Pumpkin Roll

So. I might have a few self-control issues to address. This would explain why, after everything was winding down for the evening last night and I had settled down to review options for my desserts of the week for work, I found myself in the kitchen at 10:00 p.m., shaking powdered sugar out of kitchen towels. I honestly did not set out to make pumpkin roll. But the glossy pictures of roulades in the Martha Stewart Magazine were so … shiny … and tasty looking. After internally throwing around the idea of getting up in the morning to whip a few out before working on my calculus homework, I began doing some basic prep. It was already 8:30, too late to start mixing anything, so I would just mix together the dry ingredients, bring up the canned pumpkin from the pantry, bring in the cream cheese from the refrigerator and stop there. But after that, the spices smelled lovely, as spices generally do, double checking the baking time on the cake revealed that it would only take fifteen minutes and I could always roll the warm cakes, wrap them, and leave the filling for the morning. So it went, and I continued to rationalize away the time consumption until I ended up with this.

Roulades, while delightful to make and view, have generally fallen flat flavor-wise for me. This recipe, however, using whole eggs, walnuts, and pumpkin wrapped around cream cheese, sugar, and butter, is as delightful as it is fattening. Left in the refrigerator or freezer overnight and the cream cheese sinks into the cake slightly, keeping it moist and sticky. The moistness of the cake also helps eliminate the cracking so common to this kind of cake, as most of the small fissures meld back together during the chilling period. While the recipe itself is similar to one found on the Libby’s brand pumpkin, our recipe card, typed, yellowed, and handed down from my great-grandmother, makes it feel more special. And, now that I’ve timed myself and determined that it can be made, complete with kitchen clean-up and breaks to watch some of the more spectacularly silly scenes of ‘The Swan Princess’, in an hour-an-a-half, I think it’s safe to say that it’s also a fairly simple dessert, with impressive looking results.

And it disappears quickly

Candy Houses

Gingersnap Cones

As I mentioned in my last post, my job requirements currently require me to create desserts every week. Sometimes there are additional desserts to be made, for special dinners or caterings. Just before the Christmas rush began, my boss requested that I modify one of my desserts of the week for a plate-up dinner on New Year’s Eve. I was thrilled at the request, because it was one of the desserts where I had assembled a variety of components to fit with an idea, rather than simply executing an idea from a website or cookbook. But, in the contrary way that things often work, I was also frustrated with the request, because the cones themselves had yielded awkward and dissatisfying results.

The flavors of the dessert, a gingersnap cone filled with a soft, lemon infused, cream cheese mousse and given a finishing touch of chocolate through dipping the ends of the cones in bittersweet chocolate, were very nice. When I had followed the instructions for the cones as given in my cookbook, however, they had turned into more of a tube than a cone. Due to the nature of the batter, they had to be formed quickly and individually, or they would shatter or become misshapen. And knowing that making a mere eight for a dessert of the week had frustrated me, the apprehension that attempting seventy cones for the plate-up made me consider submitting a request to change the dessert out for something simple.

But I was too attached to my mental image of the dessert to abandon it, and since my boss had apparently been satisfied with the previous results which I considered to be much less than picturesque, I arrived at work the day before the party with my recipe card in hand and the knowledge that after forming seventy cones I would most likely be much more proficient than I felt after the measly sixteen or so that I had made previously in my life.

My first step, in the interest of having a shape that did not need to be explained as a cone, but was self-obviously so, was to abandon the instructions directing me to form circle and instead form a template of a wide wedge. I was delighted, when I pulled the first one out of the oven, to discover that it formed a cone much more readily than the circles had done. With the use of a small offset spatula, one of my favorite pastry tools, and the template, cut from an old plastic lid, forming and shaping the cones suddenly seemed much easier.

Even with my best efforts and disregard for singed fingers, I found I was not quick enough to form two cones from one pan. The second cone invariably shattered or turned into a bumpy, unidentifiable shape. Instead, I worked out a five pan method, where I had four pans in the oven and a fifth on which I was actively forming a cone. The quantity of pans eliminated the need for timers, by the time the next cone was ready to go into the oven, one was ready to come out. I would work the cone free of the pan liner, flip it over and quickly roll it. Using a metal cream horn mold, I would press the seam of the cone in place and leave it for a minute to harden. The first seven or so were better than I had ever made, but the next sixty-three matched the image I had formed in my mind when the dessert first occurred to me.

There were a few obstacles that I quickly worked around. Using just paper to line the pans led to the lightweight batter being sucked up into the pan, but weighting the paper with ramekins and using the two available silpats when I could fixed that issue quickly. Safely storing the cones afterward was also a slight issue, since I wanted to put them in an out of the way place where nothing would crush them, drip on them, or eat them (an issue that does occur when non-kitchen staff passes through).

In between batches of cones, I made time to whip up the cream cheese mousse, which tasted rather like a no-bake cheesecake, but had a fluffier texture. When the cones were finished, except for chocolate dipping the tips, a task that I reserved for New Year’s Eve, I quickly went through a practice plate up, decorating the dessert plate with chocolate sauce swirls and standing the cones upright. The cream cheese acted as a stabilizer, allowing even the off center cones to be placed correctly. Additional cream cheese piping for garnish, with an added benefit of hiding any blemishes near the base of the cone and I was satisfied with the design.

By January 1st, I was comfortable enough with my skills as an ice cream cone maker that I volunteered/begged my younger sister, who was stubbornly refusing to have a birthday cake at her party, to allow me to make her ice cream cones for her dessert. She gracefully allowed my request, and I whipped out another twenty cones, while teaching several housemates how to mix, spread and shape the batter. At home, I found myself making a few substitutions for the tools at work. I had fortunately been gifted with a small offset spatula for Christmas, which made spreading the batter much easier, but in the absence of a plastic lid, I cut my template out of a rectangular cake board. With no metal cream horn molds, I used the tapered marble pestle from my mother’s mortar and pestle set to help shape the cones and hold the seams while they cooled. My help and I dipped the cones in chocolate as quickly as they cooled, while my brother used the remainder of the melted chocolate to coat leftover pretzels from candy-house making. Served in traditional ice cream cone style, these desserts were just as enjoyable and picturesque as the previous cream cheese cones had been.

Gingersnap Cones (recipe, with slight adaptations, from David Lebovitz’s ‘The Perfect Scoop’)
(said to yield six cones, but my results ranged from 11 to 13 cones per recipe)

1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp molasses
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Stir together the egg whites, sugar, molasses and vanilla. Stir in the salt, spices, and half of the flour. Add the melted butter. Beat in the rest of the flour.

The dough does thicken up some as it cools and the butter firms, but I actually found it easier to spread before it started thickening up.

Use a wedge shaped template as a guide to spread a rounded tablespoon of batter across parchment paper or a silpat. I had my wedge measure seven inches along a side, but only eyeballed the width of the arc. Of course, adjusting those measurements changes the circumference and length of the cone. As I mentioned before, I had an offset spatula to spread the batter with. The cookbook says a spoon could be used instead, but it sounds much more frustrating.

The depth of the dough should seem very thin, but don’t worry about it. As long as the dough is all connected, it will rise and fill in around the thin spots. My cones were frequently transparent when then went into the oven.

Place the baking sheet in a 350 degree oven and watch the first cone carefully to get an idea of how long they’ll take to cook. The cone will start to look dry and darken up quite a bit. If it’s underdone when you pull it out, it will be too formless to shape and if it’s overdone, you won’t be able to roll it. It may take a few cones for you to find the right doneness. My cones were probably taking five to seven minutes each, but I never timed them, so I’m not sure.

To form the cones, flip the wedge over onto a workspace that won’t cause the searing burns that the baking sheet might. I found, since the narrow tip cools faster, that it works best to pinch the tip into shape first and then follow with shaping the remainder of the cone. It only takes a minute for the cones to harden completely, but in the interest of streamlining, you may want a tapered weight to set inside the cones to hold the seam while it hardens, so that you can move on to spreading out more batter.

Dipping the ends in chocolate can seal small holes and provides nice flavor contrast to the gingerbread. Be aware, though, that the chocolate will shorten the lifespan of the cones and will bloom after a few days, which is much less attractive.

Cream Cheese Mousse (adapted from Epicurious.com)

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup chilled whipping cream
zest of 1 lemon

Beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until mixture is fluffy and no cream cheese lumps remain. Beat the whipping cream until medium to stiff peaks form. Fold the whipping cream into the cream cheese in three additions. Taste and sift in remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar to desired sweetness.

When I filled the cones for the plated dessert, I used a pastry bag to guide the mousse into the tip of the cone. The lemon flavor will be brighter if the mousse sits overnight before use, but the mousse will begin to lose structure if you leave it for longer than a couple of days.

Cookies and Cake

It’s this time of year when all the cooking magazines start showing up filled with cookie recipes for the Christmas season. With final projects for academic classes only recently submitted and tests all through the past week, I haven’t been able to find many spare minutes for looking at the recipes. When I do sit down with a cookbook, it’s generally for work. I have no complaints about “having” to bake one a week and getting paid for it. There is a challenge in finding recipes week after week that use the same basic ingredients available at an operation that caters so much more to its kitchen side that the baked goods are nearly an afterthought. There’s chocolate and there are apples, but the only other fresh fruits that show up tend to be lemons. Expense mixed with functionality means no hazelnuts, pistachios, or cashews. Doing it once a week means I have to try not to make a tart every week, or have the same flavors twice in a row.

Behind these requirements pulling at my time, this hour for economics, these hours for English class readings, these hours for work, I can sense the flavors of holiday baking and the cookie recipes, new and old, that are waiting to be made. My mother has been stocking the pantry with sugar, nuts, and different types of chocolate. There’s vanilla extract, in its bottles, and vanilla beans, in glass tubes. Measuring vanilla, with its dark liquidity and small amounts, I can always make myself feel like an alchemist.

There’s also a gingerbread house cake on the list. I’ll pair up with my brother to decorate it, and I have already forced him to bake the cake itself with me. After years of experimenting with different construction materials, from gingerbread to graham crackers, the general consensus in our house is that cake is the sturdiest base material. We call them gingerbread houses no matter the construction material – our cake is technically a spice cake. There’s a pile of candies on the side counter, ready to be turned into windows, doors, pipes, Christmas lights, and walkways. Some siblings are planning on focusing on the cake scraps, using them to build sheds, dog houses, or cottages. Since even one candy coated cake, with frosting, pretzels, gummy worms, and red hots piled around the outside, takes our family a while to get through, we’ll be giving all but one cake away, to neighbors, friends, and extended family.

So, with classes over for the semester, and work slowed down to almost nothing during the same time, and Christmas in only four days, I’ll be grabbing all those cookie recipes, decorating my cake house, and otherwise submerging myself in a cloud of powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

-The Holiday Baker

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

Deliberate art, forced rhythm and rhyme
Creating an object divorced from time
Pulling together or forcing apart
Showing that ages do not change hearts
But ethereal knowledge and fears
Entirely changeable over the years
Guidance from God needed, to soften the blow
Man never comprehends what he professes to know

Transfer Post: Need

One of my favorite remnants from Creative Non-fiction class…

I can feel a drop of water, barely moving downwards on my cheek.  My hair is wet and I am waiting my turn for a haircut.  A squeak-hum of bicycle wheels is coming from the next room, where my father is using up energy before bed.  Close to me, the metallic sounding snip of scissors, as my mother finishes with my brother’s hair.  It is so dark now that when I try to look out of the window, I only see my reflection.  The ambient sounds, the hour of the night, everything has meshed into a feeling of contentment.

I had been happy all day, but not this deep sense of everything being exactly as it should. This afternoon, browsing the books section at Costco, while waiting for tires to be changed on my car, I opened up a cookbook and, suddenly, I needed to bake something.

There is a reason that I am majoring in Culinary Arts.  I am nearly always ready to mix up some baked good or help put dinner together.  This was a different feeling though, beyond wanting to work in the kitchen or being willing to do so.  When it comes, like it did in the Costco aisle today, I feel as though if I don’t get into the kitchen soon, something will break.  Energy, pressure, builds up at the thought of mixing batter or kneading dough.   I think of all the things I have ever wanted to bake, all the things I have recently been planning to bake.  I want to stay in the kitchen for hours and days, mixing, mixing, and mixing.
I didn’t explode in the store, or in the car, either.  But as soon as we arrived home, I pulled the log of frozen puff pastry, left from my mother’s birthday dinner nearly a week past, in the refrigerator to thaw.  I left my math homework out of sight inside my bag and stepped into the backyard.  The wind was blowing wildly, but the sun was still shining and I left off shoes in favor allowing my feet to feel the rough rocks that paved the area around the oven.  The wind blew my fire out.  I lit it again and the wind blew it out again.  We repeated the pattern a few more times, until, in a lull, I managed to get it lit and block the wind out with the door.  Then, inside, I took the puff pastry, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar, and a rolling pin.  I rolled out the pastry, brushed it with butter, gave it a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, folded it up into a log, and sliced it lengthwise.  I placed each nascent cookie on a sheet and gently pressed them flat.  Then, the urge was gone.  I was still enjoying myself, but it was a relaxed enjoyment.  I finished heating the oven and baked off the cookies.  I ate one, fed one to my mother, two to my sister and left the rest for grabs on the tray.  And I took out my math homework.

I don’t have any idea, really, why I work the way I do.  Why, if I go too long without playing with food in some way or another, a feeling of unease grows.  It never has to be complicated, I just have to touch it, feel it, and manipulate it in some way.  Everyone can’t be like this, because not everyone likes to cook.  But perhaps some people needed to be created with this urge to cook that is so strong it is almost like being forced to do so.  Perhaps, in order to feed those people like my father, who will exercise every day of the week and more, and my brother, who lives in a state of perpetual motion, and my mother who always has something on her to-do list, there need to be people like me, who will bake every day of the week and more.

The Inner Writer

I think up rich words–

Envision them falling neatly

Into place, these orderly herds

Sensing my inner wish and meekly

Doing as I bid, no protest

.

I see myself lay aside pen

Fingers marked black with ink

And sigh in satisfaction when,

Imagined readers sink

Into lines suddenly alive

.

In mind’s eye, words neatly slotted

Shift and blur on this parchment

They become a landscape dotted

With images to breathe fantasy, lent

Briefly.  Transport from the safe and sane.

.

Looking down on my work in hand

I resolutely write, rich words

They struggle, mustering to stand

In battle.  Free winging birds

They scatter and shatter my scene

.

With sighs, I observe my weary page

That traitor, mercenary army

Has conquered.  Cautious, I gauge

Their mood, with bribes lure back to me

These words, too brilliant to rule

.

I cannot neatly push in place

The wildness of imagery

That whirls behind my writer’s face

But fractious as all words may be

I still grasp this final symmetry.

Transfer Post: Cheese Whiz

I cannot imagine that when my parents kicked me out and sent me off to college that the thought ever crossed their mind that one of my teachers would try and turn me into Cheese Whiz.  Yet my Foundations class teacher is trying to do just that … and not only to me, but to all my classmates as well.  If you are concerned, I should perhaps give the following disclaimer.  My Culinary Arts 102 teacher does not approve of processed cheese and she appears to be trying to turn us into cheese whizzes, not Cheese Whiz.   If you are not concerned, as I strongly suspect you were not (why do people refuse to take me seriously these days?),  I hope you were at least slightly amused by my punning.   Next Foundations class test is on  Friday the 19th and covers chapters 7, 9 and 10 of On Cooking.  Flavors and Flavorings, Mise en Place, and Cooking Methods.   The test after that, however, is on chapters 8 and 21.  Chapter 8 discusses dairy products, while chapter 21 is titled ‘Eggs and Breakfast’.   An amusing result of product association is that on the double page, full color, picture and title page to chapter eight includes eight whole eggs and one that has been cracked open.  This is funny, once you realize that eggs are nowhere mentioned in the chapter.  It becomes even more humorous, when you turn to chapter 21 and see three lonely whole eggs and one scrambled egg on the title page.   If the chapter on Dairy Products does not mention eggs, what does it mention?  Well, the first two pages are on milk with an additional half page on cream.  Half a page on cultured products such as yogurt, a page on butter and margarine and then twelve pages on cheeses.  Types of cheese, colors of cheese, hardness of cheese, recipes for making cheese, recipes for using cheese.  What wines should you serve with cheese?  The answers are here.  How should you store cheese?  Cut cheese?  Serve cheese?  I thought I knew a decent amount about types of cheese, after reading the chapter on my own.  Then I thought I knew a good deal about types of cheese, after reading through the cheese section of the chapter in class and discussing it as a group.  We watched a video for cheese-vendors and I knew even more about cheese afterward.  I learned which cheeses various countries were famous for.  I learned a new classification to add to the five I had discovered in my textbook.   Very well.  I had been educated on cheese.  So, I went into class this morning and we took a non-graded quiz on chapter 10, which you may recall is written on ‘Cooking Methods’.  The quiz took up about 45 minutes and the remainder of the video, which the teacher had planned on us watching, turned out to be nonexistent.  Then, the teacher pulled out her book on cheese and started reading aloud and chalking strange words up on the two blackboards.  Things like Taleggio,  Brick, and Cambozola appeared, stayed, and were erased to make room for Chabchou, Mizithra, and Explorateur.  I now have my notes to study in addition to the textbook pages.  In all, 22 pages on cheeses.

Transfer Post: Extracurricular Activities

Since all the food related reading and baking I have to do at school stirs my creative juices, I did some extracurricular activity yesterday afternoon.   Tuesday night, I took most of the boxes of peaches from the kitchen floor, where it was dispersing a lovely aroma throughout the house.  After rinsing the fuzz off, I cut them into eighths and peeled the slices.  The skins were eager to separate from the flesh and the peaches were tender and juicy.  I sampled a few slice, to be certain they were of good quality, then placed them in a bowl with some lemon juice and refrigerated them overnight.  Wednesday afternoon, I got out the peach pie recipe … and discovered that it called for tapioca or potato starch.   Knowing that these ingredients were not present in the apartment, I tried looking through a few other cookbooks, but couldn’t find a recipe to suit myself.  I decided to put the pie off indefinately.  However, when I opened the fridge to look for dinner, the pre-sliced container of peaches revealed itself to me.  I was unwilling to leave them in the fridge in that state, so I reevaluated and decided to try to substitute cornstartch, despite my cookbook’s dire warning about it spoiling the flavor of the pie.  Piecrusts ought to be easy enough to make, but they seem to take on a new level of difficulty, when you are living in fear of overworking the dough.  Bakery lab can make you feel like that, yes.  I did successfully deposit two rounds of dough in the freezer, to firm up before rolling.  I don’t think they were overworked at that point.   While they chilled, I washed dishes … again.   I must be preparing for life in my own house, because it has started to seem like I wash dishes all day.  First at school, where the first two weeks I was a baker, responsible not only for my own dishes, but any unclaimed, unwashed dishes as well.  Also, I was not supposed to leave school until all the dishes in the bakery were clean, meaning that helping out with other people’s dishes was fairly necessary.   Then, at home, where we don’t have time to wash breakfast or dinner dishes much of the time.  Thus, they pile up in the sink, making the kitchen non-functional.  This week, and next week, as a boulanger (bread baker) the dish load seems like it will be lighter.   But don’t tell my roommate, she might ask me to do more at home.

Once the kitchen was cleaned, the dough had been in the freezer for nearly an hour.   I removed it, found the rolling pin and began to work it into a circle.  After the first few motions of the rolling pin, I paused.  I checked the cupboard, I looked through my baking supplies box, I checked under the stove and on the counter, I asked my roommate.  There was no pie plate in the house.   Having got this far, however, I did not intend to be stopped by such an insignificant problem.  I pulled my six tartlet pans out of my baking supplies box and borrowed a small glass casserole dish from the kitchen counter.  Rolling the pie dough didn’t work out very well, but it never seems to to me.  As I told my sister/roommate  ‘if the pie dough is easy to work with, you’ve done something wrong’.   The first try, I was working so hard to not dry out the dough that it stuck to the counter and tore in ten places.   I gathered it all back together, floured the counter, and began again.  The shape was not circular, but that was alright, as the casserole was not circular either.  I laid the dough in the dish, crimped and trimmed the edges and began with the second round.  One would think I could learn from my mistakes, but apparently, I hadn’t been paying enough attention, for the same procedure of tearing, regathering, and rerolling took place with the second half of the dough.  This I pressed into the tart pans, then rolled the rolling pin over their edges to cut the dough to the right shape.  Leftover dough scraps, I rolled out, cut into kangaroo and sausage dog shapes with my cookie cutters and set aside to be baked later, with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the whole.  Next, I began on the tarts.  Each tart was filled with peach slices, laid out in various patterns.  Then, for the remaining peaches, I dumped in about as much sugar as I deemed necessary, added some cinnamon and nutmeg and stirred it all together.  As I mixed in the sugar, I sprinkled some over each tart.  The cinnamon and nutmeg, I only brushed over three of the tarts, wishing to do further flavor experimentation on the others.  I avoided adding any additional lemon juice, as I was already worried that what I had put in the day before was excessive.  Once it was mixed, I poured some of the liquid into a small bowl, mixed it into a paste with cornstarch and returned it to the mixing bowl.  As I did not measure any of the ingredients, I don’t suppose I actually needed a recipe after all, but I found it useful for knowing which ingredients I wanted to use, even if not for amounts of ingredients.   Once this was poured into the casserole crust, I placed it in the oven and moved on to my remaining tarts.  For the first, I placed frozen Ranier cherry halves over the peaches.  I would have used almond extract, but found none available, so I sprinkled on a drop or two of lemon extract and set that tart aside.  On the next, I laid some fresh plum slices over the peaches.  To this tart, I added a bit of additional sugar, to counter the tartness of the plums.  While rummaging in the freezer, I also came across some chopped hazelnuts, which I added to the plum tartlet.  The last tart, I sprinkled with frozen orange juice concentrate.  This done, I place them in the oven and waited.

They all came out of the oven cute and properly done, no burnt spots.  Some of the tarts appeared a bit dry, but there was no crust shrinkage, either on them, or on the larger dish.  The larger dish seemed to be somewhat soupy, but as I had merely made a rough guess as to how much thickener would be proper, I wasn’t overly surprised.  Pleased with my work, I set them out to cool and left them.

This morning, I sampled the orange/peach tart and found it quite yummy, with the crust better done than I expected and not as dry as I had feared, from its appearance.  The orange flavor was a bit too strong, but not overpowering as flavors go, it just squashed the peach flavors too much.

None of the other tartlets or the large pie have yet been sampled, but I will keep you up to date on how they turn out.

The Tartlets
The Pie

Transfer Post: French Lessons

For Friday’s test, I have begun making flash cards.  How many French cooking terms do you know?

Boulanger – owned the first restaurant, the first dish served was sheep’s feet in white sauce.  It was supposed to be a restorative.

Chefs de partie  – line chefs.  insignificant underlings who do all the work and get none of the credit.

Sous-chef – second in command, the sous-chef is often the aboyeur as well, the expediter.

Chef de cuisine – this is The Chef

Bartolmeo Platina-  author of the first printed cookbook.

Amelia Simmons- author of the first American cookbook American Cookery

Taillevent – early French cookbook author, Taillevent was chef to Charles the Second

Charles Ranhofer – wrote the Epicurean and was head chef at Delmonico’s in London

Gaston Lenotre – master pastry chef, Lenotre is considered the father of modern French pastry.  He also began the first recorded culinary school.

fusion cuisine – the combination of foods, flavors, and techniques from multiple ethnicities and regional cultures.

Boscue, Point, Waters, Tower, & Prudhomme – prominent figures in the Americanization of nouvelle cuisine, also known as New American cuisine

nouvelle cuisine – cuisine focusing on simplicity, fresh ingredients, heathiness and quality

Careme – master of grande or haute cuisine, he favored the elaborate and claimed cooking was a form of architecture.  He made one of the first systems for classifying sauces.

Escoffier – father of cusine classique, Escoffier simplified Careme’s system of sauces into five main groups.  He is credited with the creation of the kitchen brigade.

cuisine classique – a cuisine simpler than grande cuisine and more elaborate than nouvelle cuisine

grand cuisine – the type of food served at the French court, before the revolution.  Typified by its elaborate multiple courses.  Also known as haute cuisine.

Alexis Soyer – one of the first chef’s known for his charitable efforts, Soyer was credited with many kitchen innovations, including ovens with adjustable temperatures and portable stoves.

Ferdinand Point – opened a restaurant called L’pyramid, in France.  Point was a master of grande cuisine, but is considered the father of nouvelle cuisine.  He was one of the first chefs to leave the kitchen to converse with customers at their tables.

Well, I seem to have done fairly well with those cards.  Now I shall attempt to describe the kitchen brigade.

The head of the kitchen brigade is the Chef de Cuisine, or merely Chef.  Directly under the chef is the Sous-chef.  Under the Sous-chef there are the chefs de partie.  At times the patissier is directly under the chef, at other times, he reports to the sous-chef.   Line chefs include the saucier, in charge of soups and sauces, the entremetier, in charge of vegetables, the rotisseur, in charge of roasting and often frying and grilling as well.  The poissonier is in charge of fish.   Wonder why he’s called the poissonier…  The garde-manger controls the pantry, the tournant floats to any station he is needed at.  The commis is the apprentice.  The patissier is the favorite chef of anyone with a sweet tooth.  Also known as the pastry chef, the pastissier can be in charge of all baked goods, or can be head of another department, in which the line chefs are the boulanger: the baker, the gacier: ice cream and custard man, the confiseur: candy and petit fours and the decorateur: showpieces and special cakes.

The dining room brigade is another story.  In charge here is the maitre d’hotel.  Working underneath him, but in his own little world is the chef de vin: the wine chef or sommelier.  The chef de salle is like a host or hostess, in charge of the entire room in smaller operations or, in large restaurants, part of the room.  The chef d’etage is also known as a captain.  He must explain the menu to customers and take their orders.  If any food is prepared tableside, the chef d’etage does this.  The chef de rang is the tablesetter, in charge of food delivery and takes care of any guest needs.  The demi-chef de rang is the busboy.  They’re one group that must prefer the French name.  I know I would rather say ‘I work as a demi-chef de rang’, than, ‘I clear tables and wash dishes’.

We have reached the most important piece of a chef’s equipment.  The knife.  There are ten main parts.

1. The handle – fairly self-explanatory

2. The butt – the end of the handle

3. The heel – the end of the blade, by the handle

4. The point – the end of the blade, away from the handle

5. The tip – like the point, but the term covers a slightly larger area

6. The cutting edge – the sharp bit

7. The spine – opposite the cutting edge

8. The tang – the metal that runs the length of the knife, including to the end of the handle.

9. The rivets – they hold the handle to the tang

10.  Just a second, I’ll remember.  The bolster – after the cutting edge of the knife runs out and the metal curves up to the handle, there is a thicker block of metal.  It is not sharp and it supports the knife.  Thus, it is the bolster.

Now, there are many interesting and fun things you can do with knives.  Most of them have French names.

First, the julienne.  A julienne is a stick 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 2″.  A batonne, the next size up is a stick 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 2″.  This is also referred to as the ‘french fry cut’. Brunoise are cubes 1/8″ x 1/8″ by 1/8″.  If you want a fine Brunoise, make them 1/16″ x 1/16″ x 1/16″.  The dice aren’t French and they are basic.  Small dice are 1/4″ sides, medium dice have 1/2″ sides and large dice 3/4″ sides.   Paysanne are 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/8″ and can apparently be square, round, flat or triangular.  The tourner is the most difficult cut.  You are supposed to make a football shape, 2″ long with seven equal sides. It should be 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Try it and let me know how it goes.  Rondelles is how you would cut your carrots for stew, just lots of rounds.  Diagonals are rondelles cut at a diagonal.  Obliques are cute and fun to cut.  They end up being rather triangular.  The cut is used on carrots and parsnips.  You cut at a 45 degree angle, then at a 45 degree angle opposite the first.  Like making a zig-zag down the carrot.  Lozenges are flat diamonds.

The only other things I have to study for Friday’s test are the point to cool food to in an ice bath before refrigerating it, (70 degrees), and types of menu.  Typically, all the types of menu have French names, excepting the California menu.  A California menu is a menu serving all meals around the clock.  A la carte menus, you can order each food item separately and they are all priced separately.  Semi a la carte, most things are priced and purchased separately, but some are combined.  Table d’hote, your entire meal is planned out and served as a package.  A banquet menu resembles a table d’hote style meal.  This type of menu would be used at gatherings such as a wedding.  None of the guests has a say in which food they want at each course.   As for actual menu types, a static menu serves the same meals without change, a cycle menu works its way through sets of meals, sometimes taking as little as a week, sometimes a few months, sometimes longer.  A market menu changes with the seasons and produce available.  This type of menu can end up chaging every day.  A hybrid menu is a combination of static and cycle or market menus.

I only hope I can remember all of this test day.

Now I have to go over them with my landlady for pratice.