At times some of the components we learn on this course do not appear to be in any way related to the next. One minute we are cooking stew. The next day, breakfast. This week we put all those components together, culminating in two and a half days of vegetarian and vegan cooking.
It doesn’t sound all that thrilling, I know. I’ve had quite a lot of bland and boring vegetarian food over the years, and I know I am not alone. One of the things we have been focussing on is the myriad of ways in which you can develop flavour in vegetarian components. From constructing great flavour bases for soups and stews to roasting and grilling vegetables to concentrate their flavour, we’ve covered a lot of ground over the last few weeks.
One thing we haven’t really cooked with so far has been cheese. This was rectified this week with vegetarian comfort food the order of the day. Eggplant parmigiana, eggplant and tempeh moussaka, vegetarian lasagna and spelt macaroni and cheese just a few of the tasty cheesy dishes we created.
It’s not all cooking and eating though. Our first assignment was due on Wednesday. We were required to make a comparison of a real food and a fake food, focussing on how texture, flavour and lifespan are achieved in each product. As well as a written report, we had to given an oral presentation on our product. It was really interesting (and quite alarming) to really delve into what the foods on the supermarket shelves are made of. All I can say is read those labels really carefully.
Thursday and Friday were testing days. Written one day, practical the next. I forget the last time I sat a three hour written exam, but if the ache in my shoulders and the cramp in my hand were anything to go by, it was a very long time ago. The practical had shades of Masterchef. Here are your mystery ingredients. You have full access to the pantry and fridge. Go away and create three fantastic dishes. The only difference between us and Masterchef is that we had no time limit.
Whilst I didn’t manage to create three great dishes, I found the practical an incredible learning experience. If nothing else, it highlighted my personal weakness and helped me identify those areas that I really need to work on. Strange that my failures actually left me feeling quite good about where I am at in this course.
Next week … Cake!