Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I'm so behind on posting pictures and updates on class that I had to fit them all into one collage. Quickly describing them, from top to bottom, left to right:

Row 1: Papillons (puff pastry cookies that mean butterfly or bowtie), a sampling of items that the chefs left for us, about 30 seconds after being cut up, a jalousie (puff pastry filled with almond cream and raspberry jam), pithivier (puff pastry filled with frangipane), tarte tatin (caramelized apples in puff pastry - divine), chocolate banana tart with peanut butter creme anglaise ice cream

Row 2: Chocolate Napolean, vol-au-vent filled with concasse de tomates and mushrooms, dartois (puff pastry filled with apple compote), my exam mille-feuilles - once again I have mastered that one, last two pics on this row are from a dessert tasting hosted by the Pastry 3 students...the first one is a lemon mille-feuilles with lemongrass granita, and then a pear tatin with chocolate red wine sauce.

Row 3: Orange Cinnamon Swirl bread, spiked sticky pecan buns (I may have to make these every weekend for the rest of my life), unbaked challah bread, baked challah, Sally Lunn rolls, and fruitcake (eh...not my favorite dessert, funny story about that in a sec)

Row 4: Cinnamon Nut danishes, bundle of baked goods to take home for distribution, close up of danishes, me eating a slice of cake at the Ron Ben-Israel demonstration, the cake I was eating, and Katy trying it.

Row 5: Ron Ben-Israel the cake master, the cake he created with the help of my classmates, Chef LeeAnn from Top Chef who is also a faculty member of the FCI, how I made the grid marks on my mille-feuilles, what the pithivier was supposed to look like but mine collapsed a bit in the oven, and classmates.

Row 6: close up of the papillon cookie, Ron Ben-Israel placing the final tier on his cake, the sugar flowers he put on top of the cake (yes those are fake flowers!!), another danish (not sure why I have so many pics of them), Chef LeeAnn and Chef Ron Ben-Israel again, smoothing fondant on the cake (he makes it look so easy).

Okay, now for the updates and stories. Ron Ben-Israel gave a demonstration yesterday at school, which I was so excited to attend. He is the master of sugar flowers/decorations and his wedding cakes are highly sought after. They aren't necessarily my style, but he is the go-to guy of the industry. Plus, he loves to take interns from the FCI. However, take a good look at the cake that was created for the demo, and try and guess my thoughts on it.

Moving on...we've started a new unit again, and we are finally working with yeast. I've managed to not kill any yeast yet, and my breads have come out beautifully. My challah and my orange swirl breads have great texture and crumb, but the final shape is a little off. I'll get better over time, but at least the texture and taste are right. I have literally eaten half of that challah loaf already, in just a matter of a few hours. I love this unit, but the chefs are pushing us really hard right now, and I always feel like I can't catch my breath. I don't even sit down to eat anymore. I grab a plate of food and set it aside so that I can scarf it down during the last 5 minutes of our lunch break. I am so physically and mentally tired sometimes, but I still love it all. And I'm starting to notice more definition in my arms, thanks to all of the rolling and kneading of dough that we do.

The fruitcake story: we had to make a double recipe so that my partner and I would have a lot of little mini fruitcakes to take home and also donate to the restaurant or family meal. I doubled the flour and doubled the fruits and nuts, happily chopping everything and prepping it to go into the batter. However, I was interrupted so many times so that Chef could demo something, that I forgot to double the eggs, the sugar, and the butter. I couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time filling the cups, as everyone else easily and quickly piped the dough in. They came out looking very pretty, and with a comparison to someone else's fruitcakes, the taste was the exact same. However, my fruitcakes were the densest, heaviest fruitcakes ever. EVER. Still don't like fruitcake. Hopefully the chefs aren't keeping up with my blog!

Not much has changed in non-school life. Luke is finally back from his business trip - yay!! I'm going to Texas in 2 weeks, and then half of everyone we know is coming to visit in March. If anyone else would like to come visit, please choose April or later. It'd be much appreciated. I start to wonder if they're coming to see us, or if we're just a free place to stay while they tour NYC. :) We might start charging a nightly rate. No, really we're so excited to see friends and family, and can't wait until everyone starts coming around. It'll be so fun to show everyone our favorite places.

We have company this week, and I have realized that I've become such a New Yorker. I walk faster than I used to, plus my tolerance for walking long distances has greatly increased. Katy and I gave up the subway in the afternoons, and we walk home from class everyday, usually with detours on the way, such as to her sister's office to unload pastries. We walk so much, so now skipping the train doesn't bother me at all. I love it! I don't miss driving at all. However, I used to have the worst road rage. Now, it's turning into sidewalk rage. Slow walkers and tourists totally get on my nerves...for instance, we were in Chinatown this weekend, and it was so hard to stay patient, because everyone out walking was at least 70 and it required some creative maneuvering around them.

Speaking of Chinatown...we did Dim Sum on Saturday at this fabulously over-the-top cheesy palatial restaurant, where about 10 women wheel carts around and you do a lot of pointing at food. It was the best meal, and Luke finally got his long-wished-for char siu bao (cha-see-oo-bow), which are steamed bbq pork buns. Delicious! We then ventured out and found bubble tea, and I shall return there probably twice a week now. Chinatown is much bigger than I thought it was, because I've only ever been on Canal Street, which is the big tourist attraction to buy cheap knockoff purses. When you venture out into the actual neighborhood, it's so colorful and exciting, and you really get to see a whole new side to the city. I loved it. Plus, we stopped in at a branch of our bank...the promotion was so funny. They had a crystal clock with gold-plated animals in honor of the Chinese New Year (this is the year of the rat, or golden rat, not sure which), which you could get with opening an account or something like that. So different from the bank in our neighborhood, where we got an Ipod Shuffle.

Okay, we're off to dinner and then I'm really going to try and go to bed early tonight.
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