creme caramel was just the beginning

CIA Day 1 (originally written in September 2009)

It’s not yet daylight in the Hudson Valley at 5:30 AM as I make my way north to orientation. As the continuing education coordinator distributes parking passes and food swipe cards, I am nose deep in my instruction manual. What will we be making this week???
Breakfast today was Elvis french toast…what can I say…Memphis is home…I had to try this. It’s almost what you would expect. Two slices of french toast sandwiched to together with banana, peanut butter, and bacon. It’s quite rich, and I didn’t pour on the syrup!
How great to see Chef Welker again. He was my instructor last fall at Baking BootCamp. After watching Chef demo pastry cream, vanilla sauce/creme anglasie, pate a choux, and the wet method of making caramel for creme caramel, we were given our assignments and allowed near the gas cooking flames. How trusting of the CIA to allow this group of people, from all walks of life and all experience levels, free reign in the kitchen.
Pastry cream means whisk constantly and vigourously until your arm feels very, very tired. And then whisk some more. Mary (my bootcamp partner) and I took turns whisking. Now, who’s going to help whisk in my home kitchen?! All the effort was worth the final result; we produced a tray of rich, thick, vanilla seed speckled, pastry cream. (BTW, the CIA uses 2,000 pounds of butter per week.)
Pate a choux did not require any of the heavy duty whisking. We piped lines and circles with the dough…I guess that means we made eclairs and cream puffs. Tomorrow, we will fill these with the pastry cream we made earlier today.
Lunch break was not your ordinary brown bag variety. Caprece salad, lamb, squash, and some type of stuffing. Skipped the cheesecake (I can’t believe I did that!) to get back to class to make the caramel.
And now, on to the hot sugar part of the day. It was just awesome to watch that sugar (we used the wet method to make the caramel) change from white bubbles to golden amber caramel! We will plate these little pots of creme caramel tomorrow.
We finished the afternoon with a very complete tour of the campus. In addition to the baking and chocolate classrooms we observed, we made our way ‘downstairs’ to the fish room and the meat room. I can’t describe these..you will just have to wait for the pictures. Oh, and a quick trip through the store room where they keep the chocolate.
It’s time to dress for dinner at Caterina De Medici; they are expecting us at 7PM. Not to be outdone by the lamb at lunch, I’m sure this dinner will be spectacular.
Dinner service was quite slow; we didn’t finish dessert until 9:30 PM. Today has been a wonderful but very long day.

Here’s a link to another day 1 and 2 post.  I was so tired at the end of the remaining evenings of the week that I didn’t write summaries of the day.  The pictures will have to tell the story…

Update:
The above post was written in September 2009.  After the week at CIA Pastry Bootcamp, I returned home to work and everyday stuff.  Now it’s July 2010, and I’m on v a c a t i o n!  And, I now have time to update some partially-completed posts.

So, I’ll soon be posting CIA Pastry Bootcamp pictures from September 2009.  As was the CIA Baking Bootcamp in fall of 2008, this Pastry experience was educational, and fun, and inspiring.  If you are even remotely considering a week at CIA, click that button on the computer screen and commit to taking the class.  It will change your life.

blueberry crunch cookies

Really pretty cookies, with a good shape and texture…..but….

…they just didn’t have a blueberry flavor.  When a bite of cookie includes a couple of the dried blueberries, there is a hint of blueberry flavor, but not the intense flavor I had imagined.  How do I achieve great blueberry flavor in a cookie?  Any suggestions?
This is another ‘Cookie Jar’ recipe from Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series.
The pottery is from a regular merchant at the Memphis Farmer’s Market.  I’ll post the link to her website when I return home from v a c a t i o n.

cardamom takes these gingersnaps over the top

Another ‘Cookie Jar’ recipe-and this one (Spicy Dreams) is great!   The cardamom, in this cookie that I would call a gingersnap, takes the cookie to a new level.  There is a depth of flavor added that comes only from the addition of the cardamom.

Aren’t these cookies pretty.  Notice the ‘swirl-crack’ in the top of the cookie.

Yes, that’s sugar, and an ample amount.  I rolled the dough balls (made with a #50 scoop) in sugar prior to baking.  Years ago, my mother often baked gingersnaps especially for me; so, they hold a very special place in my heart.  These cookies are as good as hers…they help bring back fond memories of days long gone.
You can find this recipe in Joanne Fluke’s, “Key Lime Pie Murder,” page 226.

pretty pottery

This post has been adjusted to highlight a new piece of pottery from Nephew A & Niece M.  It is not about the quiche in the pottery.  Though the original intent was to post three delicious quiche recipes along with the pottery, none of the quiche recipes are worthy of posting.

But, look at my new pottery!!!!  It’s from Six Toe Studio in Martin, TN.

This quiche was the better of the three, yet still does not deserve a post.  It does look pretty…
This quiche cut cleanly, and looks pretty, but did not pass the taste test…
And this quiche has a potato crust; I will not try that again – at least not this recipe…
But the zucchini are very photogenic…and the roasted Roma tomatoes were delicious…
Usually I don’t post the kitchen disasters, but the pottery dish is so pretty…

peach frangipane galette

You can’t see the thick, gooey, aromatic layer of frangipane under the peaches – but it’s in there! And that layer is what makes this humble peach galette fit for any royalty.  The curst is perfect also.  It easily rolls into shape, bakes to a golden brown crisp, and tastes as buttery, flaky as in your dreams.

My galette did spread a little during baking.  Next time, I will pack the fruit higher in the center, and wrap the dough a little more compact.  

Notice the golden brown crust, studded with raw sugar added prior to baking.

I used the remaining portion of frangipane not required for the galette in this recipe.

beach breakfast

I could eat healthy like this every day…if I had time in the mornings, and a 6th floor balcony, and a white sandy beach, and the emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast.  Though that is not my normal routine, for this week it is exactly my routine.  
As I sit and listen to the waves crash on the shoreline, I enjoy season-fresh fruits and my new favorite granola.  I’ve taken a vanilla granola recipe and ‘kicked it up a notch.’ In omitting the oil, I have in it’s place added frangipane.  This yields a most flavorful almond granola, the almond aroma wafting around your senses as soon as the granola is poured into a bowl from the freezer (yes, store your granola in the freezer.)  You can find the frangipane recipe in David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert.”  I used 1/2 the frangipane recipe in this granola; the granola bakes to a very rich, almond scented mixture.
I cleaned my plate!  (notice the reflection of the balcony railing, balcony wall, gulf waters, and horizon – all in the bowl of the spoon)
This granola does not maintain the crunch as with other granola recipes; however, the flavor well compensates for the loss of crunch/softer granola.