Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Cooking ABC: February Roundup

Up until recently, I had never taken any cooking or baking lessons, not even one. I’m not too bad for an amateur, but I wanted to improve my technique and make cakes that not only taste good but look perfect too. I was unwilling to jump head-in, however, and begin formal training. So before shelling out major dough and enroll in Le Cordon Bleu, I wanted to find out if I really am passionate about patisserie, so I thought I’d enroll in a less intensive course first. A school visit and two trial lessons later, I found myself enrolled in 24 cooking lessons, 26 bread lessons, and 18 patisserie lessons at ABC cooking studio.

It had actually never crossed my mind to take the bread course. Why, I already make pretty good bread, don’t I? Except for sourdough, of course. But this is what suckered me into signing up for bread too. It’s so cute and fragrant. How could I resist?

Café Aulait bread

And I signed up for the cooking lessons because I wanted to learn how to make these.

They are temawari-zushi, eaten at Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day) on March 3rd. They are sometimes called hina-zushi too and are distinct due to their round shape. I made four different types (clockwise from top: unagi, ham, smoked salmon, tuna). My favorite, however, was the kabu (a white round radish) salad with yuzu dressing, very fragrant and refreshing. The sakura liquor flavored pudding was also delicious and very easy to make. Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete Japanese meal without a soup: asari and daikon clear soup in this case.

For my second cooking lesson, I chose the so-called Asian Taste menu.

The rice with beef and bean sprouts has a Korean flavor while the steamed egg with jumbo shrimp and scallop tasted distinctly Chinese. For dessert, we made pumpkin filled spring roll with cinnamon sugar coating. My favorite, however, was the Yannyom (sauce) for the rice made with two different types of onions; and the Chonamuru (salad) with a Korean dressing.

Last, but not the least, is this crepe cake with cheese and blueberry filling.

Impressed? Don’t be. If you know how to make crepes, the cake was a breeze to make. What I AM proud of, however, is bringing this cake home in one piece, precariously balancing the cake box on the handle bar of my mountain bike with one hand and steering the bike to dodge Shibuya traffic and pedestrian. After I am done with the 18 cakes, I think I will be able to qualify as a bicycle ramen deliveryman. You know, those guys on bikes that sometimes don’t even have functioning brakes, weaving in and out of traffic carrying a wooden tray with anywhere from two to six bowls of hot soupy ramen, delivering to offices and residences. Yup, eighteen years of formal education and a doctorate later, my aspiration is to be a ramen delivery woman!


Jessica said...

Wow, I made a crepe cake and it did not look like that! The crepes were all different sizes, and the edges were ragged.

The green tea cheesecake was tasty, but NY-style with a graham cracker crust (no sponge cake crust is allowed!) is still my favorite. Cheesecake was meant to be rich, not fluffy or airy.

Lynn said...

I think the key to a good looking crepe cake is a proper crepe pan. That way you can control the size of the crepes easily.

And I am with you on the cheesecake. If it's not desnse, they should just come up with a different name for it.

Hsin said...

Wow. Impressive. Jason should be a happy man - plenty of good food to eat! As a next career, how about opening a patisserie?

Lynn said...

You know me, am lazy and don't want to do the same thing over and over again. Danny suggested that I sell my bakery goods to you though ;o)

Lynn said...
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Lynn said...
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Hsin said...

No, no! What I really need to do is bai4 ni3 wei2 shi1. Would you accept such a sorry excuse of a cook to be your disciple? If I could find a babysitter, I'd love to learn all you have to offer.

keiko said...

Hi Lynn - I linked your lovely blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the cookery course, temari-zushi look so sweet! I'm also taking my very first course next week, really excited!

Lynn said...

I have a better idea, Hsin-li. They have these special events at ABC cooking studios that you can go with me for free. How about we do that when you come back?

Keiko, I hope you like your cooking course, and I look forward to reading about them in your blog!