Two cooks & ladies I love: Julia Child & SmittenKitchen. They inspired me to go a little crazy on making crepes. I’ve been making crepes every day because I am so… determined to master it. It bothers me that I cannot make a crepe in a perfect circle that is golden brown at the right places. I leave studio early because I want to get a head start on my next batch of crepe’s. It’s a huge blessing that I have not failed studio (yet)
I made about 15 thick, bitter ones at the Hoffmann’s with their 5 year old expired flour (lesson #1 NEVER use old flour), another 15 for father’s day, another 15 to make more banana’s foster crepe’s for Henry & our friends, another 15 for other friends & coworkers… & am in the process of making 20 more. & honestly, out of the 60 that I had made, I was only able to keep & serve about 1/3…. or 20 crepe’s.
A crepe is a basic, thin French pancake that calls for few ingredients that we all (should) have: flour, eggs, milk, & butter (music to my ears) but it really takes a lot of practice & patience to properly make them. The first batches are almost always disastrous: oval shaped, punched with holes, lumps, uneven texture, too thick, burnt, too soggy/crispy…
But I love making crepes because it’s so exciting to hope that the next crepe will come out better, & (lesson #2) a great way to turn simple ingredients/ugly leftovers into a beautiful presentation. So far, I’ve filled my crepe’s with proscuitto & figs, mushrooms/spinach/onions sauteed in garlic butter, pesto chicken & sundried tomatoes, peaches with brown sugar & cinnamon, banana’s foster & ice cream.
& after so many attempts & learning from Julia Child, I have learned 4 tips to make decent crepes:
I know, I know, we like to skip steps. But if you want to present your friends/family with appealing crepe’s or even feed them with leftovers & still impress them by rolling them into crepe’s (OHHH fancy!) , you must be patient & willing to invest the time & energy to make them.
Since I had so… many crepe’s, I decided to stack all these Julia Child crepe’s with SmittenKitchen’s mushroom sauce. (butter piled over butter piled over butter……the best.) Fortunately, my friend Diana (a mushroom lover) came to visit & to taste-test. She & her mom finished 7/8 of it after they were “full.” Lovely.
As I was whisking the eggs into the flour to make crepes, the man fixing the fridge became the fourth stranger who asked me if I was running a restaurant at the Gamble House…& suggested me to. I laughed. That would be lovely. I give him the “I can’t, I have studio” response that we’ve all used: “I can’t go to your party because I have studio…. I can’t sleep because I have studio… I can’t work out because I have studio…. I can’t read because I have studio… I can’t go home because I have studio…. I can’t go home for Thanksgiving because I have studio…. I can’t eat because I have studio.” Studio is the sad excuse from good things. & blame for everything that goes wrong…. “I’m sick because of studio. I have high blood pressure because I have studio. I’m poor because I have studio. I have insomnia because I have studio. I have anxiety because of studio. I’m breaking out because I have studio. I’m fat & ugly because I have studio.”
My other arch alumni friend (& former Gensler employee) Henry, is leaving to Taiwan to serve. It definitely hurts to let this second all nighter partner go. I remember meeting him in my Freshman year when he was a 4th year. Since then, he’s encouraged me when I had major designers block or was frustrated with Rhino-modeling or wanted to drop architecture. He’s even come to my old apartment to do Autocad drawings for me at 3AM…..Henry has been such a great older brother/mentor to me.
I will never forget that last night we joined Yulee & Leon’s “charette night” at the Gamble House two years ago. Henry fell asleep almost immediately under the tables. What was supposed to be a productive all nighter/charette became a night of singing Falling Slowly/playing guitar, procrastination &
6 hour napping sleeping.
So before Henry moved out, he & some of our friends came over for a “goodbye Henry” dinner. Henry is such a gracious & humble man who has strange, but brilliant & hilarious things to say. We’re all going to miss his words & friendly, geeky face.
I asked Henry a few days ago what he’d like for his final dinner, & he asked me to cook the same dinner I cooked & brought to his studio for his very final charette before he graduated. so cute. what an honor. After we settled down the table & took the first bites of our dinner, we both smiled, looked at each other, & said the same thing: the dishes have improved & are now more flavorful. Practice makes perfect.
- Peach ginger iced tea
- Mini fig, proscuitto, arugula & mini pesto pizza’s
- Trader Joe’s Mushroom risotto
- Sauteed garlic asparagus
- Parmesan Tilapia filets
- Banana’s Foster Crepes
I’m starting to realize that I shouldn’t post all my recipes on Tumblr, & must save some/many recipes in the actual cookbook. This banana’s foster crepe recipe has been a huge success among friends, family, & even their friends & family. It will certainly be included in TheChefCharette cookbook, which, is definitely making good progress. :) Feel free to come over to test/get a taste of what (could possibly) will be found in TheChefCharette.
Nothing starts the day greater than a heart-healthy bowl of oatmeal. This recipe prepares a much more nutritious bowl of oatmeal than your instant Quaker oats (with tons of refined sugars & preservatives) & only takes a few minutes to prepare!
Oatmeal just provides so many health benefits… it provides fiber, stops your cravings (& is low calorie/fat), stabilizes your blood sugar, removes bad cholesterol, possibly prevents heart disease & cancer, stabilizes levels of Estrogen (oh hey PMS…), & even soothes & enhances your skin. It’s great for anyone of all ages going through/preventing whatever health issues. (high blood pressure, heart problems, etc) & is suitable for so many diets (vegetarian, vegan, & gluten free)…. can it get any better?
I’ve always been a big breakfast & morning person. Mornings = new beginnings & new opportunities to improve & create. Even if my friends & I pulled an allnighter, seeing the sun rise was an indicator that I had to prepare a big bowl of oatmeal for me & my friend. Crystal would immediately brighten up once she heard me preparing a bowl of this oatmeal for her. Each spoonful of this heart-healthy oatmeal would not only give us such warm comfort & smiles, but the great citrus tang from the orange zest would wake us up from a painful, long night of autocad-ing. The nutrients & flavors altogether would give us that much needed boost to crank out those final hours by our 2PM submission deadline.
This fruity, nutty, nutritious, vegan & gluten-free oatmeal takes < 5 minutes to prepare. What’s more is that this recipe is so flexible that even if you can’t use even a few ingredients, you can easily experiment & replace them with others. See bottom chef notes for some ideas or stir up your own concoction :)
Citrus Oatmeal with Cranberries & nuts
(makes 1 serving)
-if you don’t have some kind of vanilla milk, use plain milk/water & add 1 tsp of vanilla extract while soaking.
-regular milk can easily be replaced with soy or almond milk. If you can do without the creaminess, then milk can also easily be replaced by water.
-cranberries/raisins are easily interchangeable.
-if you’d like to experiment with fresh/dry fruit, feel free to make any of the following combinations: chopped pears (w/ orange zest/spoonfuls of orange juice mixed with the milk), banana’s with raisins, walnuts, & raisins for a banana bread flavor, &/or apples w/ raisins & cinnamon for an apple pie flavor. Sprinkle some turbinado sugar or pour in just a spoonful of honey or peanut/pumpkin/fig butter after microwaving if desired :)
This is probably one of the most simplest, yet sophisticated foods you can make for breakfast, lunch, or some big snack in between finals. It’s piled over with smoked salmon slices (a powerfood packed with protein, vitamins A & B, & omega 3’s to give your brain that boost) & garnished with dill (an herb that fights bacteria…very helpful for those building models in studio w/ toxic chemicals…)
& lastly, it only takes 5 ingredients & at most, about 10 minutes to prepare. These ingredients can be found in almost any grocery store & are perfect to create other snacks (cream cheese w/ chives & crackers, salmon w/ dill)
So save your body from those sugar-loaded granola bars & junk food & feed yourself some open faced smoked salmon sandwiches to give you that needed boost for finals & charette :)
Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwich
(makes 4 sandwiches)
During my finals, my breaks typically involved some kind of baking or cooking, whether it was to feed myself, to clean out my pantry/fridge, or to feed my friends, or a combination of all of these…. I would always find an excuse to bake and/or cook.
My friend asked me why I wouldn’t just take a break to watch a tv episode/movie, & I told him it’s simply because you can’t even share that with people. you can’t talk over it. but food? food is something you can always give, share, & enjoy with people. & have great conversations over. especially during finals. once you make one batch of cookies, you can give it to SEVERAL acquaintences, friends, professors, etc :) everyone gets a little bit of something.
….& oh, I learned that studying off the computer is a terrible idea, because my roommate & I constantly found myself wandering off through so many websites looking for some cooking classes I could enroll in. Even the night before my ballet final performance, I’d slide a batch of green tea cookies into the oven in between each of my run-throughs my petit allegro. (I prob spent more time baking than dancing & studying combined)
It was one of the most intense & tiring nights. but so. worth. it. mixing the green tea powders together, testing out the green tea cookie batter (& consuming too much caffeine through that) + saute-ing up & down & chasse-ing side to side.. well, you can be certain that i was sore for a week after that.
Honestly, culinary arts is something that I am considering. Whether or not I actually pursue baking as a profession or just keep it as a side hobby, I decided to sign up for a cooking class. While I was shopping at Sur La Table (therapeutic during finals), I I noticed that they had an upcoming macaron baking class. The $69 cost was very painful to see….but I could not resist. I’d go back to the class registration every day, in some hope that the fee would magically decrease, but of course, it didn’t. I ended up enrolling in it. I figured that if I learn the secrets to baking these RIGHT, then I’d no longer be a slave to Bottega Louie or ‘Lettes, but could reproduce them myself & for my friends :)
piping out raspberry buttercream onto each hazelnut crust :) i was scared of making misshaped rounds & overfilling the macarons, but they came out almost perfect!
Me + Chef Katherine Torres, a sweet, knowledgable, patient woman & baker. She graduated from the Art Institute & emphasized to me that those bakers who are artistically talented, are more likely to be skillful in baking than those who aren’t creative/artistic. She has not only inspired me, but she encouraged me. We’ll see where it goes from here ;)
p.s: please don’t ask me to make macarons for you. i received lots of help from her & other women. gotta practice them myself now ;)