This week’s exercise in Culinary Arts was about the properties of ingredients. We came up with the following questions: What are the functions of ingredients? Why do we use certain ingredients? What properties of ingredients can we manipulate?
I asked students to think of our ingredient of choice: blueberries. Among other properties, blueberries are known for their antioxidant capacities, nutritional benefits, and beautiful colour. How could we extract these properties and use them in everyday dishes?
For the next 10 minutes, I had at least three suggestions to make blueberry pancakes, waffles, and bars. It was apparent that we were off track – we reiterated the question “What are we manipulating our ingredient (blueberries) to do for us in dishes where we would not conventionally use them. Adding blueberries as an afterthought was neither answering the question nor innovative. From there students started to generate thoughts such as “what if I dehydrate the blueberries and process them into my flour?” “what if I blended my blueberries and squeezed out the liquid to replace my stock/water?” “what if I cooked my blueberries like tomatoes to create a sauce for pizza/pasta?” Now we’re thinking.
Conversations lasted 70 minutes. And that’s for idea-generating. But it was fascinating to watch the progression from suggesting what things exist and how things could be.
On a side note, last week I read through over 50 proposals to use the FH Test Kitchen. I was pleased to find some passion projects that were exciting, innovative, but most of all – meaningful and purposeful. The aim of innovation week is for students to explore passions, but more importantly – explore change and transformation in that world of passion. I was faced with difficult decisions to “Not Approve” many proposals that set out to “search recipes” and “cook recipes” – in my heart I cannot consider theory and replication projects as innovative. Conversations are key: many students had incredible conversations with me about their ideas, which did not quite translate on paper. They were still approved. Communication matters – and for these students, passion was communicated.
Finally, take a look at some of our students’ ideas from this week’s ingredient manipulation challenge. They were all (surprisingly) tasty!
Blueberry Perogies with Blueberry Filling
Blueberry Parmesan Risotto with Cayenne Waffle
Blueberry-infused Pork Loin w/ Blueberry Compote