Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Turkey Breast with Roasted Broccolini (image via Bon Appétit)

As a staunch proponent of whole, unprocessed foods and balanced meals, I’m certainly not a “cleanse” girl. But a two-week cleanse filled with foodie favorites like pork tenderloin, chia pudding, and chocolate bark? Now I’m listening!

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

Morning Barley with Squash, Date, and Lemon Compote (image via Bon Appétit)

The Food Lover’s Cleanse, dreamed up by the folks at at Bon Appétit, isn’t really a cleanse so much as a boot camp for cooking regularly and getting familiar with some of the lesser-known “superfoods”. Now in it’s fifth year, this creative meal plan demonstrates the growing overlap between nutritious and delicious. I only can’t believe that I’m just now learning about it (thanks to Emily, and her intriguing healthy lunches)!

Even though the 2015 Food Lover’s Cleanse wrapped up in mid-January, you can still access all of the delicious recipes online. Here is a one-page overview of the menu for all two weeks, a printable PDF of all this year’s recipes, and printable shopping list. Prefer to do kitchen prep ahead of time? This is a link to big-batch recipes that are used throughout the cleanse.

Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse 2015

 images via Bon Appétit

While your grocery bill might suffer (superfoods don’t come cheap these days), it really does make sense to follow the menu plan to it’s fullest, as many ingredients are repurposed throughout the cleanse. For example, barley makes an appearance in a dinner pilaf with leeks and lemon, and then is prepared for breakfast the next morning with squash, date, and lemon compote. Similarly, chevre cheese is served alongside a sliced pear as a snack one day, and then shows up in an egg scramble with caramelized onions the next morning. With quality ingredients like these, the attention to waste reduction is much appreciated!

That being said,  if you’re simply looking for nuggets of inspiration to escape your culinary comfort zone, the recipes can also stand alone. Seeing as my grocery budget is pretty maxed out at 2-3 recipes per week, I probably won’t follow the cleanse to a T (at least not this year). However, browsing the menu plan certainly gave me ideas for recipes that I want to make and foods that I want to cook with. Have you tried any recipes from the Bon Appétit Food Lover’s Cleanse? Do tell!

– Kelly

Gastronomy Course Spotlight: Lab in the Culinary Arts

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The summer culinary arts lab is an abbreviated version (5:30-9:30pm, 2 nights a week, for 6 weeks) of the semester-long culinary certificate program. While the summer culinary lab doesn’t cover as much ground (due to time constraints), I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to participate in the culinary arts program, but doesn’t have the flexibility to give up their day job.

The BU Gastronomy Culinary Arts program is unique, because in addition to getting a hands-on culinary education from our instructor (Chef Christine Merlo), chefs from famous Boston restaurants visit as guest instructors. Over the summer, Chef Jonathon Taylor (Blue Ginger) taught us Asian cuisine, Chef Dante de Magistris (II Casale, Restaurant Dante) taught us how to make handmade pasta and pasta sauce, Chef Cara Chigazola (Oleana) taught us Mediterranean recipes, and Chef Jeremy Sewall (Lineage, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, The Hawthorne) taught us seafood dishes.

Below is a peek at the dishes we prepared in class:

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  1. Gazpacho & French onion soup (sanitation, knife skills & stocks)
  2. Macaroni & Cheese with Bechamel sauce, Chicken Pie with Biscuit topping and veloute sauce, & Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce (sauces & emulsions)
  3. Roast Pork with Mustard Herb Crust & Apple Cider Reduction, Sauteed Baby Vegetables, Seared Scallops with Thyme Brown Butter Sauce, & Farmers Market Cobbler (blanching, saute, and roasting)
  4. Coq Au Vin, Ratatouille with Egg and Cheese, Rice Pilaf, and Plum Granita (butchering a whole chicken, braising and stewing)
  5. Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs, Haddock in Parchment, Cheese Souffles, & Poached Pears in Wine with Whipped Cream (poaching & steaming)
  6. Grilled Steak with Chimichuri Sauce, Pommes Frites, Onion Rings, Broiled Tomato & Brownie Pudding Cake (grilling, broiling, & deep fat frying)
  7. Guest Chef (Jonathan Taylor): Pork & Ginger Pot Stickers, Thai Beef Salad, Shrimp & Mango Summer Rolls, Clams with fermented black beans and fresh udon noodle
  8. Guest Chef (Dante de Magistris): Orecchiette, Ravioli Ignudi, Basic egg pasta, Gnocchi, Traditional Tomato Sauce
  9. Guest Chef (Cara Chigazola): Hummus, Kisir, Imam Bayildi, Chicken Schwarma
  10. Partner Challenge (3 course meal using the ingredients corn, cream cheese, and pork): Corn fritters, Beer marinated Grilled Pork with Homemade Tater Tots, Carrot Fries, and Ranch Dipping Sauce, Cheesecake Brownies
  11. Guest Chef (Jeremy Sewall): Lobster Bisque, Beignets, Lobster Ravioli, Baked Oysters, Grilled Fish, Summer Produce Salad
  12. Practical Final (3 course meal using the ingredients shrimp, chicken, zucchini, & blueberry): Grilled Shrimp & Zucchini Roll Ups with Goat Cheese and Herbs, Lavender and Honey Roasted Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Crispy Mustard Brussels Sprouts, Blueberry Crostada

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^^Jacques Pepin and Julia Child co-founded the Gastronomy program, which is why Pepin’s work is largely represented in our course materials. He is still involved with the program to this day, and I even had a chance to see him speak earlier this year.

The most notable assignments were the market basket challenges. For the US regional challenge, each group was assigned a different region of the United States and told to prepare a 3 course meal that represented that region, using 3 ingredients given. My partner and I got assigned the central plains, and the ingredients we had to incorporate were corn, beef, and cream cheese. We made corn fritters, beer marinated grilled steak with homemade tater tots, carrot fries, and ranch dipping sauce, and cheesecake brownies. It was only minutes after we plated and presented our beautiful entree when our instructor came rushing back into the kitchen after us exclaiming, “This is not your fault, but…”

Apparently, she accidentally pulled pork from the freezer instead of beef. And since medium rare pork is frowned upon in the culinary world, back on the grill it went. Oh, well…

For our final, we simply had to prepare a menu that showcased our new culinary skills using the ingredients corn, shrimp, zucchini, and blueberries. So for my meal, I prepared grilled shrimp & zucchini roll ups with goat cheese and herbs, lavender and honey roasted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes & crispy mustard brussels sprouts, and a blueberry crostada. For each of these challenges, we were given an hour for the appetizer, an hour and a half for the entree, and an hour for the dessert. Unlike on the show “Chopped”, we knew our key ingredients a few classes ahead of time. Additionally, we could only use one online and one magazine recipe. The others had to come from cookbooks.

Have you ever taken a culinary class?

– Kelly

Learning to Cook

Learning to Cook

My roommate’s new years resolution (with no influence from me, might I add) is to learn how to cook. I 100% applaud this goal and I think that we should all take note. Learning to cook is an invaluable skill and no one is too old to learn. Cooking is important to health for 2 reasons:

1) You know what you are putting into your body. This is true not only of the homemade meals you whip up in the kitchen, but also with meals that you eat out. How so? Once you learn the basic ingredients and preparation techniques of classic dishes, you are better able to gauge what ingredients go into meals when you eat out, making you a more educated  consumer. Additionally, cooking also obviously allows you to know what you are putting into your body at home, as you have complete control over which ingredients to include or omit.

2) You become less dependent on processed foods. By developing cooking skills, you become less dependent on fast food places to take care of the meal preparation for you. Experienced cooks are not intimated if they don’t quite have the exact ingredients, or don’t have a recipe in front of them. Experienced cooks can confidently adapt, and aren’t at the mercy of convenience foods and prepackaged junk. By taking time to cook things yourself, you also learn which steps of processing are unnecessary, and which ones are worth taking advantage of. Additionally, mastering a challenging cooking technique will help you better appreciate that food when eating out, and mastering an easy cooking technique will give you confidence to incorporate that skill into your normal routine.

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Mallory in the kitchen

So how does one learn how to cook? Practice Practice Practice! Sure, you can sign up for a cooking class or read about techniques, but the best way to learn is hands on experience. My advice is to pick a cookbook that looks good to you and get started! Challenge yourself to make at least one new recipe each week, using a variety of ingredients and techniques. Once you master a new ingredient or technique, you have that in your repertoire for future use, and will slowly become less and less dependent on the food production system (or at least better appreciate its complexity).

Cookbooks

Mallory’s new cookbooks, chosen “because they had pretty pictures” 🙂

Mallory's cookbooks

All bookmarked and ready to go. Keys to the Kitchen has been her go-to so far.

If you are new to cooking, don’t give up! While it might seem to take forever at first, cooking gets much quicker and easier with practice. If you want to take up cooking but are worried about the cost, here is a helpful article about stocking a kitchen inexpensively. And let’s not forget that cooking things yourself often ends up saving you money.

Anyone else learning how to cook this year?

– Kelly