Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boot Camp Day 4 – Hide your Garnish (recipe included)

Day four?  It can't be.  That would mean tomorrow is day five and that's the end. 

Today we hit a stride that made things easier.  Instead of each team trying to make chocolate mousse, a fruit mousse and a Bavarian mousse, each team made one of them, and Chef told me I was with him (yay!  The student assistants do his mise en place, so I didn't have to weigh and measure much today).  We continued assembling our cakes.  We rolled out puff pastry for palmiers (puff pastry cookies that look like butterflies) and used it for pithiviers (a large, round puff pastry filled with almond pastry cream).  We'll bake both of those tomorrow, in addition to making our fresh fruit tarts.  And we had a blast making the mousses (our was passion fruit) and using them to fill glasses.  We had decorated the glasses (the student assistants and the Chef did most of the glass decorating while we were at lunch).  All of us were running around with pastry bags filled with mousse, filling glasses and mini dessert molds and anything that held still long enough got topped off with mousse.  We also continued decorating cakes and I asked Chef if I could candy some hazelnuts for mine.  It turned into a demo.  Here's the recipe: 

Hazelnuts (skinned) -- any amount but you have to weigh them for the....

Sugar -- 60% of the weight of the hazelnuts

Butter -- about the same amount as 5-6 hazelnuts (guesstimate) 

Grease a cookie pan or line with parchment.  Put the sugar and the hazelnuts in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.  The sugar will start to melt and when it does, it will caramelize quickly.  Keep stirring until medium brown, then remove from the heat, stir in the butter until completely melted and incorporated.  Spread in the sheet pan.  Separate the individual nuts (if using as a garnish) with your wooden spoon.  When cool, use to garnish cakes, tarts, pies, or a dish of ice cream.  Also very nice to eat.  The recipe also works with whole blanched almonds, and I want to try it with salted peanuts.  

When you make a garnish like this, it can disappear overnight from the kitchen (not just at home, apparently here too).  One of the restaurants is upstairs and they pillage tools and food from our kitchen.  It's a little annoying.  So I brought the nuts with me when I left class, but before that we had the... 


Peter Greweling, the Chef who taught the chocolate part of the course, just completed the Culinary's book on chocolate and confection (aptly named Chocolates and Confections).  He brought chocolates for all of us (A LOT of chocolate for 7 people).  Since we were in a classroom, not a kitchen, he brought a hot plate, chocolate, and all of the tools necessary to teach us how to temper chocolate, and how to make truffles.  We also made chocolate cigarettes; although that term is no longer PC...they're chocolate sticks.  Then we made fans.  My fan making skills are consistent with my piping skills.  We didn't learn about the history of chocolate. Maybe the hungry look in our eyes convinced him we needed chocolate NOW (it had been several hours since we'd had any sugar and we're now addicted).  The tempering instructions were so easy and totally take the mystery and difficulty out of it.  The fresh truffles we (helped) make were great.  I can't wait to get home and start spreading chocolate on a marble slab so I can whip up truffles on a moment's notice.  Yeah, right. 

He kindly left the liqueur out of the recipe and told us how to modify his recipe if alcohol is not used.  It was a great class (but I could get into Car Repair 101 if truffles were served).  He took our truffles, and the garnishes he made (we looked on helpfully) to go on our cakes and put them back in his bake shop (a restaurant would never dream of raiding a chef's bake shop).  We'll pick them up tomorrow morning. 

I can't believe it's ending tomorrow.  I have learned so much, but like one of my fellow campers, I'm not quite sure how to incorporate it into my life.  But the one thing I am pleased to take away with me is a certainty that this would not have been the right path for me to pursue professionally.  That has given me a great deal of inner peace. 

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