In culinary school we tend to prepare tomatoes the same way every time. It all starts with boiling the tomatoes, removing the skin, cutting the tomatoes into segments, and then deseeding them. The segment of tomato is then either used in salads or cut down even further for tomato fondue.
Culinary school is weird like that: it can seem both incredibly wasteful and then, when you're not expecting it, exceptionally creative. Why would you waste the seeds or skin of the tomato? We all asked in class. That's when our instructor took the discarded seeds of the tomato, pilled them onto a spoon, sprinkled a little sea salt on the seeds, and exclaimed: "Tomato caviar!"
There are always genius ways of using all parts of an ingredient. Last week we talked a little bit about using the discarded water and "scum" of clarified butter. This week we talked more about how to use certain cuts of undesirable lamb in dishes, or how to make stock with the bones.
While this might not make sense for home cooking all the time, it's a necessary part of restaurant work. You save a considerable amount of money using everything you are purchase. Creativity is essential.
Of course, if you're not into stuffing your face with tomato seeds, you can always save them planting. Here's a good tutorial.
This Week in Culinary School
Things are picking up in culinary school. While I thought the first few weeks were really fast-paced, the recipes and ingredients we're using now are a lot more complex. I've learned how to quarter a chicken (I'm still struggling), work with duck (so much fat!), and we looked closer at different techniques including grilling.
We also changed instructors recently which has been both good and bad. I think it's important to learn from a lot of different people, but when you have a teacher who is really great it's hard not to compare.
Here's What I Made Last Week
Roast Chicken, Grandmother-Style
Roast Duck with Orange Sauce
Grilled Chicken, Sauce Diable
Next week I tackle pork and lamb for the first time! And chicken. There is always more chicken.
After dreaming about culinary school for the last five years, I finally signed up for a course this summer at the International Culinary Center in New York. The course, "Culinary Techniques," is a three month class that meets two nights a week, and focuses on classic culinary traditions and methods like knife skills, stock-making, classic recipes, and some pastry.
(Image credits: Ariel Knutson; Chiots Run)