cooking update | designlovefest

it’s hard to believe but we’re more than half way through our 20 week pro cooking class at the new school of cooking pasadena! it has been an amazingly eye opening experience on so many levels. it has changed the way i cook and truly given me the techniques and skills to take on almost anything. when they tell you at the start of each week what the class will be focused it always feels a little intimidating (pork chops! handmade pasta! deboning a fish! lobster bisque! braised chicken!) we’re going to do that?! and then by the end i always feel like that wasn’t that hard and i feel excited to try and make it again at home.

i feel so much more empowered in the kitchen! one of the most important things that i’m taking away from my time in cooking school is that time and effort leads to serious reward. there are so many things in life that feel out of reach out or not part of my skillset and i realize that if i can put focus on something for an extended period of time i will get better and that accomplishment feels amazing. seems obvious but i forget how rewarding it is to grow and learn at something new. i still share lots of cooking stories on monday on instagram if you’re interested in following along!

cooking update | designlovefest

here are some LESSONS i’ve learned along the way, probably more than this but it’s a start!

PATIENCE IS EVERYTHING. learning to enjoy the whole process of cooking, preparing, and staying organized is what’s kept me in the game. i think it’s important to cook when you aren’t hungry, so you don’t rush the process. you watch the soup grow in flavor while it simmers. you wait for the pan to get piping hot for the perfect sear instead of just rushing into it. keep roasting the carrots longer until they are ready. making something from scratch is so satisfying and sometimes we want to speed up the process. but i promise it’s worth it to take your time and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

cooking update | designlovefest

MISE EN PLACE: i am not really a neat person, but i am learning to be. having a clean space is so helpful for my mood so i have been trying to be less avoidant when it comes to cleaning up. i know a lot of people think that when you have all these little bowls it can add up and be so many dishes. but incorporating mise en place (a french culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place”) really helps you keep tidy and makes cooking way less stressful.

cooking update | designlovefest

• i have these small glass bowls that i put all my ingredients in before i start cooking. you can place all the ingredient bowls on a baking tray so you can easily carry the entire tray to the oven, and then to the sink after. rinse the whole tray and all the bowls right away and you will see how much easier the process is. no stuck on food. also having these mixing bowls for larger ingredients and you can use one as your “scrap bowl” that sits right next to your chopping station and all of the extra pieces and ends go in there and then directly into a freezer bag for stock. (or compost, or trash, up to you. i just get giddy about not wasting food.)this bench scraper will help you easily scoop up all of your chopped veggies to put in a bowl or into a pot. it’s also how i clean my cutting boards so quickly. remember how i talked about the patience portion before? if you are like me and don’t like to just stand around in the kitchen, you can take those extra minutes where your sauce needs more time and do a quick cleanup so that when your food is ready, you feel calm and relaxed.

cooking update | designlovefest

KITCHEN TOOLS! i remember when i first started cooking for real (prob about 2 years ago) before justin moved in i had really sad dull knives from ikea, i had just gotten my first set of nice pans for christmas from my parents, and i was lacking a lot of kitchen tools. while having all the gadgets is exciting, it’s also really not that necessary. i know for me it was overwhelming to think of all the things i still needed in the kitchen. take it slow. learn to cook and make a list of things you really want to purchase next. but as long as you have a heavy duty cutting board (boos blocks is cool), a sharp knife (this is a good one and this is a cheaper starter knifea cast iron skillet, a nonstick skillet for eggs, a pot (love these dutch ovens but they are pricier. this martha stweart one i really like. i think the white inside is important so you can really see the browning happening on the bottom), and a spatula, that is a wonderful start. once you get some momentum, a food processor is a great next step. and a microplane is awesome for zesting, grating garlic, and adding touches of cheese to your final plates.


oh! and williams sonoma has 20% off this weekend, good time to get something you need!


cooking update | designlovefest
cooking update | designlovefest

FOOD SHOPPING: groceries and constant meal ideas. also overwhelming! i get it. i use a variety of things that work for us. once a week i go to grocery store. if i don’t have time or just feeling lazy, i use instacart and that saves me a ton of time and the delivery fee is only $5. i also find that i spend less money when i use instacart because i am not strolling through the aisles just adding a bunch of stuff we don’t need. it saves your favorites in a list…


once every two weeks we have been trying out this CSA delivery (community supported agriculture) where we get fruits veggies and eggs from local farms. it’s $33 and we get the most beautiful produce that inspires a lot of healthy meals. you can grab $15 off using the code BRIE5894 over on farm fresh to you. on those off weeks i love our local store, cookbook. we also try to go to the farmer’s market once a week. i loooove the little south pasadena one on thursday afternoons. the hollywood and santa monica markets are great too, just more crowded so it’s best to go earlier. it’s such a good habit to get into. seeing what’s in season, tasting the produce, talking to the farmers, being a part of the community. i love it so much and always leave feeling happy.

cooking update | designlovefest

LITTLE TOUCHES make such a difference! a zest of lemon with the microplane on top of your omelette. a garnish of fresh herbs. a sprinkle of sea salt on your cookies. finishing your soup with a dash of olive oil and red pepper flakes in the bowl. all of these things make such a big difference with visuals and taste! i try to remember that we eat with our eyes, so put the extra effort into plating. i even garnish my water now, maybe i have taken it too far haha, but it makes me happy!

cooking update | designlovefest

STOCKING UP: i notice that if i don’t keep junk food in the house, i always have fresh produce and some things in my pantry i can eat healthy and not just binge on cheetos. i like to always try to have these available so i can easily make a meal and challenge myself to make something delicious with what we currently have on hand. i also think that meal prepping on sunday has been a great new addition to my life and keeps us on a healthy track at home. i definitely don’t mind eating roasted veggies but if i am starving i am not going to take the time to eat those, i am probably going to eat bread and cheese. having beans, lettuce, roasted veggies, cauliflower rice…these have been lifesavers for me.

fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley, cilantro, thyme, basil)
onions, shallots, green onions

flour, sugar
i love these rice crackers for a healthy snack or to add crunch!
red and white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar

canola oil, olive oil
maldon salt (flaky sea salt), kosher salt, peppercorns
garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin (any of your fave spices)
nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts)
san marzano canned tomatoes
tomato paste
white or red wine to cook with

cooking update | designlovefest

CONFIDENCE AND FAILING: before i learned some techniques that gave me more confidence i remember having that nervous feeling before i made a dish. what if it sucks? what if i burn it or don’t know what i’m doing? well, you might. but you’re learning. and if you just make it again the next night (or that night if you are wacky like me) i promise it will be better. those mistakes are important. remember that fear feels similar to excitement, so just try to look at it like you are excited to cook!

• STAY INSPIRED: i have been watching non stop bon appetit videos (i love molly, she’s so relaxing to watch), gordon ramsey is a great teacher on masterclass. and i recently became obsessed with binge watching jacques pepin on youtube. i have an apple tv so i just stream youtube videos from there onto my tv. that’s my idea of a chill sunday. if i have an idea, let’s say i really want to make gumbo, i will watch 3 or 4 cooking videos and try to learn from watching, and pick up tips from different chefs. and then i just try it right away! challenge yourself to keep making new meals and impress yourself! the confidence you can build from cooking for people you love is amazing. here is a longer list of things i wrote to stay inspired to cook.

cooking update | designlovefest

TEMPERATURE is something that both joanie and i have improved a lot on. i wish i had a reference for how to get better at this, but i will think on it and try to include more about this in my instastories. basically i was clueless on temperature. little tips like butter and olive oil burn when you are trying to sauté in the pan and i should use canola oil or avocado oil or something with a high smoke point. or that i should be getting my pan VERY hot, almost smoking before i try to sear a piece of meat in there (again, patience). or that i should be cooking my eggs on the lowest heat and mixing them constantly. or that liquid reduces at a certain heat. or to bring your soup to a boil and then lower it down and cook for a long time…you get the idea, temperature is a big one.

cooking update | designlovefest

we’re trying to explain the techniques more in depth in our weekly food posts, check out the clam chowder post where we talk about rendering, deglazing, reducing, etc. and let us know if you find it helpful. i feel like once i learned these techniques, a whole new cooking world opened up for me!

hope you find this helpful and i would love to answer any questions you have about the process. xx bri


Add your own

    Glenda wilcox says:

    Where are cooking classes held and how much?

    bri says:

    we go to the New School in Pasadedna, but there is also a culver city location and we’re taking the Pro Cooking class. you can read more here: https://www.newschoolofcooking.com/ Xx

    Rebecca says:

    I think temperature is the biggest thing I always struggle with as well. Also it’s probably a super easy recipe but how did you prepare those mushrooms? They look great!

    bri says:

    not sure of the exact way but generally with mushrooms the trick is getting the pan hot, then add a little oil, add the mushrooms (don’t over crowd them) and a pinch of salt. let them sit on the heat for a bit without moving them so they get a nice sear. you’ll know the mushrooms are done when they start to release their juices. it’s almost impossible to overcook them so you can let them go until you like their color. once they are almost cooked add a clove or two of smashed garlic and some dried or fresh herbs and let that cook in the pan for about 5 minutes. turn off the heat, add a tablespoon of butter and let it melt and spoon it over the mushrooms until it has soaked in. finish with salt + pepper!

    Sina says:

    Where is the green bowl (with the salad) from?

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