Hello my lovelies! I am in good spirit as I am about to start watching Le Meilleur Pâtissier, the French equivalent of The Great British Bake-Off. I can’t believe that this adventure is slowly coming to an end and I know that I will miss it so so much! But I also know that I have gained skills that will last and made friends who I will remember.
We finished off bread week with an interesting kind of croissant – the normal croissant dough was wrapped inside a thin chocolate dough and a pâte de fruit was rolled inside. While it was fun trying this variant, it wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I’ll definitely be trying to tweak the components to go more with my taste. We also made a beautiful Galette des Rois, a traditional cake made for the festival of Epiphany on January 6th. The cake – or perhaps tarte? – consists of puff pastry that is filled with almond paste. Our galette filling was also flavored with citrus zest. While our galettes held only the almond filling, the traditional version would include a fève – or bean – but this is often a little figurine instead. Whoever gets the fève when eating their piece gets to wear the crown. We had some extra time on Friday in pastry, so we also made a grain/rosemary bread as well as a whole wheat cheese-chorizo bread.
Hungry yet? Well wait till you hear what’s more! Last Thursday in cuisine, we created a fun scallop dish. The centerpiece was a maki consisting of lightly seared scallop surrounded by a nori leaf and fish purée. This was served on a bed of curried zucchini with broad beans and a scallop tartar and a hint of dried, fermented lemon.
On Friday, we made one of my favorite dishes so far. We cooked an egg very slowly for a long time, turning it into a perfect soft and fragile egg. To accompany the egg, we made asparagus and baby octopus. We also learned several methods of “spherification,” so we also spherified an herb dressing, which made for a cool effect once you cut into the sphere and silky purée gushes out.
Over the weekend, we had a little thanksgiving celebration at our residence. It was a fantastic experience – especially regarding culinary skills. I have never had a more perfect turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. I contributed sweet potatoes with thai red curry paste and coconut milk as well as a twisted apple pie with a cinnamon roll crust. Other things culinary but non-school: On Monday, a friend of mine created an insane croquembouche-like dessert (and I helped). A croquembouche consists of little filled choux that are stacked into a cone and glued together with caramel. Our choux were half vanilla and half chocolate and – I don’t think I have ever said this or will ever say this again – I actually preferred the vanilla!
This week we are back to making cakes in patisserie. It feels like we have been very busy and there are lots of components being made at once, so that I may forget some of them. We started with a hazelnut cake with an almond milk mousse and apricots. Then we made a bûche (log cake) with a chocolate passion fruit sponge, berry filling and mango mousse. Today we quickly assembled a hazelnut citrus cake, but I think we may be adding a white chocolate mousse… Of course – results next week!
In cuisine, we’ve been working seafood. On Monday, we made lobster tail with an absolutely stunning, luscious, unbelievably smooth, deep, rich (enough adjectives?) lobster and red wine jus. We used the rest of the lobster for today’s dish, which was delicious multicolored cubed ravioli. The lobster was part of the filling together with crab that we prepared yesterday. Crab is a pain. I hope you are extremely grateful to the poor person preparing your crab dish next time. Removing all the meat and then searching it for shells… ugh! But the result was wonderful of course. I especially enjoyed making our striped ravioli, so cool 🙂