My Very First Cooking Class at Savory Kitchen, San Jose, CA

Last night, I attended my very first cooking class at Savory Kitchen. I had a very good time learning about cooking and enjoying the company of new friends who shared similar interest! Savory Kitchen is located near San Jose downtown, which is a major plus, as it is close by. I don’t have to drive too far.

When I first entered the Kitchen, I immediately noticed the beautiful table set up and was greeted by a staff member. She immediately offered drinks. I passed because I was really hungry. Drinking on an empty stomach while handling cooking/cutting would not be a smart idea! Next thing I noticed was the food/ingredients set up on separate stations. Overall, I sensed a good vibe and had a good first impression.

IMG_3604

Chef Chad and Aimee started the class about 15 minutes into the session, after everyone was settled with drinks and checked in. The entire class had twenty people, mostly consisted of couples on date night/celebration or group of friends. It was a good mix of people there. Chad and Aimee explained the process/recipe of each dish and asked us to pick whatever station we chose to work. The menu was one of the reasons I signed up for the class. How do I resist this?

IMG_3603

I was closest to the duck abondigas, so I stayed there and began working on the dish. I was surprised that there was no “recipe” posted. Chad and Aimee basically floated between the four stations and guided us “free style”. It was a very casual environment. I had envisioned a “formal” class with the teachers in the front ‘lecturing’ with the students following. Frankly, I liked the freestyle better as we would get to chat and know fellow learning chefs.

IMG_3593

When the food was cooking and all the fragrance started to permeate the room, I was getting really hungry! Because of the menu, I came prepared, aka, hungry! But I didn’t realize how long it would take to cook four dishes for 20 people! It took us about 90 minutes to really finish and started with the duck meatball, the appetizer. It was about 8:30pm when we started with the duck. It was worth the wait, everything was perfect, especially accentuated by the wine pairing! The plating was gorgeous, which I learned was really important to make ‘gourmet’ food. The presentation instantly elevated the appetite, not that I needed it, but it was just gorgeous to look at!

IMG_3606

IMG_3608

IMG_3609

The best part of the experience was really sitting down with fellow learning chefs. Even though people came with friends/family/spouse, everyone was really engaging with each other, asking questions, sharing experiences, and just providing a very memorable dining experience that you would not find at a typical restaurant. Everyone came from different walks of life but shared some level of interest with cooking. Some were passionate; some were novice, but all were very wonderful to enjoy a delicious four-course meal with. The party ended around 10pm with the perfectly made chocolate cake! The caramel was to die-for!!

I would love to come back for another class or even celebrate a birthday with friends!

IMG_3605

Cooking Adventure: Blueberry Muffins, aka Blueberry Explosion

My cooking journey has a parallel story similar to running adventure, in the sense that the passion/love has been cultivated through time. I grew up in a somewhat “foodie” family. My grandfather would go the miles (literally) to find fresh-caught tuna to make sashimi. He would spend hours making Taiwanese sausage from scratch, because that was the authentic thing to do. He definitely enjoyed good food and alcohol. Growing up, I appreciated good food, especially, when it was placed in front of me. I never really learned how to cook except in those rare occasions that I would help. Even then, I remembered my main job was to wash dishes because I was not “skilled” enough to help.

In college, I lived on campus and dining hall food was just fine and convenient. It wasn’t until the last year when I lived in an apartment where there was a small kitchen that I began to “experiment”. I would not call that cooking, especially, when mostly I just cooked white rice (via rice cooker). My very first dish was taught by my dad who at my request showed me some authentic Taiwanese pork stew. I was mesmerized at how many STEPS it required to make a dish. Even then, only my nostalgia with Taiwanese food motivated me to cook few times a month. Essentially, I still lived on dining hall food.

Then came graduate school when my little brother (who was in high school) lived with me. Cooking became a necessity to live. There was another (minor) depending on me. Cooking was a chore – it needed to be done and hopefully well enough to eat (or at least provide some calorie) To my surprise, practice did make it better. Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory was definitely working for me.

When I got married, cooking remained a chore. Someone had to do it. If it was left to my hubby who honestly despised cooking, we would probably eat out all the time, which could be expensive and unhealthy. It was not until recently (fall of 2012), after my dad’s minor stroke, when I decided to change my lifestyle, that I began to see cooking as a “fun thing” to do. At first, I had to relearn about healthy cooking, then it became a fun activity to scour the website for recipes. Soon after, watching Chef John’s Foodwishes was a regular before-going-to-bed activity. I was dreaming what I would make.

Cooking like running is a journey. Just like running, in the beginning, there was some growing pain. But over time, I discovered that I enjoyed the process of following a recipe and then creating something that was more my taste. It was my artistic expression. This past few weeks, after trying Chef John’s Blueberry Muffins couple times with few minor variation. I finally found my (and hubby’s) favorite.

IMG_2951 IMG_2953

Original credit goes to Chef John’s Too Many Blueberry Muffins

My minor modifications are:

  1. Flour: I semi substituted the 3 cups all-purpose flour to 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour and half cup of wheat flour. I tried with 1.5 cups all-purpose flour + 1.5 cups of wheat flour because I liked the “rougher” texture. However, hubby’s feedback was that it was too dry.
  2. Blueberry: Chef John already put more than the usual amount of blueberry. I added even more because both of us loved blueberry. I used 2.5 cups. It was really blueberry explosion goodness! The unintended but excellent result was the muffins were very moist.
  3. Sugar: instead of white granulated sugar, I used turbinado raw cane sugar. At our household, we banned white sugar. It is too refined for healthy reasons. This is another major motivation for me to start baking, because virtually all store-bought pastry uses white sugar.
  4. Vegetable Oil: I used coconut oil at home. Vegetable oil is also banned from our kitchen since the heating point is too low for a lot of my style of cooking.
  5. Lemon zest/extract: I tried both and found no difference in the final product. So, for ease, I used lemon juice.

Here is the shop list version of my recipe:

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cups wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup turbinado raw cane sugar
1 (1/2 cup) stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2.5 cups fresh blueberries