Vegetable Garden

Friday, October 28, 2011


I made it through 6 months of pastry school and finally....

The last 4 days of pastry school was insanely intense.  We had just 3 hours to bake our danishes and tart and assemble our showpieces this morning.  It was the worst 3 hours of my life.  So many things went wrong during the process of putting together the showpiece, starting with broken pieces which I tried to glue back together then followed by shattered pieces of the glued together components.  I had to come up with back up plan on the fly - 1 hour before the time was up I temper some chocolate to make new pieces to replace those that were unredeemingly destroyed.  Chocolate is the only medium that will set fast enough yet sturdy for enough for the showpiece.  And as I assembled the building more pieces broke - that's when I felt like I wanted to cry but didn't have time to cry... so get over it and move on.  I did whatever repair I could, somewhat painted the building with my partner's pastry brush and glued down all the detailed pieces.  All in all, it wasn't the  showpiece I had designed or imagined but it held up.  I had Katzie Guy-Hamilton (Top Chef Just Desserts) for my judge.  She was really nice and she liked the showpiece nonetheless.  She thought my opera cake and chocolate bon bons were perfect.  Well, the drama is over and now I am going to put my feet up after I deal with the sugar burn which I didn't have time to attend to earlier...

Here are my few thoughts/observations after the fact (I am sure I will have more later):
1.  I have a new level of admiration for people who take part in TV/Culinary competitions.  The stress level is quite unimaginable, you feel all alone to fight for yourself and for one to do it day after day (i.e those TV competition like Top Chefs)... these people have skills and most of all they have great mental strengths.
2.  If I ever apply for another corporate job, I can truly say - I CAN MULTI TASK and I am a tenacious individual!!!
3.  I am glad that I did pastry school... and it was a great 6 months.

Yours truly,
Chef Sharon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I have 2 more days till graduation.  It's amazing how time flies.  The final days in the sweet kitchen isn't easy I must say.  We have 4 days to:
(a) do a written exam
(b) make a showpiece that is 14" x 18"
(c) make 2 dozens of apple danish
(d)1 caramel nut tart
(e) 2 dozens opera cake (petits fours)
(f) 2 dozens chocolate bon bons

Here's my day's itinerary... I didn't get to do the bon bons so I will be starting my day tomorrow 30 minutes behind my planned schedule.

8:30   Flip pastillage pieces
8:45   Bake Opera Cake Layer
9:10   Danish Dough/bulk proof
9:30   Ganache
9:40   Apple Compote
10:00   Turn Danish Dough
    Roll out Tart Dough/Shape/Chill
10:30   Make Coffee Butter Cream for Opera Cake
10:50   Assemble Opera Cake
11:15   Turn Danish Dough
11:25   Make caramel nut filling for tart
11:45   Make Crème D'amande
12:00   Dishes/lunch
12:30   Shape Danish
1:00   Assemble Tart/Freeze
1:20   Bon Bon 
2:00   Break Down Kitchen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wedding Cake

Winter Forest Wedding Cake.  Took about 14 hours in total to make this 3 tier cake.  The branches around the cake are made of pulled sugar.  4 more pastry school days to go....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Menu Project

I am now 8 days from graduating from pastry school.  The pace have definitely picked up lately, stress level heightened and days in the sweet kitchen more intense.  In the final 2 weeks of the program we have 3 major projects to complete.  The first is the Menu Project, which I just completed 4 hours ago.  The requirement is to produce a 8-item menu of which the chef will select 2 items he/she would like to taste.  We have 2 days (more like 8 hours) to produce then serve.  So here are my desserts and my menu.  I'll be working on the wedding cake project next, so check in again next week!

Cappuccino Semifreddo with Warm Vanilla Milk Foam and Double Chocolate Oreo

Pumpkin Mille Feuille with Maple "Glass" and Hard Cider Ice Cream

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Plated Dessert III Days 1-4

In the last 4 days, I've eaten more desserts that one should have in an entire month... and this plated dessert unit is far from over.

On Monday we made

Apple Beggars' Purse with Ginger Sake Sabayon and Lychee Nut Sorbet

Pear Spring Rols with Raspberry Gastrique and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Tuesday we made Strudel.  The process of stretching out the dough was really quite fun.
Classic Apple Strudle with Vanilla Ice Cream

Wednesday was "Fryday" as the chef calls it, unfortunately the following day was not Saturday...

Deep Fried Apple Crepes with Hard Cider Ice Cream nd Bourbon Caramel Sauce
(fried crepes are odd... It's unlikely for me to repeat this dish)

Tropical Fruit Beignets with Tamarind Ice Cream and Coconut Emulsion Sauce
(the only fried tropical fruit I enjoyed was Bananas - "Pisang Goreng")
Bambolin filled with Vanilla Pastry Cream, Chocolate Pastry Cream and Raspberry Jam

Today (Thursday) was souffle day.  I ate a ridiculous amount of souffles today... and guess what we're making tomorrow?  SOUFFLES! 

 Passion Fruit Souffle
 Chocolate Souffle with Coffee Creme Anglaise
 Savoury Souffle - Cheese, Mushrooms and Spinach

Peanut Butter Jelly Souffle
(This is my parter and my creation... turned out fantasic)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sugar High

Wow! I can't believe that our class made this Halloween sugar showpiece in just 2 days... and we all had a ton of fun making it (minus the blistered fingers). 

The theme - Halloween.  We listed 11 items that we'd like included in the showpiece and worked in pairs.  Today we pieced together the entire halloween landscape which I thought was pretty amazing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot!!

Pulled sugar - beautiful, fun but seriously... hot, hot, hot!!  I have a 1"x1/4" blister on my right index finger.  Tomorrow will be "interesting"... trying to pull more sugar with blistered fingers.  Ouch!!!

color added to sugar cooked to 160C

Friday, September 23, 2011

Poured Sugar

We've moved along to "Sugar".  This is my first sugar "art" ever!!  Meet Cutie Mr. Owl...

Dessert Tasting Afternoon

We had an afternoon of dessert tasting for friends and family.  As I mentioned yesterday, I was assigned the "soup" category.  I made penut soup (Fa Sung Hu/Hwa Sheng Hu) with coconut sorbet and almond-coconut biscotti. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good But Not Good Enough

As part of the pastry program, my class is serving up a "afternoon of desserts" to friends and family at FCI tomorrow afternoon.  Each team (of 2 people) will prepare one dessert of their creation.  Unfortunately there are 21 people in the class and there's alway one person working by him/herself... this time it's me!  Chef assigned me the category of "dessert soup" thinking that it'd be mangeable for one person.  Seriously?  Soup for dessert?  Why didn't I get Chocolate or Tarts or Cakes or... any category would have been easier than SOUP!  So tomorrow I am serving up "something-something with biscotti" (you will find out in tomorrow's blog post what I am preparing).  I made one batch of biscotti yesterday in class but I found it to be bland.  So I served it to the class for breakfast this morning.  I labeled it "good but not good enough".  My classmates ate it anyway as we're typically not fussy at 8 in the morning.  All we need is coffee and having anything to eat would be a bonus. 

Speaking of soup for desserts, we made this exotic fruits soup today for plating.  I think my dessert tomorrow is a more "exotic" from a Westerner's perspective... but I can already hear my Asian friends and family say - "you served WHAT at the French Culinary School"? LOL

Tuesday, September 20, 2011



Panna Cotta

Love both desserts today.  I never knew that Tiramisu means "Pick Me Up" and the reason for the name is because of the coffee (ie caffeine) in the dessert.  Anyway this Tiramisu recipe is definitely a keeper.  It's smooth and I also like the fact that the eggs are cooked.  I've seen other Tiramisu recipes where the eggs are not cooked.

I am usually not a big fan of Panna Cotta, but this particular recipe uses goats milk yogurt.  It gives the custard more flavor as opposed to the traditional boring cream/dairy with sugar. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life is Short, Eat Dessert First

White Chocolate and Hazelnut Semifreddo

Mendiant with Sour Cherry Compote

These two desserts are quite similar to the ones that we made last Friday... but the Mendiant with Sour Cherry Compote is my favorite of all plated desserts we've made to date  I like the flavor combination of all the components.  I think the recipes tend to have too much going for one plate that the flavors either get lost or just seems oddly composed. 

There's a famous quote (one of my favorites) - "life is short, eat dessert first"... and that's what we did today.  We had both desserts before lunch! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I can feel like my life is slowly but surely coming together again.  I've spent hours over the past few days getting my new computer up and running. 
White Chocolate Citrus Parfait

Last Thursday we started our 2nd unit on plated desserts. We made this White Chocolate Citrus Parfait with strawberry salad, strawberry coulis, candied orange and chocolate loop. The citrus parfait itself was very refreshing, though it's not something I would crave or order on Fall weather days like we've been having lately. It's a pretty looking plate I must say.

Unlike in the prior plated dessert unit, we plated the desserts "assembly style" - it makes sense to do it this way in a banquet situation.

We also made a Chocolate Mint Parfait with orange salad on a lace cookie, chocolate cigarette and orange mint coulis.  I am not a fan of mint dessert generally (except for peppermint chocolate chip ice cream).  I find that mint tends to taste "medicinal" in desserts.

Chocolate Mint Parfait

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Project

I dread days when we have to complete our showpieces... and today is just one of those days.  This is my chocolate showpiece (yes, 100% made of chocolate).  The theme is "Fairy Tales" and I made Cinderella's Carriage.  We had 2 days (8 hours) to make our showpiece from scratch, i.e. chocolate pistoles.  The showpiece has to be at least 1,000 grams but no more than 1,500 grams - 10 points will be deducted for over/under weight threshhold.  Mine came in at 1,001 grams... slightly living on the edge here!  Also I finished my piece with just 1 minute to spare.  I am so glad that this super intense day is over.  Tomorrow we're going on to plated desserts (again) - I am expecting it to be a weight gaining unit.