For my first home cooking lab I made creamy herb chicken. I served this dish with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, steamed carrots and steamed broccoli. I tried to make a balance meal, that would appeal to all members of my family, as we all have different dietary concerns. I cooked the chicken in a sauce and the recipe for the sauce was very simple, with it only consisting of garlic, corn starch, milk, parsley and a variety of herbs and spices. To cook the chicken, I pan fried it until it was cooked all the way through and then I used the same pan to make the sauce. This sauce seemed like it would be easy to make as the recipe was so simple, but once I started making it I realized it completely relies on me “tasting to season!” The sauce needed to be super flavourful, with rosemary and thyme coming through strongly and not being overpowered by the garlic. I tasted and seasoned many times, until I felt the sauce was perfect. I did not use a recipe for the garlic mashed potatoes, so I was really worried about the garlic flavour being too strong, but my mom was in the kitchen with me, helping me “wing” the mashed potatoes! My vegetables turned out delicious and really balanced out the meal. I made this meal the first night my older sister was out of her 2 week travel quarantine, as she lives in New York and flew home so she was quarantined for 2 weeks upon her travel. This was the first family meal we had and it was so amazing to be surrounded by ALL the people I love and a delicious meal. This meal symbolized me welcoming my sister home. My family loved all the flavours in the chicken and how all the different dishes of the meal tied together so well. I rated this a 5/5 and would definitely make it again:)
For our last lab before spring break, we made a breakfast hash. Since we had a break coming up, there were lots of ingredients left in the fridge which would go to waste unless we used them and hash is a dish that you can really throw whatever you want in and it will work, so we were able to utilize so many things that could’ve gone to waste. This was a super efficient way to use ingredients that could’ve gone to waste and make a delicious meal. In our hash we used eggs, turnip, potato, bacon, pepper, onion and garlic. We had to par cook our potatoes and turnips before adding them to the onions, so that they would cook all the way through and get crispy in the hash. My partner and I decided to par cook our turnips and potatoes in the microwave, versus boiling them and it was not the most efficient move. The microwave removed the moisture from the vegetables, but it did not cook them enough, so they were not cooked enough in our hash. I had a new partner for this lab, so it felt different being in a new unit and working with someone I don’t know very well, but we worked well together! I do not love hash to start with, so this was not one of my favourite dishes. It felt thrown together to me and that the ingredients did not match very well together. I rated this dish a 2.5/5 as I felt it lacked flavour and the vegetables needed to be in bigger chunks, so they aren’t so small and hard to get on your fork. I would not make this dish again as it felt random and I would rather eat each item in the hash individually.
For one of first deserts of foods class, we made pineapple delight. This is a really simple desert consisting of a graham crumb layer, sweet icing, whipped cream and crushed pineapple to top it off. Making this desert was a super fun process with my group as we were all on a different duty (ex. making the whip cream, making the crust, making the icing) so when we were each done our step we got to bring each component together. I loved how the graham crust provided a layer of crunch in contrast to the light, fluffy whipped cream layer. This was one of our 80’s inspired deserts, so it was so fun to do a throwback recipe. The only challenge for me in this lab was making sure I didn’t over whip the whipped cream, so it would turn in to butter. I rate this a 4/5 as it was super delicious and had great textures, but the crust could’ve been thicker and the pineapple chunks needed to be broken up and smaller. I would definitely make this desert again for a special occasion because it Was super easy to make and doesn’t call for any crazy ingredients!
For my favourite lab so far we made some delicious Mexican rice! This lab was inspired by our guest chef from LaSelle College, who demoed the rice the day before we made it. This dish was full of so many flavours and fresh ingredients, which made it so amazing to eat. This dish is meant to be super flavourful and have “layers” of flavours, so the biggest challenge for me was to make sure I could bring all those flavours out. A super important step is to “season to taste” multiple times during the lab, to make sure you aren’t missing any flavours and that the flavours coming through. This dish was something super different from everything we’ve made before as it was a super cultural dish, using new flavours and ingredients from our other labs. I absolutely loved this dish, as the ingredients were so fresh and all the delicious flavours made it so enjoyable to eat and because of that I rated it 5/5 stars! I have made this dish 2 times for my family and they loved it as well. Something amazing about this dish is the fact that it is so balanced, with beans for your meat and alternatives, rice for grains and multiple vegetables. This makes a perfect lunch or dinner food, especially when having company over!
For this lab I got the opportunity to customize and make a veggie frittata to my liking. This was my first time making frittata, but I felt pretty comfortable making it as I often make omelettes, which is a similar dish. Frittata Is an egg breakfast staple dish, along with quiches and omelettes. I filled my frittata with broccoli, spinach and cauliflower, with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. In this lab I had to pre cook my cauliflower and broccoli, by roasting them in the oven, which was a new skill learned because I have never roasted vegetables before! This dish really opened my eyes to just how easy it is to take traditional eggs and throw in a few more ingredients and you have yourself a super healthy meal. This is a perfectly balanced breakfast as it covers many food groups and would be a great way to kickstart your metabolism in the morning. I absolutely loved this lab and have made it so many times since, as it is pretty quick and easy to make and provides me with lots of nutrients. I rated this dish a 5/5 because of all the delicious flavours and the fact that it is great for you.
For this lab we made basic crepes, with a filling of our choice. This was my first time making crepes and I thought it would be a much harder process then it turned out to be! The crepe recipe consisted of 6 simple ingredients and the cooking process was simple as well. In my group everyone was struggling making their crepes perfectly thin, but I had some beginners luck and was able to make my crepes thin and help everyone else achieve thin crepes. The product standards were to be golden brown and thin, so we can fold in our filling. My partner and I made a blueberry filling which went great with the soft crepe. We also made our own whipped cream which added another layer of sweetness to this delicious dish. I rated my crepe a 4/5 because I loved the dish but I felt my filling could’ve been sweeter and cooked for a little longer to make it softer. A personal success I had in this lab was the fact that my crepes turned out so well and thin on my very first time making them!
For a lab to go hand in hand with shakshuka, we made a rustic bread. Making the bread looked like a pretty simple task, as there was only 5 ingredients in the recipe, but it turned out to be challenging. It was challenging for me because we were using warm water to activate the yeast and I felt like my water wouldn’t be warm enough to activate the yeast, and because of that my bread wouldn’t rise. In the end my bread rose just fine and turned out perfectly! My bread was nicely brown on the outside and its thick crust provided the crunch we were looking for. We made this bread to go along with the shakshuaka lab, as it was nice to dip it in and add that crunchy texture the shakshuka was lacking. I absolutely loved this bread and would make it again many times because of the simple ingredients and simple steps to making it. It is also a really great thing to make when having company over because it has that homemade taste, without the preservatives in bread from the store and would be impressive that you made your own bread! I rate this 5/5 stars because I loved it and when I made it for family and friends they had the same reaction!
For one of the last breakfast labs we made shakshuka with feta! I was absent from school the day this lab took place, so I got to make my dish at home. This dish originated from North America, but is a traditional breakfast food served in Israel. This was a dish full of tons of flavours and textures and something that makes it so appealing is all the colours of the dish. My goal going in to this lab was to create all the flavours the dish was supposed to have. I believe my shaksuka was fairly flavourful but it could’ve used some more pepper and paprika. The method for this dish was egg cookery, knife skills with all the veggies and sautéing the veggies. I believe my shakshuka did reach my desired product standards of being flavourful, appealing to the eye, colourful, rich and having tender eggs, yet this meal was not my cup of tea. I rated this a 2.5/5 just because this dish seemed a little random and the ingredients were not well matched in my opinion. Having the eggs in the middle of the soft peppers, onions, tomatoes and arugula did not provide textures as all the ingredients were soft. I felt that the flavours of each veggies matched with the egg did not work and my taste buds did not like it. On the other hand, my family who I cooked for liked the dish but they agreed the flavours of the ingredients were not well matched. I would not make this dish again based on my experience with it this time.
For the breakfast sandwich lab I had the opportunity to build my own sandwich and choose what I put inside. My sandwich consisted of 2 strips of bacon, a fried egg, a hash brown patty and creamy avocado spread, all built inside a homemade English muffin. I have never tried a breakfast sandwich before and I was really surprised how great it was to eat all my favourite breakfast foods inside a English muffin. For this lab we were cooking and planning on our own, so I found it challenging to work so independently and come up with a plan on my own. I made my English muffins at home 2 days before the lab and it was a very difficult process. I had to be very patient with the dough, as it took a long time to rise and be ready to bake. The English muffins did not turn out to the texture and appearance as the ones you get in the store, but I could definitely taste how homemade and preservative free my muffins were! The most difficult part of the lab and the biggest learning curve I had during it was making the English muffins, as it was like nothing I have ever made before. We did this recipe because it was a great introduction to working and planning independently and because you got to personalize your sandwich to your liking. I gave my sandwich 4 stars out of 5, because of all the amazing textures contrasted with one another, from the crispy bacon and hash brown patty, to the soft creamy avocado spread. I think I could’ve used a few more flavours, maybe even some heat just to add another layer of depth to the flavour. If I were to Make my sandwich again I would add in some more veggies just for some more crunch and flavours.
For the “How do you like your eggs” foods lab I made a fried egg. We had multiple options of how to make eggs, but I chose a fried egg to make because its not something I really ever make. I found the fried egg was very easy to make, but I felt a lot if pressure when it came to cracking the egg because I didn’t want the yolk to break! Luckily my yolk did remain whole and it was cooked completely through, which was my preferred consistency. Both sides of my egg were golden brown, with their edges slightly crispy and the white of the egg was cooked, which meant my egg met product standards. For this lab I was back cooking with a group so I found it challenging to have four of us trying to utilize all 4 burners on the stovetop, but we cooperated really well and took turns in a way that everyones eggs turned out just how they wanted to. I was most proud of myself for choosing an egg I don’t regularly make, instead of choosing scrambled or cooked in the shell eggs, which I make all the time. I served my egg on a English muffin which I toasted so you could really feel the difference between the crispy muffin and the soft egg. I rated this dish a 4/5 because it felt like it needed more to go with it and it needed some more flavours to go with it. I will definitely make this dish again as its a great breakfast food because it gives you protein which starts your morning off right!