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Lyon: Cooking at L’Atelier des Chefs

Perhaps one little-known tidbit about me is that nobody ever taught me to cook. I’ve never been much impressed b my parents’ cooking, so I took over the kitchen myself by the end of my middle school years. My cooking skills are a product of cooking shows, cookbooks, food blogs, and just self-experimentation. I remember the first dish that I’d ever made  from scratch was a cheese soup from allrecipes.com. Not a great resource for serious cooks, I now realize, but back then I was pretty proud of that processed-cheese soup.

Well, during my one-week stay in Lyon I came upon L’Atelier des Chefs, a cooking school offering 30 min – 1.5 hr long classes for non-professionals. Since I was there and wasn’t in a hurry to do anything and the price wasn’t too steep, I decided to give the tart-making class a go.

Reserving a spot was really easy. All I had to do was go on their website, find the course I want, and make my reservation. No need to pay until I got there the next day.

The school is pretty conveniently located in Presqu’ile, about a five minute trek from the Musee des Beaux-Arts. There was a little cooking gadgets store up front and the kitchens and stuff  were at the back. Getting there, I was definitely pretty nervous at first cause it was my first time in a non-touristy environment where I’ll HAVE to rely on my French abilities! No falling back on English if I don’t understand something.

Because I signed up for a class on a weekday morning, there were only 2 other people with me: a 50ish lady and a 12ish boy. A kid, me, and a graying lady; basically we hit all the age groups. The chef ushered us into the kitchen, a big professional kitchen, and handed us aprons and placed us at our stations. He’d already laid out all the ingredients and utensils beforehand, so basically he instructed and demonstrated and we did the tasks needed. It was pretty fun, although a bit quiet once the chef stopped talking cause, well, we three highly diverse people weren’t the most talkative bunch. But I was pretty content just being able to understand everything, and sort of surprised too!

The whole course took about an hour, and afterward they packed up the food for us to take home. It was a pretty enjoyable way to spend the morning, and I created some nice tarts for lunch, but I have to say though, I think I could have learned the same stuff from a cooking show or a book. Sure, it wouldn’t be the same as having someone guide you, but it sure would be a lot cheaper!

Ah, and yes, below is the recipe of one of the tarts that we made, translated by yours truly from http://www.atelierdeschefs.fr/fr/recette/4122-tarte-sablee-au-parmesan-compotee-d-aubergines-basilic-et-anchois.php:

Tart with parmesan crusts, basil eggplant compote and anchovies

For the biscuits:
– wheat flour 150g
– soften butter 150g
– shredded Parmesan 150g
– egg 1
– pinch of salt

For the filling:
– 3 pieces eggplant
– 1/2 bunch (10 sprigs?) fresh coriander
– oil packed anchovies 24 pieces
– white onions 2 medium
– cumin 5g
– basil 1/2 bunch (10 sprigs?)
– 3 tsp olive oil
– 5 tsp water
– grilled pepper antipasto 24 pieces

For the garnishing:
– roquette leaves 300g
– lime 1
– olive oil to taste
– sea salt flakes to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C.
  2. Mix together flour, parmesan, a pinch of salt and butter in a medium-sized bowl until well-incorporated. Then add egg and roll into dough-like ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and then slap between two pieces of parchment paper. Stick into the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Once done, cut out eight disks of tart crust using any hollow round-rimmed object (e.g. cookie cutter, a glass). Set aside to let cool.
  3. Dice eggplant and onions. Chop up fresh herbs and set aside.
  4. In a very hot pan, heat 3 tsp olive oil. Add onions, eggplant, a pinch of salt and saute for a min, then add 5 tsp water and cover. Once there’s no more water, let the eggplants sweat out their juices. Once the veggies stick a bit to the pan, stir them a bit and then add coriander, basil, and any spices you feel like adding (e.g. cumin maybe? Or curry? Not really necessary but if you want an extra kick, there you go)
  5. Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing 10 tsp olive oil, the juice of one lime, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Now, here’s the method to assembling those tart towers: parmesan disk + eggplant mixture + antipasto peppers and anchovies, and repeat! Sprinkle the top with leftover herbs and drizzle everything with olive oil. Serve with a simple roquette salad. Nom nom nom.

My tarte sablee! It held together better when cold

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Lyon, Recipes, Travels | 1 Comment

Failed Bread and Awesome Pumpkin Soup

Failed Bread and Awesome Pumpkin Soup

This morning I baked some failed bread. Yep, it was pretty fail, again. Basically, it tasted like sawdust. Ok, maybe not as bad as sawdust, but it just totally lacked flavour. And the crumb wasn’t very good either; it was too firm. And the crust was too hard…I think I made have left it in the oven too long at too high a temperature. AHH.

Usually when I make breads I just follow my own whims and throw recipes to the winds; perhaps that’s the reason that most of the breads that I have baked usually turn out pretty bland and tasteless. With this latest addition to my bread-baking repertoire I tried to reverse that trend by leaving the dough to rise overnight so that it may take on more complex flavours, but alas, either my yeast was dead or my ingredients hate me. Sigh. Next time I should try using an actual preferment.

But on another, happier note, tonight I made the most wonderful soup that I’ve ever made! Pumpkin soup!!! And I followed my own improvised recipe as well, so I must say that I’m pretty proud of myself right now. The flavours of the pumpkin and curry spice stood out really well. It was nice and creamy even though I didn’t use dairy at all. A nice, healthy alternative to traditional cream-based pumpkin soups.

Anyways, here is my recipe for Curried Pumpkin Soup:


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • half an onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1.5 tbsp miso paste (just dumped it in cause I had it on hand; not sure whether it affects the final flavour much)
  • 1 small pumpkin, seeded and chopped into chunky cubes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • sprigs of watercress (optional)


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder and stir for another minute.
  3. Add chopped pumpkin and miso paste into the saucepan. Stir to coat and quickly add in the chicken broth and water.
  4. Bring everything to a slow boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Once cooked, remove saucepan from heat. Separate the pumpkin chunks from the liquid and puree the former in a food processor. Note: I left some of the pumpkin chunks unpureed because a)I was lazy, and b)it adds a nice texture difference to the soup.
  6. Mix the pureed pumpking back into the broth and reheat if desired. Add water to adjust the consistency of the soup if necessary.
  7. Spoon soup into shallow bowls and serve with a few sprigs of watercress if desired.

And tada! Curried pumpkin soup! Yum yum yum =P

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | 1 Comment

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

Last week was one of my friends’ birthday. Since I’m such a lazy student with so much time on my hands, I decided to bake her a cake.

It was a three layered pound cake covered with chocolate ganache with white chocolate shavings on the sides. The cake base recipe I got from smittenkitchen and the ganache I just followed the simple guidelines from allrecipes.com. Assembling the whole thing took me a long time because, my golly, that ganache was quite recalcitrant! It kept refusing to stay on the sides so that I had to put the cake into the freezer for the ganache to set after each application. I sure created quite a mess for my parents!

Hmm…not much I can say about the taste of the cake, though, since I ate so much of it while I was assembling everything together that I got quite sick of cake by the time I presented it to my friend. But everyone seemed to have liked it, especially the chocolate ganache, so yay =D

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | 1 Comment