Getting Fruity

Fruits Lab

Lab on Monday required us to cook through several recipes using fruit. Of course, we have cooked with fruit before (during Wet Cooking Methods, for example), and we’ll cook with it again. But when we have a lab session, our goal is to focus on a specific food or technique. Therefore, we will get multiple chances to repeat techniques and to work with certain types of food.

A great example is how we worked with fruit on Monday: we fried plantains, grilled bananas, poached pears, and boiled apples. Several different methods organized under one theme – fruit.

Below: Some lovely ripe Anjou pears (reddish) and Bosc pears (yellowish with a twinge of brown). An apple, some berries, and all types of fruit.

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Below: Apple-ginger chutney with bread. 

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Below: Poached Anjou pears with vegan yogurt, berries, and crumbled ginger snaps. Pear peel was used to create the ribbon designs around the stems.

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Below: Poached Bosc pears. The cinnamon-anise poaching liquid was reduced to a syrup and golden raisins were added. It’s common in lab for more than one team to make the same recipe, as with this dish and the one above. Often, the teams will receive slightly different instructions for demonstration purposes. 

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Below: A festival of fruit!

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Extracurricular Activities

We are moving so quickly through our curriculum – time is really flying. I’m learning a lot but it’s going by fast. To support my learning, I cook at home, and I’ve started partnering with a fellow student to cook together once a week. Also, I’m trying to take advantage of opportunities to explore new and good food. In the spirit of Jiro Ono (see blog post on Jiro Dreams of Sushi), I’ve also decided that I am done with so-so food.

Until now, I’ve been satisfied with occasionally eating what was handy or convenient, even though it was bland or uninteresting. I’ve committed to all but eliminate those instances in an effort to expose myself to as much good food as possible. It’s all with the goal of becoming the best cook I can be and taking advantage of this time I have in culinary school.

New and Good: Louisiana Kumquats

Whoa! Kumquats?

“What the heck is a kumquat?” is the question that I didn’t even know I had, but that I simultaneously had to have answered as soon as I saw them in the store.

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How to Eat?

I tried eating them by cutting them in half and squeezing the pulp and juice out. This actually worked pretty well; the contents oozed out very nicely. It was like a mini orange with more sourness, none of the white pith, and about the same level of sweetness. And very citrusy.

When I noticed the thin skin, I decided to try eating the kumquat whole. This was very pleasant. It offered more of the citrus flavor and a new element of texture which was completely welcome. The skin was very edible, and I suspect that it’s the custom to eat it (an internet scan confirmed this). What’s more, the seeds are very easy to chew and are not intrusive at all. That’s good, because they’d be a pain to remove from this tiny fruit.

Nutrition

Kumquats are high in vitamin C and fiber. Eating the skin helps in the fiber department, I imagine. And to top it all off, Ladies Home Journal, a fine publication if I ever did see one, says kumquats and all citrus fruits have liminoids, a micronutrient I had never heard of until today, in their rinds. According to the USDA, liminoids are protective against cancer.