With this keystroke, I begin my first foray into online publishing. While this may seem less than noteworthy, for me, it’s a very big deal. I had resisted writing online before now for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s a big commitment, a commitment that, in the past, I wasn’t sure I wanted to make.
For 15 years, I worked as an independent contractor for Safeway stores, both writing the recipes for their packages and magazine and bringing in new products. Although it was only 180 hours a month, my job kept me quite busy. I love my life’s work, and I loved that job. I worked from home, but whenever I went into the office, I brought food. Needless to say, everyone was always happy to see me. My only regret about Safeway was that it took me away from teaching cooking. There is no doubt in my mind that I was born to teach. I fell into cooking by accident.
In 2014, opportunity knocked. Safeway was sold to Albertson’s, and I found myself without a job. I wasn’t sad. It was time to move on. I wasn’t prepared, however, for having so much time on my hands. Having nothing important to do all day was like watching bread dough rise for 8 hours. It took me exactly 28 days to realize: I can’t do retirement. To be happy everyday, I need a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. It took me just five minutes more to realize what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I realized I would go back to my first love, my only true love, really: teaching cooking.
After all these years I have decided to reinvent myself. This means joining the 21st century. I’ve joined Facebook. I’ve secured a business FB page, Cooking with Class. I’ve even launched a website, www.CookingwClass.com. And today, I take on Blogging.
Who am I to teach cooking? What experience do I have? My career as a cooking teacher began in 1968, when my oldest daughter began kindergarten in Encino, California. When I heard a fellow mom describe a gourmet club to raise money for the PTA, my ears perked up. I had learned to cook in France and was eager to learn more. For this club, one had to teach a cooking class in her home. All the Mom Students paid $20 and the volunteer Mom Teachers would instruct as many as would fit into her kitchen. I spent weeks designing and testing recipes for a complete menu for my class of 15 women. I was so nervous, I don’t know how I ever got through it. The star of the meal was steak cooked in a bag, a recipe I adapted from my days living in France. The rest of the menu is a complete blank, but I do remember that people loved my class and the food. My strongest memory, of course, is that I forgot to pick up the carpool. That aside, I had discovered my life’s passion: teaching the culinary arts. That class was the beginning of my career as a cooking teacher, which eventually led to opening my own cooking school and cookware shop in southern California.
Here is the entrée I cooked at my first cooking class for the Lanai Road School PTA. The recipe was so popular that I put it into my first cookbook, Cookery for Entertaining. (People refer to that book as the watermelon whale book because that is what is on the cover.)
I have updated the recipe for several reasons. The most important one is that some brown bags now catch fire when baked. Easily resolved; switch to a store bought oven roasting bag. I’ve also changed the bread from egg bread to whole wheat. I like to use whatever bread I have in the kitchen. I also have discovered that the best steaks are ones that are salted at least 40 minutes before cooking. This early salting improves the texture, juiciness, and flavor of the meat,
Pepper, Garlic & Cheddar Crusted Steak Baked in a Bag
A relatively inexpensive cut, top sirloin becomes juicy, tender and bursting with flavor when baked in a bag with pepper, garlic and cheese.
1 (2 to 3 lb.) top sirloin steak, cut 2 to 2½ inches thick
3 teaspoons kosher salt
4 to 5 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, toasted
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 to 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1¼ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 oven roasting bag
Cut excess fat off steak. Season both sides with salt and let stand at room temperature for 40 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile make breadcrumbs by tearing bread into pieces. Put into food processor and process into crumbs. Measure 1 cup; reserve remainder for another use.
Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in garlic, pepper, cheese and breadcrumbs.
Arrange rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Wipe steak dry. Spread bottom with one-quarter of the coating; it will be very thin. Spread the remainder thickly over the top.
Put an oven roasting bag into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Using a large spatula, move steak to bag. Cut 6 small slits in the top.
For medium rare, bake for 30 minutes. Cut top of bag open and push it to the sides of the steak so the entire top is exposed. Bake for 10 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer register 130°. For medium steak, bake 4 to 5 minutes longer to 140°.
Using a large spatula, transfer steak to cutting board. Let rest 15 minutes before carving into ⅓ inch slices.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.