October 15th, 2010

Midterms

Why, hello, strangers.

Well it’s about halfway through the semester and I’ve learned a ton. I haven’t been very great about updating but I thought I’d catch you guys up on what I’ve been doing.

Sorry for the crappy cell pics. I can’t exactly bring my nice big camera to class while I’m lugging all my other tools. I’m also still a little new to the photoshop thing so things are going to look a little rough around the edges on my picture layouts…

Egg Chapter

Eggs Benedict and Cheese Souffle
eggs1

Omelette and Quiche
eggs2
I forgot to fold the omelette over because I was so excited that I had successfully tossed and flipped it in the pan. One victory at a time, ladies and gents.

Class sit down meal 1
Every group is assigned a course. Ours were the bread/butter and the dessert. This was after our chicken chapter and we decided as a class to do a French theme.
chicken practical
Top left: bread with herbed compound butter
Top right: escargot in mushroom caps
Middle: Chicken en cocotte with Cote du Rhone, haricot vert, butternut squach gnocchi
Bottom left: Salad with walnuts and goat cheese
Bottom right: Tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream

Class sit down meal 2

This was after our fish chapter. Our group made the vegetable and starch sides.

fish meal
Top: Mushroom and brie in puff pastry pouches
2nd picture: Tuna tartare
3rd picture: Smoked salmon entre, pepper salad, French potato salad, vegetable tagliatelle
4th picture: Bread pudding

Baking
I haven’t had a lot of chances to take pictures in my baking class because it seems like we are always in such a rush. By the time the product is out of the ovens, we’re usually just in a hurry to pack them up so we can leave. That class is from 7 pm to 10 pm so you can imagine people are itching to get home by then.

Cinnamon buns
Cinnamon buns

Popovers
Popovers

Stay tuned: Next post will be about all the cooking I’m doing outside of culinary school!

August 18th, 2010

Sugar and Spice

I’m not much of a baker. I like to make cakes and pies every once in a while but the patience it takes to create them usually drives me a little crazy. Baking is a much more exacting process than just throwing something in a pan. One has to be fairly meticulous with the science and math that goes behind it; ¬†you can’t adjust anything midway through and you can’t just make something up.

That said, although I’ve usually shied away from the pastry arts, it’s always been something I secretly wanted to master. I’ve tried my hand at a few cakes and pies…

"The Josh"
The Josh, a rainbow-colored cake with peanut butter frosting.

monkey bread
Monkey Bread that destroyed my oven. No one warned me that caramel would be so difficult to clean up.

apple pie
Apple Pie. My culinary Moby Dick.

I’m about to get even more practice very soon. I’m taking Baking Fundamentals at cooking school, cake decorating at a local cake shop, and just got an internship at a bakery that makes wedding cakes. I’m pretty excited. I can’t wait to start making crazy cakes!

Posted under Baking | 2 Comments
August 15th, 2010

Quitting with Tagine (and Couscous)

So.

It’s been a while.

Well to make a long story short, I quit my job. It felt a little crazy to do it in this economy, but it became a matter of “now or never.” We have some savings and not very many responsibilities at the moment so it’s as good a time as any to try out a little life experiment: I went ahead and signed up for a few more cooking classes, a cake decorating class, and applied for an internship at a bakery. Class starts in a couple of weeks and I’ll hear back about the internship next week so we’ll see how that all goes.

So in the spirit of trying out new things, I made a Moroccan meal a few days ago. I found this recipe in The Bon Appetit Cookbook. It didn’t seem very intimidating and I already had most of the ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a shot. Turns out, it pays to try new things every once in a while. Although a tagine is a particular kind of pot used primarily in North African cooking, I just used my Dutch oven and it worked out fine. Whatever heavy-bottom pot you have will work great.

Chicken Tagine and Vegetable Couscous
Adapted from Bon Appetit Cookbook
Serves 2-3

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on (about 2 lbs total)
1/2 an onion
1 1/3 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
dash of cayenne
2/3 tsp ground ginger
2/3 c low salt chicken broth
small can of olives
lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot and brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Pour off all but thin film of fat from pot. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add all spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return chicken pieces to pot, in single layer if possible. Add chicken broth, lemons, and olives. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, basting and turning occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season tagine to taste with salt and pepper.

This can be prepared 1 day ahead so the chicken can sit in the tasty stew but, well, we were hungry and ate almost all of it.

Since I’ve never had couscous before and wasn’t sure what the taste and texture is supposed to be, I just bought a box of instant couscous. I sauteed a quarter of an onion, one zucchini and one summer squash then mixed that with the cooked couscous. It was like teeny tiny rice! Quite delish.

tagine