Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day (31 and) 32: Hippie food at last!

Quinoa salad! Thumbs up!

Finally after weeks and weeks of meat, we move into veggies and grains.  Many of us had been looking forward to this for weeks, tired of slicing and dicing various animals.

Tuesday morning we set right into a discussion on nutrition. Chef T mentioned that there will be two people coming around to speak to us in the coming weeks; Chef I, who is into sustainable organic farming, and a woman who teaches nutrition to kids in schools. I'm totally excited about doing some work with both of them!

From there we moved into cooking with all sorts of grains and legumes - kasha, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, bulgur and wheat berries were just the tip of the iceberg. We made some spicy fried chickpeas which reminded me of bar nuts in Istanbul, and a pilaf dish with vermicelli  which reminded me of family dinners with the Elias family in Egypt.

Chickpeas in back, pilaf in front - both are good!

Probably the most interesting part of the last two days has been a series of debates we've had in class. So far we've had Spices VS Herbs (which are actually more complementary than contrary), and today GMO VS Organic. What a debate! I never knew half of the complexities of  what was presented, and the arguments on both sides are so compelling! Farmed VS wild salmon, organic vs GMO produce - we've covered these topics in depth over the last few weeks.

So a few interesting things I've picked up lately.

 - Bistro is originally a Russian word that means "quick".
- The oil with the highest smoke point is cocoa oil.
 - Quinoa you have to wash well, the seeds have  nasty sap around them on the bush that may not get washed off during the factory cleaning process.
 - The word tamale comes from the word mixtamalization, which is the mixing of foods to bring out complete amino acids.
 - If you boil cauliflower in salted water, it turns slightly yellow. To keep it white, add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice. Same thing with red veggies (cabbage, beets), they'll turn blue without an acid in the water!

Squash Risotto! 

On a more scholarly note, I have midterms next week. I'll receive a list of foods to prepare and a 2.5 time limit to produce them all plus a few samples of our knife cuts and bread making skills. It should be a push, so we'll have to work quickly.

So today we did a trail run on our knife cuts and baguette making techniques. We were scored out of 10 on all of them.

On my small dice, I was horribly disappointed with a score of 5/10. The highest in the class was 7.  I can see exactly where I went wrong, they're slightly too small and not square enough. I have some work to do on this.

On my julienne, I scored 8/10. I completed both these cuts very quickly, so I have time to slow down and take care with these.

I've struggled with my baguettes. They look good going into the oven, but something awful happens to them in there! I was pleased with an 8 out of 10 on mine. This weekend will be a flurry of practice!
I hated this. It's ugly. And it tasted ugly too. 
Beet carpaccio and turned carrots and a walnut feta vinaigrette. 
In the bowl is a veggie terrine that didn't set properly. 
Total fail.

1 comment:

  1. Update: Looks like the reason the terrines didn't set was because we used grain water as our stock and certain enzymes in certain grains break down gelatin!