Desserts–It was inevitable (Class 43)

What is the best part of making a dessert, EATING IT!!

So the story goes, I had just returned from 4 days in Miami. Some vacations are surreal. I saw big houses with seemingly nice layouts, trees and in the mean time experienced the mandatory gratuity for anything purchased close to the beach. Oh yes, the food bills came with gratuity already included. (My “You have been reviewed section will go into detail.”)

We made a bunch of things. We did phyllo layers, apple/pineapple/plum/banana tartins, bistro apple tarts, biscotti, panna cotta, crepes and cheese cakes. (bistro apple tart-easy to whip up before guest arrive–no joke) We were running our own little bake shop. We were able to plate these with all kinds of garnish, like mango sauce, port wine sauce, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, salted hazelnuts, ice cream, etc.

We also made lemon meringue pies. I spent a while making this meringue, only to throw our 75% of it. It is not like it lasts and you cannot exactly eat it straight, unless you want to crawl the walls like spider man. It is made of whipped egg whites and sugar. No one really ate the meringue pies and the mouse cake desert in a cup-too rich I think. The only fun part about the meringue it seemed was flaming it with the little blow torch. You know that the big torches they have in repair shops is what they use in restaurants-but it is so against the law–a safety hazard. However, you still have the lemon meringue pie and creme Brule on menus. I think they take your dessert out back and flame it. 🙂

BTW -there was some serious team work going on. Our occasionally “cannot be located” chef was oblivious, I did the dough and my class mate from the other team did all the apples. The teacher took a while to comment. He asked why I was basically bossing the other guy around. Little did he know we were already in sync. 🙂 This occurred before. One person would cut all the onions, another the shallots, another the veggies and another work on the meat.

Check out our picks.
(lemon meringue, phyllo layers, bistro apple tart, Zuppla Anglaise, cheesecake molds)

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Trailing at Gramercy Tavern

July 22

So I arrived from work with a suitcase. Yes I had a big red suitcase–it is too much to drag all that crap with you all the time, you know. Only the day before I had announced that I was leaving my job so it was funky I was walking around with a suitcase. Someone asked where I was going away to? HA HA HA

I arrived at the restaurant off the main road, with carpet and then a tavern inside and some of society’s women. 🙂 In the back was a formal dining room with white table cloth. On the right was a pizza oven with 3 gentlemen, ready to do who knows what.

A nice guy (a little malnourished looking) took me to the back and then down stairs. It was a maze. There was a large prep area where I am still able to walk through in my street cloths. He starts introducing me to everyone. I must have shaken the hand of half a dozen people. I even went into a walk-in fridge and found myself face to face with a whole pig, being drained–for the record, it was not gross. They had even named him. Fricken Amazing!!

Later I changed in a girl’s locker room. The last two places I had been were not so clean looking and stuffy–I almost did not want to take my clothes off. I met a guy named Aviatar==Aveeyatarr. He was Middle Eastern looking. He was a little high strung but mostly calm. He planted me in a corner, more like a causeway. I would say the whole kitchen comes together at this point. The Garde Manger was to the south of me, the waiter station to the right of me, to the farthest right of me were the dish washing guys and to the front was Aviatar-yelling out commands.

So one of the brave souls asked me to help cut some herbs–large ass herbs I might add, and they provided me with the knife. It was a large bowl so I realized this could be the start of a ton of tasks for the night. I took the knife and started cutting and magically sliced off piece of my nail and the side tip of my fingernail–yup, I did it. I saw my finger tip, it was like a piece of onion and then I saw the nail. I was mortified with embarrassment. Picture this, I am on a trail to get an externship and I get injured. So I did not make a large stir. I went over to the sink and a few guys come over to help me, then I went down stairs. (it was now about 6ish. i had arrive at 5:30 and got cut around 5:45.)

They sprayed my finger, which could not stop bleeding for a little while. We put alcohol on it, then medicine and then bandaged it up. I resumed my place back in the causeway. It was like a freak accident as I was asked to chop and my classmate had mentioned to me that on his trail he just stood in the causeway and tasted and observed. I stood there the rest of the night and occasionally they would give me samples of the dishes. I had about 6 dishes and 90% were things I would order. The only thing I would not order it the tomato soup in a cup–bitter. I ate till right before full. I even turned down dessert and I love dessert.

At the end of the night I spoke with the chef Michael Anthony. He was surprisingly nice. It ended up that he would not be able to accommodate me till the end of the year at least. (someone later said that this was a nice way of saying–hell no biatch) He did say to keep in touch about what eventually happens, also what happens to my finger) He told me to email as soon as I have my finger looked at. They call this growing pains.

Watch your digits. They have a finger protector–seriously thinking about investing in one of those soon.

Ciao for now.

PIZZA and FLOUR together forever (Class 42)

Was there ever a time you felt inept or that what you chose to do was now the wrong choice?

So how many times can you be an a– when you mix flour. It is almost like the kitchen aid and I are not friends–really. so here is the story. I had to mix flour in the kitchen aid (I will continue to say the name till I become friends with it) and I poured about 1.5 pounds of flour in an the average sized bowl. There is a sliding control and (I just realized it) the bar is on the side. I always move up a notch too quickly and not realizing how much it changed between speeds, I ended up blessing the whole table, myself and the floor. “a true culinary moment”

So the Chef is watching all this commotion.
Well unfortunately this was not the first retard moment-the other was when I was mixing and it seemed not to really be mixing and I guess I was so into the task, but not really thinking about the task and so realized nothing. The chef told me to raise the mixing bowl up—DAAAAHHHHH. The third brain MIA moment was when I grabbed a whole pot of coffee and put it into my mixture. Can I tell you, the recipe called for 2 tablespoons. I put like a cup. Like I said–ever have one of those moments (a few actually) when you feel inept.

What I realized above was that I needed to be on the side of the mixer and watch my hand move the controls-that is all it takes to solve the flour sprinkler problem.

So the task at hand today was to make foccacia

—a fave of mine and then to make some pizza pies. We had to make the quattro formagi and then we made one other pie each-yummy. It is cool to be able to cook your favorite foods. Picture the scenario of being under house arrest–you spend your time preparing your own meals. That was just a thought. I guess only someone who likes to play with food can appreciate that!

Lunch was great–we shared with as many people as we could. The pastry girls were so thankful. We are too when they bring us little treats–and our hips/thighs thank them as well.

my pizza

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In the evening was my crazy time when I had to redo two things and then I fell behind the slow guy. Well I was right in front of him, so I might as well be behind him. Then I was washing tons of dishes that were not mine. Only an hour before that the Chef made a long tirade about people cleaning up after themselves and I even scolded a man old enough to be a my grandfather (okay 10 years younger than that).

We made spritz cookies, a very light mixture of ingredients that yielded light cookies. We also made biscotti and marshmallows–just what you thought we would be making. We also did butter nut crunch–we get to try the butter nut crunch and the biscotti tomorrow. We are going to add chocolate to them.

I am tired. I had a long week and it was a long, interesting day. There was a street fair on Lexington avenue today–upper west-well upper midtown–50’s. They are getting daring. Lex is not really residential but still in the uppers–someone got through to bringing the people together.

I hope you enjoy the pics and go out and have a good pizza or make it at home–you can add whatever you like in the privacy of your own home. By the way I had: sauteed mushrooms, red peppers, onions, plus 3 cheeses and pepperoni-a hint of basil at the end. I shared my food with my other half and my cousin. Fun times!!

Each anything flour based today–it will be great.

Enjoy life.

Where are my cookies? Let them eat cake. (Class 41)

The cookie episode began the day before. I was behind on making my dough and so was only able to “pipe” 1 tray out. As I was dead tired on Saturday, to the point of falling asleep in front of the Chef and also running around after botching a recipe, I totally missed the part about-SAVE THE LITTLE SHIT COOKIES. I only give it a negative vibe as it is like air. You need to eat about 10 to feel like you ate something. It is a strange feeling. The cookie is so light but it is dense. So I took the dough home. Chef said that we were basically done and that I would not have to time to do anymore. Okay so in that I thought–take the cookies home-we are done with the little shitters. Well when I got to class on Sunday we were to spend 1 hour dipping our little treats. LOL Luckily we did some interesting truffles-rolled in hazelnut and I also had candied orange rind so I got to dip those. We also did marshmallows and biscotti. As a candy we did butter nut crunch–addictive and a promoter of dental visits. Unlike the peanut brittle I get for gifts, this a bit softer and had a pleasant sweetness, the melt in your mouth kind….

So in the evening came the cake. Each team made a few cakes and then I made the buttercream. I cannot even think of the taste. It is like sweetened butter–try taking a butter stick out of the fridge and eating it–that is half of the feeling. The other is the unbelievable thought of ingesting butter and sugar, not as part of a cake. We also did a sheet cake. You simply level off the cake dough in a try and bake.

My cakes apparently were not leveled in the pan so apparently we can fix that with a bread knife and flatten them out. Our next thing is decorating cakes so that involves layered cakes.

Our favorite student was out. He was apparently sick, some people just nodded. I am sure he is kicking himself for missing the petite fours class–all the latitude to finish them as we wanted and then the cakes. The cakes though, at least in this lesson, were straight forward. Next week will be wild times of butter and sugar.

(Pics-truffles rolled in hazel nuts, pecan nut clusters, orange rind dipped in chocolate, marshmallows dipped in chocolate, biscotti w/and w/out chocolate, the un-dipped shit-ter cookies and butter crunch.)

Check out the pics and tell me which would your favorites.

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Eat well ( I did, spaghetti and ragu). Enjoy life–the weather is good, go out and enjoy life.

Baking biscuits (class 40 )

Well today started as well. We got in and it took us a while to get started. It is always hard to get back from a vacation. I looked on the list and saw my team mate and then my cleaning partner. (my team mate–lets just say, time was not of the essence) My cleaning partner was from one of my old tables.

So we started playing with yeast. We got a 1/2 an hour chat about what yeast is, how it lives, how it dies and how we can manipulate it. We used compressed yeast and regular yeast you buy in Pathmark, Waldbaums, Stop & Shop, Etc. We made some doughs and spent a while rolling them out and beating them to death so they could become smooth. All the while my teammate was helping but in his own time. The teacher commented “all the short people are kneading”, yes, please tell me why my teammate watched me knead and did not offer to help. I guess a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

So out of those doughs we made pretzels and bagels. If anyone else has ever made their own bagels–HOLLAA. They smell so good coming out of the oven. We used poppy seeds, cinnamon, onions and sesame seeds. I love the freedom to make what I want–sometimes you want a wacky combination and they (the bakery) just doesn’t make that combination. Well if you want the recipe–I can email it to you and you can do what you want.

In the evening we tackled some puff pastry. We also prepped our croissant doughs. Here is a crazy pic of what happens to the dough in the fridge.

New World Cup Finals Football or Dough??

We rolled some stuff out. The Chef had a spillage of butter from the croissant dough. Another student had the same action. I on the other hand vowed to not have a spillage. I rolled it our gently and carefully–NO SPILLAGE.

We made some well known/recognized/liked pastries. Check out the pictures. There was a lot of silliness as we only had on mandatory task–apple strips and then we could do whatever we wanted–no matter how bizarre. I kept it somewhat simple but added some spice. I should have done a hot cheese stick come to think of it.

I made my Palmiers with cinnamon rather than the heaping amount of sugar. Let me break down that for you. You cut out a piece of dough and then you sprinkle about 2 hand fulls of white sugar on top. (I think our Chef did a cup) then you use a rolling pin and roll that sugar in. Then you flip it over and do the same to the other side. Here is the before picture. You end up with a picture like this.

This is a dentist and nutritionists best friend. We snacked on these like there were grapes.

I never thought I would get to make the palmier biscuits. Cool right. I almost felt like a pastry cook.

If you want the recipe for any, please leave a comment. There has to be something you can impress your friends with, even if it tool you 3 hours to make. 🙂

Breads–it was like Amy’s Bread (Class 39 )

So the kneading continued. We even made croissants and onion pockets. I have the fortunate injury of tendinitis and about the only exercise that helps is kneading dough.
We made Brioche (the dough we kneaded on Saturday). We made cinnamon buns, pain aux raisins, a sausage loaf, croissants (ham & cheese, chocolate), loaves, and braided breads. Can we say flour and dough mess.

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We had to switch up partners in the afternoon. For some reason I was not on the ball. I made the yeast combination but did not measure the water. I then went to put the dough in the mixer, even though I myself told others that Chef said a bowl. I watched another kid put the dough in the mixer and got nervous so prepared to do the same thing. The Chef must have thought I was truly retarded.

We made these onion pockets which were a disaster. There was one student who was cut happy, with the pizza cutter. He ended up getting 36 pieces instead of 16. This presented a problem as the boxes were too small. We mentioned to him “do like ravioli and pinch the ends tightly and see what happens.” I did not take a picture but you would not believe what happened. His onion pockets stayed shut. Everyone else’s opened up like a book, so the word pocket is wrong to describe what happens. His also got a nice brown color. It was so appetizing and just the right size-like little poppers.

At the end of the day there was a lot of bread packing–as I mentioned before, it was like a full scale bakery. Wild I tell you.

So enjoy the pics, since you cannot taste any of these.
The most fun was the croissants as we had the choice to fill with meat or chocolate. It is nice that a dough is versatile enough to be used for both sweet and savory.

Enjoy your pastries while you enjoy life.
Ciao for now.