Amanda Haas at the San Francisco Cooking School

by Kitchen Ladies

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Okay, honestly, this was the best day that I have had in San Francisco since we moved here a year and a half ago – with the exception of the ride I got on an Oracle Racing AC 45  on San Francisco Bay during an America’s Cup race!

Looking for culinary enrichment, I signed up for a class at the San Francisco Cooking School in Recipe Testing & Development with Amanda Haas, Founder of One Family One Meal, author of Cooking Light, Real Family Food, and Williams-Sonoma’s Test Kitchen Manager. The objective of the class was to be able to create recipes and write them out so that they work consistently for all types of cooks. As you can imagine, out of the 15 people enrolled, there were five food bloggers (me included).

The class was an all-day affair in the most amazing state-of–the–art kitchen facility ever! I was blown away and even better, we had a dishwasher all day cleaning everything up as we tore through the place-awesome!

Our first assignment was to take a recipe from one of Amanda’s books and recreate it. The recipe was Farfalle with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes and we broke off into pairs to create the dish. I got to work with food blogger Stephanie Hua and when all was done we laid out our dishes and tasted them all. As tribute to a recipe well written, even though each dish looked slightly different, their taste was quite similar. Overall they were amazing.

Our second assignment was to make a potato soup choosing what we wanted from a long list of possible ingredients. I worked with blogger Becky Ebeling who was quick to pick fennel from the list and chose to roast it before adding to the soup-brilliant! We had to measure, write down and keep track of timing and ingredients, which as bloggers we already do but also know that it’s not always easy! Many of us are seat-of-the pants when it comes to cooking, a pinch here and a pinch there so it’s important to run through the recipes several times to make sure that they can be recreated by another. In the end, everyone came up with a different spin on potato soup and I have to say; I think that our soup was the best and will be posting the recipe next week!

The last assignment was to work individually and create a dish with our choice of chicken, skirt steak or risotto and have at it! We had access to the entire kitchen and all of the extras that we could possibly need. For a moment I felt as if we were on an episode of the Top Chef as the excitement was palpable. Hurriedly we all ran around to gather our items. I chose a skirt steak, shallot, garlic, rosemary and mushrooms and off I went. My dish was fast and simple as far as content but none-the-less delicious! I knew I had done well when Amanda walked by, tasted it and said, “By the way, your skirt steak kicks a@#!”

At the end of the day we all sat down to a glass of wine and tasted everyone’s creations. The day was an invaluable one for me as Amanda was constantly teaching throughout the day talking about “notes of flavor,” showing different knife techniques, discussing choices of wine for cooking, showing us how to know how “well” meat is cooked just by touch, and last but not least discussing what’s involved when it comes to writing up and publishing your recipes and the benefits of hiring a test kitchen to evaluate your recipes.

Overall, it was a great day and when it was done I raced home. It was Super Bowl Sunday and I flew into the house just in time for kick off although you might have thought I was Ray Lewis by my entrance as I was completely wired and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about my day, every minute of it! Well, I had to calm down as no one really wanted to hear about it at that moment as it was kick off and the SF 49ers were on the field.

Would I recommend The San Francisco Cooking School? ABSOLUTELY! I will be back for sure and am already sad at the thought of moving back to the East Coast, as there is just not enough time to cram in all that I want to do between now and then.

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