Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Caught Up!

It has been a pretty busy few weeks so I have not been on here as often as I would like. I am baking everyday making multiple items and then along came Thanksgiving. Still having a great time. I have posted new photos in the Le Cordon Bleu album on www.hanoverroad.com of some of the items I have made in class. Keep and eye out here and on my website for the recipes (formerly secret) for some of my all-time favorite goodies! The following are items that have been made in class so far, chocolate chip cookies, Linzer window cookies, Brysselkex Cookies (checkerboard design), French almond macaroons, lemon madeleines, Strassburger cookies, biscotti, buttermilk biscuits, flaky pie dough, mealy pie dough, streusel topping, blueberry pie filling, apple pie filling, blueberry sour cream muffins, chocolate chip muffins, Pâte à Choux-éclairs, peach cobbler, apple crisp, Crème Brûlée, pastry cream, Crème Caramel, cheesecake and Pâte Sucrée. So as you can see it has kept me very busy! In addition to this I made the turkey and stuffing, yams, cranberry compote, mac and cheese and pecan pie with bourbon and chocolate for Thanksgiving. Today I had a written test, 2 practicals and had to present 6 items for grade so I am tired and going to get off of here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Down!

Today was the end of my first session! But what a week, a mayonnaise practical on Monday followed by a final in Safety and Sanitation. Tuesday was a knife practical followed by my Servsafe certification exam and today was my final in Culinary Foundations. I am pleased to have done well in both of my classes. I get a couple of days off this week and then back to school next Monday! I will have intro to Patisserie and Baking from 10:00AM to 1:35PM MTWTF and applied math 1:45PM to 3:35PM MTWTF. But for now a relaxing 4 days off!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Triple-Chocolate Cookies

Makes 26 cookies

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
1 1⁄2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips 
7 tbls. unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
2 tsp. instant coffee
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
3 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 c. sugar 
1⁄2 c. all-purpose flour 
1⁄2 tsp. baking powder 
1⁄2 tsp. table salt 
1 1⁄2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Melt unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chips, and butter in heatproof bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, stirring frequently, until completely smooth and glossy. Remove bowl from pan and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Stir coffee powder and vanilla extract together in small bowl until dissolved. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla-coffee mixture and beat until incorporated, 20 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add chocolate mixture, and mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Using large rubber spatula, fold flour mixture and semisweet chips into batter. Cover blow with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes until batter firms up (it will more closely resemble thick brownie batter than cookie dough).

4. Meanwhile, two oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 heaping tablespoon batter per cookie, place cookies 2 inches apart on parchment paper on baking sheets. Bake until cookies are shiny and cracked on top, 11 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool cookies completely, on baking sheets, before serving.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Down to the Wire!

This week is getting down to the wire since next week is the end of the first session! I had two tests today so I spent yesterday studying when I wasn't in class. Next week is all finals and practicals. I will be making mayonnaise and demonstrating my knife cut skills in Culinary Foundations I followed by the final written exam. In Food Safety and Sanitation I have a class final on Monday and then the test for certification on Tuesday. After all of that I get a couple of days off before starting the new session on November 8th. I will be taking Introduction to Patisserie and Baking. Watch here later this week for a delicious cookie recipe, it will also be available on my website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpin Fruit Bread

Pumpkin Fruit Bread

2 cups sugar 
1 cup vegetable oil 
3 eggs 
1 - 16 oz. can cooked pumpkin 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1⁄2 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground cloves 
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 cup chopped nuts 
1 cup raisins 
1 cup chopped dates

2 loaves

In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar and oil. Beat in eggs and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and mix well. Sift together flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and add to pumpkin mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in nuts, raisins and dates, and pour into 2 9x5-inch loaf pans greased with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Leave loaves in pans for 10 minutes before removing; cool on wire racks.

This is one of my favorite recipes and so easy to make It is wonderfully spicy for the colder months and it makes 2 loaves so you can have one for yourself and give one as a gift.

Look for the Norovirus video coming soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Mothers of All Sauces

To understand the sauces you find in a French restaurant one must understand first that stock or a roux is an element in every sauce. There 5 main categories of stocks: fonds, fummets, essences, glaces and jus. The stocks are then classified by color - typically brown and white - which is determined by the ingredients, cooking time, texture and consistancy. Stocks or Les Fonds are typically made from veal, poultry, fish, shellfish, game or vegetables. The roux are made from cooking equal parts of flour and fat and are classified as Roux Blanc or white roux, Roux Blond or blonde roux and Roux Brun or brown roux.

With the help of these stocks and roux the mother sauces are the created, with the exception of Hollandaise. The mother sauces are:

Sauce Béchamel made with milk and roux blanc.

Espagnole made with brown stocks and roux.

Sauce Velouté made with white stocks and roux.

Sauce Tomate made with white stock and tomatoes.

Hollandaise made with egg yolk, water, pepper and clarified butter.

Mayonnaise is considered the cold mother sauce and is made with egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, oil and salt and pepper.  I made my own mayonnaise for the first time today!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You don't learn to cook!

"Even though it is called "cooking" school most people don't go to school to learn to cook, they already know how to cook and come to school to improve technique, learn how to cook in a professional setting and most of all to learn the history and get an understanding of how it all started." An excerpt form Cuisine Foundations by the Chefs of Le Cordon Bleu.

I believe that is true. I can say that after cooking for most of my life and teaching myself most of the techniques I have used, I am learning new techniques for many of the preparations I have used over the years and I am also learning the technique for things I have always wanted to attempt.

Today I learned the proper way to segment and orange and it made the orange so much more pleasant to eat.  I also learned how to make Dent de Loup (Wolfs Teeth) from a lemon. Something I have always wanted to do and have attempted from time to time without success. Now I now how!

It is interesting how one seems to attract things that they are interested in or involved in. Today I was in the car after class and was listening to a cooking channel on the radio. All of the sudden the were talking about Auguste Escoffier who is considered the grandfather of French cuisine and is best known as the "King of Chefs". We just learned about him in class last week. Now would I have still heard about him on the radio if I was still selling Title Insurance?

Next week I have to make a presentation in Food Safety and Sanitation on the Norovirus. So look for the movie coming to a theater near you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cooler weather, warmer flavor!

We are in Fall and headed toward Winter. The temperatures are cooling down and now we can start using those warming recipes. The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves! We have started the process of educating our palettes at school. How to differentiate sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, the 5 tastes. 

We continue to practice our knife cuts, improving the first ones and learning new ones every day, practice makes perfect. Tomorrow is my first quiz in Culinary Foundations.

In food safety and sanitation we have moved away from the gruesome illnesses that can be caused by eating contaminated food and are learning more about preventing them in the food flow process. We had our first quiz today.

In honor of Fall I am including a delicious recipe for Carrot Cake in this post. It is very moist and has a nice rich cinnamon flavor. You can get a printer friendly version of it on the recipe page of my website, www.HanoverRoad.com.

14-Carat Cake

2 c. sifted flour 
2 tsp. baking powder 
1 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda 
1 1⁄2 tsp. salt 
2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
2 c. sugar 
1 1⁄2 c. salad oil 
4 eggs 
2 c. finely grated raw carrots 
1 (8 1⁄2 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained 
1⁄2 c. chopped nuts 1 (3 1⁄2 oz.) can flaked coconut (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add sugar, salad oil and eggs; mix well. Add carrots, pineapple, nuts and coconut; blend thoroughly.
Pour into 13"x9" pan or three 9" round pans that have been greased and floured. Bake in moderate oven (350°) 40-45 minutes, until tester inserted in middle comes out with moist crumbs. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes in pan(s). Turn out on racks and cool thoroughly. Fill layers and frost top and sides of cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Combine 1⁄2 c. butter or margarine, 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese and 1 tsp. vanilla; cream well. Gradually add 1 lb. confectioners sugar (sifted if lumpy), beating well. If mixture is too thick to spread, add a small amount of milk.

Enjoy! This has been a favorite of mine since my childhood back on Hanover Road.

Friday, October 1, 2010

3 Days Under the Knife!

For the last 3 days we have been working on knife cuts with many more to come. As part of that I learned the proper way to cut an onion today! I have been cutting wrong all along. We typically get a demonstration of the cuts in class from the chef and then spend the remainder of the class practicing the cuts that he has demonstrated. Yesterday we cut potatoes in Allumette (1/8" x 1/8" x 2 1/2") and Paile (1/16" x 1/16" x 2 1/2") after that we cut turnips in Brunoise (1/8" x 1/8" x 1/8") and Brunoisette (1/16" x 1/16" x 1/16")

Cuts from upper left to right potato Allumette, Paile and Bruniosette, turnip Bruniosette and Brunoise.  Bottom is todays vegetables onion, carrot and tomato with my tools.

Today we cut onion in 3 cuts Des, Emincer and Ciseler. Garlic in Hacher. Tomatoe in Concasser and carrots in Macedione. I love the way my onions came out!

Todays cuts clockwise from upper left, onion Cizeler, Emincer and Des, garlic Cizeler, carrot Macedione and tomato Concasser

Jessica, Creston and Cheri

I have already my some great friends in class and I look forward to making more. Jessica is a history major turned hollywood agent turned baker and Cheri is a mother from Memphis Tennessee who moved here to be close to her grandchildren and was inspired to go to culinary school by the Cake Wars!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You say tomato, I say potato!

Paring Portato
Today was hands on! After learning about the kitchen brigade we moved into cutting potatoes. First we learned the parts of the knife and the proper way to hold it. After all these years I learned that I was holding my knife wrong. Holding it right makes a huge difference. We used the proper method for peeling the potato, pulling the peeler toward you rather than peeling away from oneself. We learned to block the potato and then to cut into Pont Neuf ( 3/4" x 3/4" x 3"), Migonette (1/4" x 1/4" x 2") and Macedoine (1/4" x 1/4" x 1/4"). It will take some practice to get these cuts down!

Blocked Potato
I Got an email today to sign up to judge a chili cookoff in November, I hope I get it! The students are offered opportunities to work One Time Events. Chefs will call into to the school looking for students to work special events and get paid for them. Many times the responsibilities are platting and preparing items for serving. It is an excellent opportunity to get experience working with notable chefs!
Pont Neuf, Migonette, Macedoine

Monday, September 27, 2010

Temperature Danger Zone

No I am not talking about the temperature today, however, it did seem dangerous! 

Today was my first day of class and it was very exciting to get dressed up in my uniform and head off to school. I did cut myself shaving and I tried to think what the equivalent of that would be for a first grader getting ready for their first day of school. 

In Culinary Foundations we reviewed our knife kits and I was like a kid on Christmas morning! There are so many fun gadgets in there.

In Food Safety and Sanitation we discussed food borne illnesses and the causes of them. So the "Temperature Danger Zone" is the temperature range between cold and hot food that is optimal for the growth of bacteria and is between 41 and 135 degrees F. Cold foods should be kept below this range and hot foods should be kept above it. Did you also know that it only takes 2 people getting sick from eating the same food to be considered an outbreak?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen...

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Technique Building
Today was my New Student Orientation and it was one of the hottest days of the summer. I walked to school and when I got there I got to go into the cooled buildings but unfortunately for the staff they had to set out in the asphalt parking lot in the heat! I got my schedule for the first session that starts on Monday, September 27, 2010 and ends on November 5, 2010. I have two classes, Culinary Foundations I that is MTWTF from 12:00PM-1:50PM and Food Safety and Sanitation that is MTTF from 2:00PM-3:40PM. Culinary Foundations includes knife techniques, recipe use, menu genres and the foundation for Le Cordon Bleu stocks and sauces are introduced. Food Safety and Sanitation covers the principles of safe food handling, the three types of hazards, and the most common causes of food borne illnesses. I am looking forward to both classes. Look for a report of my first day of class on Monday!