Showing posts with label Cooking Classes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking Classes. Show all posts

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Rosy the Reviewer's Master Review of MasterClass - Part 1: Gordon Ramsay - Teaches Cooking 1

To begin with, I don't know about you, but I am a bit of a celebrity watcher.  In my youth, I had aspirations to be an actress and have always been fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous.  Let's just say, I always thought that Oprah and I would have been great friends.

So when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in a "special" that MasterClass was offering - a two-for-one kind of deal - I decided, yes, I wouldn't mind spending some time cooking with Gordon Ramsay or getting writing tips from Roxane Gay.

So, first of all, just what is Master Class?

In a nutshell, MasterClass is a subscription online education program where experts (and yes, celebrities) give pre-recorded tutorials and lectures. Topics range from music to cooking to writing to sports to business to government - you name it.  But the fun part is - you get to hang out with a celebrity or an expert on a topic and learn something at the same time.

I decided to start with some cooking classes with Gordon Ramsay, because as you know I love to cook (I have written about my own cooking adventures in "Rosy's Test Kitchen #1,#2, #3, #4 and #5).  Next I want to try Mindfulness and Meditation with John Kabat-Zinn because I want to be mindful and improve my meditation practice, then on to writing tips from Roxanne Gay because as you know I love to write and then style tips from Tan France (the style guy on the new version of "Queer Eye") because you know I love fashion. I am reviewing my very first MasterClass! 

Gordon Ramsay - Teaches Cooking 1

I have always been a Gordon Ramsay fan from "Hells Kitchen" to his latest "Uncharted" adventures.  I figured out early that despite his sometimes raging, angry television persona, he is really a pussy cat.  And, after seeing this first Masterclass, I am not only convinced of that, but also see why he is considered a chef at the top of his game.

His Masterclass consists of 20 videos, each ranging from 6 minutes to 25 for a total of almost four hours. It begins with a four minute intro with arty shots of Gordon's hands and some vegetables, which you can skip, but after that it's a riveting display of Gordon Ramsay's skills as a chef with so many good tips for us amateurs that my head is whirling (good thing there is a downloadable workbook available). 

The series begins with Gordon explaining how he became a chef. I feel I can now call him Gordon after spending almost four hours with him just him and me.  He was a rugby star but at 16 snapped his leg so that was out.  So his parents made him take a foundation course in catering and the rest is history.  He is very candid, unscripted and talks off the cuff - all very Gordon but nary a "f**k me" to be heard!  Well, I know.  That would be asking too much so there are a few. Okay a lot, but you will hardly notice. He actually mostly says "beautiful!" when describing him own cooking!

So then with video #3, we get into the nitty gritty of cooking with him giving me a tour of his kitchen and explaining the importance of a good kitchen layout and the basic essentials of a good kitchen - great pots and pans, good knives, not sure about the blow torch and the smoking gun, though. That video is followed by mastering vegetables and herbs, knife skills, poaching the perfect egg, elevating scrambled eggs, breaking down a chicken, how to cook fish and meat, making pasta dough and ending with some "Advice for Life."  In the meantime, he unlocks the secrets to his iconic Beef Wellington as well as demonstrating how to cook some dishes - Salmon with Shellfish Minestrone, Lobster Ravioli, and Chicken Supreme with Root Vegetables.

Some of this might be overwhelming for the amateur cook.  Will I be making my own pasta or breaking down a whole chicken or a whole fish that is as big as my arm any time soon?

Will I use sea urchin to elevate my scrambled eggs?  Probably not.  I don't even know where I would find a sea urchin, but at least now I know how to break down a chicken and a fish, if I wanted to, and make killer scrambled eggs!  

But whether or not you can see yourself following through with some of these recipes or techniques, watching Gordon do his thing is fascinating.  He has such a reverence for the ingredients.  When he breaks down the chicken, he handles each piece so gently and places it so beautifully on the counter. Even if you don't believe in eating meat or fowl, at least Gordon gives those ingredients respect.  And when he plates the chicken for his Chicken Supreme, I was in awe of all of the details he used to make it perfect.

So, here are some of my main takeaways:

  • Do not chop herbs.  Drop them whole onto the dish at the end.  Chopping them destroys the flavor.
  • Don't peel carrots.  "Brush them."  And the worst thing you can do to a baby carrot is dice it.
  • Don't be scared by "ugly" vegetables such as celery root and fennel.

  • When using aluminum foil in your baking, always have the shiny side up.
  • Use olive oil for most things but grapeseed oil for chicken and meat.  Olive oil can't stand up to a lot of heat.
  • To scramble the perfect eggs, don't whisk them  Put the eggs in a sauce pan and gently stir and stir and stir.
  • Always cook salmon skin side down (it protects the fish) and score the skin to keep the salmon from buckling, but serve it skin side up. Oh, and never cook fish cold from the fridge.  Let it "relax" to room temperature.
  • Scallops have a top and a bottom - the bigger, fattier part is the top.  Store them top up and you are half way to cooking a perfect scallop (and do NOT store them in water)!
  • Chicken stock actually works well with fish dishes because it gives the recipe body.
  • Roll your lemons and limes before cutting and squeezing them.  That makes them juicier and easier to squeeze. Also to avoid squeezing the pips into your recipe, cut around the center rather than cutting them in half.
  • A cast iron pan will become your best friend in the kitchen.

And it wouldn't be Gordon if he didn't end it all with some "Advice for Life."  If you have seen his "Kitchen Nightmares," you know he is part disciplinarian and part psychologist.

So here is his advice: 

Finding your passion in life is the most important thing you can do.  Once you find that, everything else will fall into place.  Be vulnerable, take chances, be determined.  Now" go and f**kin cook!"


There you have it - the summary of my very first MasterClass.

So...Was it worth it?  

Yes!  What cook wouldn't want to hang out with Gordon Ramsay and learn how to do what he does? And he really cares about giving out great cooking tips.  No way did he mail this in. It's candid, unscripted and inspiring. I love him even more now!

MasterClass offers us regular folks a chance to spend some one-on-one time with, well, dare I say it?  The Masters. And at the same time, we can absorb what they know. The MasterClass website is a bit difficult to navigate, but that is a minor complaint in what has turned out to be a fun and educational adventure!  Join me!

Now on to Masterclass #2! Mindfulness and Meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn!  See you there!

Thanks for reading!

See you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Retirement and the Library and the Week in Reviews

[I review movies "About Time," "The Look of Love," "Lovelace," "Nobody Walks," "Down by Law" and "The Red Riding Trilogy" as well as Linda Ronstadt's memoir and some local theatre.]

But first

Retirement and the Library

As you can see from the picture above, I was an early library user (I'm the one third from the left - looks like Dutch Boy haircuts were in vogue).  My mother took me to the library story times as a preschooler, and as I have said in a previous blog ("20 Books and Films that Shaped this Baby Boomer's Life"), when I was older, I went to the library regularly as I worked my way through the "Masterpieces of Literature."  It was also a great place to meet up with my friends.

Libraries are still about childrens' story times and books and a great place to meet your friends, but today they are so much more.

I am always amazed that people don't know much about what libraries offer these days.  They are not what libraries were 60 years ago and librarians don't look like that anymore either (most of them anyway).

I can't tell you how many times I will give someone my little "elevator speech" about the library while standing in line somewhere and the response is usually, "I didn't know libraries did that" or "I haven't been to the library in years, not since my kids were little."

When I tell people I am a librarian, I still get the "shushing" motion or the "You don't look like a librarian" comment, comments I have been hearing for 40 years. These comments just indicate to me that libraries have not done a very good job about getting the word out about what is available for adults and for free!

Since I was a librarian for 40 years, it makes sense that the library was on my mind constantly, and I realize that it isn't the first thing that pops into the minds of civilians but it should be.  I have always been convinced that if people really knew what libraries provided -- for free -- they would be breaking down the doors.  But for some reason, word hasn't gotten out.

But now it has!

I am going to provide a public service and share some information about the library that you might not be aware of and might spark your interest, especially if you are retired or thinking of retirement.


If you go to your library's website, you can manage your account, use premium databases, read magazines and newspapers and download e-books to your computer or mobile devices -- all for free.

By managing your account, I am talking about renewing items online, placing requests for titles you want to read and many libraries provide the option of "freezing" your requests so you don't lose your place in the queue if you are on vacation when it's your turn for the book.

When I say "premium databases," I am referring to providing access to content that is NOT free on the Internet.  There is this misconception that everything is on the Internet.  That is partly true. Much is on the Internet but much of it is NOT free. For example, if you are into genealogy, you might want to use or HeritageQuest, neither of which are free if you went to those websites directly.  However, your local library probably subscribes to those databases and you can access them for free through the library's website using your library card.  The content available in other databases that the library subscribes to runs the gamut from auto repair data, home repair information, job hunting help, financial information, computer instruction and more.

The same goes for magazines - the entire issues - which you can download to your computer or device (Zinio is one vendor), and Overdrive and 3M Cloud provide FREE downloadable print and talking books. 

Why buy them when you can download them for free from your library?

You don't even have to go to the library to ask a question 

You can chat live with a librarian right from the website and ask your questions about Social Security, finances and other areas of interest to retirees.

Books, Audio Books, CDs and DVDs

Yes, I know you know that libraries have books. 
But did you also know that you can get talking books to listen to in your car or at the gym, the latest music CDs and movies on DVD?  Especially if you are retired and on a fixed income, why pay Netflix when you can check out the latest DVDs for free?  My library allows me to check out 10 at a time.


Many libraries offer computer classes, citizenship classes and classes on a wide variety of topics of interest to adults:  finances, planning for retirement, gardening, resumes and more.  And it's all free.

Volunteer Opportunities

If you are retired and feeling like you need something purposeful to do, volunteering at the library can be fulfilling.  You get to hang around really cool people (librarians are very cool) and serve your community at the same time.

And libraries are just wonderful community gathering places
If you make your way to the brick and mortar library, you will find free Wi-Fi, computers and printers, photocopy machines and other services. Many libraries have meeting spaces for your group or study areas where you can meet with your friends to work on a project or have a quiet place to study.

So next time you and your friends are wondering what to do,
why not say
"Meet me at the Library!"

Share your library memories and experiences!

Cooking Classes

I am enjoying taking cooking classes. 

I love to cook and do it often, but after taking a couple of classes, I have already learned some things I didn't know.

My second cooking class was "Simply Seafood."

I tend to overcook my fish and shellfish.  I guess I can't quite believe something can be done in just a matter of minutes.  In fact the teacher said that you don't actually cook fish so much as "threaten it with heat!"

Anyway, here are some tips you may or may not know.

       This is what they do in restaurant kitchens.  You do all of your prepping  
       first: chopping, measuring, etc. so everything is ready before you start
       putting things together.  Good advice, especially if you have found yourself
       in the middle of putting a dish together and discovered you lacked a
       particular ingredient. I am going to make myself do this from now on. 
       Plus I like to say "mise en place."

  • You can peel a piece of raw ginger with a spoon.  It's actually better than using a peeler as you don't pull off as much flesh this way.

  • Use a zester for all of your grating needs when you need it grated very finely.

  • No matter what Rachael Ray says, don't use olive oil for anything you will heat higher than medium.  It changes its flavor at high temperatures.  Use canola or nut oils instead.

  • Heat your pan first without the oil, then add the oil.  If you add the oil and then heat the pan, it takes forever.  Then when you add the food, it gets cool again.

  • When frying or searing fish or meat, don't crowd the pieces in the pan.  When the fish or meat is crowded together, it actually stews it.

  • When searing fish, it will release from the pan when it has a nice sear.
I feel myself becoming a better cook already!  Now I am going to say mise en place again. Mise en place.
Have some cooking tips?

About Time (2013)


When Tim turns 21, his father tells him that the men in his family can time travel.  Tim uses this new power to find love and much more.
Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed "Love Actually (2003) "  and "Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)," has produced another affecting and life affirming film.  A little bit "Groundhog Day (1993)," a little bit "Somewhere in Time (1980)," this film has everything I love:  English Countryside, London, recognizable British actors (Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Lindsay Duncan), British humor, pathos and a love story.  (The baby is even named Posy and Posy, you know who you are).
Though Domhhall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter series) seems an unlikely leading man, he reminded me of a young Hugh Grant and he was delightful.  Rachel McAdams was also delightful as Tim's love interest.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Utterly charming.  A must see, but fathers and sons should especially see this together.

Movies You Might Have Missed
And some you will be glad you did!
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Note:  Funny how my weekly DVD watching seems to run in themes. 
Last week it was blood and gore and this week seems to be sex and porn!

The Look of Love (2013)

Biopic on the life of Paul Raymond, often called the Hugh Hefner of Britain and once Britain's richest man.
Lots and lots of nudity and sex in this one, but that aside, I love biopics and this one captures the "Swinging London" of the 1970's and the sad ends that often besets the children of the very rich. Moral:  Money can't buy you happiness.
Rosy the Reviewer says...A good biopic, but only recommended if you are not offended by lots and lots of nudity and sex.
Lovelace (2013)
A cautionary tale about growing up in a strict religious household and meeting the wrong guy.
If you haven't heard of "Deep Throat (the porn movie, not the Watergate code name), you are either under the age of 20 or over the age of 90.  "Deep Throat" brought porn to the mainstream, as it was one of the early ones where there was actually a plot and some humor. 
Peter Sarsgaard and Amanda Seyfried star, but it's fun to see all of the cameos by big stars (You might not recognize some of them):  Sharon Stone without makeup as her mother, James Franco as Hugh Hefner, Juno Temple (she's everywhere these days), Chris Noth, Eric Roberts (who starred in a similar story of domestic abuse, "Star 80, the tragic biopic about Playmate Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her abusive husband.)
If you watch this film for prurient reasons, you will be disappointed.  There is some nudity, but this movie is based on Linda's book "Ordeal," which describes the abuse Lovelace took at the hands of her husband and is more about domestic violence than porn and how women are used by men. 
"Deep Throat" made millions.  Linda Lovelace made $2500.
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like biopics, this is a good one.  If you like porn, you might be disappointed.
Nobody Walks (2012)
A young woman comes to LA to get some help with her film and wrecks havoc on a marriage... of course the husband cheats.  Yawn.
I kept checking to see how many more minutes until this was over.  You wonder sometimes why some films get made.
Rosy the Reviewer says...everyone in this film is so annoying and inappropriate.  You can skip this one.

Down by Law (1986)

Three guys from disparate backgrounds find themselves in a Louisiana jail together and plot their escape. 
Roberto Benigni stars along with Tom Waits.  This is Benigni pre "Life is Beautiful." Have been a big Jim Jarmusch fan ever since he did Stranger than Paradise in 1984.  He does quirky films often in black and white.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Reminds me how beautiful black and white can be.  If you haven't already and fancy yourself a film expert, you need to add Jarmusch to your repertoire.
Red Riding Trilogy (2009)
Riding is the nickname for West Yorkshire in England and this series of three films, that first appeared on UK television, follows the disappearances and murders of young girls from 1974 through 1983 and the police corruption that covered them up. 
All three films are related and there are some recurring characters in all three.  In addition to some familiar British actors such as Jim Carter and Michelle Dockery (Mr. Carson and Mary in "Downton Abbey" respectively), this was some early work by Andrew Garfield before he hit it big in "The Social Network" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" and Rebecca Hall, before she got noticed in "The Town."
Sometimes I think I am too stupid for British crime films as they are usually so intricate with so many red herrings that I lose track of the plot.  But I am still hooked. 
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like your British crime films gritty and smart, these are for you.
***Check your local library for these DVDs.
***Otherwise, they are available through Netflix and Amazon.
Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt (2013)
Linda recounts the ups and downs of her life and eclectic musical career.
She doesn't give much in the way of personal details.  She mentions her two adopted children but does not address the issue of never marrying and only briefly mentions famous liaisons such as Jerry Brown.  But if you are interested in the LA music scene circa 1970's and 80's, it's fun to see how those performers all intermingled e.g. the Eagles were formed when Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Glen Frey came together to form Linda's touring band when she was first starting out.

It was sad to hear that Linda can no longer sing because of Parkinson's Disease.  What a cruel fate for a singer.  But she doesn't lament her situation. 
She is nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2014 and deserves this recognition as one of the most successful female singers of our generation. 
Rosy the Reviewer says...A straight-forward tale of the music scene of the 1970's and 80's that Baby Boomers will especially enjoy.


Anything Goes

This is the Tony-winning production (2011 Best Musical Revival) currently on tour.  You can enjoy the witty Cole Porter songs and lively dance numbers, though the book is sheer farce.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like Cole Porter and lively dance numbers, you will enjoy this.  See it if it comes to a town near you.  Click on the link for tour dates.

That's it for this week.

What did YOU do this week?

See you next Tuesday
for the
10 Signs You Are Getting Old!

Thanks for reading! 
If you enjoyed this post,
feel free to subscribe and/or share it with your friends.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Week in Reviews: Films, Books, Food and Meditation

[I review movies "Iron Man," "This is the End," "John Dies at the End," "Stuck in Love" plus a great foodie book and dole out some cooking tips.]



Iron Man 3 (2013)

Yet another installment in the Superhero franchise.  I already have expressed that I don't like films with precocious kids.  Well, I also don't like films with smart ass superheroes, either.  I much preferred Robert Downey Jr. when he played losers like Julian in Less Than Zero. (And remember when James Spader was hunky)?  I know this was well-reviewed but I thought everyone in it was annoying.
Rosy the Reviewer says...I am starting to think I don't like the big adventure movies anymore.  First "World War Z" was a disappointment and now this.  Not a fan.

This is the End (2013)

While attending a party at James Franco's house, he and his other celebrity guests must face the end of the world together.  All of the stars play themselves.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Now this was a funny movie.  See it!

John Dies at the End (2012)

Slackers John and Dave consume some special "soy sauce" and find themselves with otherworldly abilities.  This is Harold and Kumar meet "Ghostbusters" meet Quentin Tarantino.
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is either the most original comedy horror film ever made or the worst.   Could end up a cult classic but mostly I say...what the...?

Stuck in Love (2012)

An acclaimed novelist hasn't been able to write since his wife left him and he is not above peeking in her window to see what she is up to while his teen-age children are having their own angst.

Rosy the Reviewer says...why, at my age, am I always so drawn to films about teens and twenty-somethings? 
Because of little gems like this one.  It might be a bit predictable in its outcome, but it's a charming rom com with some complexity in its message and I am always a pushover for anything literary.  Lily Collins (Phil's daughter) is a delightful up-and-comer. Give it a try.



Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen (2013)

Frances Mayes started it all with her book "Under the Tuscan Sun" - memoir and recipes (which should not in any way be confused with the movie) and there have been many since.  Here Christensen, in the tradition of Ruth Reichl (another favorite), combines her memories of a chaotic life growing up in the 1960's with the recipes that gave her comfort.  Food sustains her as she matures and comes to grips with love, broken hearts, pain and joy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...This is my new favorite book. 
A sharp non-self-pitying story of loneliness growing up in the 1960's punctuated by the food memories that helped her cope.  It has inspired my next blog.


Knife Skills

Took my first cooking class this week and it was all about knife skills.  And I discovered I have been doing everything wrong for years.  It's a wonder I haven't cut off a finger.

Here are some tips I learned that could help you with your cutting, slicing and dicing:

  • First don't cut yourself...This may make you say duh but you would be surprised.  Don't leave a knife in soapy water (so you can't see it - been there done that), when it falls get out of the way (our instinct is to try to catch things that fall) and don't carry it around like you are going to cut someone and scare your family.  All good common sense.  Actually I discovered I didn't really have to worry about much of this because my knives are all so dull. 

  • A safe knife is a sharp knife. While you are sawing away on an apple with your dull knife, the apple could roll around, the knife could fall, you would try to catch it (see tip above) and you are down one finger.  So sharpen those knives.  You are supposed to hone everyday (you know, that long skinny thing in your knife set you didn't know what to do with?) and get professionally sharpened twice per year (that is, if you have been honing every day and you don't want to get a whetstone and do it yourself which takes hours).

  • To avoid round items from rolling around while you are trying to cut them...Make a small cut on one side so that one side is flat enough to lie still on the cutting board. This really works and is a revelation.

  • To cut an onion, don't cut it through it's equator but north and south from one little hairy end to the other. Then make cuts just enough through the onion so that when you slice it the other way lovely little chopped onions appear. 
       This probably explains it a bit better.
        How to chop an onion.

  • Likewise, slicing an apple or orange.  Cut it north to south rather than around the center, slice it and, splay them out and you can easily cut off the core and ends and you have lovely slices and especially easy to peel the orange at that point.

This varies slightly from what we learned in class but is very close.  Bottom line, cut through the core, not through the center.

Those are just some of the tips but it was very helpful. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Cooking classes rock!
Now I am looking forward to my next class, "Simply Seafood," to see what else I have been doing wrong all of these years!

By George, I think I've finally got (sic) it!
After doing Oprah's 21 Day Meditation Challenge, I purchased the set of CD's. 

I know, I know, that was the point, I get it.  But it has been a good thing for me.  I have completed the first 21 day series - "Miraculous Relationships" - and am working on "Perfect Health."  Then it's on to "Creating Abundance (does that mean I am going to finally win the lottery?)

Each session is about 15 minutes long starting with a pep talk from Oprah about the topic of the day, followed by Deepak giving me the "centering thought" for the day and the mantra.  And then I meditate for about 10 minutes listening to New Agey tinkling music.  All very serene.  But you know, I find it has helped me.  What can possibly be wrong with a soothing voice telling you how to be kinder, healthier and richer?  Hubby says he can sense a difference which makes me wonder if he was saying I was a bitch before.  

But I am not going to go there.  Om....
Rosy the Reviewer says...Namaste.
If you have movies, books or knife skills tips to share I would love to hear from you. 
And are you meditating?

Catch me on Tuesday when I will be sharing Baby Boomer memories and recipes from my Mother's kitchen circa 1950.
Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this post, feel free to subscribe and/or share it with your friends.