Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Graduation Day

Tonight is the final exam and the day we (hopefully) receive our cooking certificate. This was a scary one for most of us. Could we actually pull off creating dishes without the help of recipes? Will our hollandaise sauce break? Will we burn our steak? Well, here are the answers:


Did my sauce break? Hell ya, it did. I dumped the first batch of "scrambled" eggs and started all over again. Hollandaise is a very delicate sauce. One wrong move and it's over. Making hollandaise is my personal hell. It was hot, stressful, and tedious.


Even though it turned out fine, this is probably the last time I'll ever make this again.


I was one of the last ones to pick a steak, and I ended up with an enormous piece. I was worried how long it would take to cook this monster.


Steak with red wine reduction and roasted vegetables.


I swear I cooked this for a good 30 minutes, and it still turned out rare!


I don't know what this dessert is called.


All done! Time to pop the champagne.


Class of April 08!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wonton on Steroids!

My co-worked E and I often sit around and talk about our favorite Asian food. Once we get a certain dish in mind, we're on a one-track mission to consume it. This week, it's wontons. E mentioned a place her dad took her to where they served gigantic wontons. I immediately knew which restaurant she's talking about: Wonton Time in Alhambra.


HUGE, huh? The wontons are stuffed with whole shrimps.


You get a choice of thin rice noodles, flat rice noodles, and egg noodles. You also get to pick between wontons, fish balls, and sliced beef. For a whopping $6, you can get all three. It's so yummy--the soup's light and tasty, the noodles are QQ (I think that means springy), and the wontons are succulent.

Wonton Time
19 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801

Friday, April 11, 2008

comme Ça

I'm spoiled. I work at a great place where food plays an important role. And twice a year, my department gets to enjoy a nice meal out. This time, we picked comme Ça by Melrose and La Cienaga.

Comme Ça, from chef/owner David Myers, is a nice French bistro-type restaurant. The decor is modern with clean lines, and the service is great.


The bread came wrapped in brown paper. It is fresh and fluffy, and smells amazing.


I wonder who tipped off the chef that we were there? They gave this platter of oysters and shrimp to our table for free. Like I said ... spoiled.


Since it's no secret that I love my meat, we ordered a beef tartar for starters. I have a vivid childhood memory of my dad ordering a beef tartar with a raw quail egg cracked on top. I was fascinated! Raw beef!! I've never actually had beef tartar before, though it's something I've always wanted to try. This dish was light and refreshing. It had bits of pickles in it and gave it a nice touch.


I ordered the steak frites. The meat was cooked perfectly, and although it's rare, it was surprisingly tender. I think I convinced the rest of the table that "rare" is the way to go.


My supervisor ordered the chicken. She's a meat gal like me, but sometimes she tends to go with her head rather than her heart, and end up ordering the "healthier" option. I warned her about plate envy. But this chicken dish was quite pleasant. The spinach underneath was creamy and homey. Not bad at all.


Tuna niçoise. The dressing was light and the tuna was very fresh.


Duck confit salad. The duck confit reminds me of Chinese waxed duck.

Verdict: comme Ça was a good choice for high-quality ingredients cooked simply.

8479 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069


Exam Part 2

In the past few months, I've really enjoyed spending time with my classmates. The best part is chatting, cooking, and snacking around the kitchen. I'm really going to miss them. During the exams, we're not allowed to speak to each other. That really did damper the mood a bit.

For this test, I practiced making the souffle at home. It turned out fine, but cheese souffle really isn't something I would make that often. I think it's bland.


Here's the home version


Here's the exam version. Notice the color difference? The teacher said it's because I beat the egg whites a tad too much.


Braised chicken with tomatoes, tarragon, and chicken stock. I probably should have seasoned the chicken a bit more before I pan-fried them. Again, not something I would recreate. The taste is very one-dimentional. I like food with more kick!

apple tart

Apple crumble. I "cheated" a bit and put chuncks of butter on top of the crumble before I put it in the oven. Turns out, the smooth top was a tell-tale sign that I added the butter. My teacher totally called me out! It's funny how we all had the same ingredients but all 10 apple crumble look so different from each other.


Exam No. 1

I'm an unabashed, card-carrying nerd. In college, you can find me in the front row, armed with a myriad of colored pens and highlighters. I enjoy puzzles and taking tests. I'm also way more confident than I should be. The 20-week long cooking class ends with three consecutive exams. For the first part, we all receive a list of ingredients and instructions. For the second test, we get a list of ingredients. No instructions were provided. For the final, we only get the name of the dish--no ingredients, no instructions.

Here are the results of the first test:


The mushroom soup was my pride and joy. It was well seasoned and had great consistency. I've never made mushroom soup in my life, but have enjoyed them as part of set lunch menus. It turned out great.


I apologize for the blurry photo. This dish was just OK. The fish was slightly undercooked (boo!) and my Béchamel sauce broke. *sigh* It tasted fine, though.


Again, I've never made a bread pudding before. It's so freaking easy that it's no wonder Tre got kicked out of Top Chef 3 for screwing it up. I like mine chunky, so I added the bread cubes at the last minute. It turned out more "rustic."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Last Class!

Here are what others made for desserts class:


Chocolate chips

chocolate sauce

Chocolate sauce


Chocolate pudding


Chocolate cake

creme brulee

Creme Brulee


Caramel Ice Cream


It was delicate and delicious




Lemon tart


Tiramisu Step-By-Step

Desserts is the final class in the cooking course. Imagine, skipping dinner and eating way too much sweets at 10 p.m.! Definitely too much of a good thing =)

I offered to make my favorite: Tiramisu





tiramisu final