Recently I attended another cooking class organized by Nikki's Kitchen.
The class was to be taught by Mireya and William Helm and the recipes
were Mexican and American. I've taken several of Nikki's classes and have
studied a variety of ethnic styles; however, I taken several now by this
same husband and wife team and have found them the most enjoyable. I suppose
I'm partial to the cuisine involved but I also enjoy the Helms' style
of teaching. They are very thoughtful of the students guests who enter
their homes to learn and always make the most of the occasion.
I attend these classes held in the private homes of the teachers primarily
because I want to learn how to cook home-style Mexican dishes so that
I can enjoy those foods here in Japan. That's not easy to do. There are
some Mexican restaurants in Japan, but I prefer a much more authentic
taste than what is most often discovered in the local establishments--dishes
that haven't been adjusted to local tastes. The natural course restauranteurs
opt to follow, mass-appeal being so important in business, is to localize
their foreign offerings. In Nikki's classes one can learn the non-restaurant,
non-localized ways to cook favorite dishes.
The dishes taught during my recent July 17 class were chicken fajitas,
chili con carne, and New York cheese cake. In addition, Mr. Helm taught
us a 5-minute biscuit recipe as a bonus (which I've used most since-really
simple, really good, too.) We were taught in careful detailed how to prepare
the chicken (marinating two days prior to use), how to marinate, and then
how to cook the chicken. We were also shown how to prepare to the tortillas
using a press and a flat cooking sheet. (Flipping them onto the cooking
sheet properly being the hard part there!) We also watched and assisted
at times the preparation of the guacamole (which, as it turns out, is
actually an Aztec dish.) The fajitas turned out absolutely delicious.
The chili con carne was another excellent dish. The recipe was very different
from my own home recipe. They used strips of bacon for added flavor and
strips of chuck roast (and a lot of it) as the meat. The chili recipe
took much more time to prepare properly than most recipes, but the result
was worth the time and effort. Also, it was (aside from the biscuit recipe)
the easiest one to learn. The most important thing I learned was about
some of the spices used in the recipe; they are important and special
and are quite difficult to find in Japan, and the Helms' told us how we
might obtain them.
The recipe for the New York cheesecake was a bit surprising to me. It
seems straightforward enough, but we were given little tips to follow
to avoid problems, tips learned from experience. The cake was absolutely
delicious, and the recipe required ingredients easily purchased anywhere
in Japan. I was happy about that. Too often home-style, authentic cooking
of foreign dishes requires one, two or more ingredients that are very
difficult to locate in Japan. That can't be helped, but I'm much happier
when I can take what I've learned home and started using it right away.
One gets to missing certain foods while living overseas (regardless where
one's from or at) and sooner or later even those who don't like to cook
can find themselves trying to cook something they miss very much. That's
the case with me.
So, I've enjoyed attending the classes offered through Nikki's Kitchen
and have always had good experiences taking them. The main benefit I've
derived from them is the experience beyond the simple recipe that those
teaching the classes provide. Often there's a bit more to doing something
"right" than just following the basics of a formula. Also, the
ones teaching Nikki's classes have always proven to be very hospitable
folks. I recommend those who want to learn how to cook some particular
favorite recipe or style try these classes.
<Best "Cooking/Husband Wife Relationship>
My name is Logan Davenport. I'm an American living Japan.
writing part-time for more than 15 years. I've written on a myriad
subjects and in many diverse styles and voices. I've done speech writing
for public figures. I've worked editing scientific papers, and I've
fiction, including some series of children's stories and general
I've worked with a Christian publishing company involved in
for home schooling. I enjoy writing on a wide-range of
subjects and am currently
working on several items regarding my experiences
and my life in Japan. I've
written several books of humor, as well.