How I found my cooking mojo back

We cooked up a storm at Cookyn Inc’s kitchen last week, thanks to the folks at IKEA and one9ninety.

Somehow through the process, I think I’ve managed to find my cooking mojo back. (I confess: Being a part-time employee and a full-time mum has squeezed whatever interest I had in cooking and baking out of me.)

But after I saw all the food, oh glorious food, I was almost inspired to run home and dig out my apron again (if I can find it, that is).

Here’s our menu for the evening:

marinated herring, shaved cucumber, mandarin oranges with dill cavier cream
smoked salmon and potato gratin
cold shrimp with mayo in vol-au-vent shells
chocolate kladdkaka with raspberries

First, we were broken up into small groups, and we (Dawn from 365 days to play, singer Cheryl Wee, and me) got tasked with some cake baking action! (My favourite, woohoo!)

We took turns using our muscle power to mix the batter of eggs and sugar and flour. Then we poured in the mixture of chocolate powder and melted butter. We mixed and mixed and huffed and puffed. Finally, after adding some water, the batter was beginning to look right — not too thick, just right. And we poured the chocolaty batter into an IKEA cake baking tin.
choc cake

And look at the result! If you think this looks great, you’ve gotta taste it. It’s like a brownie — lightly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. One word: Mmm…

choc cake yum

Next, Mervyn showed us how to prepare the salmon for smoking. Here are the salmon fillets carefully laid on the wire rack, and placed above a tray filled with wood chips. The wood chips give the salmon a nice smoky taste. (You can also substitute the wood chips with some oolong tea leaves, and it gives the same results.)

Some tips from the chef:

  • Brine the salmon in salt and sugar for 1.5hr before cooking, then wash off. (This helps to break down the protein so that when the fish is cooked, there are no unsightly white bits.)
  • Don’t overcook. The salmon meat should still be pinkish, but should also flake apart easily with a fork.

salmon gratin

Here’s the smokin’ hot salmon (was absolutely yummy on its own!) All we did was to layer the potatoes, salmon, and cheese sauce into a ramekin, and top with mozzarella cheese. And then pop it into the oven!

salmon gratin

Mine turned out not-so-pretty, but oh well, it still tasted good! I learnt that I have to be more generous with the filling and sprinkle more cheese…


Next, we were shown how to plate an appetizer of marinated herring, shaved cucumber, mandarin oranges with dill caviar cream. Complete with a dash of truffle oil.

herring ingred

FIrst, you dob some dill caviar cream onto the plate. Mervyn did his with a ‘swoosh’ stroke which we all taught was pretty cool – so we all followed suit. (Lol, talk about creativity!)

Next, layer the shaved cucumber beside the ‘swoosh’, top with a piece of herring, then a slice of mandarin orange, and finally some dill to beautify things. I really like the colours of this plate, so bright and summery!

It was my first time plating a dish like this! Also my first time tasting herring, which was a bit weird because it’s texture resembles more of meat rather than fish. A very odd fish, but not unpleasant.

herring plate

While the chocolate kladdkaka was baking, and the salmon and potato gratin was smokin’, and the herring was sitting pretty waiting to be eaten, we got down to making the filling for the vol-au-vent shells! For this dish, we only had to flex our eye power and cheer our friendly chef on. =P

prawn salad

Voila! Our shrimp and mayo vol-au-vent!

shrimp vol au vent

Our humble chef (and his helpers) made everything look so easy…Looking at all the pictures, I’m quite amazed that we accomplished so much in that short 3 hours (includes eating, taking photos, and toilet breaks even!)

I also found some of his tips useful, such as these ones on how to get the most out of your avocado:

  • If you want to keep an avocado from turning black, put the seed back in after halving it, squeeze some lemon juice over the avocado and cling-wrap it.
  • Carve avocado with a knife into cubes (care, you don’t want to cut through the skin and graze your hand) before scooping out. This ensures that you get nice whole pieces.

Thanks IKEA and Cookyn Inc for organising this lovely session, and more importantly…for helping me get my cooking mojo back!

If you’d like to get a taste of this Swedish cooking experience first hand, hop over to IKEA’s Facebook page to join their Pretty Smart Kitchen contest. Just submit your favourite kitchen / cooking / eating photo, and you stand a chance to win a spot at their next cooking session!

Have fun!

Now…what should I bake this weekend? 🙂

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