Thursday, May 29, 2008


So, we've gone through our last two units - sugar and the last plated desserts. I hated sugar - it was boring and it hurts your fingers. Most of the class walked away from that week with major burns and blisters. I managed to stay out of harm's way for the most part, but it was still painful. I just have reflexes like a mongoose, I guess. From there we moved into plated desserts again, which is always fun, but this is where you gain the most weight in culinary school, because you are sampling (or consuming entirely) 2-3 desserts everyday.

I also celebrated my 25th birthday last week - Luke and I went to a movie for the first time in was nice to get out of the apartment and not think about school for one night. We have a big picnic planned for this Saturday with my friends, as a joint birthday celebration. We're having a birthday cake baking party tomorrow after class at our apartment.

Our class also hosted our last Afternoon of Desserts, and this time we created the menu from start to finish, and then served it to our guests. Last time, the menu was simply desserts that we had made in class that week, but this time it was all of our own recipes. We were a hit! Chef Jurgen said we did a fabulous job, and that all of the desserts were "duh-lish", which can't always be said of every group. Overall, we're quite a talented bunch. I wish I had thought to take pictures of those desserts! But, to satisfy your curiosity of what I've been doing the past few weeks, take a peek below:

For the sugar unit, we had one individual project and then two team projects. The first picture is our individual project...making an owl out of poured sugar. The next pictures are of our depiction of famous art - this was a piece that one of my teammates picked...we think it's supposed to be fruit in snow, but not sure about that. Then we also had to make a cake stand with the theme of "traffic". Terrible theme. But our planes are cute. Our air traffic control tower was supposed to be silver/gray, not purple.

The owl - first, one of his wings fell off, then the other. So, you can see my little sign, with the correction made after the second wing fell off.
But wait - I was able to repair him, with the help of someone's leftover orange wing. But - as the chef was moving him to be put on display with his fellow owls, the orange wing fell off. He just wasn't meant to be a whole owl. Poor guy.
Fish made out of blown sugar.
Our art piece.

I'm not sure that I'll remember all of the names for the plated desserts off the top of my head, but I'll try. We have to do diagrams of everything we plate up in class, so this weekend will be quite busy with that.
Pear Spring Rolls

Mango Beggar's Purses

Strudel Day!!! That sheet of dough started as a small round of dough, and it stretched across that whole table. It's tissue paper thin - you can read through it. Chef Jurgen rolling the strudel up.

What was inside the strudel. Our strudel, ready to go in the oven. Finished strudel - 3 different flavors. Yum!
Frying bomboloni - brioche dough, deep fried, rolled in sugar, and then later filled with pastry cream or jam.

Deep-fried apple crepes

Tropical Fruit Beignets - perfectly good fruit rolled in beignet batter, then fried, to clog your arteries. They weren't good at all.

Cheese, spinach, and onion souffle.
Chef Kir's chocolate souffle.
The deliciously soft and gooey center of my souffle.
Mango souffle
Souffles aren't hard at all - I'm not sure what the big fuss is about them. I guess that if I were to make a larger version of these, then they might be more susceptible to collapsing, but they aren't nearly as intimidating as people try to make you believe.

Mystery basket dessert - we were given two items, coconut and dark chocolate, and had to create a dessert in 1 hour with those ingredients and whatever else we could find in class. I did citrus crepes with a coconut creme/chocolate ganache filling, topped with an orange and raspberry salad and garnished with raspberry coulis.

Lemon Souffle Pancakes - I ate about 10 of these.
Pistachio souffle pancake
Cream Cheese Souffle in a baked apple
Pavlova with Lemon Verbena Scented Blueberries - courtesy of Chef Michael Gabriel from the Rockefeller Center Group
Another of Chef Michael's dessert - his version of PB and J. Peanut butter bars with raspberry gelee.

We also handed in our menu projects this week, which was a huge relief. Luke built a website for me, which is fabulous, and it will be the jumping off point for the real site in the future when I open up my own place. Brittany designed the logo - she drew it all by hand, and it's phenomenal. I think she should start a stationery line. We have the practical for this project next week, where we have to make all of the components of two of our desserts from our menus, chef's choice. I'm going to practice the recipes this weekend so that I can have them perfected before next Wednesday.

After this practical, we jump right into final review/wedding cake project. The theme picked for our cakes, chosen by Pastry 2, is a Japanese garden wedding, between a Japanese-American journalist and a geisha. Hmmm.... Haven't yet figured out how I'm going to design the cake. It has to be three tiers, and the flavor has to be a ginger American milk sponge with plum curd and sake. Need to start practicing that as well and get my recipes figured out.

Luke and I are also needing to find a new apartment before we go down to Texas for the summer, so if anyone knows of a place, call or email me! Also - jobs - if you know of any of those, please send them my way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Countdown Begins!

One month from now, on June 18th, I will be graduating! I can hardly wait, because it means I get a break for awhile, but at the same time, I love school and don't want this time to end. We have our menu project due in a week and a half, and then we jump into our wedding cake project and finals. I love my concept for the menu project, and it's a great opportunity to work on my actual business plan for the place I want to open one day.

We're thinking of taking some time off after my graduation to spend with family...we'll most likely be in Texas for the entire month of July. I definitely need to find a job, but I'm going to take some time off to get things settled in Texas, like figuring out what to do with our car and everything we have in storage. Besides, the job I really want isn't available right now - I'm hoping that the hiring freeze will come off at my internship, so that I can go back there. Please be praying that it works out for me.

Also - my birthday is this Wednesday, but I'll be celebrating in style with two close friends at Central Park at the end of the month. We're making a 3 tier birthday cake and somehow transporting it to the park. Ha! We are so awesome.

We are currently in an un-fun unit - sugar. So, the pics are few and far between, and nothing terribly exciting. I may or may not put them up sometime this week. But this week we start back with plated desserts, so I should have some new photos for you to look at soon.

Much love!

Friday, May 09, 2008

I Can't Live Without It....

This was the theme of our final chocolate project. It didn't take long for me to decide on what I can't live without. But I held off, trying to come up with something serious and meaningful, like how to display faith through chocolate. Too complicated, so I went to something silly instead, and something a little more concrete. Like chicken enchiladas with chips and salsa. Obviously.

One gal did manage to portray her faith through chocolate, though it was no easy task, as can be seen by this picture:

Or, something meaningful:

Most people chose something light and funny though, like the following:
Vacation - the hammock was made by piping chocolate around half of a banana peel. Pretty cool!(high heels)

We are all so thankful that we have no more chocolate units ever. I tried hard to challenge myself with this cake, which I painstakingly painted every single music note on, plus as many details of the violin as I could. I think it turned out quite well, and a guy in the hallway even complimented it. I love how everyone in the school gets so excited for each other's work, instead of constantly competing against each other (though there is a fair amount of competition).

Last week I also attended a demo given by the famous Jacques Pepin. This man is a culinary genius and a legend - when he and the other deans of the school (Alain Salhaic, Andre Soltner) are no longer around, it will truly be the end of an era. They are extremely kind and giving men who love to share their wealth of information with everyone around them.

And - we have moved back to (and finished today) plated desserts, which completes two of three units devoted to this subject. It always makes for a fun week, because we get to eat everything as soon as it is plated, but it also makes me realize more and more how much I do not want to work in a restaurant. We had an afternoon of desserts yesterday, which went well, but it's stressful trying to get all of the orders plated up carefully yet quickly. My partner and I were in charge of tiramisu, which is such a pain to wiggle out of the molds nicely and then get it on the plates without it toppling over. But it was a hit with the crowd because of the cute little chocolate cup and tuile spoon. So precious!
White Chocolate Citrus Parfait

Chocolate Mint Dome with Orange Mint Salad

Mendiant with Sour Cherry Compote (essentially it is chocolate mousse on top of a chocolate-hazelnut cake round)

White Chocolate Hazelnut Semifreddo with Raspberry Compote

Plum Soup

Another version of plum soup, but pureed with creme fraiche added to the light pink side of it

Exotic Fruit Soup with a Sesame Tuile

Pineapple Cilantro Soup

Another version of pineapple cilantro soup

a sabayon

Pannetone and zabaglioni with earl grey sorbet on top of peach-ginger-raisin compote

Kataifi napolean - phyllo dough nests with cream between, with a balsamic reduction drizzled on, surrounded by roasted nectarines

Phyllo dough surrounding a square of chocolate genoise, raspberries, and chocolate ganache. I don't usually eat the entire dessert of anything we plate up, just because we eat so much of it. But I licked my plate clean on this one.

The butterfly up close from the previous dessert.

We have our largest project of the program coming up - we have to start working on it now, but it's not due for another few weeks. We have to create a business and develop the dessert menu for it, and then we have a 3 day practical recreating two of the desserts from the menu, chosen by the chef. I am utterly excited about this project and have my main idea down, but I need a name, a logo, colors, etc. Not to mention the menu, which must have eight desserts on it. I'll keep you posted on the progress and might request suggestions in the near future.

Also, can I say how much I love spring, again? Look at these peonies! I was walking into my little corner market that I love so much and was overcome by their sweet smell. We don't get peonies down in Texas because the weather is too warm for them, so I think I'll be buying them every week until they are out of season. I had them in my wedding bouquet, and I just LOVE them.