Me with a partially sliced quiche. That tasting spoon in my sleeve pocket has taken the place of the stethoscope in my white coat pocket. (For now.)
This was a busy week. In addition to our usual satisfyingly jam-packed days in school, I also taught a class (on tofu, with a great group of students), and was a teaching assistant in another class on the weekend. That’s what people like me do for fun! I forgot to rest, but learned a ton:
Top Three Things I Learned This Week
Chef Sonoko Sakai is in black in the center, I’m in the apron, and we’re with some of my rockstar culinary school classmates who stayed on to help me clean up!
- You Eat with Your Eyes First– As part of culinary school, we have an opportunity to be teaching assistants in the recreational classes that the school hosts. It’s a way to round out our curriculum, and sometimes a chance to meet visiting chefs. I had a chance to assist Chef Sonoko Sakai in her “Flavors of Japan” class. We made tai snapper carpaccio, duck nabe (hotpot), and mochi in matcha simple syrup. As you can see from these photos, careful presentation can make a huge difference. This is a part of mindful eating, a form of mindfulness and meditation. In addition to enhancing your enjoyment of a meal, mindful eating can also help you control what/how much you eat.
2. Yuzu Kosho– This is my latest New Taste I Love, also from the Flavors of Japan class, where I learned about several Japanese ingredients I hadn’t heard of before. Yuzu Kosho is a citrusy chili condiment, made with the Japanese citrus yuzu. Its flavor is reminiscent of Indian lime pickle and Moroccan preserved lemons, and will definitely find a place in our condiment collection at home.
3. How to Handle Gluten– Yes, I’m in culinary school, not pastry school, but we branched out into making different types of dough this week, in both savory and sweet preparations. As part of this, we learned about gluten, the protein in wheat that gives it properties of chewiness and stretchiness. The key thing to understand about gluten: don’t overwork it. You’ll read in many recipes involving dough to allow it to “rest.” Resting relaxes gluten, just like people, which will yield a more tender product.
One of the simplest dough recipes we prepared was for spaetzle, which I actually learned to make as a child but had forgotten about for decades. It’s the simplest and quickest homemade pasta or dumplings you could make, and fun to do as well. We had ours tossed with clarified beurre blanc, but you could toss yours in butter or olive oil for equal enjoyment.
I made some at home with some white beans and caramelized onions. Not traditional, but very delicious.
Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions and White Beans
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 large onion, sliced thinly and caramelized (see technique here)
2 cups cooked white/cannelini beans, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a few cloves of minced garlic
Garnish: minced fresh herbs of your choice: basil, thyme, or shiso are some of my favorites
- Combine eggs, flour and salt, adding enough water to make a batter similar to the consistency of pancake batter. Important: to avoid overworked gluten, stir just enough to combine (will be lumpy), and allow to rest for 15 minutes before cooking.
- Boil salted water, and add spaetzle batter by pushing through a colander with a scraper or spatula. Remove once they float to the surface, which is pretty much immediately. Toss with butter or olive oil.
- Stir in seasoned cooked white beans and caramelized onions, and garnish with fresh herbs.
Thanks for coming by! If you’re curious what it’s like to be in culinary school, check out my previous posts and also come back weekly for my latest updates. I’ll be sharing tips, ingredients, and recipe ideas straight from the classroom. And for more healthy cooking and eating tips, join my community on Facebook at The Doctor’s Spicebox. My next class will be March 21st, featuring gluten-free recipes from around the world (now that I’ve just talked about gluten). Don’t miss out! I hope to cook with you soon!
To your health!