South of France Cooking class

@ Ecole de Cuisine Cooking School....
Pizzaladiere ~

Basque style chicken ~
Ratatouille Nicoise ~
The instructor, Chef Zadi did not hand out recipes because he said that it is all about the "touch" and feel. Notes were scribbled and here is a brief description of how each dish was made. :)
The first dish was Pizzaladiere-  a light pizza without tomato sauce.
To make the dough, add 250g flour, 20g sugar, 5g salt into a bowl. Next, add the wet ingredients- 3 eggs, 2 T olive oil, and yeast mixture ( 10g yeast and 1/4 cup H20) to the dry ingredients. Knead the dough until it does not stick to the bowl. Add olive oil into a bowl before placing the well-kneaded dough. Wrap and leave it to proof, approximately 1 hr.
Sprinkle oil into wax paper. Roll out dough onto a quarter sheet pan. Add whatever toppings you like but this was what we used...caramelize onions, anchovies, rosemary, thyme, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, olives. Grate Parmesan cheese on top of mixture. Bake at 400F. Before serving, sprinkle olive oil on top of pizza. :) I love this pizza crust! :)

Time to have some fun with cutting and cleaning chicken... :( Another reason for being a vegetarian.... :P Here are several pictures on the cutting process, after removing all the items inside the chicken...
 Make a slit to see the cartilage. Remove it.
 Use scissors to cut the fat, and middle of the chicken
 Cut it into half and remove more fat at the ends
 Cut the drumsticks side cartilage ends. ( for presentation purpose)
Season with salt, pepper, chopped herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary), lemon ( cut small wedges of half a lemon, and juice the other half lemon), olive oil, saffron, preserved lemon ( place lemon and salt in container and let it age for a month), 1 Tbsp of Tapenado olive paste.

Place the marinated chicken in a roasting pan. Add chicken stock ( To make: boil chicken bones, water, 50% onion, 25%carrots, 25% celery. Allow it to SIMMER for 24 hours. ) Top with chunks of butter. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Remove from oven several times and pour liquid over chicken constantly. This is to keep it moist and tender.

The chicken tasted yum! The burst of lemon gives it a tangy feel with flavorful herby aroma. :)
Now on to Ratatouillr Nicoise.... To make tomato composte: Slit the ends of the tomatoes with an "X". Once the water boils, place it in for 30 seconds. After removing it from the hot water, dip it in cold water immediately. Remove the outer skin from the tomato and slice in to quarters. Remove the seeds and use the outer layer. Slice into strips.
Cut the eggplant into round circles, followed by strips. When cooking, be careful not to place too many pieces into the pan as it will "steam" the eggplant. "Brown" eggplant is what we want. Feel free to drizzle olive oil. Add salt and pepper.
Saute onion until it is caramelized. Add salt and pepper. Remove from pan.
Saute green/red bell peppers next. Add salt and pepper. Remove from pan.
Saute squash. Add salt and pepper. Remove from pan.
Saute garlic next.
( Trick- while chopping garlic, sprinkle some salt. This will keep the oils of the garlic. )
Bread Crumbs: Bake day-old bread in oven until crisp. Place in food processor until finely grounded.
To assemble:
1. Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil
2. Add peppers
3. Followed by Onion and garlic
4. Next is the eggplant mixture
5. Add onions and garlic again
6. Add the sliced raw tomatoes
7. Sprinkle fresh thyme
8. Add squash
9. Top with breadcrumbs
10. Drizzle with olive oil
11. Add pieces of butter on the top layer
Bake at 325 for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven occasionally to drizzle olive oil on top.  
Every chef has his/her way  of cooking. I have been to many cooking class and felt that this was one of the classes that could be more organized and have better sanitary practices. I have to say that the chef knows his stuff and seemed to have great french cooking techniques. Overall, the food we cooked at this class tasted YUM! and I would like to try to make them on my own one of these days. :) I am so glad that J and I were able to go to this class together! :)


Tuscan Kale Salad

~:~ meant to be ~:~
it almost seems that
if it’s meant to be,
all things in the universe conspire to get you there
and if it’s not,
all things in the universe conspire to not get you there.
a lot of times in life, it is so.
i tend to believe it’s meant to be,
the path taken.
- Elvin Ng, MediaCorp Artist

Today, I tried making a salad with Kale and it turned out very nice! It's something new in our cafeteria and people came back for seconds. :)

Inspired by True Food Kitchen Restaruant's visit few weeks ago, this Tuscan salad is made with strips of Italian kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, grated parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. These bright, refreshing flavors combine to bring the sunny flavors of Tuscany to your tastebuds. :)
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C. With such rich nutrients, it is a waste to use it as a salad bar decoration.

2 bunches of kale, sliced leaves, midribs removed
6T lemon juice
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt, pepper, sugar to taste
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup freshly made bread crumbs

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flake, 2/3 of bread crumbs, 1/2 cheese. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well. This will help to "break down" the vegetable and make it easier to chew. Let salad sit for at least 15 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.


not-your-regular Pizza :)

This pizza creation was inspired by one of the vendors at the TASTE food show that I went to last week. It was not your regular "heavy" cheesy pizza, but rather had a light, fresh touch to it. YUM :) Interestingly, they added ricotta cheese instead of the usual mozzarella cheese. I have never had ricotta cheese on pizza and was determined to re-create this recipe. :) 
 I did exactly what they said- top ricotta cheese, tomatoes and basil on top of the baked dough. Somehow, it did not turn out right....something was missing...they did not reveal their secret ingredient. I bounced the idea off my cook and we guessed that there was probably some cream cheese in the ricotta mix. Hence, I tried making it again, with a few modifications. The verdict - a recipe keeper! Several people liked it and asked for the recipe.... I'm glad it worked out the second time! :) It would have tasted even better with a pizza oven but I did not have one and had to make do with a regular oven.
15 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz vegan herb cream cheese
2 cups vegan mozzarella cheese
fresh basil
cherry tomatoes
pizza dough ( 2 packets from Trader Joes)
dash of salt
dash of pepper
Balsamic vinegar/olive oil
1 onion, sliced
garlic, minced
Take the pizza dough out from the packet to let it sit and rise.
In a mixer, blend the ricotta cheese and vegan cream cheese until fluffy. Add in salt and pepper.
Slice the cherry tomatoes into half and mix it together with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Let it sit for several minutes in the refrigerator.
Chop the basil leaves.
Once the dough has risen, roll it out and bake it in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove it from the oven and top with the ricotta- cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle vegan cheese over the mixture, followed by onions and garlic.
Place it back in the oven and let it continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and just before serving, top it with basil and tomatoes. :)
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to All! Enjoy your mooncakes! :)


TASTE of LA Food Show & True Food Kitchen Restaurant

Just came back from LA. :)  It was a fun food expedition where the only theme was food, food and food! :)

We started out at a restaurant in Santa Monica, True Food Kitchen. I love the concept of their restaurant- simple, fresh, pure ingredients to create the most satisfying and memorable dining experience. We ordered almost all the salads on the menu...Tuscan Kale, Farmers Market Kale, Summer Chopped, Mediterranean chopped, Chicken Chopped...Other items on the menu: edamame dumplings, quinoa pancakes, wild mushroom arugula pizza, espresso pistachio date muffin...

Followed by a stroll along the beach before heading out to the long-waited TASTE of LA food show. :) It cost $150 to get in so I expected something good....
The event took place on the Paramount Studios backlot in Hollywood, a setting that seriously made me wonder if I was in Universal Studios Hollywood or Brooklyn. It was hard to tell with the mash-up of some of LA’s best purveyors of street foods. There was unlimited tastings from over 30 of L.A.’s tastiest restaurants/chefs, food trucks, cooking demos, engaging panel discussions .
Caught a few foodnetwork celebrities...Claire Robinson’s “5 ingredient Fix”

Alex Guarmaschelli, recurring judge on "chopped"
 Susan Feigner of Top Chef Masters, Border Grill and Susan Feniger’s STREET :):) My parents met her in Singapore. She is such a nice, down-to-earth person, like how my parents described. :)
Tasted some of the best foods in LA...What a nice way to spend a Sunday! :) On the flip side, I think I gained a few pounds... :(
More pictures of the food and event can be found here!! :)
Disclaimer: All the recipes posted are for my personal references and/or adapted from mentioned instructors or books. They/I reserve the rights to it. Please remember to cite your sources! Thank you.