Vegetable Garden

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.


(Left to Right)
Andre Soltner, Jacques Pepin, Jacques Torres

I was at Jacques Torres' demonstration yesterday and I caught this shot on my cell phone camera.  How lovely - the 3 true classic chefs!

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Chocolate Candies

I should blame my recent lag in blog posts on 2 things - #1 my computer went kaput last Monday... the good news is that a new computer is being shipped to me as we speak.  #2 I started my internship (2 days a week) at Jacques Torres Chocolate plus I am also interning at a Food Blogging class with Steven Shaw at the French Culinary Institute once a week.  I am sure to be posting regularly again once I settle into my new routine and when I receive my new computer.

Today is our last day of making chocolate candies.  I am normally not a huge fan of Cherry Cordial Bon Bons but this one is really pretty good.  I think the main difference here is that I have a smaller bon bon mold which is just slightly bigger than the cherry, so there is less room for that sugary fondant filling. 

Cherry Cordials

 These are "Branches"... they are actually chocolate/praline enrobed in dark chocolate and crushed nougatine.  The name is obviously describing what it looks like (or vice versa).  They are mighty delicious especially if you are a nutella lover like me.

This is my husband's favourite chocolate candy - Peppermint Pattie.  I traded all 10 patties for use of his computer to post this blog ;-)
Peppermint Patties

Oh... I was pleasantly surprised to find a bag of lovely cookie cutters on my door yesterday.  My neighbor (she goes by "Paisley Pug" if you read the comments on this blog) bought these cute cutters from a new kitchen supplies store in our neighborhood.  Thanks Helen... that's incredibly sweet of you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2-Tier Chocolate Cake

This is a chocolate genoise cake with raspberry chocolate mousse... but the chocolate decoration was the true reason why we made this 2-tier cake.  The butterflies on the bottom was painted with cocoa butter and oil soluble colors on acetate strip.  We then poured tempered white chocolate on the acetate, on top of the painted butterflies and wrapped the chocolate strip around the cake. For the top tier, we simply piped white tempered chocolate on acetate and wrapped it around the cake.  It was a fun mellow day.

Diagram prepared the night before

2-Tie Chocolate Cake

We'll be making lots of chocolate candies tomorrow!  :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bon Bons

Spice... Fennel-Lemon... Passion Fruit... Espresso

We spent the past 2 days making bon bons, which was a lot of fun.  Once you get the technique down, it's really not that difficult.  The "Spice" version has cardamom, cinnamon, anise and orange blossom water.  I think the orange blossom water was key in mellowing out the strong cardamom flavor.  The "fennel-lemon" was made with cream infused with dried fennel, reduced lemon juice and white chocolate.  I would have liked the fennel flavor to be a little more forward, which could have been achieved by letting the fennel steep a little longer in the cream... but I ran out of time.  C'est la vie... 

Throughout the day, we went around the class to try each other's creations.  By the time 2pm came around, I must have eaten over 10 bon bons!  My favorite was Mickie's peanut butter banana with dark chocolate.  Elvis would have been proud of her :) 

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Pastillage Flowers

After spending a week of making "edible-inedibles" (sugar paste flower and cake stand) which turned out to be a rather good "caloric time-out" for me (and my husband), we're back to making yummy stuff.  Over the next few days we'll be indulging in lots and lots of chocolate.  Yesterday, we made soft caramels, peanut butter nougat and peanut toffee... all coated in dark chocolate.  My favorite is the peanut butter nougat.  It's a much lighter yet richer version of peanut butter cup. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Birthday Cake

I made this birthday cake for my dear friend, Min.  It's a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache covered in vanilla butter cream.  I hope she likes it.

Pastillage Cake Stand... and Last Day of Level II

Today is our final day in level 2 (of 3).  It's a mixed feeling.  I am really enjoying pastry school a lot and I sort of don't want it to end too soon.  To wrap up level 2, we made a pastillage cake stand and decorated a dummy cake with fondant.  I am really quite pleased with how my project turned out despite having 1 less day to make the stand due to the hurricane.

As always we had to submit our diagram before the project and the finished product will be compared to the diagram.  My stand was made up of 2 pairs of pink boots with brown laces.  I thought they turned out really cute.

Back to working with chocolate tomorrow in the level 3 kitchen.  The one thing that I am looking forward to for sure, is leaving the small level II kitchen and moving on to the spacious level III kitchen with newer equipment!