Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gingerbread House (Library, really) Continues

Seeing hours of hard thinking, cutting, rolling, and baking finally amount to tangible progress is cool. It's also cool to see all the 2D pieces I designed forming a 3D building.

Spending all of my precious bakery time on this one project is not so cool. Oh well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Recently at the Pastry Shop

Assembling a 3-tier wedding cake, rolling and coloring fondant, Chocolate Mousse Cups from start to finish, biscotti, cutting oddly shaped cakes, decorating cupcakes using frosting, planning and assembling a gingerbread house (library, actually).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lunch Today

Roasted vegetables: a medley of potatoes, beets, and winter squash that tasted of chestnuts. A handful of bitter greens from the garden, undressed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cakes Cakes Cakes

Day 5: cheesecakes with marbled mocha topping, chocolate cakes, roll-out sugar cookies, dipping and filling eclairs, creme brulee.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


"A Return To Cooking" - Ruhlman and Ripert. Successful chef seeks a path back to the essence of cooking, philosophizes along the way. A quiet night with a beautiful moon - low, big, hazy-orange. Where is this all going?


I have also gotten distracted from cooking. The REAL cooking; what I do at home, not at work or at an internship. The food that I make for myself and the people I care about. The process I control to the greatest extent possible. I've maintained my patience and my curiosity, but I've strayed in other ways. My perfectionism gets in the way of enjoyment. I examine and criticize technique and barely acknowledge success. I cook hungry, frustrated, snarly and inhale the meal, never relishing the simple enjoyment of food created, food shared.

It's past time to slow down, start smiling, and get back to enjoying cooking. Find new ingredients and better ones for inspiration. Snack while I cook. Maybe even drink. Do fewer things at once. Be kinder. Worry less and be happy with the results of my labors. They'll never be perfect, but they're almost always good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lunch Today

Roasted Root Vegetable Trio: sweet potato, All Purples from Applewald Farm, beet from another other local farm.

Party Pies

I baked two pies to bring to a co-workers outdoor party: Roasted Grape and Apple.

The idea for the Roasted Grape pie came one day last week I decided to roast some grapes to go along with baked cod and discovered that they tasted a lot like cherries.

I started the pie by washing and roasting two sheets of green grapes at around 425F. I lightly buttered one sheet and forgot on the other, but it didn't seem to make a difference. Which the grapes so crowded on the sheets, they spent most of the roasting time simmering in their own juices (which were a bit sweet, quite tart, and really tasty) before the bottoms dried out and started caramelizing.

On the second batch of grapes, I had thought to reserve their liquid before it evaporated, which didn't negatively effect the flavor of the grapes and gave me a delicious starting place for a syrup, which I finished with balsamic vinegar and sugar and thickened with a bit of cornstarch. I combined this syrup with the grapes, and my filling was assembled and fully cooked, except for the cornstarch, which I could have cooked in a pot, but I wanted the filling cool when I started doing the lattice design for the top crust.

I pre-baked the bottom crust, then filled it and laid out all the strips going across the pie and a double layer around the circumference to hold everything together, then baked everything together. At some point I decided the top wasn't cooking fast enough, so I turned on my broiler. The broiler was a good idea, but walking away to do something else while the crust cooked wasn't, and I ended up with a charred mess. Luckily, it was easy enough to pick off the top crust and the burned grapes, and I successfully broiled the same design the next morning, and the whole design took only 5 minutes the second time around. The little white thing on top is the remains of my spun sugar cloud, which was really easy to make and fun to look at, but stuck to the rice I used to try to keep it dry. Oh well.

This apple pie was just apple slices, sugar, and lemon juice, but putting together this design with the apple slices took 30 minutes or more. The design had two or three layers of apple slices, and I should have sprinkled each layer with sugar and lemon juice, because the bottom layers came out fairly bland.

I didn't pre-bake this crust because I meant to do an overhang around the edge, but then I decided that the overhang would hide the best part of the design. The bottom crust was not as crispy and flavorful as I thought it should have been. Instead of the overhang, I folded the edge under itself and over the lip of the pan to try to keep it from shrinking, which failed in some spots. I definitely need to get better at how I deal with the edges of my crusts.

For a glaze, I simmered the apple peels and cores in a simple syrup and reduced the syrup until it was very thick, then brushed it on the baked pie. A great byproduct of making a glaze that way is the skins, which turn into a translucent and sticky-sweet candy. Two strips tangled up with each other made an easy garnish (and one that looks a bit better in real life than in photographs, apparently).

Another Day, Another Lesson

Day 4: Pie Dough, these delicate, airy cookies, coating jelly rolls in ganache, and marbled high-ratio white cake.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Internship Continues

Day 2: Genoise Cake, Jelly Rolls, more things I can't remember

Day 3: Pate Choux, Biscotti, Blueberry Pie