Meredith circa 1982

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Another fun weekend at ICE this past weekend! Hard to believe we have already completed 12 lessons in Module 1! This Saturday started off with more egg white applications - meringue & souffles.

Our first creation was Succes (pronounced suc-say) which is basically a meringue cookie! YUM! We made one with ground almonds & hazelnuts and then practiced our pastry bag piping skills to create pretty spirals.

To transform these meringue cookies into a classic French dessert, we created our first Buttercream! And man, did it have BUTTER!!! Over 2 pounds to be exact! Please keep in mind, we aren't creating huge, industrial sized batches of this stuff - we made our buttercream in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer - so just imagine 2 pounds of butter going into a meringue that fits into your own Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. That's a whole lotta butta!

My partner and I decided to make our buttercream a coffee flavor which paired nicely with our nutty Succes.

Once the buttercream was complete, we learned to pipe Rosettes:

Then we started to assemble our Dacquoise by basically making a Succes / Buttercream sandwich:

And then we finished them off with a dusting of cocoa powder and powdered sugar!

See the cute rosettes?!

Baby Dacquoise:
Next Up: Souffle!

Saturday we made Flourless (temperamental) Souffles -chocolate, fruit based, and cheese flavored. It was a little hectic in the kitchen with everyone running back to the ovens to check the progress of their souffles while still working on their next batch, so I only got pictures of our Raspberry Souffle.

Isn't she cute!
Here are her friends:

I took these pictures right after they came out of the oven, because once they start to cool off, they fall. That's when I got my first official Pastry School burn. : ( My arm touched the side of the sheet pan while it was still blazing hot! But, I'm tough and kept right on cooking. I'm sure you know this, but Neosporin is a miracle in a tube - put it on when I got home and it healed in a snap!

Sunday morning we learned why there is no need to ever, ever, ever make a flourless souffle again! Because instead, you can make a Flour-Based one that is so much more user friendly! You can even make huge batches of the base and freeze it! And they don't fall immediately after coming out of the oven either!

Flour-Based souffles start with a Panade (milk, butter and flour) that is cooked and thickened before adding chocolate, nuts, etc. to it to form your base. Once the base is made, you fold in the whipped egg whites and sugar and are ready to pipe into ramekins and bake.

This time we made Chocolate and then my partner and I made Caramelized Walnut Souffle! The caramelized walnut souffle was divine and our batch made enough that Chef Jeff had us make a large souffle in a gratin dish that he then took to one of the culinary classes (in hopes they will return the favor and bring us some of their yummy creations!)

In the hustle and bustle of the kitchen Sunday, I didn't get to take any pictures in class of our production. Here is a picture at home of the Chocolate Souffle (which by then had fallen, but was still yummy!)

Once we wrapped up making so many souffles that we couldn't see straight, we moved on to Gelatin! YAY!! I try not to think about what gelatin actually is and just forget that it is in some really good desserts - like Panna Cotta!

Panna Cotta is creamy, ultra smooth pudding like product that sets up when chilled. We made Vanilla and Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta. So good!!!

Gelatin is also used to make Marshmallows -

I made the white ones which were vanilla and got a few samples from my classmates of their lemon, coffee and rose flavored marshmallows.

Roger tells me that his mother loves homemade Marshmallows so I'm looking forward to making these for her the next time she visits!

Gelee (fancy jello) was our last gelatin based dessert and I made Pomegranate Gelee that had great flavor because it had a splash of balsamic vinegar in it. We topped it off with whipped creme fraiche which made it more delightful! I didn't attempt to transport a cup of gelee on the train, so no pictures. But basically picture a dark red jello with pomegranate seeds as garnish! : )

Next week we have our first Quiz and a field trip scheduled. It will be a surprise where Chef takes us, so I'm looking forward to sharing about that experience next time!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My arm is sore!

This past weekend Kitchen 502 at ICE was very busy! We didn't sit down very much and were running around the kitchen both Saturday & Sunday - all day long! I was very thankful to have Monday off from work so that I could recover!

So as we continue to build our foundation for Pastry and Baking, we covered Fruit, Leveners and Eggs!

First up was fruit - we learned just about every method for using fruits in desserts - we candied, we macerated, we roasted, we dried and we poached! It was great to learn each method, but unfortunately not alot of product to bring home and photograph - so this post will be text heavy I'm afraid.

The one thing that we did make that I could bring home was Pate de Fruits - basically a fancy name for fruit chews. You may have seen Pate de Fruits in a bakery or gourmet food shop. The most common form is the orange slices with granulated sugar on it.

We made Raspberry Pate de Fruits:

Tasty candy... very strong raspberry flavor, and a bit on the tart side if you don't coat it in granulated sugar.

My partner and I also made:

  • Candied Orange Peel
  • Roasted Pears & Figs
  • Poached Pears in Caramel Sauce
  • Pear Chips
  • Strawberry & Mint Salad

This weeks tastings included: Jams, Jellies & Preserves, Cordials & Eau de Vie, and Extracts (orange, almond and vanilla).

The tastings were OK, not yummy, but far better than the Dairy tasting from Week 1!

Next on the agenda were Leveners - and yep, Chef made us taste Baking Soda and Baking Powder - by themselves! I'm sure this is an important aspect of learning, but we have all started to dread the times Chef says to gather around, and he gets out the little cups and spoons!

In an exercise to demonstrate what can go wrong if a levener is used incorrectly, we made Blueberry Muffins! (these photos are of muffins from the normal batch)

Each group was told to vary the recipe so that we could see what happens if you forget to put in the levener, or accidentally use Baking Soda instead of Baking Powder (they are not interchangable! : ) , or if you accidentally put 4 times as much Baking Powder as teh recipe calls for! (I'm not sure how you could ever accidentally do that, but I guess it could happen!)

We all expected to see muffins exploding, BUT - it turns out our Baking Powder had gone bad - Chef thinks moisture had gotten into it - so it didn't work! So we did our recipes all over again, this time using a freshly opened container of Baking Powder and voila - disasterous results!

Muffins exploded, then imploded and their colors changed too! The muffins actually took on a bluish/green color that became more noticable as the Baking Powder increased from 2x, 3x, 4x, and 5x's the normal amount. Needless to say, the taste was also severly altered!

Our last major topic was the Egg! Very important ingredient to a Baker - probably one of the most important ingredients! After we discussed teh functions of an egg, Chef apologized for what we were about to endure...

And this is how My Arm Got Sore... we had to make MAYONAISE by hand! Have you ever tried to beat egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, and canola oil silly until it magically turns into thickened mayonaise?!?!?!?! Well, if you have never been subjected to this torture - it takes a really long time! And a whole lot of strength and patience! Luckily this isn't something that many professional kitchens still do - and most likely if they are making fresh mayo, they use a food processor - but again, this was all in the name of learning!

And as if that wasn't enough - in our next exercise (and I guess I use that word in a literal sense) we had to beat egg whites BY HAND into stiff peaks!!! We had not time to rest, recover, stretch, ice our amrs - just jumped right into another whisking frenzy!

And then the class collapsed! I guess Chef felt a little sorry for us so he dismissed us at 4:20 on Sunday afternoon! Even though I was really tired when class ended, I left with a smile - because it was another great weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Julie & Julia

Just a quick note to say that Roger and I finally saw Julie & Julia on Friday night. We aren't big movie people - so we are a little behind most people with our movie watching! Anyway, I loved it! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

I remember always knowing of Julia Child growing up, and occasionally seeing her on Georgia Public TV, but I had no idea the story behind her culinary career and what a life changer it was for her.

I'm thinking I should add some of Julia's books on Baking to my cook book collection, and maybe some of her recipes to my Baking repertoire! Bon Appetite y'all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What in the world is a cornet?

Here we go! Guess I'm hopping onto the Blogger bandwagon! I'm so excited about my journey into the professional culinary field and don't want to rely on my memory to be able to share my experiences - so this seems like a good option. I'll try to post a synopsis of what we do each weekend in class as well as pictures of final product that I make.

Here i am bright and early the morning of Saturday January 9, 2010 getting ready to head into Manhattan to the Institue of Culinary Education. Couldn't take a picture in my chef whites because that violates food safety codes, but hopefully I can take a picture of it in class one weekend.

Major wishes me luck!

The beginning of our training will consist of a good deal of lecture to teach the basics we will need as our foundation to build our skills on. This weekend we covered things like volume vs. weight measurement, had a dairy tasting where we had to taste all types of dairy (including buttermilk!), did scaling exercises, and learned about the caramalization process and the various stages of cooked sugar.

To answer the question that is the title of this post, this is a cornet:

It's used to pipe decorations onto cakes, plates, etc. You make them out of parchment paper so one of our first activities was learning to make these little things. It may look easy, but it's actually a little difficult to begin with. No tape is used, so if you don't do it correctly, you end up with melted chocolate all over the place!

You fill the inside of the cone with melted chocolate, then fold down the top and roll down, cut off the tip and it becomes a piping bag!

And then you make nifty little designs like this:
And then you build on that and make these kinds of designs:

I still have a TON of practice to do with my cornet work but it is fun and relaxing to practice after work at night. Chef Jeff is our instructor for Module 1 (the first 100 hours of class) and he promised we'll get better at this, and I trust him, but to see his designs vs. my designs is quite a contrast!

Amongst all of the lecture this first 16 hours of class, we did actually get to BAKE!!! It was really more of a chance for us to practice our scaling skills (professional bakers use weight to measure ingredients vs. volume that home cooks use) so we made Gingersnaps! This also gave us a chance to start using the equipment in the kitchen and the deck ovens.

The best part is, we got to taste and bring home the batches we made!

They were pretty tasty! Roger took them in to share with the Water Island Capital gang and they seemd to like them.

This coming weekend we will dive into the world of Fruit so I'll post about that next time!