Culinary School Week #3: Vegetables

My third week at culinary school is done! This week we primarily focused on vegetables cookery but also braised pork, seared tuna and learned new knife skills. You can read more about my second week at culinary school @

Vegetables a la grecque, ratatouille, and two caponatina

Lots of vegetables cookery was going on that first day. Our main dishes were two caponatina dishes (one with currants & pinenuts and one without), vegetables a la grecque and ratatouille.

What’s a caponatina? it’s a vegetable dish with sautéed eggplant, celery and sweetened vinegar.

Sautéing vegetables zen: lots of vegetables need low heat cooking (dry or moist) to soften up and change their flavour profile. for example: eggplant, celery, carrots, peppers, onions, etc.

Citrus and dates in cardamom-honey syrup w/ goat cheese

How to make this dessert:

  1. We got mandarin, tangerines and grapefruit, sliced it up.
  2. We made a syrup by reducing 4 cups of water -> 1 cup water with a handful of crushed cardamom pods (& honey & orange-flower water & thin slices of mandarinquat)
  3. We also made sweet yogurt (yogurt beaten with powdered sugar)
  4. On the plate: sliced citrus > syrup > yogurt > crushed pistachio (better colour then toasted pistachio) > dates > mandarinquat from syrup

Dessert zen: it’s a few slices of citrus with reduced sugar water; and It’s also delicious and easy to make. My takeaway is that good desserts aren’t hard to make.

Braising, simmering and roasting vegetables: we braised fennel in bacon fat; we braised carrots in carrot juice (w00t! that was brilliant!); we simmered leeks for 30 minutes; and sautéed green beans for 30 minutes.

Vegetables zen: you can have an amazing, filling meal with no meat protein anywhere on your plate.

Braising pork: we created a brining liquid for pork loin that was super salty with the ingredients for a bouquet garni. We then let the pork loin brine over night. Once ready we curved a + into each quater of the loin and filled it with a sweet filling. Finally we S&P, seared and then roasted the filled quarter loin in 350°F until internal temperature was 135–140°F.

Braising pork zen: overnight brining liquid should be much saltier then we want the pork to be. A sweet filling highlights the flavours and texture of the pork.

Sauteeing greens: Chard, kale and beat greens can all be sautéed to soften them up. Collared greens are super tough so we poached them with pork for two hours.

Seared Tuna, Frittata, egg-lemon soup, pan-fried potato skins

Other cool stuff that happened this week:

  1. Searing tuna for 1 minute on each side in hot fat. (S&P)
  2. Leftover Frittata: the next day after our vegetables cookery Chef Kirsten used all the leftover vegetable dishes + goat cheese + some eggs and baked a leftover frittata in the oven. Unbelievably good flavours there.
  3. Thickening soup: thicken up stock by simmering rice until it’s about to fall apart and add a lemon & egg whisked mixture for more thickening.
  4. Leftover potatoes skins: if you’re turning potatoes and have potato skins left over, you can always fry them for delicious carb goodness.
  5. We made Creme Puff pate-a-choux.