It’s like something from Star Wars!”

Zee also noticed that the oven has gotten skinnier, and rolled up pigs in a blanket certainly wouldn’t fit in the slot small enough to block kids’ fingers from reaching in. His solution: an open-faced, haute cuisine version, using puff pastry brushed with dijon mustard and small pieces of chorizo.

Even if you’re cooking with a regular oven, Zee recommends always stocking puff pastry in the freezer, which is easy to work with and makes “dinner to impress.”

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Another childhood favorite: pizza bagels. As he grew older, Zee graduated from pizza bagels to Stouffer’s frozen French Bread Pizza (does not fit in Easy Bake Oven), and the dish he made was inspired by a love for all things cheesy and bready: Flatbread.

Though it sounds intimidating, Zee promised that making flatbread is incredibly easy and “the things that you make yourself are always so much better.” For guests, you can put out fresh flatbreads with a variety of chopped, fresh toppings like tomatoes and basil for a DIY station that’s sure to impress. “I’ve been in the Hamptons a lot this summer and I love farmstand vegetables,” Zee casually threw in.

And for dessert, in an upgraded nod to the chocolate chip cookies Zee used to make: Vahlrona Chocolate Tuilles. As Zee dipped one of the thin, malleable cookies into a bowl of melted chocolate, he considered the outcome of the sugary swoop atop his creation. “ Doesn’t that look like someone’s hair?” he asked as he held up the cookie for the class to see. “I won’t say who, just don’t vote for him!”

Melissa Kravitz is a writer living in New York. Follow her at @melissabethk.