Monday, September 21, 2009

See Jenni Bake

Making Moelleux au Chocolate at Le Cafe du Commerce

Coming to a restaurant near you......

Upon my return to school, I signed up for a chance to participate in a program called, "Pastry Chef for a Night", that is arranged through the CSCA. A local restaurant agrees to host a student chef for an evening. The student creates a few desserts for the restaurant to serve and then they work at the restaurant for the evening preparing and plating the desserts. Students are not eligible to sign up till they are in their second semester at the CSCA. I am now a second semester student, and with my working experience in Paris under my belt, I figured I was ready. When I got the email announcing my name had been draw for the next event, my first thought was, "oh crap".

I've pulled myself together, spoke with the owners of the restaurant, am in the midst of testing my recipes and I'm feeling pretty good. This means, if you are dying to try some of my desserts, well you now have an oppurtunity. Here are the details:

Pastry Chef for a Night at EVOO
Saturday October 3rd, 2009
EVOO Restaurant

I will post my menu after I have met with the chef, but expect some fall inspired, warm and spicy desserts.

In other news, I have said my farewell to the world of retail and Sur La Table. It was wonderful working with the crew there. I had a lot of great interactions with the food loving customers. I'll definitely be back to shop in the future. I have accepted a new part time job at Crema Cafe as a pastry cook. I'm very excited to be joining the staff at this great and innovative place. If you stop by, you won't see me, I'll be busy working behind the scene; but try the food, it's all made on premise and great!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bowl Full of Chocolates

Finished Chocolates: Whiskey Truffle, Marguerite, & Tea Lemon

My classmates were surprised to see me walk through the door of E kitchen at the CSCA Monday evening. They thought I might have decided to stay in France and not come back. I have to admit, coming back to the US was tough. The French way of life was starting to agree with me. Once Chef finished his lecture and we donned our hats and aprons and moved into the kitchen, I started to feel more at ease and happier about my return. A few things have changed at the school, some new doors, progress on the kitchen space next to E kitchen and a large group of new students (I'm now one of the "seasoned" ones). Much has not changed; Everything is in it's place, Chef flawlessly shows us how to execute the recipes and then watches us ameatures try to replicate his work. He gently teases, and still yells, "Maintenant!" when he wants us to move quicker. I find myself responding to him in French, and feeling a little more confident in the kitchen. It's good to be back.

Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

Chocolates were fun, and tedious. I chose two recipes to make: The Whiskey Truffle, and another confection called a "Tea Lemon". The Whiskey Truffle is what is sounds like. A dark chocolate ganache truffle with a potent punch of Whiskey (we used Jamesons). Instead of dipping it in dark chocolate, chef had me dip it in White Chocolate and roll it in a instant coffee granuale and sugar mixture to give it an "Irish Coffee" taste. I prefered it without the White chocolate, but it gave it a pretty sandy looking finish. My roommate unknowingly had one for breakfast the following morning. Then asked what flavor it was. When I told her, you could see the light go on in her head. "Oh, I thought I knew that flavor!", she replied.

Whiskey Truffles before Rolling

The Tea Lemon turned out to be my favorite. It is a square confection made with 2 ganaches coated in Dark Chocoalte. Melted White Chocolate is stirred into a hot Lemon Curd like mixture to make a lovely creamy ganache. Then I infused some black tea into some heavy cream before adding Milk Chocolate and Giandujia for the second ganache. They are layered one over the other and allowed to set. A light layer of melted chocolate is spread over one side to help with the dipping process (so your dipping fork does not go through the confection and you loose it into the bowl of Chocolate for coating) and once it sets, it is cut into small bite size squares. The squares are dipped and then laid to rest on a transfer sheet with colorful patterns set in cocoa butter. When the Chocolates are dried and removed from the transfer sheet, the pattern stays on the chocolate, giving it a pretty design. Both ganaches are light and creamy. The White Chocolate mellows the acid of the lemon, and the tea taste is just slightly present in the other ganache. It's almost like sitting down for a cup of milky tea and lemon, with perhaps and piece of Chocolate on the side.

The tediousness came from the dipping of the chocolates. Each piece was done by hand, and with tempered chocolate, you have to keep checking the temperature and reheating as needing to maintain the shine and snap when it dries. We finished quite late that night, but the chocolates turned out delicious and I'm inspired to make more.....

Chef Demonstrating Filling the Chocolate Molds

Chocolate Mold Ready to be Scraped and Filled

More exciting news coming up. Let's just say: if you are in the Boston area, or plan to be the first weekend of October, keep the night of October 3rd might have an oppurtunity to try some of my creations!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to School

I'm back on Eastern Standard time, and back to work at Sur La Table. I'm currently living in the land of brown moving boxes, but my school kit is unpacked, my uniform is washed and ready to go. Since I've returned to Boston, I've done very little cooking. I have an adequate kitchen in my new apartment, but readjusting and unpacking has taken precedent for the past week and a half. If you can imagine, I'm very eager to get back into the kitchen and get busy. School starts tonight!

Less is more: As I am settling into my new apartment, I'm trying to reduce the amount of junk I own. I'm also trying to reduce the junk I put into my body. A recent trip to the grocery store took me half and hour just to buy 3 items. Sounds crazy, but I'm reading the labels and trying to buy more natural products. I had a craving for some ice cream and had seen an ad for Haagen daz's new 5 ice cream. Finally some food manufacturers are getting the idea that you don't need to pump your products full of artificial and chemical ingredients to produce something good. I bought a pint of the Vanilla 5. The ingredient label was awesome: Milk, cream, sugar, eggs, Vanilla. Really, what else do you need to make ice cream? The taste? -Smooth, creamy and great Vanilla flavor, but without all the extras. I can't wait to try some of their other flavors. They have Ginger!

Tonight's class is chocolate. We'll be making chocolate truffles. I'm looking forward to learning how to temper chocolate. I understand the idea of it from my previous work at a Chocolate shop, but haven't been very successful in the past trying to temper it at home. The importance of tempering is so the chocolate dries/hardens and looks shiny and retains it's snap. Poorly tempered chocolate will look dusty because the cocoa butter has seperated from the chocolate, ie it's not pretty. I'm ready to learn some more.