Saturday, September 18, 2010

September Song

Not exactly a swan song, but a nostalgic September song; school is out for the term and we have 2 weeks off. I'm excited that all exams and work is done for now, but oddly enough, it seems kind of strange to not be studying or have a project hanging over my head to be done. It's an odd mix of freedom, relief, and emptiness; but my head will get filled again soon enough with too much information to sort out.
In the kitchen lab, we mixed and baked a vast number of goods: breads, cakes, muffins, scones, croissants, Danish pastries, eclairs, tartlets, all or most during one class each. I love doing the little tartlets -- forming the crust within the mold, pouring the lemon curd or pastry cream into the crust, and of course the tasting afterward. Muffins and scones can be very similar to drop cookies: mix, drop, you're done. I liked the slightly bready but moist cream scones, which are thin and cut into shapes like long triangles, then brushed with butter while still hot.
The croissants were a thrill to make, and took two classes to do. First, the dough, which must rest in the refrig for a time. The next class time we rolled them out, spread the butter onto the flattened dough, folded, turned, and poked the dough to mark each full turn. Then back to the refrig, later retrieving for another full turn, for a total of three. For the last time, we cut the rolled out dough into triangles of a particular angle so that they would roll up into adorable little croissants! It's truly an art form, and wonderful to eat.
The Danishes were fun also, with all the different shapes you can make them. Then, using similar filling for tartlets, we topped them with raspberries or blueberries. Very nice.
Eclairs are a different way altogether. One makes the pastry, stuffs the mix into a pastry bag, and pipes the little guys onto a baking sheet. Once they are out of the oven, crispy and cooled, you fill them. The eclairs unfilled are no great shakes, and though we made traditional French buttercream, that by itself was rich, but not so wonderful alone. But -- when you fill the eclair with the buttercream, the combined taste of the two is out of this world. I totally ate -- well, eight -- so it was a full day, heh.
The most difficult thing about making sponge cake is getting it out of the pan.
I loved the mini loaves of French bread we made. They were very good, too.
It's all good.
Back to the restaurant-hopping for bites here and there, we had an oppty to go to belly, over in NE, after a show. I ordered the $12 (!) appetizer, but it was very yummy: potato gnocchi, with bacon pieces. The bacon was perfectly cooked, and the gnocchi -- well, I ate all of it, after lending a taste or two to friends. The glass of Barbera was nice too, but I much preferred the Cabernet I drank at Wildwood last month. I also liked the ambiance there better; at belly it was a bit chilly; could it have been, perhaps, because eight of us showed up near closing time? Well, not that close; but we did close the place. We weren't too rowdy, though; just enthusiastic about our appetizers, drinking wine and socializing.
I love school, but I also love it that I'm on break. 'Til next time!

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