Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Baking - Mardi Gras King Cake

At Christmas I received a cookbook from my Aunt Carol. It is "Dam Good Sweet" by David Guas & Raquel Palzel. It's influenced by cooking in New Orleans. Today I used a recipe from the book to make a King Cake. For those who aren't from New Orleans, a King Cake isn't really a cake as much as a sweet bread. I had a good time making it and it was relatively easy to make. Usually we get our King Cakes from Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery in Slidell, LA.

So I'm comparing what I made today to what I'm used to eating in the past. I braided the dough and was real pleased with the appearance. The recipe called for a combination of bread flour and cake flour. It came out a little more dense than I would like. Next time I would probably just use cake flour and hope that it was a little more airy. I think the dough should be just a little sweeter also. But, the family still enjoyed eating this tonight.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 18 - First Practical

Today was the practical test. I made the Brysselkex cookies and the Chocolate Chip cookies in the allotted time. They came out fine. In fact, the Chocolate Chip cookies came out even better this time. I won't find out my grade till next week.

So far I've received the following grades:
93 on the ServSafe Certification test
A - in the ServSafe class
A - in the Hospitality Career Mgmt

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Answering a question on Brysselkex cookies.

Carol asked how the Brysselkex cookies are made. I can send the recipe, but they don't taste that good. But the visual look of the cookies are great.

First you make two pieces of dough, one vanilla and one chocolate. These are each rolled out about ¼” thick. You use two metal bars (one on each side of the dough) that help make the dough a uniform ¼” thickness. (think about the rolling pin to roll on top of these two metals rods so the rolling pin is ¼” above the table). It's hard to explain in writing. The bars are also used as straight edges to cut the dough in straight strips later.
So after rolling out the two pieces of dough, it is then refrigerated for 15 minutes.
Then you pull the dough out of the refrigerator. Lay the vanilla dough on the table, brush with egg-wash, the lay down the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough. Now you have a vanilla/chocolate dough sandwich.
Now take this vanilla/chocolate sandwich, and cut it in half leaving you with two identical pieces of vanilla/chocolate dough sandwich.
Now on top of one vanilla/chocolate sandwich, brush with egg-wash, and then place the other vanilla/chocolate dough sandwich on top.
This leaves you with a piece of laminated dough with four layers (bottom to top, vanilla-chocolate-vanilla-chocolate.)
This four-layer dough is now cut into strips, which are ¼” wide and maybe a foot long. You need four of these strips.
Are you still with me?
So now you will reassemble these four strips and glue them together with egg-wash between them. Using words, I’ll diagram this below (this is an end-view):

Strip1 Strip2 Strip3 Strip4

Van - Cho - Van - Cho
Cho - Van - Cho - Van
Van - Cho - Van - Cho
Cho - Van - Cho - Van

Again this is an end-view, and you put egg-wash between each strip (column in the word diagram). These strips now make a 4x4 matrix, about 1" square and about 1 foot or so longer. Place this in to refrigerator again.
After chilling, you can cut the foot long 4x4 matrix into ¼” thick cookies, which now look like checker boards. Then baked and voila, you have made the Swedish classic Brysselkex cookies.
I hoped this explains it. I would hate to have to make these cookies again just to take pictures of how to make them.

Day 17 -

We started out the day with the Chef demonstrating how to make Macaroons and Spritz cookies. Then we went back to out tables and started making them ourselves.
First up, in order to make Macaroons, we used the sponge method for combining the egg whites and sugar to make a French Meringue. Then the other dry ingredients were added to the French Meringue. This was placed in a piping bag to make little quarter sized drops. Then they sat for 15 minutes to form a skin on top before being baked. They came out crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I thought they were very good. I'll make these again.

Next up we worked on making the Spritz cookies. For these, we used the creaming method for mixing the butter and flower. Next the liquids are added and then the dry ingredients. This was placed in a piping bag and little circles were made then a little indent placed in the center. Into the center I squirted a little bake-proof apricot jam. A little visit to the oven and voila. They were very good. Not too sweet, just right. I'll make these again also.

Next, I scaled the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies that I will have to bake tomorrow on my practical test. The new Escali scale worked well. I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 16 - More Cookies

Today the class started with the Chef demonstrating how to make Brownies. Then we went to our tables and we cut our dough from yesterday, then baked our Brysselkex cookies. (See the picture of Brysselkex cookies below).

Afterwards I worked on making regular Chocolate Chip cookies and my partner made Peanut Butter Brownies. Our Brysselkex cookies were cooked well, but in my opinion, they didn't taste that great. They were kind of plain cookies and they aren't very sweet. Maybe they are good for dunking. The Chocolate Chip cookies (see picture below) were pretty good, but I still like my recipe for Nestle Tollhouse Cookies better. On Friday, we'll have a practical test which is basically making these two cookies that I made today. The Chocolate Chip cookies will be scaled on Thursday and then baked on Friday. The Brysselkex will be completely made on Friday between 12:30 and 3:00. The practical will be individual work.

After we made the cookies, then of course we had to clean up the kitchen. That is always fun. Then after class, I went to the school book store and bought an Escali Digital Scale, model P115CH. It's an 11lb scale which weighs in 0.1 oz or 1 g increments. We'll see how it works out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 15 - Baking cookies

This morning before school, I washed all the tools and marked them with bands of plastic tape (blue and red) so that I could identify them from other students tools.
At class we started with the Chef demonstrating how to make Cocoa Brysselkex Cookies. He had all the students crowd around his table up front, so I was able to see well. This is a checker board looking cookie with vanilla dough and chocolate dough. It uses the creaming method of mixing the ingredients. Afterwards we went back to our table and made the dough and the put in the refrigerator so it can cool down. Later we pulled the cool dough, rolled it out, then cut and assemble the dough. As luck would have it, I cut my finger on the first day baking in the kitchen. Fortunately, it was a very small cut. Anyway, tomorrow well cut and bake the dough we made today. I'll try to remember to take pictures. For this project, my team mate and I worked well together.

Next our table had two recipes to make. My partner made the Chocolate Chip Cookies and I made the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. Both of our cookies came out good. They looked and tasted good. They would among the best in the class. For many different reasons, many student's cookies spread out too much. Maybe a few might have been a hair undercooked and none were burnt. Some tables made Peanut Butter cookies, Oatmeal Raisin cookies, Sugar cookies, Almond Cherry cookies.

We got to taste our own cookies, and we were allowed to bring three cookies home. The chef took the rest for what purpose I don't know. Probably to eat them tonight. The benefits of being the Chef.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I pulled out my new Salter Model 1008 Digital Kitchen Scale and it would not power on. I'll take it back to the store tonight. I don't think I'll exchange it for the same. The school book store has an inexpensive digital scale for $20, so I'll try it tomorrow.
I'll have to look for another home scale. Maybe I'll get the OXO scale again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 14 - Intro to Patisserie & Baking

Or we could call it Christmas for P&B students. Today is the first day of our Intro to Patisserie & Baking course. It is a fifteen day class. Today we received our tool-kits. There was so much stuff it wouldn't fit in one bag, so it's in the two bags shown in the picture below. The long case comes with a shoulder strap and it has three zippered sections and holds most of my goodies. Then there is a small backpack type bag which holds the rest. I'll have to rearrange it so that it makes the most sense to me as far as finding tools quickly. Do you want to know what is inside the two bags. We'll continue below and you can see a picture and list of the tools.

Below are all the tools pulled out of the bags and laid on a coffee table. I took them out of their plastic bags and pulled sticky tags off and now I need to wash them. Then tomorrow morning, I'll mark all the tools so I know mine from other peoples tools. The Chef marked his with two different colors of electrical tape so that they are highly visible. I think I'll do the same type of marking (just different color stripes). Just for the heck of it, I looked up the prices of everything on the internet and found everything with the exception of 3 small items and the little backpack. Without shipping and tax, it came up to about $560 (this amount has been corrected from original post due math error).

Here is a list of the tools included in the toolkit:

  • 19" Maple Wood Rolling Pin - Ateco 19176
  • Citrus Reamer - wood
  • Terry cloth baker's pad w/strap - Wells Lamont - qty 2
  • 12" Wire whip - Winco PN-12
  • 12" Tong - Winco UT-12-MT
  • 2oz. Ladle - Winco LDI-2
  • 14" Silicone Scraper - Winco PSH-14
  • Plastic Bowl Scraper - qty 2 Ateco 1303
  • 11-7/8" Tan Master Chef Exoglass Spoon - Matfer 113330C
  • Ice Cream / Pastry Scoop
  • Vegtable peeler - Winco VP-3
  • 2.5" metal strainer
  • 8" Microplane
  • Apple corer
  • Melon Baller .12
  • Melon Baller .22 .25
  • Condiment Squeeze bottle
  • Pocket Dial Thermometer 50-550 degree - CDN IRT550
  • Compact Digital Thermometer - Taylor 3519
  • Candy-Deep Fry Thermometer - Taylor 5983
  • Kitchen Shears - Mercer M33042
  • 3-1/2" Paring Knife - Mercer M20003
  • 4" knife guard - Mercer M33110P
  • 9" Chef Knife - Mercer M20609
  • 11" Wavy Edge Slicer - Mercer M23111
  • 10" knife guard - Mercer M33112P
  • 10" Sharpening steel - Mercer M21010
  • Measuring spoon set - 4 pcs. Winco MSPD-4x
  • Measuring cup set - 4 pcs. Winco MCP-4P-MT
  • Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat 16"x24" - Paderno Qty 2
  • 2" Flat Pastry Brush - Crestware PBF20
  • Marzipan Sculpting Tools 5 pcs
  • Baker's Blade - Matfer 120005
  • Pastry cutter straight - Ateco 1322
  • Pastry wheel fluted - Ateco 1323
  • 4" offset spatula - Ateco 1305
  • 10" offset spatula - Ateco 1309
  • 10" straight spatula - Mercer 18800
  • 4" pastry scraper - Ateco 1319
  • 6" bench scraper - Ateco 1318
  • Decorating comb - Ateco 1446
  • 18" soft disposable decorating bags - Pkg of 25 Ateco 4665
  • 16" polyurethane decorating bag - Ateco 3316
  • 21" polyurethane decorating bag - Ateco 3321
  • Decorating tube set - 29 pcs Ateco 782
  • Closed star pastry tubes - 10 pcs Ateco 850
  • Round pastry tubes - 10 pcs Ateco 810
  • Petal Decorating tip - Ateco 124
  • Leaf Decorating tip - Ateco 112
  • Large Decorating Tip 680
  • Plain Round Cutters - 11 pcs Ateco 5357
  • Fluted Round Cutters - 11 pcs Ateco 5307
  • Mercer Triple-Zip Knife Case M30429M
  • Mercer backpack

Today I realized that the OXO Kitchen scale might not be suitable for the recipes I would be using at school. The OXO scale measures in 1/8 ounce increments. Most of the recipes I would be using at school are in decimals. So instead of constantly converting fractions into decimals or vice-versa, I decided to look for a scale that displayed decimal results. I took the OXO back and went and found a Salter model 1008 which is an eleven pound scale as well. It displays in kg or lb. down to .05 ounce increments. I'll put this in my backpack to use at school as well as at home. The school has older mechanical scales which I would rather not use since they are less accurate.

After getting our toolkits and going through them to make sure we had everything, we started talking about the class. First we were assigned tables and a partner. My partner is an asian girl about my age. As luck would have it we are at in the last row and probably the fartherest from the Chef. The TV screen showing his work surface helps a little but he moves out of the camera view and it's hard to see. We'll see how that goes. Today a second Chef also introduce himself. He will come in and assist from time to time as we have 26 students in my class. The second Chef also teaches Culinary Arts class, so he brought over some food for us to taste today. Today he brought; creamed lentils, white bean salad, refried beans and humus. I only tried the humus and it was pretty good. Tomorrow we start making cookies.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Baking & the Saints are NFC Champions

Geaux Saints! The Saints are the NFC champions and they will be playing the Colts in the Superbowl.

Today I made some fruit tarts. I made some basic tart shells using my 4.5" tart dishes. I used Swan's Down cake flour and White Lily all purpose flour. It came out very good.

I used a basic tart pastry filling and fresh fruit. I also a few small tart shells in a cupcake pan.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 13 - Lecture, Lecture, Lecture

Yesterday in class we covered background checks and all the specific types of checks (credit check, drug test, moving violation reports, reference checks, etc) which employers may perform prior to hiring a new employee. Then we where given time to go to the school library to use the computers. This was mainly for the students that don't have access to a computer at home.

Today in class we covered trade associations related to the restaurant industry. The instructor covered Professional development as well. This was mainly about the ways to continue learning and growing in your profession.

This was the last day of the Hospitality Career Management class and so we took a quiz covering the material we learned this week. The test seemed easy and I should have done well. We also had to turn in our Cover Letter and Portfolio. I emailed it to the instructor before class. Of course I don't have many pictures to include in the portfolio yet and the resume looks totally weak in the experience section. But, I'll get there.

This is the last class I'll have that is totally lecture in a classroom setting. On Monday we'll start the Intro to Patisserie & Baking class. This will be a three week class. Monday, the students will each receive their tool kit. I'm sure we are all excited to get our tool kit. It will be like Christmas again.

Yesterday I got some Swan's Down Cake Flower from Wal-Mart. I also got a new OXO Digital Kitchen Scale (see picture above) from Williams Sonoma. This scale had some good reviews on the internet and at $50, it fit my budget. Maybe I'll try it out this weekend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 11 - Lecture rolls on.

Yesterday and today in class we learned about portfolios, resumes, cover letters, interviews and career paths. We were shown samples and the do's and don'ts in creating them. We were also told of some of the creative things that have worked for some students.

Last weekend, I was looking for cake flour to make tart pastry dough. I could find no cake flour in the groceries I went to. I ended up using some whole wheat pastry flour and I didn't like the results. This week, I got some White Lily Enriched Bleached Self-Rising Flour and Enriched Bleached All-Purpose Flour to add to my pantry for future baking projects. Looking at the Nutrtion Facts on the bags of White Lily flour, they listed the Protein at 2g for a 30g serving, therefore it should be close to 7% protein. The strange thing is that the White Lily web site list the Protein for this flour at 3g. Hmm! I also plan to get some Swan Down Cake Flour at Wal-Mart. I see online that the Swan Down Cake Flour list the Protein at 2g as well. I'll use these next time I make some tart shells and see which I like better.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Baking

One of my Christmas presents was a set of tart dishes, so I thought I would try my hand at making some tarts. Of course, I've never made tarts before, so this was a first. I looked up a recipe for making the tart pastry dough. It called for cake flour and all purpose flour. I had all purpose flour, but I needed to buy some cake flour. But as luck would have it, none of the local groceries had cake flour. The only thing I could find was Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. So I bought it and used it. Maybe it was not the best choice. It was not milled as fine as I expected. But the tart shells came out looking pretty good for my first attempt. At a quarter of an inch thick, they were a little thicker than I would have liked them. Next time I'll make it closer to an eight inch thick.

Next I made a pastry cream, which came out very good. It had just a hint of sweetness that went well with the fruit which were sweeter. I filled each tart shell about halfway with the pastry cream. Then I covered it with Kiwi, Pineapple, Strawberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, and Blueberry. I made some fresh whipped cream to go with it. It was pretty good, but I will try to find some cake flour and try to do a better job on the tart pastry dough. See a picture of the tart above.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 9 - Hospitality Career Management

Today I started Hospitality Career Management course, which is a five day class. The name of the course is misleading as it has nothing to with management. It is more about career development, I guess, as it's about making resumes, doing interviews and career paths in the hospitality industry.

Also I took my ServSafe Certification Test. It was a little harder than I expected. In fact there were three questions on material that was not covered in the text book we had in class. I still think I did fine. I already have this certification and it's good for two more years. But taking this test will make it current for five more years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 8 - Last day of ServSafe

Yesterday was more of the same. We covered Chapters 12, 13 & 14. After school I met some classmates at Barnes & Noble for a study session.

Today was the last day of ServSafe and we reviewed in class, then took our final exam. I think I did well on the test.

Tomorrow we'll take the NRAWD ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification examination. Then we'll start the next Course which is a five day class called Hospitality Career Management.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 6 - .........

Today we covered Chapters 10 & 11 of the ServSafe book. Then we watched a video on the "Flow of Food". We visited a washing area to see a three compartment sink and dishwashing machine. I know it sounds like loads of fun. I took a practice test for ServSafe and made a 92 on it. So I guess I'm safe for the real test.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 5 - And more lecture

I found out that I made a 100 on my second quiz (Chapters 3 & 4) last week. Today we covered Chapters 8 & 9, which finished up the "The Flow of Food: Service" and "Food Safety Management Systems". The Flow of Food covers from the time you purchase your food products till the time you serve the food, from a safety standpoint. Three more days of class to complete the Food Science Course.

If you make a comment, please sign your name so I know who is asking the question.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow day baking!

I thought I would cook a cheesecake. I found the recipe on the Food Network website. It's called "Jake's Explosive Turtle Cheesecake". The cheesecake came out looking great. You definitely need to be a chocolate lover to appreciate this cake. It's very rich. It was slighty dry and I believe it's because I left out the sour cream in the batter. Oops. Here's a picture.

Day 4 - Snow

No school today. In Atlanta we received some icy rain and snow last night which made the roads dangerous. So Le Cordon Bleu and the majority of other schools in the area closed for the day. So, I'll make a cheese cake today and let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 3 - More Lecture

Today was much the same as yesterday. Just lecture. We covered Chapter's 5 thru 7 on the "Flow of Food". I found out that I made a 92 on my Chapter's 1 & 2 quiz. Today we took a quiz on Chapter's 3 & 4.

My picture was taken for my badge. I should get the badge tomorrow. Students wear the badge for identification and it allows you to get into the building and through certain doors on the inside.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 2 - Class

Today at school, I ran into Chef Ross, who was my culinary instructor in high school. It was good to see him and he recognized me after the few years that had passed. Nothing major to talk about as far as class goes. Just more lecture. We had a quiz on Chapters 1 & 2 and I think I did ok. We then covered Chapter 3 "Contamination and Food Allergens" and Chapter 4 "The Safe Food Handler". Well I've got to go iron my Chef Jackets and study the material for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 1 - First Day of Lecture

Today was the first day of real class, well lecture. But before I got to school, I had a few things to do to get ready for school. First I woke up and went to an alteration shop to get my five pair of chef pants hemmed. They were at least 6" too long. Fortunately the alteration lady was able to take care of this in just a couple of hours. Then I got to school a little early to exchange my chef jackets. The story behind this is that I got measured more than a month before for my uniform and decided on a size XS for my chef jackets. But as luck would have it, I was given XXS jackets which I didn't really notice till I got home and tried a jacket on. I would have had to be a toothpick to button up the bottom few buttons. Fortunately, the school exchanged them for the XS that I ordered.

Class started about 3:00pm, and that is after I found the classroom. My class schedule doesn't list the room numbers, so I had to get some people to search for me and they finally determined the correct location that I should be in. Room numbers on the class schedule would be a nice addition, especially since they have a column for room numbers. I joined my classmates late as I'm exempted from the first session, College Success, which is from 12:30 - 3:00. Since I have an Associate Degree with great grades, it was no problem getting credit for the class. At 3:00 - 5:30 is Food Science, which uses the Serve Safe text. I already have my Serve Safe certification, but it won't hurt refreshing my memory. This class will last for 8 days. For those who are curious, Serve Safe is all about food safety. It's about how to keep a sanitary kitchen and how to handle food safely to keep it from getting contaminated. Today we covered "Providing Safe Food" and "The Microworld" which covers the type of contaminations such as Viruses, Bacteria, Parasites, Fungi and Biological Toxins which are grouped together as Pathogens. Oh boy, not what you want to be thinking about while dreaming of delicious food.

The first task was to ask Chef Reynolds how to tie my cravat (kerchief). Of course he made it look easy, but I'm sure I'll get better with practice. Chef Reynolds seemed very nice and the lecture was OK. He mostly followed the textbook with some additional personal experiences thrown in to keep the lecture interesting. I'm guessing there were about 24 students in my class with only four of them being male. If I had to guess at student ages, the age spread was probably running from 18 to 40 years old.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Orientation - My exciting first day.

Ok, so I lied. Orientation was anything but exciting. I arrived early, as I didn't want to be late. Starting time was 7:30am. I was told to be there wearing a white shirt and black pants. As I'm waiting in the lobby, I notice most people arriving are wearing jeans and t-shirts. Boy, did I feel a little odd. Oh well, I followed the instructions given to me.

Eventually they ushered everyone into a room and we all sat some more. The fun is killing me by now. Then the real crowd pleaser began. Four hours of presentations on career services, financial aid, appropriate hygiene, uniform do's and don'ts, etc., etc. Finally we all got in a long line to make sure we paid or had financial aid arranged before we got our prizes of the day. You ask "What were the prizes?" We received our books, shoes and uniforms. The sprial bound class books were 14 pounds, the nice hard bound Le Cordon Bleu "Professional Baking" book and work book were also heavy, the shoes were heavy and the uniforms were bulky. I guess the books are all that I will need during the whole program and there were quite a few. I received five each of the following; black and white checked pants, chef jackets, aprons, skull caps, cravat (which I have no idea how to tie). And then I got 10 hand towels. By the time I got it all back to my car, well let's say my knuckles drag the ground now just like an ape.

Tomorrow, I'll start my first real day of class in Food Science from 3:00pm to 5:30pm.

How I became enrolled into Le Cordon Bleu.

I'm 21 and have already changed my career direction. I have earned my Associates degree in Business Administration at Gainesville State College and was working toward an Accounting Degree at Georgia State. My grades were great, but at heart I'm an artistic person and crunching numbers wasn't the best thing for me to do the rest of my life.

I love doing artistic things such as music, crafts, etc, and consider myself a very creative person. During high school I worked at an ice cream parlor and loved decorating ice cream cakes. I also took a culinary arts class in high school and thoroughly enjoyed it and the challenge of being in a cooking competition. After graduating high school I considered entering a culinary arts school but was a little intimidated at the cost of enrollment and the potential low pay in the culinary industry.Well, my parents and I discussed this now and we all agreed, “What the hell, let’s do it anyway!”

I looked at both the Art Institute of Atlanta and Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. I was more impressed with the Le Cordon Bleu facility. I would have been interested in an Associates program, but they only offer a Certificate in Patisserie and Baking at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. Attending a Culinary Arts School in another state was not my first choice. So now I'm enrolled into the Le Cordon Bleu, Patisserie and Baking program in Atlanta, GA. This is an 8 month program with the last 8 weeks of the program being an externship.

So, this is my blog for relaying my experiences of attending Le Cordon Bleu, in an effort to keep family and friends aware of how I’m doing and the trails and tribulations I’m facing everyday.