Culinary Arts inspires recipes for lovers

Students plate delicious entrées in mock restaurant. (ANDREA CLEMETT/ LARIAT)

Light romantic candles, sip on wine and cook at home

Walking into Saddleback College’s culinary arts department is like sitting in the audience of Top Chef. The atmosphere is lively with energy while aromas from the simmering curry sauces are intoxicating.

In less than two years an aspiring chef can earn a certificate in culinary arts. Students have an array of goals in the field such as chef, personal chef, catering entrepreneur, baker and restaurant owner. Some students have internships in hotel restaurants as line cooks in order put their skills in action.

The advanced culinary class is comprised of students of all ages and ethnicities who are sharpening their knife skills. Chefs practice production cooking, plating and the infrastructure of the kitchen, furthering their expertise in the major cuts from veal to halibut.

The enthusiasm from the chefs display an abundance of camaraderie as they work and learn from one another. The course prepares students in all facets of the restaurant, from ordering, to serving and cooking on the line.

“The Saddleback College has a diverse list of courses that teaches you fundamentals while working in a fast-paced environment,”said Mychal Curington, a 28-year-old culinary student. “Taking full advantage of the knowledge I have been afforded has allowed me to transition into the industry having high, but realistic expectations.”

For Valentine’s Day, the chefs suggested shying away from the cliched entrées like oysters that could easily go wrong with a single bad one. Instead, they recommended using spices and herbs as a romantic aphrodisiacs.

The head of the department, Lisa Inlow, indicated chef coats are available to all students even those not entering the culinary vocational field. Take the heat and stay in the kitchen.

The Culinary II course shared the following Valentine’s Day inspired recipes.


Griddled Scallops with Sweet Chili

Sauce and Cream Sauce

Makes 20


10 sea scallops

salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce

1 recipe croutes

6 tablespoons creme fraiche

20 cilantro leaves to garnish


Cut each scallop in half. Preheat grill pan over high heat. Sear scallops, 1 minute per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss with chili sauce.

Place 1 scallop half on to each croute. Top with 1 tsp creme fraiche. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Sear and sauce scallops up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Top croutes up to 1 hour in advance.


Curry Chicken

Serves 8


8-ounce onion (small diced)

2 teaspoons garlic (crushed)

1 ounce clarified butter (or ghee)

Masala (wet)

2 ounces ginger, fresh

1 ó teaspoons turmeric, ground

1 ó teaspoons coriander, whole

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon pepper, cayenne

ó teaspoon fenugreek, ground

20 ounces coconut milk

1 ea chicken, whole 2 ó -3 ó pounds (cut

into 8 pieces)

1 teaspoon salt

3 each pepper, green chile (split lengthwise)

1 ounce lemon juice (fresh)


Stir-fry the onions and garlic in the ghee or butter until the onions are golden brown. To make the wet masala, mix the ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and fenugreek; add just enough of the coconut milk to form a paste. Add the wet masala to the onions and stir-fry for 8 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk, salt and chiles. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 45 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with saffron rice and a chutney.


Cherry Almond Fluorines

Serving Size ó

Use a Sheet Pan


1 pound, 8-ounce sweet


6 ounces sugar (make sure

it’s granulated)

2 ounces glucose

3 ounces water

5 ounces butter (cubed)

2.5 ounces honey

3 ounces cream, heavy

(brought to boiling)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

11 ounces almonds, sliced

(toasted prior and let cool

before use)

2 ounces cherries-(dried)

Chocolate added as desired


Line a half-size sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the chilled sweet dough 1⁄8 inch (3 millimeters) thick and slightly larger than the half-size sheet pan.Line the bottom and sides of the sheet pan with the dough. Prick the dough with a fork. Bake blind at 375°F until blond in color, approximately 8 to 11 minutes.Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Boil the sugar, glucose and water to a golden caramel, approximately 325°F (160°C). Add the butter and honey to the caramel, then add the boiling cream. Bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, almonds and cherries. While still warm, spread the mixture onto the prebaked crust in a thin, even layer. Bake at 375°F for approximately20 minutes or until the center has set and is golden brown. Cool completely, trim the edges then cut into 2-inch-squares. Dip one corner of each piece in tempered semisweet chocolate.

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