Monday, November 14, 2011

Matthew Kenney Academy Week 2

Week 2 of the Level 1 Course of the Matthew Kenney Academy Chef Training turned out to be no less exciting than the first week of it. In fact, my excitement level and heartbeat spiked, when I came into the class room Monday morning and saw boxes full of young coconuts. Yey, my week was saved :) Young coconuts are my favorite food. Young coconut water turns out to be the most nutritious water on the planet. Full of electrolytes, this water is a natural isotonic beverage, great for when you work out a lot. When I am in Bali, working for my retreats, this is all I am drinking the entire day! Moreover, the water is so close to the human blood that it can be used for blood transfusions, when you don´t have your blood type available and therefore it is used a lot in 3rd World countries. The meat of the young coconut is simply delicious. It contains coconut fat, which is a great fat for your body, containing enzymes to stimulate the fat burning mechanism. Now, each of us got to open a whole case of 9 coconuts of this wonder food. That week seemed to be promising :)

Of course, we got to make good use of the coconut meat right away and started our production with delicious cilantro coconut wraps, essentially it is the meat of the young coconut blended with cilantro and spinach juice and spread out thinly on dehydrator sheets to create paper thin wraps, which after dehydration can be used for delicious dumplings or as ravioli or tortellini wraps. 

I had made those in different variations before, but never with that filling, which we got to make the following day and which is absolutely delicious and one of my favorite dishes at the restaurant: Kimchee dumplings. 

For that we blended our now fermented Kimchee with some tahini, tamari, agave or coconut nectar, a bit of extra chilli for sipice, filled the dumplings and shaped them in little pyramids and topped it with some ginger sesame foam! Beautiful to look at, healthy, because full of good probiotics and really really tasty!

With the rest of our coconut meat, we got to make ice cream! YES, my favorite treat ever :) AND we got to make up our own flavors, starting from a yummy vanilla bean base, that consisted just of plain coconut meat, cashews, vanilla, agave and salt. 

Coconut Bliss is my favorite store bought ice cream here in the States and I have been dying to try one of their new flavors I saw on their website: Mocha Maca, just to find out that, because of a current shortage in coconuts, they are not producing that flavor at the moment. What a bummer. So, what else would I do then creating that flavor on my own :) I took the base, added a Tablespoon of Maca, a tablespoon or lucuma and a tablespoon of coffee extract and wow... Gabrielle made a mean chocolate coffee ice cream and when we tasted them together, we decided, we just made the ultimate ice cream flavor duo and our first ice company shall have the maca mocha choc swirl as the featured flavor :)

Now, one of the most exciting things in ice cream making was using the Paco Jet. This machine takes anything frozen whips and by whipping air under it, transforms it into a light and fluffy cream. If you have an extra 5000 $ to spare, this is the appliance to get for your ultimate ice cream experience.

During the rest of the week, we made two more very exciting dishes: Tacos and Pizza. The Tacos are my new favorite. A wrap, made from flax, corn, chipotle and a few other ingredients it filled with a slightly tart cole slaw, guacamole, pico de gallo and for spice, jalapeno peppers plated on a brush of a tart coconut and cashew sour cream garnished with black lava salt. This dish is refreshing, hearty with the right amount of good fats from avocado, coconut and flax seeds, as well as satisfying and so tasty. It is one of these dishes that are everyday comfort food and when plated the right way can be served in a fine dining environment. My winner of the week!

The pizzas were exciting as well. The crust was a given recipe from the academy recipe book, but we got to experiment with our own toppings. So, I made up a marinated spinach with orange juice, maple sirup, olive oil, pepper and salt, mixed in some pine nuts, capers and diced yellow squash and dehydrated it for a while to make it soft and give it a cooked texture. I also sliced some pear in thin ribbons and coated them in olive oil, black salt, pepper and porcini mushroom powder to get in that mushroom flavor without adding the actual mushroom. My base tomato sauce, I enhanced with some black kalamata olives, olive oil and figs. The result was a very tasty marinara pizza with wilted spinach and hints of porcini mushrooms. 

The week finally ended with mystery Friday. We didn´t really have more things in our recipe handouts to cover, but we actually made the delicious, fresh and nutritious seaweed salad we haven´t done in week 1. 

Coming back from lunch, we were given the challenge: A mystery basket, containing a selection of different veggies, 1 nut of choice, one acid of choice, 3 spices of choice and one oil of choice. Teaming up with a new partner, Gabriele and I came up with a red beet cacao and mesquite caviar served on zucchini linguini in a pistacchio pesto. A little risky of an approach, this dish did not win the competition, however, it was very fun to prepare and worth a try to end the week with some unusual combinations of flavors and textures.

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