Thursday, December 27, 2007



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We completed our second dessert of the program, a banana cream tart. It's quite tasty, but I liked the apple tart better. The middle pic is Cornelia, a gal at my table, working diligently on her own tart. The last pic...decided I'd try making a star instead of a rosette, so I added that to the center.

Ok, so a lot has happened in the past week! I've only been to three days of class (had Christmas break in between those days), and I'm already exhausted. I've been wanting to start a second blog of just my creative desserts and experiences at culinary school, but I have to come up with a new title, since the FCI has apparently just started a blog with the EXACT same name I picked out. That blog may or may not be coming soon - it might just be easiest to post everything on here.

Here's what my day looks like - up at 6 am, get ready, and lug all of my equipment to the subway stop. Short train ride, and then walk a few blocks to the school. I have it much easier than many of the students, who commute in from Brooklyn or Jersey or student housing somewhere off of Manhattan. Once I'm at school, I change into my uniform (pic coming soon). The entire ensemble takes forever to put on. In class at 8 to set up, and lecture/demos promptly begin at 8:30. This week we've been going through sanitation lectures in the morning before break around 10:30, so that we can take our sanitation exam in a week or so. Definitely not pleasant lectures, and makes me not want to eat out much anymore! These lectures will be over soon, and then it will just be work work work. Lunch is at 12:00, for 30 minutes, in which the Level 4 culinary students (as opposed to the pastry students, aka me), cook Family Meal for the entire school. I love this part of my day! Luke is at home eating PB&J or leftovers, while I get some gourmet cooking everyday. I wish I could bring him a doggybag. More work after lunch, to finish up projects or start new ones for the next day, and then we're done at 2:30.

The chef will demo everything first, to make sure we know how to make the dessert, and then we'll go off and attempt it ourselves. We are constantly working on two or three desserts at a time, making a small part of one and then letting it chill or rest or bake as we work on something else. Chef Christopher is our regular chef, but he happens to be on vacation through the new year holidays, so we have Chef Laurie and Chef Tom right now. They are all fabulous and have so many helpful tips for us. It's nice that we get to work with multiple chefs, because it lets us learn new techniques from each one.

So far we've done two types of dough - pate sucree (pat sue-cray) and pate brisee (pat bri-say). The first is a sweet, crumbly dough (used with both the apple and banana tarts), while the second is flaky, like pie crusts. I did a great job with the first dough, but my pate brisee was not as nice. It'll get better with practice, but I'm not used to doing everything by hand...Kitchenaids and food processors have made us lazy. Tomorrow we will bake and fill our pate brisee, so it will be interesting to see what my final product looks like. We also made gingersnaps today, which were delicious, and that is one recipe that I will be hanging onto for a long time.

My knife skills need some work, so I bought 3 lbs of apples at the greenmarket for $1. Nice! My apples may look good on my apple tart, but they took quite awhile to cut, with some helpful reprimanding from Chef Tom. Oh well.

The class is made up a wide range of students, coming from all over the world. Israel, South Korea, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, another Texas gal, the Caribbean, Nigeria via London and Paris (I think), plus a handful of New Yorkers. Most everyone in the class is super friendly, but I wonder if that will change once we get more advanced. I'm curious to see if their competitive sides will come out and how that will change the dynamic of the classroom. Right now I enjoy seeing everyone's creativity come through, even when we're each making the same product.

I'll keep putting pics up - it will be my portfolio of sorts.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We spent it with some old friends, the Rileys, that we knew in Waco who now live in Long Island. We are so thankful for their hospitality, as it was difficult being away from family over the holiday. Luke is off of work all of this week, through next Tuesday, so he's finally getting to explore the city more. I get a couple days off next week as well, so it will be nice to spend some time with him. I'm such a bum in the evenings lately, since I'm so tired from school.

Oh yes...Luke's recent post mentioned some new neighbors that we have met. They are fabulous! I'm liking how popular we are right now on our floor, since we pawn off desserts as much as we can. Our great neighbors across the hall took a sampling of everything today, which I was so appreciative of. I can't have all of this dessert in my house or I will eat it! We're hoping to meet more people in the building, and giving away plates and plates of tarts and cookies and pies seems to be very helpful in this.

I've bored you enough.

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