Monday, April 30, 2007

The First Stand of Custard

Huzzah for being back on track! Some what anyway. I'm back into the full swing of class and work after being sick to the point of almost no return. And I've finally gotten the freaking camera to talk to my computer so I can show you some of the fabulous treats I make every day. The picture to the right is Creme Carmel. It is a very sweet and tasty desert that I would never think of ordering at a restaurant for fear maxing out my credit card, but in culinary school you take home 5 of them! Haha! It's a very simple recipe of Eggs, Sugar, Salt, Vanilla Extract, and Milk. I know it seems like one of the most complicated things in the world, but it's really no problem, as long as you keep an eye on it in the oven. :) I actually enjoyed making this. It's entertaining to watch the eggs transform the whole thing. Which is funny, because I do recall an earlier rant about hating egg whites, but that's only in dealing with puffy macaroons, I think. Heh heh. The brown sauce you see is just caramelized sugar, which is TONS of fun to make. It's just melted sugar, but it smells so good. Although, the taste isn't as fabulous as you might think. It's intense, but it's a really awesome blend of flavor with the custard. I recommend you try it. Or make me make it for you some day. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stubborn Sickly

A very inconvenient truth in being a chef (or in training to be anyway), is that you can't work when you're sick. You just can't! I've spent a good number of days sitting miserably at my office desk, trying to look productive while in a sickly daze. Why do I do this, I couldn't really tell you. But, when working with food, trucking through a sickly spell, convincing yourself that you'll be fine if you just sit down for 5 minutes, doesn't work as well. So instead of getting up in the early morning hours to take my food safety quiz today, I spent the morning gazing at my bedroom ceiling, wondering if I could get an egg to cook on my forehead.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Some Advice

I, like many of my peers, spent a lot of time insisting than I knew better than my parents. And in some ways, I still think I do, BUT in dealing with the little things for example, checking your pockets for pens before you throw a huge load of white uniforms into the wash, listening to your mothers may be advisable. I’ll give you 3 guesses of what I did last night.
Yup. Yup. Four, count’m, FOUR of my white uniform shirts are hanging in my bathroom, dotted with ugly black splotches all over the crisp, white linen. I cried. I cried hard. I’ve spent any and all free time today scrubbing these things with any recommendations I can get my hands on. I went to the hardware store, I called a couple of cleaners, I talked to students and staff at the school. I’ve got a list in my head of various products and home remedies to try tonight when I get home. I’m excited. Actually I’m as pissed off as I’ve been in a long, long while.
“Check your pockets!” My mother always yelled at me for leaving earrings, Kleenex, and coins in my jeans. Even at age 24 my mother-in-law now yells at me for it as well. And as I sit in my bathroom scrubbing a hole into my new uniforms yelling "Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!" all I can think is. I should’ve listened to my mother.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Concerning Eggs

I’ve been trying to research the technical term for fear of eggs. I can’t find it. I assume there is one. There’s a technical term for pretty much anything. Whatever terms the Ph.D.’s coined for the fear of eggs, (egophobia? My computer says no) that’s what I’ve got. Not because I refuse to touch or consume the evil things, I just break out in a cold sweat at the idea of whisking them in any form as a key preparation for a recipe. I’m sorry, but I’ve had one too many disasters in my personal experience to meet this challenge without sweaty palms.

Today wasn’t as bad as past experiences, however. It wasn’t until the last hour of the class when my instructor demonstrated a pastry cream that we had to make that I began the feel the moisture on my neck and palms. The whole process balanced on the edge of knife, leave the mixture one minute longer on the fire than necessary and it’s just the end. Start over! Actually, I was able to keep control of the cream mixture fairly well. It wasn’t until I reached the end stage and looked at the final product that I realized. I had been so worried about studying the steps of the cooking process that I didn’t actually READ the ingredients! I added a whole egg, instead of two egg yolks. Ya. I’m smart like that some times. The cream, while the correct consistency had the color of something my cats might throw up. I’m still not quite over the disdain for myself at not following directions properly.

It has been a major challenge for me to calm down in culinary school. I get so excited and hell bent on proving myself that I loose sight of the actual task and much needed thought processes which just stresses me out more. I’m hoping to improve this as I get more comfortable. Besides, if you’ve ever read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, a bad mood can transfer to your cooking and then you’ve got an entire wedding party running for the bathrooms and then where would you be?!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An Introduction

I started baking pretty much as soon as I could walk. I've always been a kitchen hog. I have this picture of myself at age two passed out on the kitchen floor in my footie pajamas with my pillow, because that's where I liked to sleep! It was warm and comforting. Who needs a blanket when you have a warm kitchen! That's my personal philosophy.
I've just finished the second day of my second week culinary school, specializing in baking and pastry. This was, by no means, a shocking life adjustment to my family and friends. I've always been the one to make dinner for 12 people, bake bread for anyone who runs out, or make cookies because...hey! there are always cookies to be made. Thus, I've found nothing but support as I brave the student loan applications once more in pursuit of a dream.
This blog has been set up to act as a sort of record of my trek through school. My goal is to write every week day on the trials and wonders of a pastry chef in training (I hope). If nothing else, I can add it in my portfolio, but I also hope some of you will get some entertainment and recipes out of it. :)