Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's already been 3 weeks?!?

I cannot believe how quickly this week has flown by! I meant to post at least once more this week, however, somehow time (and exhaustion) got the better of me. In our catering class, we made so many things that I never would've tried by myself. All things savory, below is a dégustation of our creations this week:

Bouchée à la Reine (puff pastry pots filled with a creamy sauce sprinkled with cubes of ham, chicken, mushrooms, and chicken quenelles)

Coulibiac de Saumon (layers of brioche dough and crèpes enveloping layers of spinach, mushrooms, hardboiled egg, rice pilaf, salmon filet, more rice, egg, mushrooms, and topped off with spinach)

Pain Surprise (hollowed out bread made into little sandwiches of different flavors and stuffed back in, in no particular order... guests grab a mini sandwich and are surprised as to what flavor they get. We made one with crab & smoked salmon and another with ham, prosciutto, pâté, salami, & other meats)

Sole Meunière (cooked in butter with more butter drizzled on top... I also filleted it by myself!)

Saucisson Pistaché en Brioche
(Sauce Charcuterie had pickles, mushrooms, and mustard... mmm!)

Soufflé au Fromage (in my excitement to have as much cheesy goodness as possible, I think I might have weighed down the soufflé... still delicious though)

Pot au Feu, Cassoulet, and 2 types of Croque Monsieur (1 with cream, 1 with Mornay sauce)

Our buffet at the end of the week! The trays of savory petits fours include allumettes (cheese sticks), mini quiches and pizzas, aumônière de saumon (crèpe "beggar's purses" with a smoked salmon filling), friands (mini sausages wrapped in puff pastry... ones with prunes as well), gougères (cream puffs, but filled with sauce mornay), et canapés (mini open-faced sandwiches). We also presented small cups of bouillabaisse that we'd made and a cake basilic avec feta, tomate séchée (savory loaf bread with feta cheese, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil).

Throughout the week, I brought home whatever we had made that day, and by the end of those 5 days, my fridge was ready to burst. While I came here to learn French pastry, I am thrilled that the program includes a week of savory cuisine. I learned so much and feel more comfortable working with things not sucré. The art of catering really encompasses all dimensions of food: pastry, cuisine, charcuterie, boulangerie, etc. Our chef was amazing as well... he is striving to obtain the esteemed title of MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), which includes long hours of competition (2 17-hour days, back-to-back)!

Since we started at 8am everyday, the latest we got out was 6pm, leaving me with enough time during the evenings to get together with some friends, which was a nice break. I have to admit, however, I was very tired and have never looked forward to my bed so much each night!

Speaking of sleep, I should get some rest before next week really begins... it's all about puff pastry!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm all set for dinner the rest of the week...

After a last-minute change in the schedule this morning, my classmates and I found ourselves doing a full week of Traiteur (catering)... that basically means we'll be working with savories and NO sugar, for a whole week! Well, I guess I can take my time eating that lemon tart from last week. Oh wait, I already finished it... oops.

Today was a full day, as we made quiche poireaux et poulet (quiche with leeks/chicken), tatin de chèvre (potato/bacon-wrapped/puff-pastry-covered/goat-cheese-surprise), and the mise en place for bouchée à la reine (puff pastry "pots" with a creamy mushroom/ham/chicken filling... apparently similar to vol-au-vents, whatever those are...).

The quiche was a good introductory recipe to ease us into the savory world, as the crust was basically something we'd done the past two weeks. We sauteéd the leeks/onions and boiled the chicken breasts, while making the quiche egg batter at the same time. We spent the morning making those, finishing them just before lunch.

my mini quiche (we made large ones as well)

After lunch we came back to make a highly-caloric, artery-clogging, yet scrumptious goat cheese "tart." We basically lined the sides and bottom of a ring with bacon, layered some scalloped potatoes on top of the bacon, put half a mini goat cheese in the middle, surrounded the cheese with more potatoes, covered with another layer of potatoes, filled in the gaps with quiche egg batter, and sealed with a layer of puff pastry. Words cannot describe...

after baking, we flipped them upside down (so the puff pastry was on the bottom):

Honest to say though, as good as it looks, it didn't seem as cheesy or bacon-y as I would've thought/wanted... the potatoes definitely overpowered the bite, the cheese could've been more melted (then again, they had been sitting for awhile before we tasted them), and I could've added more salt. Oh well... next time.

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the main elements for the bouchée à la reine. I knew it was going to be an interesting recipe from the start, when we made quenelle de volaille (chicken dumplings) from scratch. You might think, "mmmm, like delicious Chinese succulent dumplings with the thin wrapper and meat inside?" No. Not At All. Sorry to break your bubble, but they're more like the Western type of dumpling... if only you knew how they were made. Basically, you puree chicken breast, a dough of milk/egg yolks/flour, more eggs, and butter in a cuisinart. Yes folks, I just said "chicken breast," "dough," and "puree" in the same sentence. Needless to say, it was not quite what I was expecting:

mmmm.... not.

After we put that concoction to chill, we made a velouté (creamy sauce) with ham, chicken, and mushrooms. Oh and we added the chicken dumplings after chilling/molding/steaming them. We then rolled out circles of puff pastry and set those to chill for tomorrow morning, when we'll finish them.
[Don't worry, Mom, I am taking notes/absorbing this all in so we can make these at home (maybe except for the quenelles...)!]

Also, we get to take home whatever we make that day, so I'm sure you can guess what I had for dinner
tonight --- leek/chicken quiche! Luckily I only brought home the mini one.

Tomorrow we're going to complete the b
ouchées, as well as make a layered salmon/rice/spinach/mushrooms thing encased in a crepe and brioche. mmmmm sounds delish!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

tarts, tarts, and more tarts

What a week! I don't even know where to start. French language and drawing classes aside, these past 5 days have been a whirlwind. On Monday we had catering class, where each of us were in charge of our own recipe(s). I think I speak for many of us when I say that we could've used a little more guidance, however, everything turned out in the end... but only after countless cries of, "Chef! How do I _____??" or "Is it supposed to look like this?" Although the chef was hovering around the labo, it was up to us (and our prior cuisine experience & creativity) to execute and deliver an edible product. I got to make a delicious rutabaga and leek cream soup garnished with bacon bits.... mmmm! Other recipes included seared tuna, quail eggs, salmon, and a miso-caramel sauce! In the end, we created a buffet of hors d'oeuvres which was colorful and amazing!

Tuesday was another full day of tarts. We made a tarte aux amandes (almond tart) and a tarte Bourdaloue (poached pears in an almond "filling"). The fragile pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough) was pretty difficult to use, as it kept cracking... luckily we could patch it!

Tarte aux Amandes

Tarte Bourdaloue

and we even had enough dough to make some minis (with blackcurrants on the bottom of the round tartlettes.... mmmmm)!

Thursday was a looong day that started at 6:30am. But at least I got to bake some real French baguettes! I'd never made bread before, unless you count those small shapes/animals of dough that turn into rocks after baking them... It was definitely a process, and we didn't take the baguettes out of the oven until about 11am. Learning about the 5+ types of flour, relationship between the humidity and water temperature (or something like that...), and various methods/techniques to make the bread was pretty cool. AND our bread was being used for the cafeteria that day for lunch! We must've made about 100 baguettes, in addition to little shapes that weren't rock hard after they came out of the oven!

We started with this:

which made this:

which then became this golden delicious chewy goodness:

That afternoon we continued with pâtisserie class and did the mise en place for the tarts the next day. Despite how easy that might sound (we just made the tart shells and round "biscuits"), we didn't get out until about 6pm... almost 12 hours of class!

We finished the week on Friday with another full day of tarts... tarte au café (coffee tart) and tarte au citron (lemon curd tart, with and without the meringue). Oh boy, would you have guessed that a coffee tart would have so many steps?? We covered a molded coffee "mousse/whipped cream" with a sticky coffee glaze, which we carefully placed on top of the tart shell, where a coffee-soaked biscuit enrobed in coffee ganache was waiting. Glazing the whipped cream was the most difficult part as the glaze was sticky and you had to work quickly because the cream started to melt (despite freezing it ahead of time)!

For the two lemon curd tarts, we made two different lemon curds... both with the same ingredients but different proportions. After the coffee tart, these seemed like a piece of tarte (haha I crack myself up)! Still can't believe I made these:

Class ended
with a dégustation (tasting) of the yummy deliciousness. The tarte au citron meringuée was probably my favorite, although the other two weren't far behind. The coffee tart was surprisingly delicious, considering I don't really care for coffee too much... I even took a mini one home with me!

Despite the long hours and the fact that my feet were begging for a break by the end of the week, I am so happy that I chose to come here. Goodness, my whole body might even be pleading for mercy by the end of this year, but it's so worth it. I've already learned so much!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Quick post before I should go to sleep since my first full week starts tomorrow. Oh and I currently have no voice as well. eek. hope I get better soon. Halls and Sudafed, here I come!

Highlight of this weekend:
- DELICIOUS éclair au caramel and censier today. The bottom part of the censier was like eating crackly poprocks..... mmmm. And the éclair - it was the perfect combination of sweet and salty and oh so yummy!

Carl Marletti
51 rue Censier, 75005 Paris

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tarte aux Pommes for Dinner??

So I just finished my first week of pastry school, and I love it! I love my classmates (who come from all over the world), my teachers, and the program. These first two weeks are dedicated to TARTS, and so on Thursday, we made a tarte aux pommes

and a flan parisien (day 1 and 2, side by side).

It's so fun working in a kitchen where everyone helps each other out and works together. I think we'll all get to know each other very well by the end of these 5 months :). Yesterday, Chef demonstrated how to do both tarts, including how to foncer (line) the dough into the tart round. Today, we made both tarts again, however, there was no demonstration beforehand... but we all succeeded! If some of us weren't quite done, the others would help measure ingredients for the next recipe or help take finished tarts out of the oven.

view from the mirror above!

Hours can get long, as we didn't get out of labo until 7:30pm last night, but it's all expected, right? I didn't get home until about 8:30pm... hence my choice for dinner last night. At least I know it was fresh and homemade?? Anyway, despite the long days, at least we can wind down in our locker room that's comfortably big enough for 5, not 20, girls... scratch what I said before - we'll get to know each other extremely well come summer!

On next week's menu, we'll have an hors-d'œuvre of French Language class, followed by some catering and drawing classes. The main course will be the special of the week: boulangerie class (!), and we'll finish with pâtisserie class as dessert.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First day in the kitchen!

hello! I can't believe I'm actually here and doing this. I came to Paris in the middle of November and took French language classes at L’Alliance Française to refresh my high school French... partly to get back into speaking the language, and yet mostly to prepare myself for my stage (internship) after my 5-month program at Ferrandi. After staying with an awesome host mom, I moved into my new studio Feb. 1. That week I was free to settle in and get my affairs in order/explore my new arrondissement.

Monday (Feb. 8) was my first day at Ferrandi! All of us Anglo students (cuisine and pastry) met together for a welcome introduction (coffee, jus, and croissants included) before we broke off into our respective groups. The pastry students left to take the metro and get fitted for our uniforms - white jacket (with our names embroidered), black & white checkered pants, white awkward clonky kitchen shoes, white aprons, and a hat, i.e. mesh shower cap with a small brim. yes! More orientation that afternoon and the next day as well. We got our tool kits and a tour of the so-called "simple" layout of the campus. Despite it's square layout, I still get confused with the multiple ways to the locker room...

Today was our first day in the kitchen! We met at 8am in the labo and made pâte à foncer (shortcrust pastry) for our tarte aux pommes (apple tart)! It was actually really exciting getting my hands dirty and doing real stuff. Unfortunately in my excitement to get changed and up to the labo on time, I forgot to grab my camera... maybe tomorrow.

We're divided into 2 groups, and tomorrow my group doesn't start until 11am... I get to sleep in! Well, that means I'll finish closer to 7pm... at least we'll switch schedules every week, so I'll have some sort of a free afternoon some days.

Still can't believe I've started Ferrandi and am here... can't stop smiling!