(Nicola’s Story) A Paleo Blogger turns global gourmet at Cookery School

It’s the end of Week 2 for our Certificate Students attending our 4 and 8 week full-time courses here at Cooks Academy and we have caught up with student and Paleo Food Blogger, Nicola of The Wonky Spatula, to see exactly what has been going on in the kitchen!

Check out what she and the other students have been up to in Week 2 below:

Pasta Making at Cooks Academy
Making Pasta and Ravioli

Over to Nicola:

We have been all over the world this week from France to Thailand and back with the wines to match! Boy am I tired!! But, would I give it all up for a duvet day?! Not a chance!!

My vocabulary continues to grow on a daily basis as does my hunger for knowledge – not to mention my kitchen wish list!

The week started off with a trip to Italy which naturally entailed plenty of pasta followed by a Tiramisu with a serious kick!

A quick skip across the border to France meant a day spent with the classics. All leading up to a day to remember.

Wednesday saw Stephen Gibson, Chef Proprietor of Pichet, take over the kitchen to share his knowledge & experiences – and above all the secrets behind Pichet’s highly sought after Crispy Hen’s Egg!

All of this food, but what do you wash it all down with?

Thursday morning was spent preparing quiches, to sooth Wednesday’s food hangover or to provide soakage for what was to come?!  Either way yet another invaluable skill to tick off the list!

The afternoon saw everyone pull together for some serious team work as we took on 8 different canapés in preparation for wine pairing with wine extraordinaire Liam Campbell (wine editor, Irish Independent).

Wine and food matching
Wine and Food Pairing


Split into pairs with the clock counting down, some pairs taking on more than one canapé, the pressure was on to get each one identical to the first – this is where we truly learned the importance of “the tester”!!

What was 1 small teaspoon, gradually made its way to being heaped, which in turn lead to top ups on previous attempts, only to be removed again!  Benches turned to production lines and it is safe to say we all have a new found appreciation for canapés – never again will we pop them into our mouths without a second glance! 

It was wonderful to be able to relax at the end of the day, try each other’s dishes and learn how to pair wines with our food.

Before we knew it Friday was upon us, surely week 2 had only just begun?!  Nevertheless, time to delve into Thai Cuisine and another chance to perfect those knife skills!  A fantastic day of tasting things that wouldn’t ordinarily be in your shopping basket – coriander root, galangal, phak preaw, holy basil, enoki mushrooms, the list was endless!! The Thai dishes were demo’d in a very hands on fashion giving each of us the chance to taste the dishes each time a different flavour was introduced, which made all the difference when we were preparing them ourselves. 

Paleo Fragrant Coconut Chicken Curry

The beauty about the dishes was that no two were going to taste the same, yes we had a recipe to follow, but this was all about the seasoning – say goodbye to the salt, sugar and lemon we had been trying so hard to master and hello to lime juice, palm sugar and coriander! I’ll be the first to admit that I have found seasoning to be somewhat of a chore in the past two weeks but today it was like something clicked inside of me – was it the demo? Or was it my natural instinct? I am inclined to lean towards natural instinct as it was our chance to shine and create something unique – but the level of tuition cannot be ignored, having the opportunity to taste all of the ingredients both separately and in the dishes at different stages was invaluable and gave us the knowledge to create our own fantastic dishes. 

This week has awoken our inner creativity and allowed us to experiment with top quality ingredients we may not have had the opportunity to use before.

Fortunately for Me Thai food really lends itself to being “Paleo-ified”. With our Thai dishes we had two choices, make both the Thai red curry & the Tom Khaa Kai or spend that extra bit of time perfecting one.  I chose to do the latter and with the help of my go to substitutes; agave, coconut oil and coconut aminos  – created what I would describe as a pretty good curry! You can check out the recipe here! 

My coconut aminos created quite the stir in the kitchen so I am looking forward to trying it out in different dishes over the remaining two weeks of the course!!

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Paleo Flourless Chocolate Fondant

While you’re waiting for what is to come why not check out this week’s unguilty pleasure – Paleo flourless chocolate fondant which features on the Wonky Spatula blog.

Where the magic happens… Cooks Academy Kitchen

For more information on the above course call: +35316111667 or check out the details on our website here.

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