Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

Chef's Chocs

This is it, the last class of Basic Patisserie, 9 weeks of sheer joy gone by faster than any of us realised. To toast our sweet journey thus far, an aptly themed chocolate class.

Remember those lovely ganaches we made? Today they're rolled into tiny balls, dipped in more melted chocolate and tossed in a myriad of coatings: hazelnut meal, toasted almond, icing sugar, coconut (my fav), cocoa powder, or simply left plain.

Here are some pics and spoofs for your viewing pleasure.

Our Kitchen Crew

Chef Keith, World Russian Dance Champion

Nothing Weird Going On There...

Chew On This, Willy Wonka

To Basic Patisserie, With Love
See You Next Term

Friday, September 17, 2010

Judgement Day: Coffee Eclairs, Fruit Flan

Fruit Flan

It's been a long day. On our feet from the unearthly hour of 7am, rushing to meet the 1pm deadline, we weren't released till 3. The verdict? A woeful tale. Where do I start? Rather, where do I find the end to this long, dismal list of things gone wrong? Let's start with the flan.

Pastry shell thin and crisp, custard cooked and set without issues, Phew. I then proceeded to arrange the fruits overlapping the sides of the tart shell, which was a big catastrophic no-no. See, we were supposed to keep the fruits well within the confines of the shell, which should be left uncovered, as part of the visual appeal. Drat.

Coffee Eclairs

My eclairs looked painfully anemic; the fondant was a shade too pale while the pastry cream was 2 shades too dark. 

For the pastry cream I should've laid off the coffee essence a bit. As for the tricksy fondant I had made not 1 but 3 pathetic attempts at tampering it right, trying not to but always heating it beyond the point of no return i.e. 37 degrees. 

When I finally got it right on the 3rd try I just wanted it on my eclairs and out of my sight, not stopping to see just how ridiculous all the wrong colors looked together. Frick on a stick.

Work Flow

We were actually marked for this, I hope I got the 2 marks for effort (down the drain).

The Judging Panel

The Long Wait

For more than 2 hours, we were held captive in the kitchen as the chefs pondered over our products. By then I had resigned myself to the unpleasant fate of flunking and having to re-sit the entire exam. Ah well, more flan and eclairs for me then. Silver lining, Chef. Silver lining.

Guest Judge, Chef Brian

A chef and LCB instructor with 25 years under his belt, Chef Brian may look like your average friendly neighbourhood grandpapa, but he's no softie when it comes to assessing our work, telling us what we did right and where we went wrong. There is no better way to learn and improve, and for that I'm thankful.

Beautiful Disaster

Lo and behold, you may hold your bated breath no longer, I passed. Just barely, I'm sure. But I passed. Thank bloody goodness.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rum Ganache, Milk Chocolate Ganache, White Chocolate Kirsch Ganache, Chocolate Moulding

Chef Gurt's Shiny Chocs

Probably in view of tomorrow's assessment, today's class was relatively laid back, meant to calm our nerves, maybe? We made 3 different chocolate ganaches, by adding warm cream to chocolate buttons, stirring to melt, and chilled. That's all there is to ganache, folks. They will be set aside for Saturday where they will be made into truffles. 

Cute Bum

Ganache all done, we tampered more chocolate to fill the figurine moulds with, the entire process being more fun than work, really. A waiting game we played, for the moulded chocolate to set so they can be un-moulded and filled with even more chocolate.

My Figurines

A Kiss For A Prince

Prince Charming never showed. The fairy tale's a fraud. I got upset. I ate the frog.

Erica's Cheeky Cheeks

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Japonais, Italian Buttercream, Gateau

Chef's Coffee & Praline Gateaus

We're in the big league now, making a proper gateau, aka cake today: 3 layers of japonais sandwiched between thin layers of Italian buttercream, decorated with more cream and tempered chocolate. Impressive, huh?

Chef Karen Making Meringue

Piping Japonais Discs, Whipping Buttercream

Regarding buttercream: It's gross. I do love butter, I do love freshly whipped cream, but never the twain shall meet. Some may argue the point, but to each its own, I personally find the cream way too rich and greasy for my taste buds, really. 

Array Of Gateaus & Macaroons

The macaroons may look tiny but even as such a mere morsel some of us still found the buttercream a tad ovewhelming.

The Power Of Bleach

Class Says Hi!

Top 3: My Works Of Art. Very Pleased I Am. :)
Bottom: Smital's Geometry Gateau, Erica's Tower

Petit Fours From An LCB Function

Mmm, Opera! Can't wait to make that in Intermediate Patisserie!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Golden Orange & Almond Sponge Pudding, Creme Anglaise, Tulip Paste Garnish

Chef's Spiral

Employing a different method of cookery, we steamed some orange and almond puddings today. Once again, a straightforward operation: mix everything in a bowl, pour into moulds, steam, spoon, eat.

Work Of Art
Tulips are delicate biscuits that add crunch to the pudding. The trick is to work them into your desired forms as soon as they come out of the oven, when they are still soft and malleable.

Had A Little "Accident"

Stupid leaky pen. Thought I was gonna die from ink poisoning.

The pud may be a tad bare, but was once adorned with a tower of glistening sugar zests upon its shiny dome and elaborate tulip biscuits spiralling its sides as they reached for the skies.

Then I got hungry and dived in before taking its pretty picture. Doh! Now it joins the likes of Pompeii and Atlantis, where visions of its glorious past can be only seen by those of bold imagination.
Luckily for me, Erica (a really talented Korean classmate) had the sense to take a picture of her pudding before eating it, and she took the picture with my camera.

So before you cry foul at the injustice of being robbed of a proper picture, here is a glimpse of her masterpiece.
A cool perk of studying in a culinary school is the abundance of good food at low low prices. Cuisine students cook up a storm each day as part of their curriculum, most of which are usually sold cheap in the school canteen.

Tonight, I feast on duck confit and pumpkin salad. Scrumptious!

Capsaicin From Erica

Just when I was feeling homesick and longing for Mum's super spicy chilli, Erica comes to the rescue with an insanely volcanic sauce, Capsaicin. Made with the spicy component of chilli peppers, a few drops was enough to burn my mouth and bring me to my knees. Kickass!

Big Boots To Fill

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pear Bourdaloue, Baked Rhubarb, French Style Rice Pudding

Chef's Pear Bourdaloue

Just when I think nothing can top last week's Poached Pear Tarts, we made another French classic today, the Pear Bourdaloue, a deceptively simple tart which, dare I say it, was just as good it's drunkard counterpart, if not better. 

Warm, Moist, Delish!

It all comes down to personal preference. Though a fan of custardy Creme Patisserie, the Pear Bourdaloue, filled solely and generously with almond cream, swung my vote instantly. Topped with sliced poached pears, it all goes into the oven to be baked at the same time. Like I said, deceptively simple.

The result is the most heavenly treat - so long as you do not over bake the tart - as the almond cream melts into an almost lava-like consistency. Luscious, sweet and fragrant, all things I love about almond cream is only heightened in its warm and molten state. The pears with their funky grainy texture and mild sweetness play the perfect foil to the rich paste and crisp shell. 

Chef's Rice Pudding

Oh yes, I haven't forgotten about the rice pudding. As easy to make as porridge, the key to really good pudding is to be generous with the cream and butter. And Lots of them. I know some people cannot stand the taste of the humble pud (Simon thinks rice as dessert just ain't right), but for me, any chance to have a main dish staple, i.e. rice, as dessert deserves applause and greedy devour. 

My Pear Bourdaloue

Rice & Rhubarb

In addition to the cream and butter (small wonder the French are such happy people, as I've always said, fat is flavor and your friend) we also added cinnamon and vanilla beans to the pud, and served it with some easy-peasy baked rhubarb: rhubarb, cinnamon, brown sugar, baked low and slow.

A Pear Feast

Good On Its Own

A week later, the tart stayed as good as the day it came out of the oven. The pastry shell may have lost some of its crisp factor, but warmed up in the oven, eaten on its own or with some vanilla ice-cream, it's the tart that keeps on giving.