Vegetable Garden

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After the hurricane

School's back in session after the hurricane weekend.  Due to the cancelled class yesterday, our schedule this week is sort of frantic and messed up.

I've been looking forward to today's class for months - Ron Ben-Israel was here to give us lessons on making sugar paste flowers.  These flowers are super labor intensive to make but a well made one looks extremely realistic.  For those of you who wonder about its application ... these flowers mostly go on wedding cakes.  Pastillage also goes on a variety of pastry related decorative applications.

I am looking forward to another half a day of pastillage flowers making session tomorrow!

Cala Lily Drying Upside Down

Pastillage drying (pre-assembly)

Friday, August 26, 2011

In Color

Here are the marzipan fruits in color on a nougatine basket we made today.  I suppose the Hurricane (Irene) was a bigger conversation topic in class than nougatine/marzipan fruit basket.  Nonetheless it was fun putting together this little treat.  Sort of "old fashion" but cute!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vegetable, Fruits, Penguin & Dog

We made marzipan fruits, vegetable and animal figurines. It was one of the most relaxed days since the start of the program.  We painted/air brushed the marzipan which are intended to go on a nougatine basket that we are going to make tomorrow. 

I hate scallions (the real thing), so I am looking forward to eating the marzipan version tomorrow.  I can imagine the experience to be rather odd - my mind thinking to expect that raw sulfury nasty smell yet it's going to be sweet, nutty and chewy. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

48 Hours

I ate all these desserts in the last 48 hours.... and I am almost embarrassed to say that I am going out to eat another dessert this evening.  It's part of the curriculum... it's true!  The class assignment is to pick a restaurant/bakery, order a dessert and play critique.  The assignment is due tomorrow and I am normally not a procrastinator.  However I have been dragging my feet on getting this assignment done as I don't want more desserts after all that I've consumed in school (unless it's totally "worth it").  I think what I need to do is to eat something really salty for dinner before playing dessert critique.  How about ramen?  Mmmm.... I think I will head to the East Village for some good salty Japanese ramen.

Green Apple Charlotte Russ with Red Current Sorbet & Coulis

Macadamia Nut Financier with Brown Butter Sauce and Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Pineapple Tart Tartin with Vanilla-Lime Frozen Yogurt and Pineapple-Passion Fruit Butter Sauce

Hot Apple Charlotte with Green Apple Sorbet

If you have had enough of individual plated desserts (as have I), I have good news.  We're moving on to a new unit on Sugar.  In this unit we will mostly be indulging in pretty looking stuff like pastillage cake stands, pastiallge favor boxes, marzipan etc. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Manjari Chocolate Tart and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

This is a Manjari chocolate tart.  I have not had Manjari chocolate until a few weeks ago.  The Manjari chocolate has a hint of apricot/fruity note when you allow the chocolate to melt in your mouth.  This baked chocolate tart is extremely decadent - smooth, rich chocolate in a soft velvety custard form.  This might be my favorite plated dessert in this unit.  The rich and bold tasting tosated coconut ice cream and coconut creme anglaise (the white polka dots) are perfect complements to this rich chocolate tart.

 This is a great lemon tart.  Unlike the lemon curd tarts we've made before this tart is baked.  It's paired with a delicious berry sorbet and berry coulis. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

A little too much

We plated a couple more desserts today.  Frankly, I think the crepe dishes could do without a few components.  For instance, this chocolate crepe dish had everything but the kitchen sink.   It's ganache filled chocolate crepes over chocolate sauce, caramelized pears over caramel, ginger cranberry vanilla ice cream with cranberry compote.  Given all that, well... might as well top with a a chocolate cigarette!  If up to me, I would have left out the chocolate sauce since there's already chocolate ganache in the crepe and left out the cranberry compote.  The chocolate crepes tasted very good and the caramelized pears were good complements for the crepes.

These orange crepes were delicious.  The crepes were filled with orange pastry cream, also very yummy.  Crepes were served with some orange sauce, orange segments, blueberry sorbet on a tuille cup and an orange chip.  Again, there are a few too many items on a dish, though not as confusing to the palette as the chocolate crepes above.  I am not sure if I could even make a "perfect bite" with a little of each component on a spoon.  The crepe is lovely without the blueberry sorbet, but the blueberry sorbet was my favorite item on this dish.  It was divine... and just give me a pint of the sorbet I'll be a happy gal.

I love to repurpose food (Vince, my husband will be able to testify to that) because I hate eating leftovers but I also hate to throw out good food.  This chocolate macadamia bread pudding was the result of combining 2 leftovers.  Level I class had some left over brioche and we (Pastry II) had left over creme anglaise from yesterday's class.  Combine the two, throw in a few more items and we have a delicious bread pudding!  Drizzle with caramel sauce which were were going make today anyway... that was a good breakfast!

Something savory at last.  This is a mushroom spinach jalosie on bechamel sauce.  I volunteered to make the bechamel for the entire class.  I am glad that most people liked it.  The original recipe tasted like chalk so I went around the kitchen looking for ingredients that can make potentially save the sauce.  I added white wine, garlic, fresh thyme, nutmeg and shallots.  It all came together pretty nicely. 

I ate so much today, I feel like a bear that is about to go into hibernation.  Oh, for those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, I still weigh the same as when I started.  :o)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Plated Desserts

Yesterday we started the unit on Plated Desserts... this unit is all about the sort of desserts you get at restaurants.  We made a bunch of custards, chilled them and plated them today.  First up was a classic creme brulee.  I think my favorite thing about creme brulee is breaking the caramelized sugar... which of course, I did right after I took this picture.  I don't care much for creme brulee in general.

Creme Brulee
 Next was the Marquise.  It's like a denser version of a chocolate mousse.  This was my favorite of the day.  We plated the Marquise on Creme Anglaise, Pear Compote, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce and garnished with a chocolate cigarette. 

 The final dessert plated today was a Creme Caramel served with pineapple-cilantro compote, a tuille on top of some whipped cream.  I think the pineapple compote does not quite go with the custard and visually they look unexciting when plated.  I would have prefered something with more color contrast.  Nonetheless the creme caramel was extremely smooth... like silken tofu.

Creme Caramel

Yesterday I also attended an interesting demonstration by the owner of the Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain. The blueberry soda and peanut butter potato chip sundae were both extremely delicious.  The blueberry soda was made from local fresh blueberries and the ice cream for their sundae is made from dairy sourced from just a few dairy farms in upstate NY.  I highly recommend the establishment if you have a soft spot classic sweet treats are into the farm to table movement. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No More Chocolate... For Now...

We have come to the end of Chocolate Part I.  Frankly, I am glad.  I love working with chocolate but it's a tedious and finicky ingredient.  I need a break from chocolate (for now) and I am sure I will enjoy the next chocolate unit more after the newly acquired "chocolate knowledge" makes its way into my permanent mental database.

I can't believe that we learnt so much about this rather complex ingredient in just one week.  I made this box today in just 3 hours.  The first box (the bento chocolate box in last week's post) took me 2 days.  A few people asked how I got the flower pattern onto the chocolate, so here's how I did it.  First I filled a paper cone with white tempered chocolate, piped the flower pattern on a piece of parchment paper.  After the white chocolate has set, I poured tempered dark chocolate over the flower pattern. 

We also made this Queen of Sheba cake in addition to making the box and taking the written test on Chocolate. 
Reine De Saba (Queen of Sheba Cake)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chocolate Out

I never thought I would ever say that I've had enough chocolate... but yes, I am all chocolate out after an entire week of chocolate work.  We started working on our chocolate candy stand last Friday and I made literally a chocolate candy stand (for lack of imagination).  I have probably spent 8 hours making the entire thing.  Everyone in class presented beautiful pieces!  It was quite a treat seeing everyone's work at the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chocolate Bento Box

There wasn't a blog post yesterday because it took us 2 days to make chocolate truffles and a box (100% made of chocolate) to hold the chocolate truffles.  Here's my end product.  It's a bummer that the lid broke (though I glued it back together)... but the box turned out overall successful and how I had envisioned it on paper.

Monday, August 8, 2011


We dabbled with tempering chocolate today.  There's quite a science behind the process and the result of a good tempered chocolate is worth all the trouble.  I made the sides of this chocolate cake with white chocolate in the partern of wood grain and over that pattern is dark chocolate.  We also made chocolate leaves using lemon leaves as molds.  The cake is a chocolate fruit cake.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cake Exam and Mid Terms

We had our cake exam and mid terms yesterday.  I did well in the test but it did no go on without drama.  We were required to make a cake based on a diagram we submit, type of cake was determined via a lottery.  As I was researching and thinking about the theme for my cake, I noticed that most cakes out there are pretty, feminine and cute - either for children or women.  So I decided to make something for the men out there, something classy.

cake diagram
I started my practical test by first baking the cake as the cake has to cool before anything else can be done.   Half an hour went by and my cake turned out fantastic.  I unmolded the cake and while I was leaving the tray(with the cake on it) on the speed rack (a multi tier rack used in commercial kitchens) the pan fell and the cake was on the floor.  Damn!  Now I had to make the cake again and setting me half an hour behind my planned schedule.  The rest of the test was mostly playing catchup from time lost at the beginning.  Nonetheless, I finished just on time...  The cake wasn't as cleanly finished as I would have liked but considering the unfortunate event, I think I did alright.

Black Tie Cake

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

German, Italian, American...and it's not about soccer

We made 3 cakes today - Black Forest Cake (German), Neopolitan Cheesecake (Italian) and New York Cheesecake (American).

Black Forest Cake
The black forest cake is one of my favorites.  It's traditional, not exactly "sexy" but it's a "reliably good cake". 

Neopolitan Cheesecake
Tomorrow's another test day.  In fact, it's our mid term exam.  I'll be making a cake covered in fondant for the practical part and we'll be quizzed on all materials covered to date.  I decided to make myself a cup of coffee to go with the Neopolitan Cheesecake while I cram for the exam.  This is an interesting cheesecake - sort of like sweet mascarpone & ricotta cheese in a tart shell. 

New York Style Cheesecake

This is your typical NY style cheesecake, which isn't my typical choice of dessert.  Well, there isn't much to say about this cake... it is, in my opinion, a "what you see is what you get" sort of dessert.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Not only did we cover our cake in rolled fondant, we made the fondant from scratch.  The one big take-away from the pastry program so far is that I am not only able to make the pastries but I am also able to make most of the components that make up the desserts.  A 1 lb bag of ready made fondant is $10/pack but it probably costs $3-$4 to make it yourself. 

The cross section of this cake is lovely.  We made the cake on a sheet pan, spread pistachio cream on the cake and rolled it like a swiss roll.  We then stood the cake on its cross section and covered it in rolled fondant. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy August

White Pound Cake with Apricot Mousseline
covered in Marzipan

Happy August!  Today we made a white pound cake with apricot mousseline (like a pastry cream with butter, replace the milk with apricot puree... I hope you can imagine the flavour).  I truly prefer Bonnie's birthday cake (also a white cake) to today's white pound cake, which is a Martha Stewart recipe.  What was fun about making this cake was the decoration part.  It's the first time I've completely encase a cake in Marzipan... not bad for a first timer?

Lemon Chiffon with Lemon Curd

This lemon chiffon/lemon curd cake was made on Friday but we did not have time to decorate the sides with basket weave.  Even though this is the first time we're doing basket weave in the pastry program, I figured out how to do it with the help of a book as I wanted to that design for Bonnie's cake.  This simple looking cake is delicious.  The lemon curd is tart and the cake is sweet and moist.  Yum!