Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up, and Key Lime Pie

Today we got out of class an hour early! We made key lime pie, which is really easy. We also had some eclair type things from last week that we filled with a pastry cream/praline filling to make them officially Paris Brest. They're good but way too decadent. I ate one and there was no way I could have another one.

So, about Thanksgiving:
We had about ten people, and food for probably thirty. The turducken was obviously the highlight of the meal. I found it to be very heavy on the duck flavor, which doesn't surprise me since chicken and turkey are both pretty bland. The seasoning and the stuffing were both cajun style, which I enjoyed a lot. I think we have about five pounds of it left in the freezer. Our sides were pretty standard- more stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, the usual. The one thing we finished all of was the gravy!

We have our second practical in Baking and Pastry tomorrow and Wednesday. We are making apple pie, pear tart, and eclairs. I'm pretty sure I'll get everything almost finished in one day, but we'll see. I need to look over my recipes and study up on flour for the written test.

Devin and I are going to Strip Steak tonight for our year and a half-aversary (I know, I know). I'm very excited because that's the restaurant where I had the best filet mignon of my life. I hope it's as good as it was last time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sourdough, finally! Plus Eclairs.

Today was great! We formed and baked our long-awaited sourdough wheat bread. It was so delicious and I have lots of it for tomorrow's big dinner.

We also made eclairs and profiteroles, which are surprisingly simple and contained the same ingredients. Tim is going to make the leftover chocolate filling into some kind of cake for tomorrow, as well.

About halfway through class, Chef Mary walked in with a cart and asked if anyone needed cranberry sauce or gravy. It was made by students and left over from the charity dinner they put on. We all jumped at the chance! Those were two things I was a little hesitant to make tomorrow, since I've never made cranberry sauce and gravy eludes me on and off. It's like I can only make good gravy half the time. We were going to use a mix! Sweet break for me, huh?

The only problem was carrying it all out to my car!

Tomorrow or Friday I will post about our feast, featuring the Turducken.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pear and Almond Tart

We are one day closer to having sourdough bread. We made our dough today, so we will bake it tomorrow.

The pear tart was made with the pie shell we put together yesterday, from pate sucree (that means sugar dough!). It has an almond and cream filling with pear slices on top. I tried it and liked it, but I remember disliking it last time I had it. I must have been eighteen at the time, and some of the kids in class didn't like it. Anyway, I like to think I have a sophisticated palate now. I love my tart, and it looks like a sunflower because I used one apricot slice in the middle. I should start posting pictures, maybe!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Pie

The first thing we did today was bake our quiches so we could have breakfast. They were delicious and will probably also be my dinner.

Today was pie day! We made apple pie with a lattice top. It was a lot of fun. I haven't tasted it yet but I'm sure it's delicious.

We added some whole wheat flour and water to our sourdough starters as well. I think we are finally making sourdough tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: Broiled Chicken (Lebanese)

The title is just how it is in the book. I haven't made this before, but I'm sure I've made some sort of variant of it.

And, cue Grandma:
Clean young chicken and cut lengthwise in two pieces. Broil on charcoal fire. Brush with little oil while broiling. Sprinkle with little salt and pepper and serve with the following sauce:
Garlic 10 cloves
Salt 1 t
Oil 2T
Lemon juice 1T

Pound garlic in salt. Mix in oil and lemon juice until you have a smooth paste.
Dip chicken meat in while eating.

My notes:
My only thought about this is that my mom used to make this for me when I was young and a very picky eater. This might be a good solution for picky children or even picky adults. My mom would just make the chicken breast, not the whole bird, but I'm sure it works the same.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today we made pie crust for our quiche, and put together the fillings. We will bake them Monday. I can't believe how easy it is to make pie crust!

We also made sugar cookie dough for Monday.

My parents came by school today and embarrassed me by taking pictures. Argh!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Robuchon Is Amazing

So this isn't so much about culinary school, but I just ate at Joel Robuchon and I need to post about it.

The amuse bouche was a caviar over a crab mixture, and it was delicious. I'm usually indifferent about caviar, but the crab put it over the top. I finished Devin's and my dad finished my mom's, since we both loved it but they aren't big seafood eaters.

A bread cart came through right after our amuse bouches came out, and was filled with probably twenty different artisan breads. We all had a bacon cheese roll, and I had a rosemary brioche, a cheese brioche, and a basil foccacia as well. It doesn't matter that I've been baking bread all week; apparently I don't get tired of bread.

I ordered the two course meal, which includes an appetizer and an entree, plus small desserts and coffee at the end of the meal. I chose the king crab appetizer with avocado, and it was delicious. I had the roasted duck entree, which originally included foie gras, but I requested it without (I'm sure that made the restaurant about $20 richer). It came with a roasted chestnut and some other seasonal fruits, tasted like a steak, and was cooked to perfection.

My dad had the salmon tartare appetizer, which he said was excellent. He loves salmon and pretty much gets it any chance he has. He then had the langouste entree, which is a spiny lobster, and it came with a sauce that contained sea urchin. It also looked delicious and creative. Both my mom and Devin had the steak entree and the chocolate dessert. The steak was perfectly cooked and delicious, and the restaurant was very accommodating to my mother, who doesn't like bell peppers, substituting hers for mushrooms. We each got a dollop of mashed potatoes on the side, which, I assure you, are the best mashed potatoes in the world. The chocolate dessert was topped with a little dark chocolate cup with Godiva white chocolate liqueur in it, which was really a nice touch. The dessert itself was a molten chocolate cake with coffee ice cream and was really nice as well.

The dessert cart was not your normal dessert cart. It was included with our coffee at the end of the meal and had about forty different one-bite desserts, mostly chocolates. The waiter made us two sample plates and put them on the table, and we finished them off. My favorite piece was one with hazelnut chocolate filling, which isn't surprising, since hazelnuts always please me. What a cool way to have dessert without even ordering it!

The actual place was very small, and very detached from the casino, which is really nice. Even at L'Atelier, which is also a Joel Robuchon restaurant, the casino is right there, outside the window. Robuchon is set back through a big double doorway. There were plush purple booths with pillows all over, and probably only seating for 50 people. The wine list was huge, and the beer list was small but respectable. I had two Chimay beers at $15 each, which isn't bad for that particular beer.

As we were about to leave, the waiter brought my mom and me a bag with a nice gift box in it. I guess just the women get this gift, but it's a little box of jelly candies. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm sure they're great.

I would go back. I will go back.

Practical Day 2- Bread, Cookies, Biscuits

Today I re-made my biscuits, and I'm so glad I did! They turned out perfectly, plus we were out of jalapenos so I got to just make delicious cheddar biscuits. All I had to do was those and my French bread. I got a 33 out of 36 points on my practical because I didn't bake the bread long enough- it was cooked but not browned enough. My peanut butter cookies and my biscuits each got the maximum 10 points.

Chef said that everyone did terribly on the quiz yesterday, except two people got perfect scores. I knew who that was- Tim and me. We're the overachievers. I really don't understand why people couldn't remember the 12 steps to yeast production. It was intimidating at first, but then we actually did all 12 steps, and that made it easy to remember them in order.

Want to know what they are? I'll do it from memory. We didn't even have to write explanations for the steps on the quiz, but there's no point in not writing them here so it makes sense.
1. Scaling ingredients- can't have too much or too little of anything
2. Mixing- activates yeast, makes the actual dough
3. Fermentation/Retardation- dough rises. Fermenting is at room temperature and retarding is in the fridge
4. Pounding- getting rid of the yeast bubbles
5. Scaling dough- each loaf must be of uniform size
6. Rounding- this creates a layer on the outside of the dough
7. Benching- dough needs to rest again, at room temperature
8. Forming- into whatever rolls or baguettes you need to make, flour and cut in this step
9. Proofing- final resting spot, high humidity, warm. Dough rises more.
10. Baking- 480 degrees in the deck oven
11. Cooling- must be cooled before cutting
12. Storing- bread can be frozen well but otherwise should be kept at room temperature, not in the refrigerator

We all donated some of what we made today to make Thanksgiving dinner for needy families, which I thought was nice. I absolutely hate having way too much of something and eventually having to throw it away when it could go to someone who needs it. I gave up almost all of my perfect peanut butter cookies and two baguettes for the cause. Tomorrow if they need us after class, we're going to help break down turkeys for the dinner, as well.

I believe we are finally making sourdough tomorrow. We have had our starters going since Pastry day 1, which was the Monday before last. I'm going to make a bread bowl!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Day of Practical Exam

Today I made the dough for my French bread, made my peanut butter cookies, and made a batch of biscuits that was crappy, so I'm going to redo them tomorrow.

This practical is incredibly easy, and the quiz was totally aced. Chef says the next practical is a hundred times harder than this one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Croissants and Danishes

Today we rolled out our croissants. We made regular ones and chocolate ones. They were so good. I have lots of food at my house again.

We also made danishes with traditional filling, which surprised me. The traditional filling is cake and jam! We rolled them out and learned how to twist them in a few different ways, and then we topped them with different jams or a cream cheese mixture that we made. They're pretty good, but we put this glaze on them after baking that makes them really sweet, which I'm not a huge fan of.

Tomorrow is our first quiz and practical exam. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

French Bread and Croissant Dough

Today we made French bread from the dough we made on Friday. We each made two baguettes, a batard, a boule, and some rolls. The boule and the rolls were supposed to stay at school, but we dropped one (yes, it was actually an accident) so I took it home. I'm going to have soup in a bread bowl soon! French bread is yummy.

The dough for croissants and danishes has a pound of butter folded into it. Class should be really fun and really delicious tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma's Lebanese Recipes: Hummus

I know hummus is pretty easy, but I've seen all kinds of weird variations, all of which are unnecessary. The recipe we used at school called for oil to be used within the hummus, which is just wrong. Here is Grandma's recipe as it appears in her book, and my easy take on it.

Dry hummus or chickpeas 2 cups
Tahineh 1 cup
Lemon juice 1 cup
Garlic 2 cloves
Salt 4-6 t

[This recipe, as it is in the book, is a little silly, because it assumes you use dry beans. Just buy a can of chickpeas and use that.]

Soak hummus in cold water for 12 hours (you can use canned, boiled chick peas if available).
Boil dry hummus in enough water to have it well done. A Presto [no idea] is the best thing to use for boiling.
Pound garlic and salt in a big bowl. Strain and pass boiled hummus thru a fine vegetable grinder and add to the salt. Add tahineh, mix well and add lemon juice. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste. Add more lemon juice and salt if desired. Serve in a big shallow dish and decorate top with pieces of radishes, pickles and chopped parsley. Cover dish with olive oil if desired.
You can use boiled potatoes instead of chickpeas, adding some water when mixing to have it smooth enough.

My notes:
"Easy Hummus" (by Eve) takes less than five minutes to make and you can find all the ingredients at a regular grocery store.
Use a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans are the same thing), a couple tablespoons of tahini, some garlic (I like lots so I use maybe four cloves), and throw them in a food processor. Taste it and add salt and lemon juice as desired. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with either paprika or cayenne.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brioche Day

Oh, how I have been looking forward to this day! We made our brioche dough into loaves, pull-apart rolls, a king cake type thing, and, of course, brioches. Chef also brought us some Hebrew Nationals so we could make pigs in a blanket.

I didn't make a loaf myself, but Chef told me I could take hers home. I'm going to make French toast with it tomorrow.

That was a lot of food that I just ate, and I have four bags of different forms of brioche at home with me now. Yum.

We also started our French bread dough today. It needs to be kneaded for at least half an hour, longer for me since my arms aren't very strong. It was actually pretty fun to do, and Chef complimented us for doing it without complaining, because her other class whined about it. We make French bread on Monday, I believe.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brownies and Brioche Dough

I just realized how boring it is to say, "Today we made brownies and dough for the brioche we are going to make tomorrow," so I need to figure out something more exciting to post about during Baking and Pastry class.

Really, we just made brownies. Tomorrow will be much more fun; brioche is one of my favorite things in the world. Not just one of my favorite foods, but one of my favorite things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Almond Cookies and Jalepeno Cheese Biscuits

Today we made more cookies! They're almond cookies that are piped into small pretty stars on a baking sheet, topped with a little raspberry jam, then baked. I'm sure most people have had similar cookies; I know I have. They're awesome but again, I have probably 80 of them. I made one in the shape of my name in cursive, too. That one is for me!

We also made biscuits with jalapeno and cheddar cheese. Mine turned out okay, except they didn't rise as much as I would have liked. I either worked the dough too much or warmed the dough too much with my hands. Don't worry, I learned my lesson and the next batch will be perfect. I think I have about ten biscuits left.

Devin is really going to have to start taking these things to work, because I do not know enough people to give all this food to!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pound Cake and Peanut Butter Cookies

Today we made marble pound cake and chocolate chip pound cake, and then some peanut butter cookies. This isn't as interesting as regular cooking, and measuring stuff is a pain in the ass, but actually putting stuff together in the mixer is pretty fun.

I have a ton of food right now, though- two whole pound cakes and 30 cookies. What am I going to do with all this food?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grades, and Day 1 of Pastry

Sorry I skipped the Lebanese recipe this weekend. I was really busy having a blast.

I got my grades. I got an A in Foundations III and in Nutrition. I got a B in Cost Control, which I think I might fight. We'll see. I don't want a B; I just got a certificate for getting a 4.0 in all my previous classes!

Today I got up at 10, which was wonderful, and went to Baking and Pastry. We talked about flour, made a sourdough starter, and got out early. Tomorrow will be much more exciting, I promise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm off to Baking and Pastry!

I don't know my grades yet but I will post them when I do. I'm afraid I got Bs in both Foundations III and Cost Control, but we'll see. I got a certificate and a pin today for having a 4.0 in my first two blocks, and I want another one after the next block, dang it!

Anyway, today we just took our written final in FIII and made lobster and shrimp. It was actually a pretty sweet day; who gets to eat lobster at school? I think I did okay on the final, and I know I did well on my Cost Control final. Like I said, I will post my grades when I get them.

I am nervous. I feel like a brat being nervous about not getting straight As, but that's what my parents instilled in me, and for some reason, it just stuck with me.

Getting up at 10AM for the next six weeks is going to be so, so sweet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steak and Chicken

The rest of the class had their practical exams today, so while they did that, my half made steak and chicken. The steak was grilled and then roasted for a few minutes. I made a marinade for the chicken that consisted of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, a very Eve thing to do. Everybody in the class thought it was great, so I was proud of myself. We also made fries, which is always good!

You know today must have been really easy, because that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Practical Exam for Foundations III

I am so glad I got to do my practical exam today; half the class has to do theirs tomorrow and now mine is out of the way! I didn't get my grade yet, but I did well. I finished exactly on time. We had to butcher a chicken, start a chicken stock, and make a dish. I made a roasted airline breast, rice pilaf with mushrooms, sauteed carrots and broccoli, and supreme sauce for my chicken. Supreme sauce is made with veloute, heavy cream, and lemon juice. My dish went over well; hopefully I get the A that I want.

Yesterday was just practice for today, so I didn't post anything. All I did in class yesterday was butcher half a chicken and make pilaf. On top of that, last night at home I roasted a whole chicken and butchered another one for the freezer. It looks like practice was key to butchering my chicken perfectly today. I was going to cook the leg and thigh, but Chef came over and raved about my airline breast looking perfect, so I cooked that today instead.

We took our Nutrition final today, and I'm pretty sure I knocked that one out, too. All I have left is a written final in both Cost Control and Foundations III, plus a three day weekend, and then I'm off to Baking & Pastry!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Catering with Chef Lauer

Today I went to school at 8 AM to help Chef Lauer cook for a party he was catering for some friends. There were to be about 80 attendees, and it was a celebration for a guy who had a successful heart transplant- a pig's heart! We made a roasted pork leg and jerk chicken.

It was pretty fun, other than the fact that it was Sunday and I was at school. Once we got to the actual party it was a lot better. We just threw the chicken on the grill and ate some food. Overall, it was a good way to spend a Sunday, plus I got 7 more volunteer hours racked up. Now I have 12; 28 more until I get my certificate and medal.

I am very nervous about my finals this week, but happy to have another four-day week ahead of me at the same time.