Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meyer Lemons in Season

Actually, I bought the lemons over a week ago but I haven't had time to make curd until today. (Wonder why. Hah.)

The lemons were particularly juicy so eight lemons yielded 1.25 cups of juice. I scaled the recipe accordingly [10 oz. butter, 5 eggs, 1.85 cups sugar] and made almost five cups of curd. This time, I used a large metal bowl set in a pot of water which fit perfectly rather than struggle with two saucepans that don't stack at all. Four jars were canned and the incomplete jar is in the fridge. Even though I plan to store the jars in the fridge, I usually process them for 15 minutes first.

Here's What I Did With All That Bread

Challah french toast casserole! Yum.
Changes - I used the 6 egg whites leftover from making the Challah and added 2 whole eggs rather than the 6 whole eggs the recipe calls for. And I left out the pecans. Otherwise, it's basically the same.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Closer, Still Not Perfect

Today I made a batch of Challah, three loaves. I used instant yeast, which is what I had on hand, so I adjusted the recipe as I've been taught. That part worked just fine. The dough was mixed, fermented, shaped (rather nicely, I might add) and proofed. Based upon the result, I think I am still underproofing. The braid split apart at the top. However, it's much closer to the proper result than last week's brioche. It's a nice even golden brown and the inside texture is nice. I'll keep practicing.

I took photos as I went along in an effort to be able to recognize when the loaves were fully proofed. I guess that didn't help enough.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Days 5 and 6: Sweet Things

We all made some cygnes, these were mine.
This week we moved away from breads and into pastries. It's quite fun. I'm super tired because between classes and last night's Special Town Meeting I haven't really had much time for sleep!

Yesterday started out with the T being super delayed. Five of the seven of us were stuck at various points along the Red Line for a half an hour or more. The only saving grace is that the chef was stuck, too, so we weren't really late. And then we had our first quiz.

Once that all was taken care of, we started on pâte à choux. This is the flour-water-butter-egg paste that is used to make cream puffs and eclairs. And boy, did we make a lot of cream puffs and eclairs! It took us all day, but we made all sorts of shapes, fondant for dipping, and 6 different flavors of cream filling: coffee, chocolate, rum, kirsch, grand marnier, and praline.
An assortment of cream puffs and eclairs. 
Let's just say that clean up took a very, very long time. We used a crazy amount of bowls and mixers. And piping tips.

This morning was not plagued with commuting woes, which was nice. Today was "Classic Doughs" which meant pie and tart crusts. We learned the difference between pâte brisée, pâte foncer, and pâte sucrée. (Sugar. The main difference is sugar. There are other differences, but that's the biggest.) We made five different kinds of tarts. The large tarts, one per person, were Tart Beausejour - caramelized apples with calvados. These and the pear chiboust tarts used the pâte sucrée and all the others, the chocolate tarts, the "Duo" tarts (peach and cherry), and the apricot-brown butter Tart Catalane, used the pâte foncer. A chiboust is a pastry cream (we made ours with pear purée) with meringue mixed in. That led to the most fun part of my day - using the torch to brulée the chiboust.
I LOVED it.  I think I ended up doing most of them because I was having so much fun.

Oh, and, yes. That's my uniform. Someday I'll get my jacket but for now, that's it. Sorry you can't see the checkered pants.
If cleanup from yesterday was long, today was much, much worse. It was all hands on deck to get that all done. So many dishes!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Don't Think I Can Blame the Oven

I tried.

I tried to make brioche this weekend. The right way - making the dough and letting it sit overnight in the fridge. Everything seemed to be going well. The butter incorporated, the dough felt right. But this morning when I went to punch it down, it looked either dry or frozen. Dry is bad, frozen is potentially recoverable. I moved the dough to the other fridge.

This afternoon, it looked about the same. I brought it out to the counter and divided it. I wanted to make the classic little brioche à tête - a larger ball with a smaller ball sitting on top. They were rolled out, stacked, and proofed. When they were ready (and they did proof, so whatever happened last night wasn't too bad), I brushed them with an egg wash and baked them.

The little "heads" promptly fell off. Some fell completely off the pan and were lost, others just fell to the side so the resulting breads looked like BB-8's lying on their sides. They split on the sides, too, but not the tops. That may be a sign of underproofing or that my oven wasn't hot enough. Or both.

The rest of the dough became cinnamon rolls that will get reheated and iced in the morning for breakfast. They will taste just fine, but they don't look right, either. I'm rather disappointed. Some of it may be the oven but I think more of it is technique. Apparently I need to work on this some more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 4 - Enriched Breads

These are the sweet, cakier breads: brioche, challah, kugelhopf, rum baba.  Lots of eggs and butter!

Kugelhopf being dusted with sugar
It was such a whirlwind of a day, I'm still trying to sort it all out. Brioche is best made the day before you want to use it but, since we didn't, we had to make it quickly in the morning and get it started. We made one and a half of the large recipes of it, so I cracked 32 eggs for it! (Each student got a different ingredient as we were making a communal batch.) While that was doing its thing, my partner and I made a sponge (yeast-flour-water prefermentation) for the kugelhopf and made the challah dough while it was fermenting. Then we mixed the dough for the kugelhopf and both of those were set aside. The kugelhopfs everyone made were mixed together in the end and placed in molds that were buttered and sprinkled with sliced almonds. After that, my partner and I made the dough for the babas while another group made the dough for the savarin (similar dough, different shape, no raisins).  Lastly, we made a pain au lait along with one other group while the other 2 groups made baguette viennoise.

Along the way I also made a simple syrup for the babas and the savarins. Someone else made a batch of pastry cream which was used with the brioche dough to make fruit brioche and cinnamon rolls. First the brioche dough was divided in half, and the first half rolled out. Pastry cream was spread on the dough and then it was sprinkled with chopped candied fruits (oh, yeah, we all had to chop those up, too: red and green cherries, angelica, papaya, orange and lemon peels), then rolled and sliced like a giant jelly roll. The other half of the dough was divided and rolled into circles and placed into rings. Then the fruit roll slices were arranged in the dough base in the rings and this was allowed to proof. The rest of the dough scraps were rolled together, coated with more pastry cream, and sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar and chopped pecans. This was also rolled like a jelly roll and sliced, and the slices were placed in muffin cups.
Rum Baba and Savarin

The challahs were braided and proofed, washed with egg wash and baked. The kugelhopfs were taken out of their molds, cooled and dusted with powdered sugar. The babas and savarins were baked and cooled, then the babas were soaked in syrup with rum and the savarins in syrup with kirsch. These were set aside until we could make the chantilly cream and mousseline cream to fill them.

The baguettes viennoise were rolled to look like the regular lean baguettes, proofed and baked. The fruit brioches and the cinnamon rolls were accidentally put into too warm an oven so they got a little extra browned but they are still quite tasty. Everything had egg wash on it before it went into the oven, for extra color. The pain au lait were made into little finger sandwich rolls, with snips made with scissors to make the tops visually interesting. They looked like a little herd of hedgehogs!
Baguette Viennoise (back), Challah (left) and Pain au Lait (right)
After all this sweet dough, we had a little break and then went on to knife skills. This is the point when we got our chef knives and learned how to care for them and use them. We practiced making batonnets by making french fries, which were dinner. We also got to julienne and then brunoise zucchini, oblique cut some carrots, mince garlic and convert it to a paste, chiffonade some lettuce, and julienne onions as well as cut up oranges and lemons. The french fries were delicious!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 3 - Lean Breads

(Clockwise from L) Baguettes, Epis, Rye, Pullman, Fougasse, Ciabatta
These are breads with very little, if any, fat. Baguettes, French Bread, Rye Bread. Chewy with a crispy crust.

First, Chef Martha demonstrated the mixing method by making a batch of pizza dough. While that fermented we broke up into four teams and each team made a batch of baguette dough and another dough. My partner and I made a traditional French loaf. Every half an hour, we had to punch down, fold, and flip our dough until each dough had been flipped at least four times. One team made Pullman loaves which are baked in special covered pans. Another made rye bread and another, whole wheat.

The pizza dough was ready first and we each got to make our own pizza crust which got prebaked enough to be browned and sturdy. Then we made individual pizzas and took a break for lunch.
Sausage, caramelized onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and basil.
Pullman loaf about to proof in its special pan
Epi loaf
After lunch, it was time to shape the baguettes and let them proof in a couche (flour lined canvas bed). Then we shaped the other loaves. Our traditional French bread was too sticky so it was converted to a rustic ciabatta loaf. The whole wheat bread became fougasse and the rye was shaped into batards. All were proofed and baked on cornmeal. Even the Pullman loaf pan was coated in cornmeal. Some of the baguettes were converted into epis.

At the end, of course, all the breads were staged for their photo session and divided amongst the class.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Another Full Day

After spending a large part of the day at the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Dutch Painting Exhibition (Rembrandt,Vermeer and contemporaries) we got home around 4 pm or so. At that point, I made the turducken soup. Here's this year's recipe:

2 quarts each duck, turkey and chicken stocks
3 leeks, sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup diced carrots
12 oz. each oyster, portabella and shitake mushrooms
duck and turkey meat
1 package wild rice
salt, pepper and thyme

While this simmered, I canned 14 pints of duck stock and 3 pints of turkey stock. Since I can only fit 14 jars in my canner, that took roughly two hours as I had to do two batches. Now I have 11 pints of turducken soup in the canner which will take about another two hours all by itself. We ate more of the soup for dinner and I have about 3 quarts left in the fridge for this week. It's already 9:30 pm; the kids don't have school tomorrow but I do. At least I got a chance to study while the stock was getting canned.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Many Projects, One Day

In the past 24 hours I have made the following:

1. Granola, using this recipe:

Granola, toasting

3 cups (240g) rolled oats
1 cup (50g) shredded coconut
1 cup (100g) pecans
1/4 cup (25g) toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white 

Preheat oven to 300. Line baking pan (half sheet) with parchment. Combine all ingredients except for egg white in large bowl, mix until thoroughly combined. Beat egg white until frothy, stir into mixture. Spread onto baking sheet evenly. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan, then break into desired cluster size. [I will point out that I did not get chunks that could be broken up. Also, I added a little dried fruit.]

2. Turkey stock.

3. Duck stock.

Both stocks are in the fridge; tomorrow I will skim off the fat, make turducken soup, and can the rest of the stock as well as the soup.

4. Cheese bread. This is a recipe from school but, I'm sad to say, I think I overproofed the rolls because they ended up too big and flat. I really tried to keep track of that and I even found a way to add steam to the proofing process by putting a pan of water in the oven. It was likely still too hot in there.

5. Yogurt. Well, set it up, anyway. It'll be ready in the morning.

6. Donuts for breakfast, which we drizzled with leftover chocolate ganache and sprinkles.

7. Beef ribs for dinner, with the cheese bread. 

I am worn out, but it's a good kind of tired.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 2 - Yeast Breads

Yesterday we spent the day making all sorts of fabulous breads. The night before, one of my classmates made two yeast starters: biga and poolish. These fermented overnight and in the morning were ready for us to use for our recipes. There were 8 recipes to make and 7 students so those who got done first were able to work on the 8th recipe. We made the following:

4 Grain Bread
Red pepper and Olive Bread
Petit Pain Meture
Cheese Bread (gruyere)
Chestnut Bread
5 Seed Bread (actually, 3 seeds, as the person making it didn't want to add the fennel or anise)
Parsley and Garlic Bread
Benoiton (with raisins and vanilla)

First we made all the doughs and let them rise while we had our lecture. I made the Petit Pain Meture, which is a corn bread that is baked inside cabbage leaves. After I made the bread dough I had to blanch the leaves and keep them in a bowl of ice water until it was time to proof the bread.

When the dough had risen, each recipe was divided up so we could shape each of the breads. This allowed us all an opportunity to practice making different shapes and to work with the different textures. For example, the chestnut bread and the 4 grain bread had less gluten than the others so they felt different. I learned some things about shaping and proofing that I'd been doing incorrectly for years. This is exactly what I wanted to learn! The cabbage bread (Petit Pain Meture) was particularly fun. I lined most of the baking rings with blanched cabbage leaves and then everyone popped their rolls into the leaves. We had 3 rolls that didn't get cabbage and you could definitely tell the difference. The cabbage keeps the bread moist and changes the flavor.

While things were proofing we had another part of our lecture and then it was time to start baking. Pans were going in and out of the oven constantly. Nothing is timed, either. Chef Delphin just knows. He kept one eye on the clock and never seemed worried that something would get too toasty. He has a calming presence in what could be a rather stressful environment.

The cheese bread was the most popular - as soon as it came out of the oven we all grabbed a roll and ate them while they were still hot. They smelled wonderful and tasted pretty awesome, too!

Ultimately, almost every bread got tasted throughout the day; when they came out of the oven we would slice one loaf and everyone could try some. The Red Pepper and Olive bread was also popular. In addition to bringing home my portion, I brought home some of the leftover slices (after eating some for dinner with a mushroom pate courtesy of the savory students) as I had an idea to make croutons with the pepper-olive bread but I don't think there will be any left.

Our evening lecture was all about chocolate - how it's farmed, how it's made, how to choose it - followed by a chocolate tasting. What a fabulous day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day 1 - Quick Breads

Raspberry Almond Tea Cakes
Today was my first day of pastry class!

After about 2 hours of orientation/tour/basic housekeeping information, we started to learn about quick breads. Specifically, about chemical leavening agents. Then we got to work. The seven of us were split into four groups and each group made a tea cake, a muffin and a scone. We opted for a raspberry almond tea cake, carrot muffins and apricot ginger scones. I had to go down to the storage area to find dried apricots and candied ginger, but it was worth it! (For the record, I added 2/3 cup chopped dried apricots and 1/3 cup chopped candied ginger to the basic scone recipe.)

Carrot Muffins and Apricot Ginger Scones
Each recipe was chosen because it used a different mixing method: creaming, muffin, or biscuit method. When everyone was done we all photographed our food, cleaned up, and divvied up the goodies so everyone got a bit of everything. Because there was just too much, I dropped off a bunch at work before I even got home.

What I ended up keeping for ourselves: pumpkin bread, 1 chocolate chip scone and 1 chocolate chip muffins, 1 strawberry muffin, 1 each of barley, raisin and apricot ginger scones, 1 carrot muffin and some other sort of muffin. Sour cream pecan, I think.

Some of what I brought home.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Cinnamony Goodness

Is this not the most amazing looking thing ever? It's a muffin tin doughnut. Essentially it's a muffin, but meant to look a bit and taste a lot like a doughnut hole. It's quite awesome.

I didn't have the buttermilk the recipe calls for, so I used plain yogurt, which worked just fine. For the record, it's ~400 calories per muffin. Yikes!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Comfort Food

There's been a whole lot of cooking going on but not a lot of writing. We were skiing over New Year's as we won't be able to go over February break this year. Nine of us met up in Colorado and we had our usual array of meals, plus one night out.  Roast chicken and biscuits, burrito and guacamole night, pasta with lamb sauce, and fettuccine carbonara. Breakfasts included scrambled egg burritos, croissants from a local bakery, and lots and lots of Pop Tarts. Lunches were less inspired and consisted of sandwiches when we were skiing and homemade chicken soup when we were in. Thanks to my husband doing most of the shopping at a Save-A-Lot, it was the most economical year ever as far as food costs.  And many hands meant that every night someone different cooked which was nice, too. The skiing was very cold, but at least there was snow. There's nothing in our area and, up until the last week, it's been too warm to make any snow that will last.

Anyway, since we've been back I've been getting ready for pastry school. Orientation was 3 days ago and classes start on Monday. I'll be taking lots of photos as I have to make a portfolio of my creations as part of the required assignments.

Tonight's dinner was comfort food - stuffed peppers and mac and cheese. The peppers were stuffed with a mixture of ground lamb, onion, feta cheese, tomato sauce (yellow tomato sauce from our mason's wife), and rosemary. The macaroni was mixed with a sauce that started as a bechamel sauce (roux plus milk) to which I added Monterey Jack, cheddar, and cream cheese. I've decided that cream cheese or mascarpone is an essential ingredient to making a smooth and creamy mac and cheese. It's really rather tasty!