Saturday, March 1, 2014

Healthy Lifestyles Class: First Cooking Lab

We finally got around to actually cooking in my healthy lifestyles class. It is interesting to note the significant difference in how Chef Kim organizes his labs vs. how Chef Joe does. Chef Joe is a very rigid authoritarian. He requires everyone to wait to do anything until he authorizes the specific action. He also allows only limited variation from his recipes for the session.

In  contrast, Chef Kim gave us a pile of material, six techniques to demonstrate, and freedom to decide which vegetables to use for which techniques, how to cut the vegetables, and who was to do what. It was an interesting experience.

We were given some zucchini and yellow squash, carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli. We were to demonstrate six techniques: sauteing, stir frying, steaming, poaching, braising, and en papillote (in parchment). The other members of my team quickly claimed various methods, leaving sauteing and braising for me. I was the only one to do two techniques.

I thin sliced some carrots, yellow, and green squash for sauteing. I was happy that I was able to saute the vegetables just by flipping them in the pan. I did not use a spoon or spatula at all. I cooked the carrots for about a minute before adding the squash. It went quickly, as it should.

I then went back and thick cut some of each squash for braising, and cut up some chunks of tomato. I seasoned some water with salt and pepper. Once it was up to a simmer, I added the squash and covered the pan. I let it cook for a bit, then added the tomatoes. Once the squash was cooked, I removed it from the water.

I felt I did a good job. My team thought the braised veggies were the best, and the sauteed the second best. Chef liked both as well, and thought I had properly cut the vegetables for both. The only criticism was that I had been a tad aggressive with the pepper in the sauteed veggies, and I think that was a fair cop.

We also were to create two flavored vinegars and a flavored oil for doing salads next week. We made a red wine vinegar with blueberries and lemon, and a white wine vinegar with thyme and lemon. For the oil, we went with a classic, garlic and rosemary. Apparently so did all the other tables, independently.

Should be an interesting semester.

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