FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chef Grant Sato demonstrates the making of quesadillas at Kapiolani Community College. At top, Chef Grant Sato prepares summer rolls and shows students how to julienne a pepper.
Eating for 1
Singles learn the importance of leftovers in making mini-meals
SINGLE PEOPLE COOKING only for themselves should not focus on tiny portions, such as a single chicken breast. Instead, they should harvest multiple meals from a whole rotisserie chicken, using leftovers wisely and paying close attention to proper food storage to maximize shelf life.
Chef Grant Sato shared these tips and a few easy-to-prepare recipes with a group of nine women and nine men in "Cooking for the Single Person," a recent class in Kapiolani Community College's culinary series.
JULY KCC CLASSES
To enroll call 734-9211. Sign up early, as classes fill quickly.
» Flavors of the Middle East II: Learn to use herbs and spices in unique ways, such as fresh mint in a beet salad or coriander, cumin, fennel and cloves with braised lamb shanks. From 8 a.m. to noon July 1. Cost is $50.
» Cooling Summer Foods: Macrobiotic cuisine that's perfect for summer. From 1 to 5 p.m. July 1. Cost is $45.
» Cooking with Pork: Stir-fried, roasted or stewed. From 6 to 9 p.m. July 10. Cost is $55.
» Cooking Under Pressure: Bring your own pressure cooker or share one of KCC's. From 8 a.m. to noon July 15. Cost is $45.
» Cooking Local II -- Pupu Party: Chef Grant Sato's "Cooking Local" series continues with a focus on appetizers. From 8 a.m. to noon July 22. Cost is $60.
» Culinary Summer Camp: Chef-instructor Nina Jarrett will teach students (ages 14 to 18) fundamental cooking principles and techniques in a weeklong class. Kitchen tools provided; culinary dress code mandatory. From 8 a.m. to noon July 24-28. Cost is $275.
» Cook with Your Kids: Chef Grant Sato's class helps parents teach kids to cook. Children (ages 9 to 18) must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Dress code enforced. From 8 a.m. to noon July 29. Cost is $55 per person.
» Breads: Learn the art and science of bread baking from chef Abi Langlas of the Honolulu Coffee Co. From 1 to 5 p.m. July 31. Cost is $60.
The three-hour session started with a briefing in the classroom, packed with information that had eluded even the experienced cooks in attendance. "How you store your items will dictate the length of time you will be able to consume them," explained Sato.
He queried everyone about the temperature in their refrigerators at home. (Too bad nobody knew the answer!) In an effort to reduce electricity bills, most people keep their refrigerators too warm, he said. Because cold air needs to circulate, cluttered refrigerators are also a problem, preventing food from staying cool enough.
Between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is considered the "food danger zone," which fosters bacteria growth.
Consequently, temperatures should remain under 40 degrees to keep food safe. Meats should be kept in the lowest portion; fruits and vegetables on higher shelves -- the opposite of how most people normally arrange their food. This keeps meat in the lower, colder section of the refrigerator, and also prevents blood containing E. coli and Salmonella from dripping onto vegetables you will consume raw.
Most people tend to put dinner leftovers in plastic containers and directly into the refrigerator, where they will hover in the "food danger zone" above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the next several hours, inviting rapid spoiling and potential health risks. Instead, food should be cooled more quickly -- placed in a Ziploc bag on ice, or in the freezer slightly open so that heat can escape -- then moved to the refrigerator.
Taking proper care of your food can increase its shelf life by three times, said Sato. And that makes good economic sense.
AFTER THESE lessons, the group moved next door into the kitchen, where Sato demonstrated four or five of the recipes. This was a chance for participants to taste each dish before they tackled the job themselves.
Students marveled at how Sato transformed leftover rice into soups and summer rolls. After a quick round in a frying pan, leftover poke garnished a fresh summer salad.
Stripping a rotisserie chicken to avoid wasting any part of it was another skill he taught the group.
He explained how to get at least two meals out of one chicken, using the leftover meat to create Thai rice soup with protein, flavored according to individual preferences.
"You are all chefs in your own house," said Sato. "You will cook how you like to eat. My recipes are only guidelines."
And they are practical ones. Though every dish had a gourmet flair, Sato promised no hunting around in specialty stores for obscure ingredients. Everything was available at any supermarket.
He even provided a list of basics to keep on hand, such as onion soup mix and bottled marinara sauce, to whip up a hearty and tasty dish on a moment's notice -- advice the wide variety of students appreciated.
"In every class we get an interesting mix of participants," said Frank Gonzales, KCC's noncredit coordinator.
Diane Griffin, 56, a retired teacher training to become a chef, is a regular at KCC's culinary classes -- no matter what the topic.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Norman Souza, left, and Patrick Toves worked together to prepare the filling for their quesadillas during Grant Sato's cooking class for singles held at Kapiolani Community College earlier this month.
University of Hawaii student Brandt Kam, 20, signed up for "Cooking for the Single Person" to help him face the reality of living in his own apartment. "My parents are cutting me off," he laughed.
Keith Davidson, a 27-year-old who works in the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, was motivated to enroll because he knows cooking for himself is healthier than ordering takeout, and "it's kind of cool to show off" in front of female guests.
Norman Souza, 67, considers himself a decent cook, but said he "always can learn more." He especially enjoyed perfecting Sato's method for cutting lemons to prevent them from spraying "all over the place!"
IN ALL OF KCC's classes, people glean information they will likely use for the rest of their cooking lives, but beginners tend to improve most dramatically, said Gonzales. "They practice the technique and they become more comfortable in the kitchen."
After the classroom instruction and subsequent cooking demonstration, the environment turned lively. Participants scurried around cooking stations in KCC's professional industrial kitchen, trying to construct fajitas and guacamole as Sato had taught them. Sato and Gonzales circulated to help students julienne bell peppers without losing a finger, balancing plenty of one-on-one tutoring with independent practice.
Some people sign up for classes and are shocked that they actually make their own dinner to take home. "They say, 'I didn't know it was going to be hands-on!' " said Gonzales, who speaks four languages and majored in International Relations at Stanford before attending culinary school. "They freak out. But we're not just handing out recipes. We're trying to teach you technique; we're trying to teach you how to think about cooking."
Thai Rice Soup with Pepper and Protein
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup leftover cooked rice
1/2 cup leftover cooked chicken, fish, seafood or shredded pork
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste
1/2 cup lettuce or cabbage strips (optional)
Bring chicken stock to a boil in a small soup pan. Add rice and shredded meat. Season with soy or fish sauce, then pepper. Soup should be clear and thin. For a thicker gruel type of soup, simmer another 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including soy or fish sauce): 240 calories, 10 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,800 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, less than 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 23 g protein.