Tag Archive | Tasty

3/21/17

Apologies for this huge hiatus. Long story short: I wasn’t myself during that time, but now that I’ve made some changes that allow me to resume my merry ways, I’m happy to announce that I am back! One amazing thing happened while I was away though–more recently now, since I haven’t officially started yet–I have a job! An actual paying job that will allow me to cook for the elderly.

Getting hired was a very easy process (only for me at this particular establishment). The people are super nice there and right now, I’m in the middle of the hiring process, but I handled all the medical stuff today (drug testing and the physical). They should be getting those results back, I don’t know when. That’s not my concern. Once all that is handled, I have to go back in and start part two of the hiring process, I guess, which is a two-hour appointment with more paperwork.

Anyways, so now that I’m getting on my feet, I’ve decided last-minute to make dinner, for old times’ sake. I’m currently taking a break because I wanted to serve Tasty’s Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-Fry, with rice, which takes time to make fresh–about an episode of CSI‘s worth. The wait is only until I have ten minutes left (oh, we have our own rice pressure cooker, which tells us how much time is left to cook and then how long this batch has been cooked). That way, we don’t have to wait till the rice is finished if I just jumped right into cooking.

I did do most of my mise en place however: prepping the shrimp, asparagus, and lemon juice. This was the first time that I’ve learned that shrimp sometimes comes with poop. You can buy it without it, apparently, and with or without skin. I had to buy two trays’ worth of large shrimp, just so I could get an entire pound. I have a little less than a pound though, for both shrimp and asparagus, which means I should take out some of the lemon juice too.

The video shows the chef squeezing in the juice themselves directly out of the pulp, but that confuses me, because what about the seeds? I squeezed out the juice into a small bowl and then used a handheld strainer to separate the liquid from the seeds.

BRB–I’m down to four minutes. Better get cookin’!

And…at least 15 minutes later, the finished product:  The first bite was a little too salty, but not painfully. Overall, the dish was absolutely delicious! I’d definitely make it again. I just did it exactly the way the clip showed it (except I might have forgotten the lemon juice even though I prepped it–oh well, I’ll just save it).

This yield was the perfect amount for the three of us, in my opinion.

I think I might know why the dish was slightly too salty. If I recall correctly from class, lemon juice equalizes saltiness, so I think if I had remembered to put it in before service, it might have made the dish less salty. Maybe. Don’t quote me on that. I learned something like it during the first week of class when we started on vinaigrettes. The point of the exercise was to get creative with our vinaigrettes and make adjustments based on the chemical reactions, I guess? I was never good at science. If something is too salty, add lemon juice, or vice versa–that way, they balance each other out.

Again, don’t quote me on that; it’s just what I remember hearing in class.

So that’s what I had to say about that! Bon Appétit! And break an egg!

9/18/16

So I was continuing my Grey’s Anatomy marathon this morning and then during Bailey’s wedding (yeah, I know, I have a lot to go through since this happened like two years ago), they served mac-and-cheese cupcakes. I thought, Oh yeah, I should see if I could make that. Shouldn’t be too hard. Just prepare small portions of macaroni (cooked, probably) and lots of cheese inside each cupcake cup and bake them. And then one of the guests suggested other types of cupcakes that could be made from common dinner items like lasagna and mashed potatoes. I can definitely see the lasagna idea, but not very confident about the mashed potatoes. I mean, I suppose you could, but I’m not really seeing how that’d work because you don’t really bake mashed potatoes. I don’t know, maybe it’s very delicious and I’m just not being very imaginative here. I’m sure there’s a recipe for it out there though.

It really did get me thinking though: what else could be made into cupcakes? You see this all the time in the short cooking clips and Tasty also has a few dinner cupcakes. I think the most recent one I saw was a hot dog cupcake.

FYI, I just learned something: I’ve always struggled with finding my drafts on the computer on WordPress. On the phone and tablet, it’s easy since they have a completely separate tab for drafts when you click on “posts”. I looked it up and even wanted to ask WordPress how to access drafts since the Drafts list only SOMETIMES shows up on the right-hand side when I look at my posts list. The problem with that was they charge you even to ask questions, so it just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t know if this is the official way that those of us Pressers who knew how to do it initially, do it, but I clicked on “Add Blog Posts” and it sends me to a brand new note, but on the upper left-hand corner right next to the “back” button is “Drafts” and then a number right next to it. I always found it weird that I had to create a new post in order to access drafts, which is why I never did it until today, but hey, at least it gets me to the list of unpublished posts.

That was just to let you guys know, if you didn’t already. It was a big struggle with me, which is why it was worth bringing up, in case someone else was wondering how. I still don’t understand why the list only sometimes shows up, but that doesn’t matter now. I can access my drafts without fail.

Anyways, there was no cooking today, but I have some notes that I learned from class. Just to let you know though, I’m not completely confident that I haven’t mentioned the first couple points before because I remember writing something down, just not sure about the specifics. Plus, I don’t recall typing any of these out, so I’ll just bring them up again:

  1. I sliced my finger in their kitchen a while ago, but I took care of it myself: cleaned up the wound, put on a Band-aid and cot (AKA the finger condom), and sanitized the knife and board, as well as throwing out the food I was working on. My question is, at what point during the healing process is it okay to work in the kitchen without the bandage? Obviously, if there is still blood visible, dry or not, keep it on, but is it still safe to work once you know it can’t bleed anymore even if you can still see the cut? Also, apparently, I was supposed to tell a professor so we could file an accident report, even if it’s small enough to be a paper cut.
  2. My Knife Skills professor, who is this adorable little Chinese lady who looks exactly like my own grandmother, wanted us to compost carrot peels because she wanted to make kimchi. Coming from a Korean family, kimchi is a part of our daily meals and we buy ours from the Korean market so there’s still some authenticity, if there is any question about it. I’ve just never really heard of carrots being in kimchi. I mean, I suppose it could be her specific variation or the Chinese variation, but it was a new thing to me. Just thought I’d put that out there.
  3. Speaking of compost, my school is all about being green. In fact, they specifically don’t have pamphlets or brochures on their program because they want to avoid printing. (At first I thought it was nice, but even my culinary history professor who is a vegan and admittedly very against printing, needed us to print out our assignments so she could have them in her hand even though we can just email her questions. I don’t know whose rules those are, man.) Oh, the COMPOST thing: they have the same attitude about the food we use and the key to avoiding waste is in how we cut. That’s why I think it’s fitting that we have that cute grandma to teach us how to use most of the fruits and vegetables we cut. She is also a vegan, so she cares a lot about waste and uses up all the edible portions of ingredients. I personally still have to learn how to “square it off”, which is basically turning it into a rectangle. For example, potatoes look like butter once you square them off. I’m a very lazy squarer though, so my ingredients tend to be uneven or slightly too large. Then once I cut off a teeny strip, it turns out to be too small, so I can’t win. It helps to have the ruler, which shows how big the squares need to be and how long the rectangles should be. I’m just not practicing, but that’s because I’m not too worried about it.
  4. While we can’t have phones or radios in the kitchen, I can’t pass the time with music unless I’m singing or humming. Logically, that is why I’ve decided to do so in the kitchen while we’re cooking. That way, not only does time pass, but everyone can hear my beautiful singing. Just kidding–it’s just so it feels less like something I have to do and becomes more enjoyable.
  5. For ten minutes at the beginning of every Knife Skills class, we must sharpen our knives. We have to hone with the steel and whetstone. (Ooh! Sample lyric right there! I think I mentioned in my first entry about culinary class, that I’ve considered writing a musical about cooking, much like the new Broadway musical Waitress is about baking.) I used the steel to sharpen both the house knife and my own chef’s knife. The sound is substantially different. For one, the new knife makes this nice little “Shwing!” sound against the steel. The sound just…follows through, which is the best way I can put it. This is something you have to experience to learn and understand what I mean.

Well, I’ve got a quiz tomorrow, so I should go. I’m just going to read through the material, but I feel like cooking school tests are easy. At first, they want to quiz you on the basics of sanitation and safety, which is really just common sense. I’m guessing that tomorrow, it’s going to be more about the specifics of recipes, but the first quiz was literally one page, one side. I don’t want to fail, of course, but I don’t want to stress out either. The biggest part of passing each class is attendance and participation, which makes sense if the class works in the kitchen. That’s the only place you’ll really learn: through hands-on experience, which has always been my philosophy anyway, making this an even more perfect career for me.

Break an egg!

9/16/16

I’ve had a pretty hard few days recently, but I’m starting to feel like myself again. (I just noticed that I’ve been feeling a lot more depressed lately, but not so deep that it takes me a while to bounce back. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I’ve finally taken my first step towards actual adulthood…) Long story short: I have my own chef’s knives now! It didn’t take that long to choose the correct chef’s knife for me (like, the actual chef’s knife–not the general set). At the end of the day, I’m actually quite satisfied with what ended up going for. I mean, it may not be the perfect blade for me, but it’s better than what I’ve been using: those really crappy house knives.

A few days ago, I made a chicken dish I’d seen on BuzzFeed’s Tasty app. It was really good, and then the leftovers turned out to be a very delicious burrito as well! What happened there was I wanted to finish them off the following day, but actually bought soft flour tortillas with the intention of eventually making breakfast burritos after watching yet another Tasty video. The hardest part of this new creation was how much of the insides to place inside the tortilla. I remembered, from last time I wanted to make the self-improvised breakfast burrito, that the ones I bought were too small. That was because I was aiming for the mini burritos they sell at McDonald’s. I don’t usually eat there, but we used to stop by the drive-thru and order breakfast burritos, right before church choir practice so we all had something in the morning.

Today however, I’m going to attempt this chicken dish again: the Chicken and Rice Casserole. I didn’t refer to the recipe however; I once again improvised. It reminded me of the time I completely BS’d one of my previous chicken dinners. This time, it was exponentially better with the extra stuff I added before the chicken breast. Wanna see? 

Initially, I added just 1/2 a cup of chicken broth, but decided to add a little more right before placing it in the oven. Even then however, the rice dried up a bit, so I added even more, so I predict I poured an extra 1/2 cup. Also, I added garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, all of which I just guessed.

That string cheese was the only cheese I had access to, so the mindset I was in was “you do what you can with what you got”: a very common belief in the modern world of rush hours and instant meals. As you can see, that worked out well.

I think it was still pretty good though. The chicken was slightly undercooked, but I only noticed a little bit of pinkness. It was the first time I’ve ever noticed that difference in the taste as well though, so I didn’t feed it to the dogs, just in case. Yeah, that’s why I didn’t give any to them. Sure, we’ll say that. Just kidding: I really did have their health in mind.

At least now though, I know what’d happen if I ate undercooked chicken, thanks to Sanitation & Safety: salmonella. I think. It’s not too serious though–just food poisoning. I know that probably shouldn’t be my attitude, especially if I want to cook food for other people, but in this case, I’m the only victim, so if I’m sick, so be it. Not like I’ll be dead. That would only be the case if I’d eaten the meat completely raw and that’s just nasty.

I took a lot of notes during class this past week. Even jotted down a list called “Blog Update”, with anticipation that I’d eventually be able to type it all out. Maybe I’ll mention it tomorrow, thanks to the weekend.

Speaking of updates, while I didn’t have time to type anything out, I did manage to take photos of my creations during my brief, educationally-induced hiatus. Here is the complete, original casserole dish I tried to replicate today–dammit, I forgot the broccoli! 

That same day, I also tried this apple bake thing, also inspired by a Tasty video

The idea was fine and I’m sure the recipe would have worked out perfectly…except the grocery store I went to didn’t have pre-made cinnamon bun dough. It was the very last ingredient I could find and I wasn’t sure if there was secretly a can inside with the dough already prepared, but took my chances anyway. Once I got home, it was all powder. I at least had the ingredients in order to turn it into a dough, but I feel as if the texture wasn’t the same or something.

By the time the dough had risen halfway, I noticed the apples might overflow because the dough was too moist to avoid sticking together. In fact, it had formed into one giant dough ball again, so the cinnamon sauce barely managed to go between the failed cracks even though I tried to form smaller rolls like the recipe advised. I had to stop baking midway in order to stuff the apple cubes back into the plate. Nothing fell out, but only because I took the liberty to shove it all back onto the platter.

I mean, it was good, but…still underdone. Hopefully the other store I go to will have it, so I can make it right one of these days.

Apart from the stuff I wanted to bring up from class, I think that’s all I have to say. Maybe I’ll find time to provide some insight on what I learned tomorrow. I mean, it’s not that I don’t have time, since I have Fridays off, but I had previous passions which haven’t been forgotten. I spent most of today on my Grey’s Anatomy marathon, prepping for the new season starting next week. If I wasn’t doing that, I was singing karaoke on the piano (I know that sounds redundant and silly, but there’s a freestyle feature on the app I use, which is just the recording function). So as you can see, I still want to live my life and practice my passions while learning about culinary arts. Cooking as actually become one of those passions, in fact, but I still love those other activities, so there’s no way I’m giving that up.

Break an egg!

8/30/16

Today is my busiest day of the week–Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I only have a single class each while Tuesdays I have two lecture classes a couple hours after the first. I considered going back home last week, but during the drive back to school (which my mom did since I had car trouble, so no need to worry about parking), the middle school also gets out and since none of them drive yet, their parents have to pick them up. I figured I could use this time to update Chef’s Delight even though I have a quiz tomorrow night over stuff I wouldn’t ace if I took it at this very moment, but it’s not like I have just a little bit to talk about. This is cooking school, so there’s a lot to cover, even with the list of lessons or thoughts I made.

Still, my priorities venture elsewhere in this lonely habitat of cyberspace. It’s difficult though–since my parents are still out of town, I had to leave the dogs home and it’s for the entire day this time. They’re big boys, so I know they’ll be fine. We’ve done that before when visiting relatives a couple hours away, so they can survive. (Probably sit around, napping all day.) I left them with two bowls full of food and a large bowl of water. They have plenty of room to run around and play in the kitchen, and their bathroom crate is right in the corner and they know to go there (for the most part). I also left the lights on in order to keep a sense that they’re not alone. I should probably devote at least an hour of studying though, so I’ll try to make this quick with the stuff I do have written down:

When I look for recipes either on Facebook or the Food Network app, I realize I either have or should start to find something that can cater (no pun intended) to my specific needs as a culinary arts student when I make food for the family. If I need to practice chopping methods, salad might be the way to go. Not only do I have to be a better recipe hunter, but I also need to think about what I still need to learn while I have people who can teach me in the professional setting.

One small thing that I noticed while chopping in Knife Skills was how long my nails were. The way they determine if it’s short enough is if you look at your palms; if you can see the nails over your fingertips, then they’re too long. For me, when I’m cutting and using my non-dominant hand in the claw position (pretend you’re holding an egg), my nails feel like they dig into the food and that’s not exactly comfortable. That’s why I cut them a few days ago–it just feels more sanitary that way too, because scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds doesn’t guarantee you get every little piece of dirt out from under those nails.

If you’re a reader who either studies everything I say or at least skims through my entries, then you’ll be familiar with one of my biggest questions in cooking: when you have to cut a recipe in half, is time also affected? For example, if I have to cook 2 cups chicken broth, but want to cut that down by half, obviously I’d have to cook just 1 cup, but would it take as long? That’s a really stupid example because the obvious answer is, yes, it would take less time to cook, but you get the idea, right? If a recipe says to bake three chicken parmesans, does that heat affect all three with the same amount of heat as if I’d bake one? There, that’s a better example: would I have to punch in a shorter time for just one chicken instead of all three? The official answer was “yes, but not always.” It depends on the ingredients, temperature, and I think even what tools/appliances I use.

This morning, I also came up with a new study technique that probably won’t catch on: spending each night at the awkward stage when you’re already in bed, but waiting to fall asleep…flipping through the material you need to know. Not skimming, but actually reading and processing all the information–soaking it all in repeatedly everyday so you gain more retention. I’ve heard that the brain either is a muscle or it’s like a muscle; you need to exercise it everyday so it can get stronger.

I have a quiz early tomorrow morning, so that doesn’t do me much good at this point, but it’s a theory. I take photos of everything I think I need to know from the textbook–diagrams, tables, photos, side definitions, etc.–and so I just have to swipe left when I’m done with the page. (Anyone else think of Tinder just now, because of the “swipe left” thing? I’ve only used it once, but don’t have it anymore, but because of that app, the only thing that my generation at least, applies the act of swiping left to that social network. Sorry. Sidetrack.)

Anyways, then, on weekends at around the same time you’ve been looking over the material, quiz yourself on what you remember. Then, if you need to look at it again, it’s right there.

I also made Key Lime Pie last night. I’d gotten home from class and was like, “I’m probably set for dinner”–which was rice, steak, and salad–“so if I want to make something, it should probably be dessert. I want cake. Or at least pie.” So I flipped through the Tasty app (which needs improvements), the Food Network app, NY Times Cooking app, even some new ones I just signed up for called Kitchenbowl and Yum-Yum. I wanted something delicious yet simple. I aimed for what was easier because I’d already spent a good hour on it and I was starving.

 

I tried following the recipe exactly, but I feel like there was too much graham cracker involved. I remember from last time I made a pie crust using these exact same crackers, but they didn’t use the entire box, but the recipe told me to. That’s why I added the top garnish, and that was about half of what was left of the crust and I wanted to use as much as I could.

The butter also seemed scarce. Also, tip: butter pops in the microwave so make sure to cover it. I didn’t think it was too important even though that wasn’t the first time I’ve microwaved butter. Oh, I still have yet to clean the kitchen… Tomorrow after class. Maybe. I hope.

Anyway, you see how the crust didn’t stick together very well? Otherwise, it was good though! That’s what matters, right? And apparently there’s a difference between lime juice and key lime juice. We had two bottles of lime juice so I just substituted with that and, honestly, it tastes exactly the same. I think. My tastebuds aren’t quite trained enough to be able to distinguish that.

Speaking of training your tastebuds, in this morning’s class, one of the activities is to taste basically an entire pallet of all five or six flavors. (The sixth one is oleogram or something, which is the oily, rancid taste.) Through experience, I learned that often times, you can correct something if it’s too bland by adding something to literally spice it up a notch. This may have been obvious, but it goes deeper than that: the lesson was to try something else besides salt to un-bland a dish. I can’t tell you any more since I left my notes in my locker at the culinary building across the street and my memory sucks. I’ll fill you in next time, if I remember, but like I said: my memory sucks.

Back on track, the next point on my list was the PCB quiz I told you about (probably): it took about ten minutes total and we went over the answers after we turned them in. I got 10/10 and two of them were guesses! Although I don’t suppose they were guesses, since they were mostly multiple choice, but he was very flexible on the answers: if it was multiple choice and one of the answers was very close in theory, he accepted both.

The questions were really easy too and only like two of them covered sanitation while, like, four covered weights/measurements, which are both what he said they were on. The rest of the questions were about cooking eggs. One of the questions was literally “list three types of eggs we learned to cook in class.” I’m just like, “Take your pick.” Just list all the basic breakfasts where the egg is the main ingredient and you’ve got your answers right there.

One question that I’m still kicking myself for missing was one of the extra credits. There were two, and one of them was a measurement one that was like “how many oz. in a pound?” I recalled the number 32 somewhere so I took my chances and wrote that down. Turned out to be 16. I feel like that’s close, considering you just have to double to get my answer.

The big question that really got me described how to cook something. We had to answer with what the dish was. I knew that it was clarified butter, but for some reason, I can never think of the word “clarified”. I knew it started with a “c”, but I couldn’t picture what it was called: “Chlorinated?” “Colonized?” “Classified?” My brain was even convinced it was “Solidified”… I mean, at least it was an extra credit question, so I didn’t get any points off for leaving it blank. Maybe I should’ve written down “butter” with an underscore right before it, just to imply that I knew what it was, but couldn’t think of the word. Then I’d at least get .5 extra credit.

I also wondered why some classes were at least five hours long and others were two or two-and-a-half. It took actually attending all of my classes that first week, to realize that the regular-lengthed classes are– how is “-lengthed” not a word?–are actually straightforward lectures. No kitchen work is done because it’s just like any other class that involves an actual classroom with pen and paper. The stinkin’ long ones involve cooking and it takes a lot of time to cook and clean. For us, we have to devote at least half an hour to cleaning up the kitchen, even with everyone working together.

And final point even though I know I have lots of other things to say: so right now is around the same time where I felt really overwhelmed last week about everything happening at once. I was depressed and unsure if this was what I wanted to do and even considered dropping everything. Of course, I didn’t do that because smart, sane me said, “Wait a few more days and you’ll be over it. Soon, waking up at 6AM won’t be such a big deal to you. You just jumped into real life too quickly.” So fortunately, that’s all it was. I do get excited when working in the kitchen, especially with my classmates, who help out a lot. As long as this is the main feeling and it lasts all day, that’s fine.

I know there’s a lot more to say on that, but we’re down to one hour left and I should look over the material for tomorrow’s quiz. Not that I have anything on my person to study over, but that’s why some dude invented the Internet!

We cook everyday now and we’ve gotten more into how the kitchen works on a regular day, but I’m still making mistakes, which I know is fine since it’s school: we’re there to make mistakes and learn from them. I’ll see if I can list each one and talk about it next time too.

Till then, break an egg!

For the record, all this took, like, two hours, which surprises me. It feels like only an hour has passed.

8/18/16

I attempted a double today. Since it was just me, I woke up with lunch as my first meal (I wake up late), which was leftover chicken. I made fresh rice to complement it, but that’s nothing new. Growing up in a completely Asian family, you learn how to do it when you’re young.

Okay, so I didn’t technically wake up at noon; I just got out of bed then. I suppose I woke up at around 9AM? 10AM? Off to a good start, for someone who’s about to start school at 7:30 in the morning, eh?

What I tend to do is flip through my phone, first thing in the morning. Today, I was going through the short cooking videos on Facebook. I went to my usual pages: Tasty, Proper Tasty, Nourish by Tastemade, Food Envy, etc. I even went to the Tasty iPhone app, which isn’t as good, but they have…a lot of recipes, and I only say “a lot” because you can tell that there’s more. I know that I had just visited their Facebook page, but I only went because I figured there was probably an old recipe in my Favorites column in case I felt like trying it out now.

Since it was just going to be me and I have no job and school starts on Monday (I’ll tell you about that next time!), I spent my entire Thursday looking for recipes for dinner and dessert. For dinner, I wanted to go with Proper Tasty’s “Pull-Apart Cheesy Pesto Bread“. I know it’s probably an appetizer or a side, but it was just me and I wanted to try it! Plus, I LOVE PESTO!!!

Then for dessert, I finally wanted to try that Oreo cream puff that I’d seen once before, but forgot if I ever shared the link, so I shared it on Facebook again just in case I missed it or was just too lazy to scroll down. I found it on the Tasty app though: Cookies & Cream Puffs. Oh, and when they list Oreos in the ingredients, they just call it “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies”. When I wrote down the recipe so I could do my usual highlighting of ingredients I can combine during prep, I literally said, “chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos…they’re called Oreos).” I know they probably couldn’t say it for legal purposes, but just thought a little sass would get you laughing!

I wanted to focus on the dessert first, so I could chill it and it’d be ready by the time I finished dinner. That was a pretty good plan, I think. I went to the grocery store and got everything I needed for both recipes. Well, almost. We ran out of cornstarch, so I knew I had to get it today. Except right when I got to the car, I realized I’d forgotten it. Now, I definitely could have waltzed right back into the store to grab it, but it was sort of too much trouble.

You see, at the entrance, there are always people asking for money for certain things, like charity, a children’s sports team, raising awareness for something. Not the beggars though; they camp out at the perpendicular entrance of the entire shopping complex. Today, it was a couple of young men from the halfway house near my neighborhood. They needed money for…something about kids having a music program.

Usually, I never want to donate money because I don’t have an allowance anymore since my parents are pushing me to get a job. And, plus, I grew up practically in love with music. In high school, I wanted to be a singer. In college, the dream was to be on Broadway. I’m all for their cause. I just wanted to get my things, so I said I didn’t have cash on me and he said that was all right, but I should think about it. So I did my thing inside the store and I was hesitant on leaving the same way since I knew they would still be there. Again, I apologized, but then changed my mind last-minute, remembering I actually did have some cash. While I was digging out my wallet, he said he liked my purse and that his sister had a very similar one. He’d said that just one dollar would have been enough support, but I gave him all the cash I had, which was just $4. I mean, it wasn’t much of a loss for me since I was never going to use that cash anyway, but it still feels good providing those people a second chance at sharpening their artistic tools.

But anyways, back to the current dream: I ended up just going straight home because I saw that you could just substitute cornstarch with flour. Apparently, you just need 3x more flour or 3 extra cups or something like that. I figured, maybe I’ll combine it with corn meal and everything will be okay…

I didn’t use the corn meal. In fact, let’s list everything that went horribly wrong for the dessert portion only:

  1. I think I was supposed to combine the egg yolks, half & half, sugar, and cornstarch (aka flour, apparently) WHILE heating it at low. I made a note to highlight them separately, but I completely forgot, so I combined them all beforehand.
  2. I knew I was supposed to whisk constantly, but stopped to read the directions so there were lumps EVERYWHERE.
  3. The mixture had already mostly thickened by the time I added the cookie cream, so add that to the lumps and you got a hot mess.
  4. And speaking of “hot mess”, the pot turned brown at the bottom. I don’t know if it was because of the heat or the fact that it’s a very old pot, but I just thought I’d make a note of that.
  5. The cream mixture didn’t look anything like the video. It didn’t look like pudding. It looked and tasted more like grits. I tasted it a few times, but thought it was really weird that it didn’t taste sweet even though I specifically ordered “Double Stuf Oreos”.
  6. I forgot to “remove from heat” and thought that came AFTER the four eggs, so basically I ended up with a poop-colored piece of clay with white and yellow specks all over.
  7. I have no idea how to make a piping bag, so I tried making a small hole in the corner of a Ziploc bag. We have the tip, but it didn’t really work. Sticking with the poop analogy, it was like trying to push out a–okay, you probably get the picture already. So instead, I just tried rolling it up myself. It was…hot.

Here it was pre-baking.

Post-ba–OH GOD, I MESSED UP BAD, YOU GUYS! I MESSED UP REAL BAD!!

So take a look at the list of what went wrong there and can you tell me what could have made these puffs…puff? I regretfully threw out the entire thing. I’m definitely not happy about that, but garbage day is tomorrow morning and I didn’t want my parents to come home knowing I’d wasted so much time, money, and ingredients on a failed experiment.

The good one was dinner, so I at least had that to eat tonight. There’s no official recipe written down online except the Proper Tasty comment on the video, which I screenshot: 

There’s something therapeutic about kneading. I don’t know if it’s because it’s fun or you’re just mentally massaging yourself or something, but you can knead all day long and it’s like all your problems are gone. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me and I’m crazy, in which case I would need actual therapy.

The first time I was waiting for it to rise, it didn’t really expand as much as I’d hoped, but the second time was more obvious. I think that was because the rolls were smaller, so the changes looked more drastic.

Fortunately, I have half a bottle of pesto left, which is how much was required for one attempt at this. I can make it again tomorrow truly as a side dish this time, and maybe I can make a classic spaghetti and meat sauce or something. Italian cuisine level: Olive Garden.

Also, I looked up the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour and my source says that they are very similar, but bread flour has a “greater content” than all-purpose…? I mean…does it matter though? We needed flour so I got our usual all-purpose, so why is the bread flour important? I mean, I get that it’s in order to make bread, but is that really necessary? I always use all-purpose flour for bread anyway, so… I digress.

Does anyone know what “cling film” is? I just used regular plastic film, but I suppose it was clingy. I mean, it stuck onto everything pretty well, like the unwanted ex-girlfriend who’s grown too attached. (Hehe, get it? Because it’s “clingy”?)

The only real issue I had was with the cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dish where the cheese bubbled like it was supposed to. I mean, I could have, but it’s obviously not important enough for me to remember. Last time we had a cheese issue that seemed to jump straight to burning (not that it burned this time), it was the pizza I tried to make from The Blue Bloods Cookbook. It turned out that the pie was just too close to the top of the oven, so we had to set it on the bottom rack.

Or perhaps I just missed the bubbling. I set the timer to the minimum, so I doubt I skipped it, but maybe the bubbling was just for a couple minutes. I think I added a little too much mozzarella cheese though, but I wanted to finish off the bag we had which was a little more than half a cup, I believe.

My parents arrived about an hour after I finished dinner, so I cleaned up the kitchen and washed the dishes (which didn’t seem like a lot, to be honest, even though I tackled two meals in one day). Mom tried one, but Dad took like seven or eight. When he was tasting the first one, he told me it was “meh”, but when I offered him some more on a plate, he immediately said yes. Then, he grabbed a few more pieces to eat upstairs in his office and said, “What? It’s a waste.” That’s sort of an inside joke now, since my mom has (or at least had) a habit of finishing off someone else’s plate, so she’d say, “What? It’s such a waste!”

If I did the math correctly, I had about nine: five during dinner and four leftovers; Mom had one; and there was a total of 18 pieces. That means that Dad shared the other eight rolls with the dogs. Hehe, he liked my cooking this time.

Right before the second rise: 
After it rose, I was like, “OMG, it worked!”

When I might have overdone it with the cheese:

All done!

The “Omnomnom” stage:

So obviously, there were some good moments, and a lot of horrible mistakes I made… I guess that about evens it up and since the good part came last, I’m satisfied with the results. We can just forget the Oreo debacle never happened and start anew tomorrow! Just like the Grilled Cheese thing: I’m not going to stop until I get it right.

Break six eggs! But when you add in the four, take the chocolate mixture off the heat first and then apply them one by one!

8/16/16

I was watching the short cooking clips on Facebook for a chicken recipe similar to the Firecracker Chicken. When they got to the flour step, they placed all the flour into a Ziploc bag and dumped all the chicken pieces and coated them using that. I feel so stupid having struggled with the tongs! I mean, I feel dumb, but at the same time, grateful that I found a solution because that’s what I’m here for: to learn. 

For today’s recipe, it doesn’t really require the bag, but it’s “Here’s dinner tonight… Stuffed Chicken Parmesan”. Okay, that’s not the official title, but that’s what it says on the BuzzFeed Tasty website. We can just call it “Stuffed Chicken Parmesan” for short though ;).

I went over the video several times and didn’t think about how to make that first step work. The people who own those hands on these videos make it look so easy, so I figured it would work out the way they did it. It wasn’t too horrific, but not too perfect either. It turns out you’re supposed to make the slit higher than you’d think. At least, I did. I think you’re supposed to make that slit visible from above, or else it’s weak. I didn’t get to do the Ziploc bag thing because these were whole pieces, so I got to get my hands dirty. 

I was going to use string cheese instead of mozzarella, but then I saw we still had, like, 1.5 cups of mozzarella cheese in the fridge, so I used an entire cup of that. We also have leftover Parmesan even though my mom told me to use the abundance of packets of Parmesan cheese we had from pizza deliveries, which had piled up over time. I spent about five to ten minutes separating these packets from the red pepper flakes packets. 

The pile isn’t too big, but that’s still a lot, since we just collected them all. I didn’t use any of them today though. Maybe next time though. 

Here it is pre-baking.

This is how the green beans turned out.

The chicken is all done.

The finished product.

I was worried about the chicken even though I left it in hot water for ample time, but you can’t often be too sure as you’re cooking it, if you’ve been cooking it long enough.

To be completely frank, it wasn’t too appetizing, but my parents thought it was good. Of course, being my parents, they either want to lie and say it’s good for my feelings, or lie and say it’s bad, yet still tell their friends and close relatives it’s delicious. That’s so confusing, right? Haha.

I think the taste has more to do with the sauce, not to toot my own horn. As you probably saw from the second photo, I bought the sauce, so maybe the issue was the brand? Just didn’t really click with me or my tastebuds. I’ll be sure to try out the brand next to Hunt’s. You hear that, future self? NOT Hunt’s tomato sauce next time, just to see where that goes. 

While shopping for the sauce and fresh herb today (just so you know that the sauce was fresh), they were out of basil, so Mom helped me make a decision about it. She suggested I go with my olfactory senses. She kept smelling all the herbs to see which would be best. I picked out a bouquet of herbs that looked the closest to basil, in my opinion, so I went with cilantro. That’s when Mom said that Dad hates cilantro. So I put it back, but then she changed her mind and told me to try it out anyway to see if he noticed. 

He did. In fact, the first thing he asked was why there was so much cilantro. Like, he specifically said cilantro. The issue wasn’t that I used it, but the amount on the chicken. There was a little gut feeling that told me it might’ve been too much as I was sprinkling it all over, but it looked fine, so I just went with it. 

As the chicken was baking, I’d just remembered I had to add a side, so I cooked some green beans. Didn’t use the recipe this time, but I just predicted the ingredients and then had my mom taste test it. She said it was salty, but advised me not to do anything else about it. I used oyster sauce (which is the star), a bit of warm water, and sugar. I think there’s more to it based on what I remember from the Rachael Ray recipe, but I didn’t want to rely on the recipe at all, hence the taste test. (Update: As I was hunting for the website so I could link it, I took a gander at the list of ingredients. As far as what goes in, I was pretty much dead on. It was just the amount that differed, mainly because I was guessing.)

Might have added too much garlic though. Because of the sauce, it was always clumped together at the center. I wanted to add the equivalent of two or three cloves and, as I’ve said before, I typically use a teaspoon as my go-to measuring device when I want to add garlic that has already been minced: one teaspoon per clove. I know that’s probably not accurate, but I just go with it. This math is definitely incorrect, but this time, to get two or three, I used a tablespoon. Again, probably not accurate, but I’ll find another solution next time, if I don’t have already minced garlic around. 

I realize that some people have a thing about their food touching other food, so I would probably use a plate with separators, in that case, but other than that, it’s pretty good. Again: there was something off about the sauce, in my opinion, which is why I would go with another brand next time. That was my personal experience, but I expected it to come from my parents’ lips too, but Mom said it was good. 

Before I officially sign off, I finally ate the ice cream from Coldstone tonight. I usually get strawberry with gummi bears–I have since I was a little kid. Okay, lying, since I was, like, 18. But look at the little baby bear I got! Isn’t it so cute? I thought it’d be half the entire bear, but no, it’s just a mini! Hello, deformed bear! Omnomnom!  

Break an egg!  (Although now that I’m using up eggs for almost every recipe, maybe I can just sign off with breaking however many eggs for that day. In that case, break SIX eggs! :P)

8/11/16

So you know those very brief videos they show on Facebook? It doesn’t even have to be about food–sometimes it’s a DIY instructional video–but they show a person’s hands adding ingredients and they show what that ingredient is and how much to put in. Plus, it’s sped up for the sake of time, so they last up to a minute. If you’ve been online, chances are you’ve seen something like it.

This is the second meal I’ve made the day I’ve seen one of those videos. The first one was the Bacon, Egg, and Rice Dish by Buzzfeed. (I could have made something else too, but if there was, it has obviously escaped me.)

While scrolling through Facebook this morning, I found one of those short videos making food. As I watched, I thought, Okay, should be easy. It’s called Firecracker Chicken and the page Delish posted it. If you take the time to watch it yourself, you can see how simple it looks. I mean, it really was simple to make. Nothing went wrong. In fact, both my parents said to keep this recipe. Actually, the first thing my dad said was, “It’s not bad.” Mom was the one who told me to keep the recipe.

So I did. 

Here’s what it looked like in the end: My biggest surprise was how much buffalo sauce is involved, but I think that’s less about the sauce and more because of what I substituted it with. I saw that buffalo sauce was basically hot sauce (at the store), so I used the rest of one of our hot sauces.

Which reminds me, quick tip: if you don’t know what an ingredient looks like, look it up before the trip to the store. The only ingredient I needed was buffalo sauce and I had no idea what that was and neither did my mom, which is why she said we didn’t have it. (And I know she didn’t know because she would look over the list of ingredients and tell me what substitutions to use, especially if we already had it.) In order to make the trip useful however, I bought a bottle of pink lemonade, some foil cupcake cups (which my mom asked me to buy), and a cooking magazine whose issue was the food on the show Modern Family. I’ve only seen one episode of that show, but I figured, hey, if I get into it, then I’ll have the magazine if I want to find a recipe. (Not that I don’t like the show, it’s just one of those series you don’t get into easily. For me, at least. I know it’s still a popular show.)

It took around three rounds of the full skillet to complete frying the chicken, because there was so much (I used three breasts, instead of two). Also, I cut them into smaller pieces than I should have, I’m sure. I also drowned a bunch of them at a time in the egg and sort of let them sit like that until the first batch was done frying. I’m not sure if that could’ve altered the taste, but I’m sure that’s not how the chef wanted it to go.

While coating it with cornstarch, however, I was wondering if flour would’ve just been enough. I think I’ll try that next time, just as a test, but maybe that’s more something I should research in the culinary science textbook my parents got me from Costco: “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji Lopez, which I’m actually proud to have heard about before they bought it. I was scrolling through cookbooks on the iBooks Store and there it was. Almost bought it, too, but too expensive.

So what do you think? Are the pieces too small or just right? Or perhaps too big, by any chance?

Toward the end, timing was cut down and I figured it was safe because of how small the pieces were. Dad was getting impatient, so I figured I could just bake it for 30 minutes total instead of 35 to 45 minutes.

Whatever decisions I made during this process made the dish decent enough to try again. And by “try again”, I mean to enjoy again, not attempt for a second time because the first was so bad. (Coughs) Grilled cheese.

I think those are the important points. I’ve started using the measuring cups again, but there’s still guesswork with the salt and pepper. Oil is also guesswork, since I’m using one or two turns of it in the skillet and have no clue how much that is in cups.

Oh, by the way, huge update on my culinary education, which means this is actually happening. I haven’t paid tuition yet so it’s not 100% official, but I registered for classes. I actually did it during my initial registration process, but it’s weird as opposed to when I went to college in Michigan. For this school, you have to sign up for the first half of the term AND the second half. I thought it was just the first half, so I signed up for the introductory courses I could, thinking the second half meant the second term. I didn’t know when I could go back online and finish registering as soon as I found out that we had to sign up for both sets of classes, but I went on a few days ago and finished it. I’m just glad it came through and I wasn’t too late, since classes start on the 22nd. They showed me the bill, which we’ll pay sometime in the next few days and I got my first email from a professor about what to buy in preparation for the class!

I would need a textbook and my own chef’s uniform, both of which could be found at the store. I would’ve gotten these probably today if I were still at the small college in Michigan because the campus was so small you could go from one end to the other in less than ten minutes. My driving is so iffy that I’m just going to procrastinate a little bit on that. I know I may have to pay a price in that the store will run out, but I’m a professional procrastinator. It’s a risk I am willing to take.

For the first half, I am going to take Professional Cooking Basics, Sanitation & Safety, Culinary Arts Survey, and Knife Skills. Second half will consist of Professional Meat & Sauce Preparation, and Introduction to Baking & Pastry. A lot of these classes are a FEW HOURS long, which I’m not really a big fan of, but as someone who wants to take this seriously, I don’t want that to get in the way. I mean, you’re supposed to enjoy what you want to do in life. What’s that saying? “If you enjoy your work, then you’ll never work a day in your life”? For me, cooking is fun, so those few hours will just fly by like choir used to for me in high school or theatre rehearsal in college.

Speaking of Intro to Baking though, funny story: apparently there’s a local bakery and I noticed the name of it matched my professor’s name as I was filling out my calendar (I put my professors’ names in the Notes section of the event). What my parents got from the bakery was the Beehive Cake, which looks a bit like this (I know it’s not too clear, but that’s the only image of that cake that I found online): 180s.jpg

The first thing I said was, “It’s like a cream hamburger.” Ever since I mentioned that my soon-to-be baking professor owned a bakery they enjoyed going to so much, my parents were wondering if I would be taught how to make that particular cake. Obviously, I won’t know that for sure until I take it, but it shouldn’t be too hard once I see a recipe. I’m sure I could just ask for it, or maybe they’ll give me a cookbook of what they serve at the bakery.

I think part of the bakery concentration is working at that bakery because when my parents went there, the cashier had on a shirt with the college logo on it. Considering how much effort it takes to fill up a credit, I think it’s a requirement, but maybe that student just works there. Being a recent college student, I’m thinking it’s the former.

My personal focus is on Italian cuisine and/or baking. While Italian seems really fancy, I just think that baking is cute, but really hard, because it has to be so precise. I mean, you’ve probably seen the cakes I made: Red Velvet Birthday Cake and cheesecake. They tasted good, but looked sloppy.

Well, I think that’s about it! I mentioned all the stuff I forgot yesterday. I think I got to all the points with the Firecracker Chicken. So…

Break eggs, foodies!