I can’t believe last week was our final FULL week of Level 2! Level 2 carried into a few days this week, then we had our final, and before we knew it, walked up a staircase to Level 3.

The beginning of last week was a bit “lighter” than usual- ‘healthier’ ingredients and dishes. We talked about the different elements of nutrition such as proteins, carbohydrates, fat, etc. Nutrition is one of my favorite topics. I’m a big believer that life is all about balance – especially when it comes to food and drink. Too much of one thing isn’t good, however, you can’t deprive yourself because life is too short and you’ll drive yourself crazy. The reason I started my blog was to be able to share a range of recipes with y’all such as healthier twists on your favorite dishes and ‘treat yourself’ spinach and artichoke dip.

On the first day of nutrition we made a delicious Bar Raye Sur Lentilles (Striped Bass Over Lentils).

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The following day we made an Artichoke Heart, Fennel, Watercress Salad with Grapefruit Citronette and Toasted Walnuts, Falafel (not gluten free), and Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Tomato-Caper Sauce. I absolutely love spaghetti squash. You can do so many things with it and it’s a great alternative to pasta. I’m not a big fan of gluten free pasta (there are only a few brands out there that I’ll have), so spaghetti squash is an easy option.

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For our seasonal dish we made a Seared Duck Breast and Braised Duck Thigh with Braised Endive and Red Wine Sauce. Can never have too much duck! I also love endive on the grill. In the summer I like to grill endive and romaine, and then top it with some homemade dressing.

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Then came the day we’ve all been waiting for, CHEESE DAY! There’s nothing I love more than a bottle of wine and a great meat and cheese plate – no lie, could make a meal off of it. We tasted cheese and milk that came from goat, cow and sheep. Ummm, as you can imagine, not a big fan of goat or sheep milk, but I don’t mind exploring for a few minutes.

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We even made our own mozzarella and ricotta, which we used the next day for our meat sauce lasagna. In addition to making pasta sheets, Chef allowed me to roast up some zucchini and use that as a replacement for pasta in my gluten free lasagna.

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Pasta day made me think of my Italian Grandmother and how proud she would be of me that I followed my dream to go to culinary school. We made ravioli, gnocchi, and spinach pasta! Get ready to be hungry!

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The last Monday before our final we got to create our own recipe for chicken; so many ideas came to mind! I ended up going with an Oven Roasted Chicken with Sautéed Spinach, and Lemon and Mushroom Risotto.

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And last but not least, we had Wine Tasting Day. Wine making and tasting is really an art. Many people aren’t aware of all the steps that go into making wine and building those layers of flavors. Also, certain wines pair well with certain dishes. For example, when eating a spicy meal, it’s recommended that you drink a sweeter wine with a lower alcohol content. The wine and dish should compliment and balance each other.

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I definitely felt more confident going into this final verses Level 1. We had lots of practice quartering chickens throughout the level and I even got more practice in the butchering workshop the school offers (NO BRAINER: GO TO EVERY WORKSHOP YOU CAN). Practice and improving your skills is what it’s all about.

Over the past month, I’ve built up more confidence in my abilities and skills. Also, I have some great classmates that I’ve become close with; we are great supporters of one another, and I’m so lucky to have them!

Level 2 is done and dusted friends. See y’all next week! 

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