My Walk on the Wild Side

As we all know, I’m a huge Pastry Arts connoisseur. I could quite possibly live off of cupcakes and raspberry pie for the rest of my life if I needed to. I’ve taken the Intro and Intermediate Pastry Arts classes at the local Restaurant School, as well as a few other classes. And they were all dessert/pastry related. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth. I’d take a cupcake over potato chips any day.

But let me get to my point here. I signed up for the Intro to Culinary Arts class at the Restaurant School. I know how to cook. I love cooking. But I want to learn more. I want to be an expert. I want to be more confident in the kitchen with a knife. I also want to try some new foods that I otherwise would shy away from.

It’s a 6 week Curriculum, and here’s how it looks…

Week 1: Knife Skills and Safety
Week 2: Classic & Contemporary Sauces
Week 3: Grains, Potatoes and Vegetables
Week 4: Homemade Pastas and Sauces
Week 5: Dry Methods of Cooking
Week 6: Moist Methods of Cooking

Some of the recipes include: Braised Chicken Legs with Tart Green Apples, Mussels Steamed in Beer, Zucchini Bread, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Pan-fried Eggplant with Tomato Concasse, Pesto Sauce, Fresh Egg Pasta, Cheese Filled Peppers with Pesto Sauce, and Wild Rice Pilaf.

As I did with the Pastry Arts course, I’ll share with all of you what I learn in class and the dishes that we make.

Tonight is Week 1. Knife skills and safety. I’ll get to use that lovely new chef knife I got for Christmas. And here’s hoping that you don’t hear any ambulance sirens between 7pm and 9:30pm.  My goal is to keep all of my fingers!

Baking for the Holidays

As we all know, I love to bake. So whenever I am going to someone’s house I like to bake something and take it with me. Sure, I can bring an appetizer or a side dish, but I always have to bring along a dessert of some sort. It’s just my thing.

Cookies n Cream Fudge

We are going to my sister’s house on Christmas, and she asked me to bring a side dish that I am always asked to make. It’s one of those dishes that everyone loves so you’re ALWAYS asked to bring it. But I wanted to bring some treats as well. That’s the fun part, after all.

Here’s what I’m taking…

Peanut Butter Fudge – My grandmother always made the BEST peanut butter fudge. I remember helping her make it when I was younger. It was one of those recipes where you have to get out the candy thermometer and it’s a big production. I found a recipe that tastes just like hers except I don’t get out the candy thermometer for mine. It’s one of those “boil for 5 minutes” and it’s done. That’s right up my alley!

Cookies n Cream Fudge – About 5 years ago I took this along to Thanksgiving dinner. I had never made it before but it sounded good. I’m all about cookies n cream anything. So I made a few recipe substitutions (it called for white chocolate and I don’t like that) and I took it along. Everyone loved it. They raved about it. They asked for the recipe. So I figured I’d make it again and take it on Christmas.

Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cookies n Cream Buttercream Icing

Triple Chocolate Biscotti – Mmmm, biscotti. And even better that it’s chocolate. With chocolate chips. Dipped in chocolate. There’s no such thing as a chocolate overload around the holidays.  Now…I’m not a dipper. And I still love this biscotti. So this biscotti is great for the dippers and the ones that won’t dip!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies n Cream Buttercream icing – Last weekend I was testing an icing recipe so I made some chocolate cupcakes. I wanted to make a really good cookies n cream buttercream icing. The end product was amazing. Absolutely delicious!  So I decided that I want to make some and bring them along tomorrow. My 3 year old niece is just like her Aunt and LOVES cake and most importantly icing. So she’ll love these!

 

What are your favorite holiday treats to make?

Final Pastry Class – Week 6

Last Thursday was my final Intermediate Pastry Arts class. The class has been so much fun and I definitely learned a lot. For our last class we made Chocolate Truffles and a Chocolate Raspberry Tart.

We had an assembly line of 4 people going for the truffles. What a mess that can be. Personally I thought we would’ve been fine doing it in pairs, but the Chef wanted us to do in groups of 4 so we did. They weren’t hard to make at all. I want to make some myself, but with different flavors. We just did plain chocolate and then dipped them and coated them.

I’d love to create a Cookies n Cream Truffle. Maybe I’ll work on that this weekend and see if I can come up with a good recipe for that. And if it works out well I’ll make them to take with us on Christmas.

The Chocolate Tart wasn’t difficult either. It was a bit time consuming since we made everything for it.  I love Chocolate and I love Raspberries – but I’m not a huge fan of them together. Don’t get me wrong I ate the Chocolate Raspberry Tart and it was GOOD! But it wasn’t one of those things that I kept eating and eating. One piece was enough for me.

I can’t see myself making this specific tart again, but I’m totally open to making a different flavor. I have some of the dough in my freezer for my next experiment. I’m thinking about making a Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart.  Now that sounds like a winner!

 

Week 5 – Flambé

So last week in class we Flambéed! We started off class by making the batter for the Crepes. We did that first so that we could let it rest for a little bit.  We were allowed to pick a sauce to make – our choices were Raspberry, Strawberry, Chocolate, or Caramel. This sauce was also going to accompany our Bananas Foster, so the sauce had to go with it. I chose Caramel sauce because I love it.

So I made my homemade Caramel sauce and it was just sitting there taunting me. It was time to make the Crepes. Let’s just say that I won’t be a Crepe maker any time in the near future. It takes time to get a handle on it. I wasn’t very good at flipping it. I definitely need some more practice. I was doing better with a spatula! :) But we got a nice pile of Crepes that were ready to be plated. They were awaiting the Bananas Foster!

Next up it was time to make the Bananas Foster. Such a fun experience. I thought my eye brows were going to burn off for a minute, but all was well. The Fire Department wasn’t dispatched to the Restaurant School…this time. ;)

It was out of this world!  I was able to take some of the caramel sauce home to have with vanilla ice cream and it’s amazing. I could eat it by the spoonful!

 

Week 4 – Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Soufflé

So I’m a bit behind on this whole Pastry Arts class thing…my apologies. Things have been busy over here at One Curly Fry. The class we had before Thanksgiving featured a few french desserts -  Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Soufflé. I’ll apologize in advance that I didn’t get pictures. We were so busy in class that I didn’t have time to get my camera and snap pictures.

Crème Brûlée is nothing more than a rich custard that has a hard layer of caramelized sugar on top. It’s “burnt cream.” The custard was so smooth and flavorful. It had the perfect hint of vanilla. I’ve had Crème Brûlée many times before, but this was my first time making it. And it’s not difficult to make at all. We made it in class and I took a little bit of the custard home so that I could try it there. Too bad I didn’t have a torch – but no worries, that’s on my Christmas list!

This may sound silly…but this was my first time ever having Chocolate Soufflé. I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of it. It was too light and fluffy for me. Way too air-y. When I put a spoonful in my mouth, it just disappeared. If I’m going to eat a dessert, I want some substance.  I did love how it puffed up though. It looked better than it tasted, in my opinion. There were others in my class that made different flavors of the Soufflé – there was Raspberry and a few other flavors as well.

I would definitely give Cheese Soufflé a chance though – that actually does sound good to me. And I am definitely a cheese lover!

Do you like Chocolate Soufflé?