Saturday, July 17, 2010

catering job

lemon cream tartlets
I was enlisted by Anthony, one of my former classmates, to help with an order of petits fours he was making for a wedding today. He assigned me the lemon cream tartlets (yes, a miniature version of the giant tart I made a few weeks ago). All total, there were mini cupcakes with butter cream frosting and sugar paste butterflies, chocolate ganache tartlets, barquettes with raspberries and pastry cream, chocolate covered strawberries, molded chocolates and macaroons. The order called for one tray for each table, 17 in all.

Because the wedding was at a resort by the beach, Anthony created a beach theme by spreading graham crumbs on the platters and using sea shell molds for the chocolates. He also came up with the ingenious idea of using small pizza boxes to transport the tartlets.
The ride down to the resort was uneventful, mainly because Anthony was forced to drive slowly to keep all the tarts from bouncing around. The way back was a different matter, though. To use his own words, Anthony drives "like an animal", and it took all my self control to keep from panicking "a drop."
He was also kind enough to give me an autographed picture of himself on which he wrote the touching epigraph: "Dear Emma, Keep trying!" Many thanks Anthony! I'll hang that next to my award for graduating top of my class! Heh.

work update...
I've been assigned to make strawberry jam at work. The recipe is simple----just sugar and berries. All the sugar and the biggest portion of the berries are cooked together before adding in two more smaller additions of berries. Chef says she uses this basic recipe for all her fruit jams, simply adjusting the sugar as needed. I have every intention of trying this at home in the near future, but maybe with white nectarines instead (my absolute FAVORITE summer fruit).
Right now, the strawberry jam I make gets mixed with fresh strawberries and spooned onto the mint and strawberry sundae--either that or discreetly spread onto a fresh roll with some butter if I get hungry during service...

Friday, July 9, 2010

a treat from work

apricot upside down cake
I spirited this tiny tart home from work last night. When there is a whole sheet pan of them lined up, it looks like a field of flowers. The person who runs the hot station at work is in charge of making the cakes, and I have heard some complaints about how tedious it is to cut all the apricots and arrange them in the pan. It looks so beautiful, though, I would think it would be some consolation for all the trouble. We serve it with praline anglaise sauce, candied almonds and toasted almond ice cream.

strawberry gelato
So I finally made a recipe from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto. Each of their recipes calls for you to make a plain base or chocolate base from two master recipes, then make add-ins to create different flavors. This recipe called for the plain base plus a homemade strawberry jam. I loved the recipe for the plain base. It had very little cream and only four egg yolks in it, and came together beautifully. The finished gelato was a little icy once frozen, but the taste I took just as it finished churning was smooth and extremely flavorful.

magnificent moist golden cake
So I have a cake order at the end of July! I was going to go with a delicious butter cake recipe we used for our wedding cake project in school, but I wanted to try a few other options first. This recipe is from Shirley Corriher's book Bakewise. She says in the book that she developed this recipe because she wanted to create a versatile cake that was both moist and easy to slice. It looked beautiful right out of the oven and did indeed prove easy to slice. But when Chris and I tasted it, we both agreed that it was too greasy and too sweet. I was really disappointed, especially since it was such a fussy recipe to put together. It called for milk and buttermilk, oil and butter and cream whipped into soft peaks.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

yes indeed, more ice cream

gianduja ice cream

Toasted hazelnuts. Milk chocolate. The only thing that could have made this better would have been if I had added chocolate chunks at the end. You can cheat when making this ice cream by using actual gianduja chocolate instead of toasting hazlenuts and steeping them in the milk. You don't get the same, intense hazelnut flavor, but it tastes delicious in it's own right.

pain au chocolat
Look at those layers! I made these a few weeks ago and stashed them in the freezer to cure any future croissant cravings. Unfortunately, I used up the last of my chocolate batons. One of my coworkers suggested using wedges of gianduja chocolate in place of chocolate batons, to create a Nutella-like experience inside a croissant. OH YES. I will try that next time for sure.

at work...
Chef has switched up some of the desserts and sorbets at work. We now serve an amazing blueberry sorbet (the color is incredibly vibrant) and a creamy toasted almond ice cream. Chef tasted the first batch of almond ice cream and pronounced it overspun, which means it spent too much time churning in the ice cream maker and almost churned into butter. She said you can tell by the overly fatty and grainy mouthfeel. The next batch was perfect, though. I had quite a few spoonfuls just to make absolutely certain. Heh.
We are also serving a new dessert amuse for the tasting menu which has four different kinds of tiny melon balls and a squirt of shiso syrup. Shiso is a giant, leafy Japanese herb which tastes a bit like mint or parsley. We blanch the leaves and puree them with a little corn syrup to make a brilliant green sauce. I love the way it tastes with melon and I think I will try to make a shiso-melon sorbet at home sometime soon.
I also got a re-cap this week of Chef's three rules for working in the pastry kitchen.
Rule #1: Always keep her informed. She won't get angry as long as she knows in advance.
Rule #2: There's no crying in pastry. Ahem. That one seems quite familiar. Chef specifies that if you are on the verge of breaking down, you should do so discreetly in the walk-in refrigerator or in the chocolate room.
Rule #3: When Guns N' Roses is playing on the radio, CRANK IT UP. Whenever there is lots of work to be done in a very short amount of time, you can hear Gunx N' Roses blasting from the radio in the pastry kitchen. Unfortunately, when Chef leaves for the night, some of my other coworkers like to blast Mika instead, specifically Big Girl (You Are Beautiful). I HATE THAT SONG. Really, really, really hate it.