Uh... this week is almost over. Where did the time go? I baked a ton this week, most good but some not so good.
Monday, we got a demo of creme brulee and ganache and we got to start our own shortbread and biscotti. We could choose between hazelnut and almond biscotti... I love almonds so that was a no brainer. We started what is called our 'skill checks' and it is now serious. I have yet to fold 12 perfect coronets from one sheet of parchment but I am getting there.
Creme brulee is a tricky one to get just right. The picture is pre-torching. Shortbread is so easy and also so easy to screw up. It also bakes really fast. My shortbread passed the skill test. It was so good I kept popping the cookies into my mouth and half were gone before I knew it. Dangerous.
Also demoed, how to heat chocolate and creme Chantilly. We also learned how to make the ganache, how to use the ganache to glaze our dream torte, and how to cut torte and cheesecake. That ganache is wicked good. Sooooo chocolaty. Anytime ya'll want to try it, come on over. It is a staple on the menu at the restaurant OR I could try and make it for you.
Tuesday, more baking. I had the chance to second bake my biscotti. The biscotti was a bit difficult just because I couldn't tell if it was done enough unless I really burnt the tips of my fingers touching it for doneness. I finally decided it was dark enough and my numb fingers didn't feel any give. I let it cool and when Chef did checks, it passed! I can make biscotti!!!
Wednesday... Next up, coconut macaroons, oatmeal raisin cookies, and brownies. I love coconut. LOVE IT. Chef doesn't and I felt so bad for her having to test everyone's. I started with the coconut macs. It seemed easy enough but I was wrong. It takes time to get the mixture to 120 degrees over a bain-marie (water bath) and then scooping, ugh. It is sticky and they really bake in the shape that the scoop is so you have to fix any imperfections. Then they bake for what seems like forever. Mine got really dark so I finally took them out. When they had cooled, Chef tested them and there were almost perfect. The shape, color, outer crust and inner goodness were all great but they were a tad, small tad, undercooked. My first failure. The other problem is that the batter only made enough for one batch so I have to do the whole thing over, not just the baking part. Ha, funny. I ran out of time. I didn't get my oatmeal cookies measured, mixed, or baked off and as a group, we didn't get our brownies made up.
Thursday... Our class got to have dinner in the restaurant tonight. They want us to get to know each other better, relax, and also see what we will soon be producing. The school restaurant puts out a 4 course lunch and dinner. All for a very reasonable price (lunch is $12 and dinner is $18, seriously. 4 courses for that price!!!). All tips go to fund scholarships for the students. If you want to see how fancy the menu is, you can go here. Dinner was fantastic. I had roasted cauliflower soup, an endive salad with apples, walnuts, Oregon blue cheese, and a cider vinaigrette, my entree was crab pappardelle (mmm... crab season is among us), and for dessert a piece of angel food cake served with 3 sorbets in a tuile. OH MY.
The dinner was superb but we lost several kitchen hours because of it. We knew this yesterday so feeling slightly behind, our group decided to go in early today. Well, 3 out of 4 of us made it. We were told that there is space around 2 pm in the kitchens, which means 2 hours without distraction, right? No, not right. There is 2 other classes going on. One is in where the ingredients are and another is practicing eggs where there was only one table free for us to us, at 2:30. Half an hour wasted... Blah.
Since I am ahead of the group by one recipe, I start on the group brownies. I hate brownies. I don't eat them, don't make them, and I was nervous. Hee, hee. I was so distracted in the kitchen that I sort of leave out the sugar... but only for a bit. A group mate catches it before I add the flour. Phew. Anyway, I only manage to get the brownies in and one sheet of oatmeal raisin before I ran out of time. Oh, I over cooked my oatmeal raisin too. In the kitchens, we don't time things. We are supposed to have internal timers. Well, mine was off. The oatmeal raisin cookies were so overcooked that they just snapped in half. I still had 12 balls of dough from the batch so after dinner I tossed in 6 (saved 6 just in case I burned them again) and they might work. I will have Chef check them tomorrow and let you know.
My mates did get a few things done so we are pretty much even at the table. We each have some failures and no time to make it up in class.
Before dinner, Chef H demoed how to make biscuits, scones, and Chef demoed lemon pound cake. We started to scale out the ingredients after dinner. We all get to try lemon pound cake but she wanted us to choose between biscuits or scones. I went with the scones, cream scones... I'm drooling just thinking about it. Chef H's biscuits look sooooo flaky in that picture. I am definitely making those for Paula with some gravy and hashbrowns (please come to Oregon soon 3sott and Paula!)
Oh, and back to the other class practicing eggs. I love it when a breakfast place can make an egg over medium correctly. I understand it takes practice. The culinary students at my school go through racks of eggs (4-5 dozen) just practicing the different eggs. Daily. GO SCHOOL!!! Send them out to make breakfast eggs correctly. Thanks! But really, seeing that much fried eggs made my stomach turn. The smell was crazy.
I am glad Alan is finally back in Portland with me. He was at home in Eugene to work for part of the week. I missed him. It is nice to have someone to share the goodies and information with at the end of the night.
I am going in early again tomorrow. Coconut macaroons, meet your maker. Wwwaaa...