Five Tips For Vegetarian Cooking

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Whether you are a full-time or part-time vegetarian, there are a few essentials to creating great cuisine. Vegetarian cooking is an area we incorporate in many aspects of our teaching at L’Ecole Culinaire. “First and foremost”, according to Chef Instructor Patrick Jones, “is to start with fresh and balanced ingredients.” Balanced ingredients ensure a sense of being full. Think about incorporating fiber and protein, like beans, nuts or tofu, into your meal.

Secondly, think about slow roasting vegetables. This removes water and concentrates flavor. With vegetables containing 60-90 percent water, this will give your meal a lot more depth. A simple way to get started is to skip the potato chips with your sandwich and try slow roasted kale chips with sea salt and vinegar. A compilation of interesting recipes for slow roasting can be found at YUMMLY.

Thirdly, think about adding chewy foods. For some new to eating vegetarian, the lack of chewiness can be a deterrent. By adding seared tofu, nuts, or mushrooms, you can capture some of the texture meat eaters are accustomed to.

Coming in fourth, consider adding fermented or glutamine foods. These are naturally occurring in foods such as parmesan cheese, cabbage, parsley, yogurt, kefir, soy sauce, asparagus, tomatoes, seaweed, peas, spinach and beans.

And finally, combine flavors and textures. By adding the crunch of asparagus to a smooth entrée like risotto, you can get a richer palate experience and more flavor.

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Experiment with new recipes and seasonal ingredients. Invite friends to create their own versions of classic vegetarian fare, such as hummus, and host a small a cocktail party to sample different recipes.

L’Ecole Culinaire is an ACCSC accredited culinary school which prepares aspiring chefs for success in the field. With culinary schools in Missouri and a culinary school in Memphis, L’Ecole Culinaire campuses offer training in vegetarian cooking in our classes. To learn more about professional culinary training, click here.

Learn Gourmet Cooking at L’Ecole Culinaire

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Ever wonder where some of our culinary words come from? With the Norman Invasion in the 10th century, many English land holdings were transferred to French nobles. A curious change occurred where those growing and harvesting food referred to it by its English name in the field and those dining on the bounty referred to it by the French name at the table. A cow in the field became boeuf or beef at the feast.

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So, too, evolved the word gourmet. Finding its humble roots in a French word for wine servant, merchant or taster, grommet, it quickly evolved to mean a connoisseur of discerning tastes. What makes a food gourmet? We turned to our Chef instructor Damon Payne to shed some light on this topic. “Gourmet cooking is meant to be of the highest quality, prepared with focus and innovation and presented beautifully,” shared Chef Payne.

Looking to learn from a gourmet cooking school? L’Ecole Culinaire is an ACCSC accredited culinary school that prepares aspiring chefs to create traditional gourmet fare and provides them with the tools to develop their own creations. With culinary schools in Missouri and a culinary school in Memphis, L’Ecole Culinaire offers hands-on training from the first day of class. To learn more about professional training, click here.

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L’Ecole Culinaire also offers cooking classes for the public. For those who would like to hone their knife skills, learn more about regional cuisines, or taste and appreciate wines, these short classes offer an enjoyable experience.

Experience Our Public Cooking Classes This Season

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It can be tough during the holidays to find time to have memory- making experiences with the family. There are many responsibilities and holiday duties to be attended to. Sometimes, taking a moment to reflect on what really matters most to us can be of benefit. Over time, objects often lose their meaning, but experiences last. For many of us, our treasured holiday memories include cooking with a beloved family member, sharing secret family recipes or creating a new dish together.

A Holiday Gift Idea

Recently, we learned of a great gift idea which preserves family heritage. Ask members of your extended family to provide a family recipe, preferably in their handwriting, with a family photo. Compile a book, scanning everything and send a copy or provide a link to everyone who submitted a recipe. Those lucky enough to be on the receiving end may find that this is their most treasured gift this year. In celebrating our culinary traditions, we can recapture our heritage, our memories and our culture.

Bring Your Family to Our Cooking Classes

Shared experiences can make the holidays memorable as well. Cooking together can be a party in itself.

Each L’Ecole campus offers cooking classes for the public, which guests may book together. Everyone learns something new and the clean-up is left to us! Join us in St. Louis, Memphis, or Kansas City. A gift certificate for a class makes a great gift as well.

Create new traditions this year with shared experiences in the kitchen with L’Ecole Culinaire. Have a great holiday season, everyone!

How to Become a Pastry Chef

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This time of year, we are often tempted by the delightful array of decorated pastries available. Some of us have a tradition of creating these ourselves. Ever wonder how one develops the expertise to create such wonders? In the culinary world, there are many areas of specialty. In general, areas of focus can be broken down between savory and baking. While most professional chefs possess training in both areas, personal interests and talents will often lead them to focus on one or the other.

Successful pastry chefs are both highly focused and creative. A tiny change in measurement or timing can jeopardize success. They possess the ability to think like a chef as well as an architect. Qualities needed to become a successful pastry chef include:

  1. Detail focused. Precise measurements are central to success.
  2. Timing is critical and key ingredients, such as yeast, take time to mature to readiness.
  3. A great pastry chef is always looking for new way to highlight their medium.
  4. Commitment to creating great product requires consistent attention through completion of each project, as well as staying attuned to new elements in the industry.
  5. Professionalism and a thick skin. While taking ownership and having pride in their work, pastry chefs need to stay open to feedback from clients and make changes as needed. This is a central part of daily work.

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Training beside seasoned, professional chef instructors is an ideal way to learn. Here at L’Ecole Culinaire, we are fortunate to have artisan baking and pastry chefs who push the limits of each student’s imagination. Chefs Nicole Shuman and Byron Grant create incredible cakes, chocolate sculptures and gingerbread houses that are pleasures to the palate and eye. Chef Susie Judy is a sugar glass artisan who creates impressive sculptures that resemble glass. L’Ecole Culinaire, an American Culinary Federation Educational Foundation accredited culinary school, offers hands-on training in baking and pastry from experienced industry professionals.

Interested in baking? You can train to become a pastry chef at L’Ecole Culinaire in less time than you might think. With the New Year around the corner, now is a great time to register for classes starting in January. We have campus locations in Kansas City, Memphis and St. Louis and would enjoy showing you our baking labs and introducing you to our baking and pastry teams. For more information on pursuing a culinary education at L’Ecole, click here to submit your request for information.

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Holiday Cookie Exchange Made Easy

Ahh..the holidays. Time to get together and share treasured experiences with friends and family. For those of us who enjoy baking, it can also mean the annual cookie exchange.

Ever wonder where the cookie exchange came from? The first record of an exchange in the United States is from 1936 in Syracuse, New York. Not surprisingly, this is during the height of the Depression, where people were looking to save some money and offer more variety by sharing their baked goods.

If you are looking for a simple cookie, consider a sugar cookie which can be decorated in many different ways. Here is a simple recipe which will yield about 4 dozen cookies. You may have most of these ingredients in your kitchen right now. You will need:

2 ¾ cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of baking powder

1 cup of butter, softened

1 ½ cups of white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

With schedules getting busier and time getting crunched, wouldn’t it be fun to get together and bake cookies as a group and leave the clean-up to someone else? L’Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis can make this happen for you. On Saturday, December 13th, from 9:00- 12:30 p.m., you can gather friends and take our Holiday Cookies: Beginner cooking class and make cookies with friends to take home.

In addition, we have cooking classes in Memphis and cooking classes in Kansas City . A gift certificate for a class makes a great gift for the foodie in your life.