Monday, April 18, 2016

Girl's Night Out: Spring Edition Cooking Class at Sur La Table

Last Thursday night I took a cooking class at Sur La Table in Hell's Kitchen, and the theme was Girls' Night: Spring Edition with Chef Rebecca Robin. We were greeted by the sous chefs and given a packet with recipes, as well as an apron.
This is the Sur La Table cooking space where four prep stations were set up around the large island. We separated ourselves into groups of four.
Excited to begin! I ended up using my own apron because I wanted to have my camera and phone on hand to take pictures and the provided white apron didn't have any pockets.
This was our prep station and mise-en-place for the Lemon-Lavender Mini-Bundt Cakes, our first recipe of the evening. We started this one first because it was not temperature-dependent upon serving (meaning it could be baked right away and then let sit to cool for an hour...). 
This was the creaming stage with the butter and sugar:
We finished mixing the pre-measured ingredients and the sous-chefs came to collect our batter, fill mini bundt pans, and pop them in the oven.
Meanwhile, we started on the Creamy Cauliflower "Risotto," which was made by breaking down the half-head of cauliflower into tiny florets and letting it simmer with some sautéed mushrooms, onion and garlic, white bean puree, and parmesean cheese.
This was left to simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat.
Our bundt cakes were done! They were taken out of the oven and flipped over onto a serving plate for later.
Then we cooked some salmon on pre-heated pink salt blocks (about 500 degrees each) and then finished in the oven for 20 minutes. The sous chefs then flaked the salmon for our Salt Block Salmon Niçoise salad.
We also folded together a Pea Soufflé! They puffed up very nicely in the oven but started to deflate as soon as they were removed from the heat. They were very tasty though!
This is the finished Cauliflower Risotto:
It's almost vegan-friendly (because it has parmesean cheese), so it was just classified as vegetarian!
This is the flaked Salt Block Salmon on top of the mixed Niçoise salad. Traditionally, a Niçoise is a composed salad, not mixed together. Regardless, the flavors were spot-on and it definitely tasted delicious! We had made a red wine vinaigrette dressing with capers and tarragon.   
Here's my plate! I scored a few pieces of crispy salmon skin as an added bonus!
These are the finished glazed Lemon-Lavender Mini Bundt Cakes, which were just the right consistency, nuanced with lavender, and a good, light way to end the meal!
Here's me with our food!

Final thoughts on the class? It was fun to be in the kitchen with non-chefs, and it reminded me where I used to be, skills-wise. Since we worked in teams, it was a constant challenge for me not to take charge and just do what was asked just because I already knew how. There were opportunities given for people to learn, so I took a step back. The food was delicious! I wish that we had had a little more hands-on time with physically putting things in and removing them from the oven, since that's such a huge part of cooking. Our chef instructor kept things on track, providing little tidbits of cooking info, and I thought she did a wonderful job!
If you are interested in taking one of these classes, you can sign up here:

Sur La Table's Spring Pea Soufflé
Serves 4

2 TB unsalted butter + more for buttering ramekins
8 TB finely grated Gruyere or any other hard cheese
1/2 cup cooked peas
1 TB olive oil
1 TB flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp chopped mint leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp seat salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Butter 4  6oz ramekins and dust with grated cheese.
Mash peas and mint together and set aside.
Heat a saucepan to medium high, add the oil and flour and mix to make a roux (creamy mixture). Then whisk in the milk. Stir for 3-5 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and mix the sauce, mashed peas, lemon zest, and egg yolks.
In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until you've achieved stiff peaks.
Gently fold the egg whites into the wet mixture until just combined.
Spoon into the prepared ramekins and bake for 18-20 minutes. They will be puffed and golden brown.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Last Day of Class: Pound Cake & Cookies

It's my last class of the semester :-( I planned a trip to Europe with some friends and the way the curriculum changed due to the school's closing and other issues, I am having to miss a few classes and the final buffet. I will dearly miss the daily laughs, teamwork, and new foods. I will miss you all!!

We made a few recipes today: Lemon Pound Cake, Chocolate Chunk Chip Cookies, Lengue Du Chat (Cat's Tongues), Royal Icing, and Raspberry Coulis.
 Ingredient set up for the pound cake
 Mini pound cakes, coated in sugar!
These are the cookie parts for Langue Du Chat - basically a very thin ladyfinger (soft wafer-like vanilla cookie). I piped them out with a star tip on a piping bag... 
 But you can see that after they baked, they flattened out. For these cookies, you can use any (or no) piping tip, or you can just fill a gallon-size plastic bag and trim off a corner if you don't have a pastry bag.
Here's my loaf pound cake! 
Filling the Langue Du Chat with raspberry jelly: 
 Cookies of similar size and shape are sandwiched together and then dipped in chocolate.
You can add any garnish you'd like on the chocolate, just make sure to do it before the chocolate hardens. They can be placed in the fridge to chill after you're finished garnishing.
Chef also demonstrated how to make coulis, which is a blended fruit sauce. It's typically made with fresh or frozen fruit and simple syrup, which is 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Used for plate garnishes, coulis adds a pop of flavor and color to a dish.
This is the mixture for royal icing - powdered sugar and water. You can make this icing thicker or thinner depending on the ratios of sugar to water that you add. 
We used the royal icing to glaze some pound cakes: 
 Josh and I whipped up some chocolate chunk chip cookies at the end of class. We opted for large cookies, and they were delicious!
 The plate of dessert from today:
 Since it was my final class, I wanted to get a picture with the chef. I realized that I had been taking the photos all semester but I hadn't gotten in too many. Here we are!
Well, that's that. :-( Stay tuned for photos from the rest of the class (sent to me by classmates), as well as photos from my European road trip!

Langues De Chat (Cat's Tongues)
7 oz butter or margarine
3.5 oz extra fine confectioners sugar
3.5 oz granulated sugar
5 oz egg whites (about 4.25 large eggs)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz cake flour
2 oz bread flour

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until the batter looks smooth and not grainy.
Mix the wet ingredients (egg whites and vanilla) in one bowl and sift the flours into another.
Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
When just blended, transfer the batter to a pastry bag or gallon-size plastic bag.
Pipe the batter onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. You want to aim for cookies the size of fingers.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans if your oven is not convection or bake unevenly.
Fill with a fruit jelly and dip in melted chocolate.
Dip in a garnish (sprinkles, coarsely chopped nuts, toasted coconut) and serve!


A Day of Asian Cooking

Time to travel through Asia for a day! One of the ingredients we used for a lo mein recipe are dried lily buds, as seen below. They are air-dried lily buds and are typically used in Chinese cuisine. They work nicely in a lo mein recipe because they have the same shape and color as noodles.
 Starting to fill potstickers with ground turkey, veggies, and cabbage.
 To make these potstickers, circles are cut from homemade dough (or you can use store-bought), about a tablespoon of filling is spooned onto one half of the circle, and the edges are crimped.

Here's mine! 
 The potstickers are fried in a wok in oil, then covered with a bowl and a few drops of water and steamed for a few minutes.
Chef's potstickers plank 
Bracha's potstickers plate:
 Josh and I worked on the filling for egg rolls, shredding cabbage, carrots, scallions, etc. To prepare the egg roll filling, put all the ingredients in a colander because water from the veggies may drip out while you're rolling. 
 Josh rolling:
They see me rollin', they hatin'....
 We fried the egg rolls in the deep fryer and then let them rest on a roasting rack. 
The rolls were cut on a diagonal so they would stand up and served with duck sauce for dipping. 
Bonnie frying a batch of egg rolls. 
Chef starting on the lo mein:
Marinated steak for Szechuan Beef: 
Back: Szechuan Beef  /  Front: Vegetable Lo Mein 


8 oz Napa cabbage
3 tsp kosher salt
1 lb ground turkey thigh
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 TB white wine
1 tsp cornstarch
4 TB sesame oil
4 TB vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
dash of white pepper

Dipping Sauce:1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil


2 cups flour1 cup boiling water

Cut the cabbage into thin strips, mix with 2 tsp of salt and set aside. The salt will draw out the moisture so the filling won't be soggy. After 5 minutes, squeeze out the excess water.
Mix the cabbage, turkey, scallions, wine, cornstarch, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sesame oil, sugar, and white pepper.

For the dough, mix the flour and boiling water until a soft dough forms. Knead and roll sections into 12-inch logs. Cut dough into sections and roll flat. Use a circle cutter to cut 2.5-3" rounds.

Spoon 1 TB of filling onto one half of the potsticker. 
Brush a tiny amount of water around the edges to serve as glue.
Fold the round in half, and tug and crimp the edges to seal. See this video, and skip to 3:26.
Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed pan with oil. Place the dumplings into the  oil and brown on each side, and the bottom. After they are golden brown, lower the fire.
Take a small amount of water and carefully pour the water into the wok, covering quickly with a lid or bowl.
Let the dumplings steam for 4-5 minutes to cook the meat.
Remove the bowl or lid carefully (it's hot!) and remove the potstickers from the wok.
Serve with the dipping sauce and some fresh scallions as garnish.