In the kitchen

The Pilot - - Front Page - Terry Bursey The Food Dude

There’s some­thing yummy cook­ing up this week.

Some of the hap­pi­est days of my life were spent learn­ing to cook at Academy Canada. The in­struc­tor was an im­pec­ca­ble chef named Bernie-Anne Ezekiel and on top of her funny, friendly and up­lift­ing per­son­al­ity she was great in that she in­vested at­ten­tion and time in her stu­dents, do­ing her best to help cul­ti­vate their unique tal­ents in the kitchen... and she her­self too had a knack for find­ing them.

I re­mem­ber first im­press­ing her by bak­ing an Ital­ian ar­ti­san bread known as fo­cac­cia; a de­li­cious bread sim­i­lar in tex­ture to pizza and flavoured with olives and rose­mary. While I didn’t quite en­joy bak­ing at the time — pre­fer­ring in­stead the man­lier cook­ing ap­pli­ca­tions to im­press a girl I had a slight crush on — she in­sisted that I prac­tice with it as much as pos­si­ble, hav­ing a hunch that I would be­come the star baker for the class.

In spite of my mild al­lergy to ac­ti­vat­ing yeast — which I kept se­cret be­cause I was one of those typ­i­cal guys who loved to pre­tend they had no such weak­nesses — I spent a great deal of time prac­tic­ing breads at home.

They were of­ten de­voured by my fam­ily with an­noy­ing en­thu­si­asm once out of the oven but I was never at all sat­is­fied with their end results.

Even­tu­ally, I gave up on the ar­ti­san breads, much to my in­struc­tor’s cha­grin, feel­ing that it was not at all fun to bake any­more. My ex­cuse at the time was that I wasn’t feel­ing chal­lenged enough. Feel free to roll your eyes at that. So Bernie-Ann then sug­gested I prac­tice cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of pureed soups.

Soups were never my strong suit. Even now as an ex­pe­ri­enced chef I shy away from cre­at­ing more rus­tic or tra­di­tional New­found­land soups for the restau­rant where I prac­tice my craft, pre­fer­ring to leave them to our older cook, So­phie, who has a tal­ent for them.

Bernie-Anne was a very con­vinc­ing woman though and her con­fi­dence in me gave me the much-needed con­fi­dence in my­self. So I delved into recipes for seafood chow­der, roasted red pep­per puree, potato and leek soup and just about any other unique soup that you’d rarely ever find or even hear about around The Bay.

De­spite hav­ing burned a pot of corn chow­der, burn­ing my fore­arm from wrist to el­bow with spilled French onion soup and wast­ing what I can only as­sume was a small for­tune worth of gro­ceries on fail­ures, I be­gan ex­celling at them.

A few stu­dents in the cafe­te­ria had even be­gun ask­ing if I was the one who had pre­pared the soup for that day, which made me smile from one lit­tle ear to the other.

One puree soup in par­tic­u­lar cap­tured the hearts and taste buds of my fel­low class­mates. Look­ing for a chal­lenge, I re­solved to put a unique spin on the next soup that I’d be in­structed to make that week. As luck would have it, that soup turned out to be what is now my sig­na­ture puree.

Akin to a pump­kin, a but­ter­nut squash re­sem­bles one that has been some­how stretched out and light­ened. After cut­ting it in half and peel­ing it, sim­i­lar to the way one peels a turnip, one can im­me­di­ately see the gor­geous or­ange flesh inside.

When this flesh is roasted or sim­mered it is de­li­cious in and of it­self and goes great as a side dish for any meal. But is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing when made into a pureed soup.

The fol­low­ing is the recipe for a soup that I guar­an­tee you’ll en­joy eat­ing as well as pre­par­ing.

The de­sired con­sis­tency is sim­i­lar to that of tomato soup when fin­ished. Fi­nally, add your ba­con bits to the mix­ture and heat it on medium low in a large saucepan for ap­prox. 10 min­utes or un­til the de­sired tem­per­a­ture has been reached, stir­ring fre­quently.

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