Monday, January 14, 2008

St. Honore

Okay, I'm way overdue for a culinary report. Let's not let these missionaries take over this blog entirely (though I do love hearing from them). Things are starting to get exciting here in Scottsdale. I just finished a block in viennoiserie, which includes everything flaky you might want to eat at breakfast. It was good to learn, but definitely not something I want to spend my life doing, as it is insanely labor-intensive. Warm croissants were the only reward for that class I'm afraid.
In November I put my skills to the test and built a real live wedding cake for a real live wedding. I have to say, that's a project with a lot of pressure connected to it. What if the formula is slightly off? What if the icing melts? What if somebody bumps it? What if it collapses, or what if the bride detests it? Well, thanks to a lot of experimenting, a lot of practicing, and a lot of prayer, none of those things happened to me, and the adventure was a success. Hallelujah. I did a white chiffon cake with almond syrup and raspberry filling, masked in an Italian buttercream icing. The bride even liked it enough to pay me for it. Yay!
Over Christmas break, my mother was good enough to loan me her kitchen (and ingredients) for four days to prep for a New Years party, which also turned out successful. Making 13+ different items was a considerable amount of work, but I really enjoyed planning it and watching everyone taste things they perhaps hadn't before. Inspired by my employment with Chatham's Fine Chocolates, I tried my hand at a variety of truffles: lemon habanero, ginger honey, and orange. The chili truffles were probably the most popular. The mousse filled swans (he he, I just got a visual of a swan trying to consume a mousse) were a fun conversation piece, but people had a hard time biting off the heads of poor innocent swans.
In the current class I'm in (custards, fillings and creams), things are starting to get exciting. We've done some very traditional (and very ugly, in my opinion) items, and some very modern items as well. Last week we put together a dessert called St. Honore, named after the patron saint of pastry chefs (there's a patron saint for everybody, isn't there? Isn't that great?) Personally, I think it looks like the chef's 7 year old got into the kitchen and started gluing things together haphazardly, not knowing when to stop. It's really quite a shame that this is the best thing we could come up with to honor our protecting angel (then again, if he's supposed to be protecting me, he's not doing a very good job. I've earned my fair share of burns). I don't care if it's supposed to look like a crown. It's convoluted and ugly. And it takes a long time to make. And it doesn't even taste that good. Hmph.
Today we finished some bavarian deco cakes, which I thought were very classy and simple, and we learned how to temper chocolate. I was successful, but I think I just got lucky, to be honest. That's something I'll have to keep working on. We also started working with sugar garnishes, making little cages and spirals. I've dabbled in sugar before, but it was nice to get a firm foundation and learn some rules.
Well, there's a brief recap of the past few months here in my world. Hope everyone is doing well!

Um, this computer doesn't seem partial to the idea of letting me upload photos, so. . . those may come at a later date.


David said...

Love the update. I'm dying to see the photos, so I hope your computer starts cooperating again soon.

ty (mom) said...

as an objective observer and taster I can vouch for the success of the New Year's party! well done, chef!