Thursday, June 07, 2007

Midterms, iron chef style

Yikes, can you believe we already finished our midterms??? Of course, being at hippie natural foods cooking school, we didn't have any kind of written. Just thrown in the kitchen with a bag o mystery and 90 minutes to create. We ended up with some of the best food all semester. And I was totally blown away by the creativity of my classmates - this is a side we haven't really seen because in class we are always following set recipes. For example, I was assigned to help out Stacy, who got millet, fennel, and strawberries. We made millet/fennel croquettes with goat cheese and a delicious fennel/fruit topping. And strawberries in a parfait glass with chocolate mousse - made from avocados, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and a pinch of cayenne! whoooa. am drooling just remembering.

My feelings about my own performance are kind of mixed. I wasn't nervous going in, but wasn't terribly inspired by 2/3 of my ingredients and was really unorganized and unfocused putting together the recipes. (Uh, not that my lack of time management/multitasking skills are coming as any surprise here.) Definitely a good experience though, and I liked how it does challenge you to use the techniques and pantry ingredients we've been working with.

I got cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and leeks. All good things but unless I wanted to go the generic salad route, not the best combination. So I ended up doing 3 separate dishes.
1) Roasted cauliflower with nut/herb topping - which is my favorite way to prepare cauliflower, and I've made several times since I first made it for Labor Day at the Mahoneys. This dish I was really happy with - got exactly the "wow, cauliflower that isn't bland!!" reaction that i was looking for.
2) Felt that sugar snap peas are best as a fresh snack, so I just blanched them to bring out the color, and served them with a bean dip. The dip could be improved upon, but I was happy with the idea and it looked beautiful.
3) I like leeks a lot, but was kind of at a loss of what to do with them, and ended up making a soup puree with leftover beets and cabbage. It was tasty, not incredible or anything, but stood up to the job of cleaning out the refrigerator. Which is really more my goal in life, rather than gourmet cuisine.

More pictures of food and silly chef getup here!


  1. Awesome! After you're done with school, you'll be all set to go on a cooking reality show! What'll it be: Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen? You'll probably need to get over your slight aversion to handling meat, though.


  2. Pix are worth a thousand calories! or even 2.

  3. I've been trying to decide what I would make with those ingredients.

    We love roasted cauliflower, well TG prefers hers steamed, but the grownups do. I usually make a dressing with balsalmic vinegar and walnut oil, herbs, seasoning, maybe some garlic. Toss the cauliflower in that and then roast it. Repeat with some broccolli (which seems to roast quicker) and add that. So tasty. (Sometimes I also add wedges of onion.)

    Oh, and I have a link for you - for when you're writing about food from the farmers market.