where’s my hugger?!

SHEW. Yesterday was the last day of Baking and Pastry, which meant final exam time.

We had 4 hours to make whole wheat dinner rolls, pate a choux, buttermilk biscuits, cookies, and pastry cream. the pate a choux was piped into cream puffs, which we had to fill (with our pastry cream) and dip in chocolate ganache (which also had to be made). Oh and after scrubbing the kitchen from top to bottom, then we got to take the written exam. woof.

Despite the stress of the last day, the second week was a lot of fun!

There was pie

apple! it's hard to see, but there's a cute little apple cut out on the top that Poppa Bear made

There was cake

vanilla sponge with raspberry filling, american buttercream, and oreo crunchies

[sidenote: if you’ve got a thing for sisyphean tasks, you would be an EXCELLENT cake froster.]

There was quiche..ohhh was there quiche

carmelized onion, canadian bacon, sharp cheddar. and that's MY perfectly fluted pie crust thankyouverymuch

Eclairs and Cream Puff and Profiteroles, oh my!

profiteroles: filled w/ (hand-whipped) whipped cream. eclairs and puffs are filled with pastry cream and dipped in chocolate.

Sweet rolls (think parker house):

And on the 7th (ok 8th) day, God rested. And He created pizza. And it was good.

cheese and pepperoni

spinach and mushroom

Really good.

It was a little sad to say goodbye to our chef, who had an amazing balance of high expectations and understanding patience, but there was no time for dilly-dallying.  At 6:45am this morning, we were off to the races with Stocks, Sauces, and Soups!

Our professor is an ex-Marine with a thick Boston accent (and demeanor). It’s a lot to take before the sun comes up.  But he’s fiercely passionate about food and education–and it shows. He’s doing his PhD dissertation on the issue of the sub-par math skills of today’s youth and how it impacts their performance in professional kitchens. After my altercation with Baby Bear, all I can say is ROCK. ON.

So before class ended at 1pm today, i was known as “the hugger.” If you know me, you know I have the amazing capability to be completely devoid of all emotion. So, this was a change.

Chef asks the class, “who eats granola?” Silence. “I eat granola, chef.” “Perfect. There’s always one tree hugger in every class. You are now my Compost Queen.”

Christ.

“You are in charge of the compost buckets. Make sure there’s no trash in the compost or compost in the trash.”

Cue giggles and jeering.

“And if there is, you get to dump it on the freshly washed floor and let your classmates sort it out. And re-wash the floors.”

Silence. I giggle.

So then we made stock. I’ll spare you pictures of boiled chicken carcases and beef bones. But man it smelled good. We’re cleaning up and I’m untangling stacked chairs in the hallway (…teenagers) and all of a sudden Chef is in the window screaming–SCREAMING–“WHERE’S MY HUGGER??!?!” Time to take the compost out. Perfectly sorted, might I add.

Then I treated myself to an exciting sale item at the grocery store:

WHO NEEDS A HUG?

Lemon Yogurt Cakelettes

Happy Friday! Since mother nature is raining on our TGIF-parade, I decided to manufacture some sunshine (and I may or may not have had some citrus begging to be used in my fridge).

Molly Wizenberg’s book “A Homemade Life” is quickly becoming one of my most favorite books of all time. Half cookbook, half short stories, half memoir, all around inspiring and completely heart-warming.

This recipe was one of the first she posted on orangette, and that post prompted a man on the other side of the country to send an email to the author of this great blog. and then they got married. How adorable, right??

I’m not giving you the recipe so you have to go get the book yourself. Note that I did almost double the amount of zest she calls for. I like my lemon baked goods to smack you right in the face with flavor. I also used nonfat Greek yogurt, because my bathing suit was glaring at me from the second floor. They came out amazing-not too sweet, not too tangy, and fluffy but with enough weight they dont fall apart when you eat them. That lemony glaze on top really seals the deal.

I did cakelettes (NOT cupcakes. So over those.) and I think they’re pretty adorable too. Manfriend, hater of all things sweet, declared “these are REALLY good.” What is it about beefcakes and these cakes? (ba dum dum)

Hope these make for a happy Friday, Easter, heck a whole happy weekend!

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we got a thing….goin’ on

The Joneses, present and future, had our whole motley crew down by the bay (Chesapeake style) for Memorial Day weekend.  It was a fantastic trip–full of dancing on the dock, water sports (failed, in my case), ICE, good friends, and good food.

I volunteered, in one of the many logistical spreadsheets organizing the weekend (par for the course when you hang out with engineers), to take on the sweets.  Then we calculated 20 people attending.  This quickly became my Iron Chef challenge: “Can you, a young inexperienced food blogger, turn out 3 days of treats for 20 people, with one afternoon and a mini-oven?”

Do you accept this challenge?

(2) Strawberry Polenta Cake (recipe is actually rhubarb, but Safeway was out)

Yogurt Coffee Cake

Salted Toffee Chocolate Squares

Halfway Cookies

Lime Meltaways

and, what every good outdoor event should have, Rice Krispie Treats

No pictures–IRON CHEFS DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR PICTURES.

BAM. Take that Morimoto.