Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cooking Lessons

Yesterday, I helped a family friend prep dishes for a party today in what I think is truly a cook's dream kitchen. She had multiple burners including a wok burner, two ovens, one steam oven, several warmers and chillers, built-in deep fryer, three sinks, two dishwashers, built-in coffee and espresso maker, all Viking and Miele appliances, built in wine fridge (to complement the huge wine cellar in the basement).  She had attended culinary school and also owned her own restaurant. I picked up a lot of great recipes from her; we made the following dishes:
five spice pulled pork buns with lightly pickled cucumbers and cilantro
lamb chops with cilantro parsley cashew pesto and tzaziki sauce
noodles with tahini garlic soy sauce mixed with chopped peanuts and scallions
egg rolls
chocolate mousse
I learned a lot from her about balance, complex flavor profiles, and how to bring it all together into one harmonious, incredibly flavorful dish.  Her food is incredibly savory with multiple layers and nuances of flavors. Even the dishes that looked deceptively simple, like the noodles, had a long list of steps and ingredients, including such diverse components such as tahini, white balsamic, chili oil, rice vinegar, stewed garlic, rock sugar, sesame oil.  Every element is crucial to the final taste.  Her food is flavorful and rich, without being overpowering, and just delicious.  We also had some tasty elderflower martinis and homemade limoncello.  Her house is way up in the hills of Milpitas. The surroundings are quite gorgeous, with rolling grassy hills and lots of horses.

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