Hi, my name is Ali and I LOVE to cook and bake. I have been cooking since I was very small, I have always loved to be in the kitchen with my mom and grandma, cooking, baking, whatever. Right after high school, I went to cooking school for a year and specialized in baking and pastry arts. I have worked in countless restaurants, bakeries, including a university bakery. I recently have taken a "break" from the bakery and restaurant scene, but my goal is to someday bake and sell my goods right out of my own kitchen, or cater parties. My boyfriend is a bread baker and has worked under many chefs, so we always fight over the kitchen, or fight over who gets to make dinner and dessert!
My favorite things to cook
The one area that I am most productive and proficient in is the area of baking and pastry. When I was little, I used to spend my baby-sitting money on cream cheese to bake the perfect cheesecake, or 2 pounds of walnuts to make baklava! I love making difficult desserts and pastries that most people wouldn't even attempt to try. But I also really enjoy baking things lke chocolate chip cookies or a big pan of brownies, you know, the kinds of things everybody loves! But I always like to add a groumet touch. Instead of just regular brownies, I'll make raspberry-cream cheese swirled ones, and instead of regular chocolate chip cookies, I'll make almond-coconut chocolate chip cookies.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My dad was from Holland and I grew up in a the Dutch district of Calgary. Oma (grandma) used to make the best old-world cookies and pastries, and my mom used to buy amazing things from our local Dutch bakery. When we moved to the States, I spent quite a bit of time with my grandma from my mom's side of the family, and she taught me how to can food, make jellies and jams, homemade syrups, bread from scatch, etc. So just being exposed to all this from a very early age helped develop my love of cooking. My favorite tradition is making Christmas cookies and desserts. Every year on November 1, I get to work and start baking all kinds of cookies, bars, candies, rolls, jams, etc, and I carefully label them all and pack them in freezer containers. So by the time Christmas comes around, I will have made at least 20 different varieties of baked goods. Then I make up plates of assorted cookies for all my friends and family.
My cooking triumphs
In cooking school, we had to plan 12-course menus, and my chef-professor chose my project to be prepared for a panel of special guests that would rate my meal. I ended up making a South-Pacific Island cuisine. I was kind of an Asian-Tropical fusion cuisine. Anyways, I made the whole darn meal, and it all came out amazing and I got the best reviews! My cheesecakes are pretty well-known, people have bought them from me for different occasions. I have also been asked to do plates of Christmas cookies for rich people who want good, homemade things but don't have the time to make them.
My cooking tragedies
In cooking school, I sucessfully burned up a pastry bag, burned a whole pot of rice, lit an apron on fire, knocked over a whole rack or appetizers for a party on to the floor, the list goes on! Did I mention that I am kind of klutzy? While employed at the university bakery, I was mixing a HUGE batch of cherry cake, to feed 200-300 people. Well, I was in a big hurry to get the cake done, and I accidently dumped in a whole bottle of peppermint extract instead of almond! It was such a huge batch that we just couldn't throw is away, so we ended up turning the cherry cake into a peppermint cake and frosted them green. They were kind of weird but we sent them to the dining halls anyways!