Culinary School Week #6: Souflees, Mexican Food and Salads

Making Crepes

Finished another great week in culinary school. This week we baked souflees, cooked mexican food and made delicious salads.

Spinach Souflee; Cheese Souflee

To follow up on last week’s egg trend this week we made four different kinds of savoury souflees: cheese souflees, spinach souflee, salmon souflees and twice baked green garlic souflees. It was super interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of how to more loaded a souflee is the less it rises.

Savoury Souflee zen: build a base (most commonly bechamel sauce + other sautéed ingredients). Fold in whipped eggs whites in two steps (20% then 80%) into base and bake at 375°F for 25–35m until it passes tooth-pick test. Serve immediately.

Gonzalo Guzman of San Francisco’s Nopalito with fresh ingredients and the toppings we made from them

Gonzalo Guzman of Nopalito was kind enough to teach us about his approach to mexican cuisine. We made tons of mexican food starting with tortilla, empanadas, spicy salads, salsas, soup and sweet drinks.

Mexican cooking zen: take something spicy, if dry - plump it up, put it in a vitamix with other flavour ingredients. That’s effectively how to cook chilli sauce, salsas and other mexican dishes.

Empanadas and Tortilla

One of the tastiest recipes we made with Gonzalo were Empanadas and Tortillas . We started off by grinding our own masa (corn flour). We start from corn kernels, simmer in lime+water for 15m and let rest in that liquid for 8–12h. We then run the soaked corn kernels through a masa grinder twice and get masa flour.

Corn tortilla zen: combine masa and water, separate into balls of equal weight, press to a circle, and grill both sides over high heat for 1m.

Empanadas zen: combine masa with 4 lard : 1 baking powder and (potentially) a chilli sauce. The chilli sauce is what gives each empanada its unique colour. Make a filling: For an omnivore filling we made pulled chicken in tomato chili sauce; and for a veggie filling we had mashed potatoes. Divide dough into equal weight balls, press to a circle, put filling in center, pinch close and deep fry in 370°F until set.

We made Curried Chicken Salad and it was just amazing. It’s a combination of toasted almonds, curry-mango chutney mayo, diced chicken poached in chicken stock, diced apple, sliced celery and plumped currants & raisins.

Interesting: this salad can be served cold. I think this might be the first culinary recipe we’ve made that can be served cold. Definitely making that again.

We made this salad with matchstick celery root (sliced celery in this photo), watercress and 1/2" strips of belgian endive. The dressing was mayo mixed in with mustard, shallots, vinegar and 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Caesar Salad

We made four different variations of caesar salad. Since I’ve never had a caesar salad until that day and we were working without a recipe it was an interesting new experience :) It was so interesting seeing how each team made their own variation but they were all still distinctly caesar salad.

Caesar salad zen: romaine hearts cut any which way (sliced, cut in half, etc). Croutons pan roasted or oven roasted with or without herbs. Dressing has anchovies, garlic (confit or not) , lemon, parmesan cheese and olive oil either blended, vitamixed or hand mixed.

More awesome stuff that we made this week:

  1. Straw potato-leek cake on the left. yum. Add tons of butter to the pan, place mandolined potatoes on the bottom, sliced leeks in the middle and more potatoes on top. Cook on high heat and flip after the bottom is golden-brown.
  2. Ice-cream: we made vanilla creme anglaise base.
  3. Crepes: we made a bunch of crepes to make blintzes next week.

Read more about my experiences in culinary school by reading about last week’s classes: