Smile #99 – Cooking New Year Celebration

On a whim, Bubble and I signed up for a cooking class – “Date Night: New Year Celebration” at Sur La Table.  We figured it was perfect since I honestly need to learn cooking skills and it would be a new experience for us.  Let’s get learning!  🙂

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The classroom situated at the back of the shop is a full chef kitchen equipped with all sorts of kitchen aids.  Upon our arrival, we were informed tonight is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) Night.  So off we went to next door, Whole Food, for drinks.  The night is always better with a drink!

Our chef, Robyn Moore warmly welcomed us.  Fun fact: she was a past contestant on Chopped.  How cool is that!  She and her assistants, Chef Travis and Mike were around to guide us through each step to prepare our fancy meal.

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Our menu for this evening were:

  • Blini with gravlax and creme fraiche
  • Pan seared steak with Brandy-dijon cream (Steak Diane)
  • Truffled mashed potatoes
  • Dark chocolate souffle with cocoa nib cream

Each table was set up with individual cooking stations with cutting board, a super sharp chef’s knife and a scrape shovel.

Let’s avoid a trip to the ER by starting with how to properly hold a knife.  The proper way of holding a knife is to use our thumb and index finger to grip the blade and our hand will hold the handle.  So I learned tonight I have been holding a knife wrong for forever….

The first course we prepared was the desserts.  That works for me since that is my favorite part of any meal!  Chef Robyn demonstrated how to whisk the cream and techniques to use in mixing.  Noted, not everything should be stirred like Sunday morning pancakes.  She poured the smooth chocolate mixture in the previously buttered souffle cups and let it cool in the refrigerator.

We put our knife skills to work by dicing potatoes for our mashed potatoes.  I was extra careful to avoid any chance of cutting myself.  She added in some truffle oils and truffle salt for flavor and let it cook in the large pot.

In the mean time, we started on our appetizer.  Blini is basically a product of pancake and crepes.  After two groups helped make the batter of yeast, mike, flour eggs, milk, sugar and butter, we each took a turn at the stove.  I was a bit terrify of the oil splashing from the skillet. It also didn’t help when the first guy set the skillet on fire because he added too much oil to the pan…. Good thing Chef Robyn was right by my side.  My blini came out perfectly!  🙂

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Rolled up the blini with a spoonful of herbed creme fraiche and a strip of smoked salmon = delicious!  🙂

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After all of us licked our fingers clean, we moved on to making our main course – pan seared steak.  We generously seasoned our steak with salt and pepper.  Our table-mate volunteered to cook the steaks.  Steak is added to the pan clockwise starting at 12 o’clock.  This method ensures each steak will have even amount of heat.  At medium brown, steak is removed to cool.  Dijon mustard is then spread on the steak before placing in the oven to finish.

While we wait, Chef Robyn shared with us that medium rare is the best temperature for any steak.  If you prefer well-done, then order the filet mignon because that can withstand the heat without sacrificing the meat.  Good tip!

We returned to our cooking station and Bubble took control of the skillet.  He added mushrooms, Cognac, beef broth, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard with the cream.  Stirred it all up over low heat to create the perfect sauce!

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Just in time, our mashed potatoes are ready.  Did you there is a thing called a mashed potato masher?!  Chef Travis helped stir in the warmed milk and adjusted seasoning with truffle salt.

The aroma from all the food filled the room!  Everyone’s mouth were watering!

Dinner is served!  🙂

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The steak was on par with restaurant quality.  It was tender and juicy!  The sauce was fantastic.  I hope Bubble took notes so we can recreate this sauce!  I was so full from the steak and mashed potatoes that I almost forgot about our desserts.

Since we already prepared all the ingredients, Chef Robyn quickly popped our souffle into the oven.  She added cream to a bowl and began whipping the cream with mini chocolate chips for our souffles.  Souffles rose in the cup due to heat; therefore, its beauty only last a few minutes before it deflates.  Regardless, it was delicious!  🙂

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The past three hours passed by quickly.  I can’t believe I am saying this…but I had a fun time learning how to cook.  Our chef was informative and had a sense of humor.  This class is great for cooks with all levels….if I can keep up, everyone else can too!  What a unique date night idea! 🙂


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