Lesson 73: Pastry day 1

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today was our first day of Module 4: Pastry with Chef Chad. I was very pleased with the first lesson of the mod and I am confident that I'm going to love pastry! It helps to have a great chef instructor who seems passionate and enthusiastic about food and baking. Chef told us that he would probably convert at least 4 of us to pastry by the end of the module... I might be one of those 4..

We worked in teams of 3 today to complete several classic fruit preparations. I worked in a group with Allison H and Al... just to make things extra confusing with the 3 "Al's" working together.

I started by making poached pears in caramel. I love watching the transition of sugar to caramel as the sugar slowly forms into a clear liquid and then into a thick, bronze syrup. After the caramel was sufficiently browned, I added acidulated water, a vanilla bean, pear halves, and some more sugar! The pears poached in the liquid until they were softened. We stored them in containers to save for another lesson.
We also candied orange peels and dried apple slices (also to be used as garnish for another lesson). I grilled some pineapple that I coated in sugar and spices. I love grilled pineapple!

We macerated strawberries by coating them in sugar and then drizzling on balsamic vinegar. The sugar draws out the moisture from the berries, but also increases the sweetness. The balsamic vinegar helps balance out the amount of sweetness. Kim and I were perfect examples of why cooks can't bake... we don't like to measure or follow recipes. Instead of following the recipe and adding just 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar, we made the executive decision to "just add a bit more". We told Chef we added more than the recipe called for and he told us we were "typical culinarians" for not following the recipe! This whole precise measurement thing is going to really throw me off this module. I'm like Rachael Ray in a sense that I "eyeball" everything and just do what I want!

The baked and roasted fruits were my favorite! Some teams baked apples:

My team roasted pears and dried figs with a mixture of rum, vanilla extract, sugar, ground ginger, and fresh ginger:

After class I met up with a friend and took a trip to the top of the Empire State Building! So fun!


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