January 22, 2010

Section 2: Advanced Baking

Well, yesterday we received our grades for the first section and a new checklist. We were also reassigned new groups. I am currently at 97.4%!!! Whoohooo!

The new checklist is filled with items and I don't know what a lot of them even are... it does list fortune cookies though. :)

Yesterday we started with our artisan breads. We made fococcia, ciabatta, and today we will make sourdough. I am really excited for the sourdough. Not because I like it but Alan does.

My new group members are Leah and Nathan. Rita is in my group again so that is cool.

Here are pictures of my ciabatta and fococcia.

January 20, 2010

Lists

Seems as of late, my life is full of lists. A list of school things to do, places to go, wedding things to do...

Today was makeup day. Everyone's last chance to get stuff checked off. We should get our grades for the section tomorrow. The test was a shocker. I did well. Yep, 91% (B+). Not to shabby. I am most proud of my checklist. All that going in early and staying late paid off. I had every item checked off!!! Here is a picture with the very last item, a whole wheat roll.

The other thing I worked on today was yeast donuts. The dough for this is pretty weird. It is thick and you cut it into circles and then cut out the center (doughnut holes!). They proof for a bit and then you fry them. The group decided on a maple glaze and who could pass up bacon? Yep, I slapped on some tasty, thick fried bacon. Bacon and maple, on a fried doughnut. Tasty. The picture is blurry as I took it with my cell phone.

Tomorrow is the day for new groups and new lists. Yikes.

Test Tuesday

Me and tests... we aren't generally compatible. Yet, I have to take them. Today we had our first test, tomorrow (Wednesday), is make up day in the kitchen and then Thursday we get a whole new skill check list and the biggest shake up, new group members. I really like my table mates. I don't want to change!!!

Grr.

In the kitchen, after the test, we worked on bagels, pretzels, and glazed donuts. I don't know how I did on anything as I didn't get anything checked off in time tonight but I did bring home a couple bagels and a pretzel for Alan to try. He took the picture when I realized I forgot to take any today. :)

Tomorrow I will fry my donuts and glaze them, glaze them with maple. And maybe I will add some bacon. Maybe I should just go to Voodoo Donuts...

The power of voodoo (who do?) you do (do what?) remind me of the babe... ha, sorry. Lost myself.

The lost week

Hee, hee. Sorry folks for keeping you hanging. Last week was crazy! I left you with just my tart and disappeared...

I did work on the caramel nut tart that next class, well, I went early. Hot bubbly stove work and a room of people often leads to injury so I wanted to do it when less people were there to distract me. I have made caramel before but not with an understanding of how it should be done. See, I have a family heirloom. A hand written, water stained recipe that is pretty incoherent. It might have been from when the Alzheimer had finally set in. I still use it and guess every time what is meant but the instructions. I have changed it enough that I can't tell anymore what I have tried and what has worked. Now I have my school recipe to help me. As for the tart, I used cashews. It was buttery, salty, sweet, and just the right amount of chewy gooey.

Well, next up was pear frangipane and lemon meringue. The pear frangipane is a tart shell, filled with a sweet almond paste fillings, decorated with a poached pear, and baked. Chef and the whole class learned that unfortunately, it should have been a par-baked tart shell but o well, that is why it is called learning! All of them had soggy bottoms. I was really sad because I love almonds and pears and it smelled divine. It smelled good and tasted funny, raw funny.

Lemon meringue is what I thought I was making when I made lemon chiffon. I hadn't made either so I was confused but now I am straight. The trick with lemon meringue is in getting the right ratio of tart lemon curd to sweet Swiss meringue. The meringue was fun to pipe out and then torch (picture is pre-torching).

Next up, breads! Finally. I again decided to work hard and learn more by coming in early and staying late. I have managed to stay on top of things and really work at getting my skills down. I have a few things left on my list but nothing I can't finish.

Anyway, back to breads. We started with the baguette and breadsticks. My breadsticks were all funky so I had to do them again (picture to the right is the good ones) but the baguette worked out well. It is weird to make one when you have always just bought them in the stores. They seem so simple and yet the take time. For the breadsticks, we got to choose our internal garnish so I filled mine with Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary. MMM. Tasty!

Next up, butterbraids and olive rolls. I don't care for the taste of butterbraids but the actual braiding is quite fun. It is like braiding hair. My table mates tried fancy 4 strands, I stuck with a 2-strand and a 3-strand. I figured I will work up to 4. :)

Next up, multigrain loaf, potato rosemary loaf, and whole wheat rolls. I really liked the smell of the potato rosemary. The multigrain was ok but not something I would eat regularly. And the rolls... a pain. Rolling tiny balls of dough into perfect, puckered, smooth balls takes forever. My fingers don't want to bend the way they need to to get the pucker right. We also over proofed ours so they didn't turn out.

Finally, Friday. Friday of week 4. I couldn't think of anything better to make than pizza, pita, and of course, a good review for our Baking 111 test (which was today, Tuesday). We have a favorite pizza and place in Eugene and my goal was to try and copy it. Thin crust, olive oil, blue cheese, roasted garlic... Ok, thin crust is all about letting your dough rest. Olive oil, blue cheese, and yummy roasted garlic, check! I added a bit of creamy garlic sauce and a bit of fresh basil with the olive oil just to add a bit more yummy goodness. I couldn't wait to bring home the goodies to Alan. He loves pizza and pita. I think the Chefs must have colluded because someone made a big batch of hummus so I got to take fresh hummus with my fresh pita! Sadly, the pita didn't puff correctly so I have to do them again. I am not sad though, it means more pita! The pizza was so thin and tasty, I could have cried. It is so amazing to just know and do it and then EAT IT!!!

Whoosh. Another week. Not only is time just flying by but we have to set up our externships already. My options in Eugene are slim compared to the vast foodness of Portland. I am frustrated about my options but will make do and find something.

If nothing else, I will work for cupcakes...

January 10, 2010

the best wedding deal yet!

Saturday was a productive day. We went to the bridal show, Alan tried on tux jackets, we decided on the lines for the wedding (pictures of the tablecloth for the cupcake table is here in pink but the color we will use is the green in the picture against the plate), and we even managed to run a few other errands before our bud Jen from Silverton made it into town. She stayed over so we made dinner.

Anyway, I was trying to explain the idea I had to Alan for our ceremony site. It is in a field so we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. I had found this pictures on a wedding blog (Once Wed I believe) and absolutely loved the idea of using old windows for the ceremony site.

Anyway, we went to our local recycling center and found only used vinyl windows. Not very attractive! I was still hopeful so we headed to Main St in Springfield and decided to go to Ruthie B's first. I love Ruthie B's but I rarely can afford anything that I like in there. They know what something is usually worth so it is difficult to find the deals.

I had noticed some frames with no glass that were quite interesting but the price was out of our budget. I asked if people were willing to negotiate and the lady did check for me but event the negotiated price was still to high. Alan understood what I was getting at and noticed some colored glass windows. We asked about the price on them because there were also out of budget ($50/each). They are quite large and the multi-colored glass is bubbly. The name on them was Ruth so the nice lady at the counter went to ask Ruth about them. Ruth came out and I realized, oh my, this is RUTH of RUTHIE B's! How cool is that!?

Anyway, it turns out she had more of the windows (13 total) and just wanted to get rid of them. She said they could be $20 each. She said we could have time to think about it so Alan and I just talked for a minute before we just smiled and agreed it was a deal we couldn't pass up. We have ceremony decorations!!! Here are some pictures, not great but you can at least see the colored glass a bit. The actual windows we are getting are taller than the ones in the picture and one is a rectangle, the other two are angled like the ones in the picture.

Yeah! Happy wedding stuff!

such a tart

Friday, end of week 3. Weird.

I went in early to try those blasted corn muffins again. This time I only stirred the mixture 7 times. Baked them off and STILL there was tunneling. Chef and I cut into every muffin and did find 3 that were minimum so she finally gave in and passed me. THEY ARE DONE!!! Just have to work on crepes now and I am caught up.

In class we worked on the hardest dough yet, by hardest I mean, most difficult to work with. Pâte sucrée, tart dough, is mainly butter and very sweet. I really, really like the taste. ;)

We used it to make two different tarts. A fresh fruit tart and a caramel nut tart. I didn't want to rush myself at the end of the night so I just worked on the fresh fruit tart. It is the pâte sucrée baked in a tart tin. Then once it is cool, fill it with pastry cream. Then cover all of the pastry cream with fresh fruit. Then glaze the fruit with an apricot glaze to set it.

Here is the tart dough baked off and filled with a vanilla pastry cream.













I decided to decorate with oranges and blood oranges. Here is my tart finished.













I gave half of it away to some culinary students, another chef, and then took 1/2 of it for the ride back to Eugene. I gave Alan one bite and I ate the rest of it. I couldn't stop. It was so good. Now, I just feel guilty. I should have given more of it away!

January 8, 2010

airy with a touch of lemon

Another week, almost done. WHAT?!

This was a hard week but after my multi-failure day (Tuesday) I worked my butt off, came in early, stayed late, and I am so glad I did because I am not feeling so behind. I still have those blasted corn muffins to get right (seriously, corn muffins... hello 10 cent box of jiffy...) and crepes.

My pies rocked!!! I was able to cut out pieces and nothing gooed or driped. Solid, the crust was super flaky on the apple and the berry pie was berrylicious. Rita and me worked on cannoli together and we were nervous that our dough was too thin. Chef told us to go to setting 5 on the pasta roller and we all tested her thickness so we knew what to feel for but we went to 5 and had super thin, almost see through cannoli dough. Putting them on the forms was tough too. We fried them last night and when Chef demoed them tonight, THEY WERE STILL CRISPY!!! Yippee! The filling is ricotta cheese, orange zest, shaved chocolate, and chopped up pistachios. I even tried one and was glad I did... mmm. Good, tasty, pass! I brought one home to Alan so he could try too. :)

Tonight in the kitchen I just had a terrible time focusing. Chef demoed chocolate cream pie and lemon chiffon pie. We got to choose which to work on. She hadn't had a student work on lemon yet so I was nervous. The recipe has sheet gelatin, I think that makes people nervous. It is also complicated... you are on the stove for some of it, whipping up medium peak egg whites for some, you have to worry about the crust... detail, man, details.

I got all set up (or so I thought and started)... I was almost to the part where I needed to add my medium peak egg whites and realized I forgot to set up the mixer and bowl. Jeesh. I have no idea where my brain was but thank goodness for my rockin' table mates!!! Rita, Amanda, and Chantel, you all are awesome. They hooked me right up.

Anyway, back to lemon chiffon... got to work on mise en place. Chef checked on me for the lemon chiffon and all was going well except my whites took forever to get to medium. I folded them in to my warm egg mixture and poured it into my pâte brisée and smoothed out the top. Just 10 minutes before the end of check off too! Phew!

Chef only had to jiggle it to know that it was right. She said it was too pretty to cut into and since she had watched me, it was an easy pass! I waited until I got home to be with Alan to cut into it. I was so nervous it would goo out and not hold but look!!! I have pictures that it held up.

And the pictures don't show it but this pie is like lemon air... I can make lemon air!!!

January 7, 2010

let them eat pie...

The pies are baked! I don't know how I did because they didn't finish in time for check off but today (Thursday) I will find out. Here are pictures of my apple and berry pie with lattice top. The crust bottoms on both pie are from a flaky crust recipe and the top of the apple is the same. The lattice is made from pâte brisée, a mealy dough, recipe. The difference is that when making the flaky, you work the butter into the flour in streaks, larger chunks, and work it less than the mealy dough. The mealy dough is smaller chunks of butter and is less flaky.

I am really excited about both pies. The smell good and look pretty darn good too.

I did go in early today and managed to scale, prep, and bake off more scones. I filled them with golden raisins and tried the convection oven to see if that would help. The oven and a brief refrigeration before baking off helped immensely. The scones were passing.My apple pie filling did work so I didn't have to do that over. My quiche from yesterday passed too. I need to make sure I really tuck in the pâte brisée in the tart tin so that I get those signature ridges though. The quiche was so good that my group and I finished off half of it for dinner! The roasted red peppers and brie were a great combo.

My table mate Rita had come in early too and she rolled out our cannoli dough and put it on forms. I fried them tonight, when some of us stayed late, so tomorrow we can fill them and will get them checked. I cannot say I care much for the flavor of the cannoli but they are very pretty. I will post pictures when they are done.

Feeling a little bit less behind, I am not going in early tomorrow. I know we are going to be making either a chocolate cream pie or a lemon chiffon pie. Not craving chocolate and really wanting to try sheet gelatin, I am going for the lemon chiffon!

Another week is just flying by...

January 6, 2010

Day 10

Do you ever have those days where it turns out you are further behind than when you started? Well that day is today. I went in early and made corn muffins and scones, trying to catch up on my skill checks. The corn muffins had to much tunneling and were a tad overdone, no pass. The scones melted into a pile of goo so I didn't even bother letting them finish cooking. Crude.

By the time we finished with lecture and Chef demoed apple pie filling, the quiche dough and par bake, we didn't even have enough time to finish anything. She stayed late for some of us so we could work more. I managed to get my quiche dough done, par baked, filling done, and then baked it off. I also managed to get my flaky dough in the fridge and my apples are peeled and soaking. I was in the kitchen for 7+ hours and then lecture for 2+. Jeesh. I keep wondering if I am just slow but I am not too bad. I have just as much as everyone checked off.

video

Anyway, here is a video of the apple pie filling (partial anyway, the battery was dying). Plus pictures of a Chef's pie and my baked quiche. I decided on roasted red peppers and chunks of brie for my quiche filling... :)

Tomorrow is berry pie with a lattice top. I am going in early again to try and get one more thing done.

January 5, 2010

apple strudel

Well, I am back in class after a much needed break. The pace did not let up and we cranked out a few more items on Monday.

Chef demoed strudel and cannoli. The strudel is very fun. We worked on it as a group and stretched it super thin with just our floured knuckles. It was so thin you could see through it! Then we buttered it, filled it with cinnamon, sugar, apples, raisins and bread crumbs and baked it. The kitchen smelled so good with all that strudel baking off! Sorry Denise, there was no banging the dough around. :)

The cannoli were interesting. I have never had one but traditionally they are made with either white or red wine and the dough is rolled really thin through a pasta machine. Then it is cut out in circles, put on a cannoli form, and deep fried. Then we fill it with a ricotta, chocolate, pistachio, orange zest filling and dip one end in chocolate and one end in pistachios. We only got the dough and filling ready on Monday, today we will fry some up!

video

The lemon pound cake that I baked off and froze before break so I could get it tested for skill check, was good and passed. I am going in early to catch up on some things today. I need to get scones and corn muffins checked off. I also need to practice crepes!

January 1, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As I begin my 4th decade of life (cough, choke, what? 30 this year?), I hope all my family and friends are healthy and happy.

Alan and I wrote out our resolutions and took a moment to contemplate our existence. When you are comfortable and happy it is hard to think of things to improve. But it also important to be truly honest about whether YOU are happy. I spent a good part of my life not taking care of myself and I often did not fill my proverbial bucket. You can bet that I work hard at filling my own bucket now and I will work at overflowing Alan's bucket.

Alan, my best friend, I love you!

Cheers to you and yours.

(photo of Alan and me by K. Huck, used without asking his permission) ;)